The Earthbound God
There is a level of sophistication about this comic, a graphic novel encompassing a whole story, that is indicative of what is happening in the Republic of Ireland. In the last ten years, writers and artists have come up through various routes, but quite a few from the small press, and broken into the international comic scene.
British Comics and American have seen, not so much an invasion, as the discovery of some fantastic talent.
Yet comics, as we know from developments over the years, is a medium not exclusively the (reign) of superheroes, or action characters, and The Earthbound God is the type of intelligent and gentle comic, that has a different type of story to tell. The Independent, non superhero comic is a vital facet to the comic oeuvre, and here, is a fine story, beautifully told, and for me, a sign that small press has moved from an amateur to very professional stance, while remaining true to the desire to tell unique and in many ways, more oblique stories.
It is winter, and Eusha, a skilled Inuit spear hunter, is with her friend, Yaeya, spotting, as they hunt deer.
They are from the Ocean and the Beach, and they are on a quest, to find a great deer, that is also a God for an elder. This quest sees them meeting other people, of the Mountains to hear their stories.
They continue up the mountains into a hard winter in the pursuit of this fantastical creature who is not just a spirit. Their adventure has a serious side to it, both the elements and the creature are to be feared, and in their pursuit, Eusha is faced with trauma. Soon it is a question of life or death, desperation and survival.
The artwork is a clean and nice black and white style, simple yet facially expressive and gentle enough to provide a real feeling for the landscape. The characters are distinctive, the movement of hunting and of the animals is superb. The deer are especially accurate, and capture a real sense of energy.
To illustrate a past story the style changes, and this is nice, while the language used, is not so much simplistic as slightly different to what one would expect, allowing a sense of identity for these people, and also marking cultural differences.
It is really quite lovely. There is a manga influence, anyone who likes the fantastical settings of Studio Ghibli will appreciate this, but it is distinctly original. A huge amount of research has gone into the work, and there are a selection of notes, sketches, preliminaries at the back, that demonstrate how much care and attention has done into the story, and it shows.
Overall, I was very impressed and when one considers that this is the work of an individual from cradle to grave, more so. Irish publishers are missing something here.