Fictionauts Written by Mauro Mantella
Art by Leandro Rizzo
The Spark Written By Martin Renard
Art By Nahuel Sagarnaga Cozman
Release Date: June 2012
Cover Price: $12.99
Independently published comics are always very difficult to review. Generally speaking, publishing a small press comic in single issues is an uphill battle. Independent publishers can rarely compete with the promotional reach that publishers like Marvel, Image, and DC have. With mammoth publishing costs and distribution being limited to a digital format, these artists and writers are essentially going to make pennies on the dollar. To publish with a small independent press, in most cases is purely a labor of love. These are creators with day jobs who understand that chances are independent publishing will result in meager sales and minimal distribution. As a reviewer of these comics it is hard to stay subjective, even though it is clear what these publishers and creators are facing when it comes to small press publishing. That being said, Fictionauts and The Spark from Studio 407 are exactly the labors of love mentioned above. Both comics take the spirit of independent comics and channel it into something compelling, but inevitably flawed in their own ways.
Fictionauts, from an artistic standpoint is an extremely well done offering from artist Leandro Rizzo. Each page and panel of this comic pops with handcrafted pencils, inks, and colors. Rizzo has a distinct style of cross-hatching when shading that is seldom seen, yet reaffirms the fact that he is doing all of this by hand. Fictionauts also features a compelling story of a group of heroes who right all that is wrong in the fictional worlds of television, films, and books. Thing are going wrong in works of fiction everywhere and it is up to the Fictionauts to make them right. It is a very unique premise that would have been very interesting if not for the dense dialogue and pacing of this story. Many panels of this comic are almost completely covered in word bubbles, as characters go on in great lengths about “Redundant Factual Incoherence.” The choice to not dumb down dialogue for readers should be commended, but only if it works within the context of the story. Much of this issue is spent explaining how and why the Fictionauts do what they do. This entire process left much of the book entirely indecipherable. Fictionauts has an incredible amount of potential to be a beautifully illustrated, dynamic story, but only when the overall pacing and dialogue are fine-tuned.
The Spark, on the other hand, features the classic themes of any traditional comic book. A young man with a heart of gold is forced to look after his rambunctious little sister due to his parents being absent from his life. After a cosmic event, the young man is blasted with super powers that he does not understand. The powers could have disastrous or beneficial results, depending on how he uses them. It is classic Spider-Man and Shazam storytelling and writer Martin Renard handles it well. Dialogue is fresh and believable, while events move at an even and comprehensible pace. The art of The Spark is not poorly done by any means; it just does not fit this style of comic. Artist Nahuel Sagarnaga Cozman has crafted his panels with loose lines and deep colors that are often found emotionally tinged drama comics. I can’t help but think that The Spark would have benefited much more from tighter pencils and the vibrant splashes of color found in most superhero books.
Overall, both of these titles represent a group of independent writers and artists that are not afraid to work beyond the confines of mainstream publishers. The Spark and Fictionauts have endless amounts of potential, if only they could work out the kinks that plague many recent independent comics.