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Picks of the Trade: Bandette, Volume 1: Presto!

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by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

The Eisner-winning title makes the jump from digital to print, and audiences will fall in love with Bandette all over again. Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover have created one of the most talked about series of the past year. This little independent, digital first series has made serious waves in just a few issues. Bandette is unique, and she is surrounded by a world that is as rich as the art portraying it. Set in France, this adorable cat-burglar finds her way in and out of trouble all in the spirit of adventure. The series is packed with energy and is an immense amount of fun. It is no wonder that Bandette was awarded the Best Digital Series honor in this year’s Eisner ceremony.

While the issues each contain some degree of a self-contained story arc, the first volume has a significant, larger arc that seems to just be getting started. Bandette is a complex character who will simultaneously help the police or some agency while also making sure she manages to lift some of the spoils for herself. This grey-area element to her character lends to layers that elevate her to something much more memorable. She has a street crew, dubbed “Urchins” who she calls on when she is in need of assistance as well as rival thieves and even bigger foes. As the first volume takes shape, the audience is introduced to a real threat, an agency named FINIS determined to take out the menace, Bandette, once and for all.

Tobin manages to imbue each issue with the same level of excitement. As readers begin to get a better sense of the central players and their personalities, he slowly begins to introduce larger elements. The pacing of the world building and plot formation is absolutely perfect and it is a major factor in what makes the experience of moving through the story so pleasurable. There is no filler here. In the first five issues, readers will not experience any story moments that stall the momentum or could be viewed as superfluous. Instead, each time a status quo is being approached, something new is introduced and the whole thing feels alive again.

That sensation is equally due to the magnificent art by Colleen Coover. The visual design of Bandette is incredibly unique and the title was, likewise, nominated for Best Colorist and Best Penciler categories in this year’s Eisner’s as well. Color is used very delicately in the series. That is not to say that Bandette is black and white, but that the pages are not supersaturated with color. Instead, the color pallet is more conservative, allowing the vibrancy of Bandette’s dress or The Matador’s costume to radiate in contrast to the surroundings. Coover’s art style is intriguing, looking to be a mix of natural water colors and digital coloring simultaneously. To best appreciate the process that Coover has adopted, this collection includes an entire breakdown of just that.

It is here that attention should be drawn to another amazing facet of this release. Readers who have been following the series through digital means still have much to gain by picking up this physical copy. Not only does the first volume collect the opening five issues, but it also contains a significant amount of additional content. Not simply back matter for the sake of adding to the page count, it is absolutely evident that Tobin and Coover put as much love into the production of the volume as they do in their issues. The additional content in the title contains other short adventures of characters from this universe written by Tobin and illustrated by a plethora of talented artists including Steve Lieber and Jonathan Case. There is also a prose story from the perspective of the character Daniel, scripts from Tobin, and the aforementioned art process by Coover, among other very cool gems.

Bandette may have been named the best digital series, but one may argue it is in the running for best overall series for 2013. Tobin and Coover make for a great team, and this series is a real treat. This collection is a must buy. Not only are the issues every bit as entertaining to revisit, but the rest of the content packed into this collection make the physical copy well worth it. Additionally, having Coover’s art in physical form further confirms just how gorgeous her work on the series is. All in all, this is an absolute must for fans of the medium and is likely to bring in a lot of new readers as well.

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