Comics / Manga

Earthlight: Volume 1

By Leroy Douresseaux
Oct 18, 2006 - 21:09

Ignoring the critics and the haters, TOKYOPOP has continued to push forward with a line of OEM (original English Manga) that has simultaneously morphed into a diverse line of highly entertaining graphic novels.  These books (once called OEL or original English language) are American Manga and are also that form so many American readers have come to embrace - the graphic novel.

TOKYOPOP's latest American Manga and graphic novel is Earthlight, a new OEM series by writer Stuart Moore (whose comic book works include DC's recent Firestorm revamp and Wolverine for Marvel) and artist Christopher Schons, a Chicago-based illustrator/designer who has worked on Lucifer for DC Comics and Mark Millar's Chosen from Dark Horse Comics.

Earthlight has at its hero Damon Cole, a young African-American coming of age on a moon base.  The year is 2068 and the Earthlight Lunar Colony provides energy for an overpopulated Earth beset by mass poverty, international political conflict, and social strife.  Damon's father, Aaron Cole, has recently been named Chief Administrator of the colony, and his mother, Leyla, is a British woman who will act as a teacher to many of the colonists' children.

Damon, of course, doesn't fit in right away.  He is a "Weeder," someone who lived on Earth.  He makes trouble for himself by becoming attracted to a classmate, a troubled girl named Lise Douré.  That earns him the ire of Lise's vile boyfriend, Xan, and his gang of bullies.  To fit in, Damon takes a challenge on Xan's dare.  It's a dangerous mission that could, if he is caught, get him and his parents kicked off the colony (which is what happens when a teen is caught doing something that endangers the colony).  And if that weren't bad enough, Damon's family is about to become part of something truly shocking and horrific.

Moore's tale is a coming of age story set in a larger narrative of speculative science fiction and socio-political futurism.  Moore gives Damon's trials and tribulations both poignancy and edge.  His observations on technology and society are plausible and engaging - just what sci-fi needs to make it interesting and relevant.  Let's call this a mixture of The CW and Ray Bradbury.

Every now and again, there is a discussion in comics about what artists are really good at drawing science fiction comics - not superhero comics dressed as sci-fi, but genuine sci-fi narratives.  We can add this talented newcomer, Mr. Schons, to any such list.  He's a virtuoso at drawing sci-fi tech, gear, sets, and environments that are more science than they are fiction and fantasy.  His character drawing is expressive and hyper dramatic, but his art can be subtle and human.

It's a pity that we may have to wait until deep into next year to read more of Earthlight and of the work of this impressive team of Stuart Moore and Christopher Schons.



Last Updated: May 15, 2017 - 12:13

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