TL;DR – Here’s a real weird one, for you. If you’re looking for something that is equal parts entertaining, intriguing, and confounding, look no further than Proxima Centauri #1.
Title: Proxima Centauri #1
Creator: Farel Dalrymple
Publisher: Image Comics
Writing and Story
Read enough stories from various writers and mediums, and you’ll realize that the stories all start to repeat themselves. This isn’t a bad thing—woking within a well-know story structure actually offers storytellers a lot of creative options and lends focus to their vision. Authors will know what this or that story should be like in terms of poetics of the genre, and you can tell your version, with your characters, all within your own voice. The recognizability helps readers find their footing early on, avoiding getting tripped up when introducing new elements. Then, sometimes, a story comes along and it’s instantly, and almost uncomfortably, unrecognizable. Proxima Centauri is one of those stories.
When it comes to something like this, I want to describe it by writing the words “fresh” and “new,” but that’s not really what this is, is it? The best descriptor here is simply “different” or even “strange.” It’s a lot like watching a foreign film and being taken aback at first as the story unfolds in a way you’re not used to, then becoming drawn in by something you’re suddenly realizing is brilliant. In that same way, Proxima Centauri introduces readers to a comic where the pages aren’t quite making sense in the traditional way, but as you read on, start to present themselves as something to be admired. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the comic “brilliant” yet, but it definitely is wonderfully unique.
The comic focuses on a teenage boy, Sherwood, who, while traversing through an insane in-between space realm, finds everything stupid, unimpressive, and quite thoroughly boring. His mood is juxtaposed with what is happening around him, which is anything but boring, and instead is actually quite awe-inspiringly dangerous. Of course, Sherwood, doesn’t feel that way, and continues his journey (for what doesn’t appear to be the first time?) through a strange realm full of unexplained physics, strange creatures, and gun-wielding bullies.
Something I truly love about this comic is the way that our main character can literally shake off any threat without actually putting forth much effort at all. This is something that isn’t new, and we can see hints of that in shows like Adventure Time. Finn and Jake find themselves in tricky situations all the time, and that show can become very deep and heartwarmingly friendship focused, but often enough, they just get out of those tough jams while barely even trying. It’s played out much differently in Proxima Centauri—where Finn and Jake care too much, Sherwood cares extremely little—but there’s this great feeling that no matter what happens, he will find his way out of trouble almost by virtue of caring so little about it in the first place. There’s probably a great lesson in there about not letting things in life get to you but this is a comic review, not a scholarly article.
In short, the story we’re presented with in Proxima Centauri #1is one full of strange introductions. Strange introductions to the characters, to the sci-fi inter-dimensional setting, and to the spontaneously narrative storytelling. One can guess that our main character, Sherwood, would mature throughout the series, but I am truly excited to see if they buck that trend as well.
Much like the strange way the narrative unfolds, the artwork in Proxima Centauri #1 is equally different in today’s world of comics. Rather than presenting readers with a polished, digitally created feel, Farel Dalrymple’s style is clearly traditional. Colors blend in that way only champion’s of the colored pencil can achieve. Seeing something like this in the modern comic world full of blending tools, blur tools, and color adjustors is just cool.
It’s honestly a lot like the first time I picked up Hellboy (which I was very late to the game on) and seeing the obvious hand-drawn lines, seeing the perfect accidents left into the finished product because they add such an organic feel to the project. This is really why I love creator-owned works. You can find the real human touch within the pages, whether it be through the visionary story or the organic artwork.
This book is definitely full of those perfect accidents, but also features some very precise, fine-art style work at times. While some of the more detailed, up close work is done with clear strokes, some of the distance work, I believe, is done with markers. It obviously creates that visual separation in regards to depth, but the flip in medium also adds to the strangeness of Proxima Centauri. It’s a style that’s different in modern comics, but very welcome and feels warmer because of it.
Final Thoughts on Proxima Centauri #1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Proxima Centauri #1 sets up a sci-fi world that is just the way I like them: unique, intriguing, and minimal. There is a real humor here in the pages—Sherwood is so mixed up with confusing and conflicting emotions that he doesn’t know what he feels—and there is some great traditional art on display. Check out Proxima Centauri #1 for sure, but don’t blame me if it isn’t your thing.