by Andrew MacLean
ApocalyptiGirl is easily the culmination of years of hard work, blood, sweat and likely tears from creator Andrew MacLean. It’s not easy breaking into the comic industry; it’s even harder to begin to establish yourself amongst the hundreds, possibly thousands, of creators and books available at any given time. Creativity, skill, or maybe it’s simply broken down to the fact that MacLean’s style is so reminiscent of Mike Mignola, or some combination of all that and more, has made MacLean stand out above the up and coming crop.
His first, self published series Head Lopper was an amazing achievement, and one that we’re going to be seeing much more of, but that might pale in comparison to the work he’s done with ApocalyptiGirl. This book has everything you could want in a graphic novel; swords, sci-fi, amazing scenery, a huge backstory, a character you can get behind, a cat and so much more that ought to be left up to you, who is reading this and then will go and get your hands on this book from Dark Horse Comics, to discover for yourselves. Apologies for the cat spoiler.
MacLean has a writing sense to him that just works; it clicks and resonates with me in a way that only a handful of writers have been able to achieve. People like Mignola, Rick Remender, Mark Waid and others that just seem to speak the right langauge and seem to be able to put it together in a way that’s so engrossing that you just don’t want to put it down. MacLean is amongst that crowd, if you hadn’t already put two and two together, and because it seems to be so rare it’s an absolute treat.
Having read this graphic novel twice now, something that rarely happens just based on sheer backlog of new stuff, it’s safe to say that this book has many reads in its future. MacLean has a book here that has subtlety and things you might have overlooked the first time simply because there is so much between the covers. It’s a story that you’ll gladly come back to time and time again, if only for a break from everything else. Being a fairly speedy read helps too, even if it leaves you wanting more by the time you get to the end.
The art steals the show, however, and that’s taking nothing away from the story that, hopefully, already has you intrigued and interested. MacLean’s style still has some Mignola-esque parts to it, but really it’s a style that he’s developed all his own. It’s simple, yet complex. It’s the kind of art that you might not pay as much attention to for the first few pages before you find it sucking you in to every panel. His characters are excellently developed and executed, and the world he’s built is massive and extremely engrossing. While he gets into parts of its history, there’s clearly so much more to discover and it might, easily, be one of the most interesting locations in recent memory. Not even mentioning the ending that expands the world many times over, but that’s a spoiler we’re going to avoid here. You already had the cat spoiler, we don’t want to scare you off.
MacLean also coloured the entire book himself, and, man, what a beautiful job he did. It’s the kind of pages you want to own, fully coloured, and hang up in some sort of strange, sequential art wall that would totally work and be awesome… also might have talked myself into that idea. Anyway, with MacLean handling the colours as well, mostly because he didn’t want to put the book out in black and white, it really wraps this package up with a nice, yellow bow. Panel after panel is just beautifully crafted and thought out and without a doubt that next level of work and colours have pushed this book over the top.
ApocalyptiGirl, truly, is a must-read from an amazing up and coming talent. This is the kind of beginning that you just feel has the longevity to last and the flexibility to not only expand, but also to break free of the confines of just the comic medium. This is the kind of story and creation that could easily have its own cartoon, or live-action movie. Not that it’s the goal, but it’s certainly something that could transition very fluidly into whatever wanted to tackle it.
MacLean has a winner here; even if we never see Aria and Jelly Beans again, this is something that will last. Two reads down, and already looking forward to having and reading a physical copy might be the peak of praise, especially if you knew the back log that threatens to come crashing down and kill me in my sleep. Andrew MacLean is a creator to keep tabs on, and this is, if you didn’t piece it together, a book that you absolutely need to have/read/own/cherish.