Fans of more demanding entertainment may dig this book that takes elements of the Mexican Border news headlines, horror and throws them into a puzzling read.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Feeding Ground #1
Published by Archaia
Created by: Swifty Lang, Michael Lapinski and Chris Mangun
Written by: Swifty Lang
Illustrated by: Michael Lapinski
Covers by: Michael Lapinski
This new series is ripped right out of the real-life drama unfolding on the Mexico-Arizona border! FEEDING GROUND reaches a large and diverse audience no matter your personal point of view on the issue. In this factious story, a famine caused by Blackwell Industries drives Diego Busqueda, a noble "coyote," to lead a band of Mexican border crossers across the unforgiving Devil's Highway, a desert cursed with blistering days and deadly nights. Back home, Diego's daughter Flaca discovers that something hungrier prowls the factory fields. Stalked and persecuted, can the Busqueda family maintain their dreams of immigration or will the horrors of the desert tear them apart?
Also included in each issue is 24 pages of bonus content in Spanish!
It is unusual to read something that is brave in its execution. All too often, that is something left to established, eccentric creators. Not every writer can be Grant Morrison and bring readers to a story as experimental as his run on Batman or Final Crisis.
Feeding Ground #1 displays that courage and also points out why it is problematic. It's not clear, from either reading the issue or the solicitation copy for the comic, what exactly this comic is all about. It's set in Mexico, near the border to Arizona and seems to be fairly current. From the solicitation, you can determine that actions of Blackwell have caused some uncomfortable conditions in the town of Barbecho. What is unclear is what the main character, Diego Busqueda, is up to. He leads a group across an unforgiving stretch of desert that is perilous in more than just its heat. Even when the group reaches their destination, it is not explained what exactly the trip was all about.
Meanwhile - his daughter, Flaca, has an odd experience at home that leaves her a bloody mess surrounded by fierce dogs. The dogs seem to be protecting her. There is little that allows the reader to know what happened.
The one thread of the story that is transparent is also the most clichéd of the story. Busqueda's wife is at home doing laundry when the local drug lord comes a calling. It's the kind of scene you have seen in Roberto Rodriquez films or any other tough film set south of the border.
Where the writing is problematic, the art is stunning. This is not your typical book visually. It strays off course from house stylings or over rendering, but it is far from the sort of amateurish effort many indie books fall into. That's not to say that Lapinski is a master ready to go out the gate. His Don Oso appears to be photo referenced from Alfred Molina in one panel, but not so much in the rest. However, as odd as the one smiling drug lord panel is, it is always clear who he is. This is much the way throughout the book. While consistency is often the hallmark of the seasoned pro; the raw talent in design, page layout and inking is evident and refreshing. The book's coloring is obviously of the computer generated style that we see in much of Templesmith's work, but the artist manages to get a more organic feel from it. Sometimes, it resembles water colors and the ink washing effects assist with this feel. More so, the artist uses unique and interesting shading routes to create detail without the plastic vaneer of a Jamie Grant. If it's not evident from the cover, the interior art makes it clear this is a different kind of book.
As problematic as the story is, mostly by not allowing the reader in on what is going on, the dialogue is tight and the book is an interesting and puzzling read. It is different from the kind of book that Marvel and DC publish and not just in the tights and capes mainstream either. Icon or Vertigo would be hard pressed to publish a book at once so literary in its execution but difficult in its clarity. It is the kind of risk the big box comic companies shy away from. As a result, comics tend to stagnate – that is not to say that the simple escapism of a Superman or Spider-Man comic is something to be looked down upon. It's no wonder, the general public has never been overly drawn to the difficult novels or films. Dan Brown and Film Spoofs are much more profitable. It's a blessing that Archaia and other companies are out there exploring the boundaries of the medium – just like the indie films and book publishers do for the more mainstream media outlets.
Review by: Lee Newman
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