One girl, one dog, TWO apocalypses: The Road North


roadnorthlogoAll-ages Comic: A child and her canine companion journeys north in a hellish land to find her brother and a better tomorrow…

The Road North

Kickstarter ending 7/25/15 (past goal!)
roadnorth3Okay, this one’s not that furry, it’s more the “desert wasteland with a trusty canine” trope, well established in films like A Boy and His Dog and Mad Max.These are not all-ages films and you shouldn’t share them with a pre-teen…well, Mad Max, maybe, if it’s not your kid.

But seriously, this is a really cute dog.

It’s the year 2055, and humanity is in a very bad place. The world is a blasted dustbowl, the pages of the comic are saturated with a veil of orange haze and only symbolic creatures remain–crows, locusts, Kansas farmers. It’s very much like photographs of the Great Depression, but red-brown instead of sepia. Take one burned-out world, and one species on the edge of survival, and add a malign alien force, the Pure, who seem to be hellbent on just one thing: wiping humanity out and claiming earth as their own.

roadnorth1Again, not a good time to be a human. Or a dog.

This is the bleak backdrop for the story of I, a child travelling across the barren and dangerous land looking for her little brother, alongside her canine companion, Z. I want Z to be a dingo, and in fairness all blasted apocalypse films are set in Australia where there are dingoes, but I think we’re actually somewhere in the American Midwest, so he’s probably some sort of Labrador/village dog mix. I don’t care, because he’s intense, suspicious, and well-drawn. Cute character!

roadnorth2This is an all-ages project, and not the artist’s first all-ages comic. Joshua Covey created Baako, which looks like another blasted wasteland with a strong female lead, also funded through Kickstarter. Baako feels like an entirely different period, reminiscent of the edgy and frankly sleazier 70s-80s style of Mike Ploog’s work on “Wizards” and Oscar Martin’s “Solo” (okay, yes, that is a 90s comic, but there’s an unmistakable Frazetta vibe that runs through a certain flavor of 70s-80s fantasy.) The Road North is more kin to the slick young adult titles on the lower shelf at today’s comic shop, clean lines and bold character art.

Finding myself wondering about the choice of the name “I” for the main character–well, the non-canine main character. The anonymity of her mask, the ambivalent pronoun “their” in the project header (“A young refugee and their canine companion search for hope and a better tomorrow…”) suggest that “I” is there for anyone to relate to, boy or girl, which is not a bad way of handling things. Boys are in quite a lot of action titles, and having a more relateable character for girls might help open the comic up.

Keeping this review short and sweet, I would like to take a look at the complex backer points—there are at least 15 backer levels, including a print copy at $10 and a signed copy at $15, a sketch cover at $35 and a retail 10-pack at $35. Combining that with the luxurious amount of space used for sample art gives a lot of mouse-scrolling to get to the text, it’s self a bit hard on the eyes (nonstandard font, all caps…) It’s a bit hard to skim for information. There are some nice little infographics explaining the pledge points, and generous sample art really helps show off a comic book project, but I think Covey may have erred on the side of complexity instead of simplicity in planning out his pledge points–this seems to be a recurring problem when an artist wants to fold an unrelated project in with their rewards. My $.02, do with it what you will. Some minor communication issues; the Stretch Goals not being “unpacked” yet is a little frustrating, it’s hard to build goals around them if you can’t see them, and the campaign has a lack of updates, even past goal, but those aren’t quite as big as the TL:DR issue with the pledge points.

Again, all kinds of sample work on The Road North kickstarter, and a very available artist—you can find him on DA and his personal webfolio. This is issue one of a four-issue series, we’ll see what the next year brings for the title!

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