In the far future, military scientist Kiara Rodriguez creates a device that translates brainwaves into discernible language. She uses it to communicate with her cat, Lou, and discovers the feline has the ability to astrally travel to faraway places. The military has much to gain from this ability.
Strayed is a five-issue comic book series published by Dark Horse. The first issue will drop this Wednesday, August 14. In an interview with Adventures in Poor Taste journalist David Brooke at the recent San Diego Comic-Con International, writer Carlos Giffoni (Space Riders) discussed that “besides being a relationship between a human and their pet [Carlos has a cat named Louie], it’s also about how sometimes people dehumanize other cultures to take advantage of them. […] I am originally South American, so I’ve studied a lot of that in my life.” In the same interview, Giffoni mentioned reading about psychic studies conducted by the CIA called “remote viewing” to create psychic spies. Giffoni’s research and personal experiences result in an engaging and thought-provoking story on multiple levels; there’s the personal relationship between Kiara and Lou, the military interest in finding valuable resources that will give Earth continued longevity, and the exploitation and dehumanizing of alien life. Editor Chas! Pangburn (The Spider King, The Brains Trust) keeps the written narrative brief, clear, and concise. It is well balanced with the equally impressive visuals.
Joining Giffoni is artist/colorist Juan Doe (American Monster, Animosity), and, wow, do his vision and colors make Strayed pop off the page! Like the narrative, the art style is clean and unencumbered by extraneous detail that doesn’t add to the forward progression of the story. In particular, Lou’s astral journey is filled with psychic energy and brilliance – it’s magical. Doe also is not afraid to use two-page spreads, and he does so with efficiency and skill, and in doing so, conveys the vastness of space while alternatively boxing in the confines of the space station with a lot of black. Letterer Matt Krotzer (Satan’s Hollow, Evil Heroes) brings a straightforward font for dialogue in the traditional oval speech balloons. With Lou’s dialogues, Krotzer utilizes more pointed and accented font and hexagonal-shaped balloons that symbolize a more logical aspect. Positioning of the balloons allow the reader's eyes to naturally progress across and down the page without distracting or confusing the audience’s visual engagement.
Additional talent includes Dustin Nguyen, artist for the variant cover B, which nicely echoes the hexagonal structure, and a gorgeous pinup watercolor of Kiara and Lou by Morgan Beem. Both items add to the visual enjoyment of this first issue, and, as for the covers, both are superior. Fans are probably going to feel challenged when deciding which cover to purchase, and opting for both is not a bad a way to go.
Of note: Giffoni is also a professional musician, so he has composed a soundtrack – abstract ambient – which Giffoni suggests readers download to listen to as they read each issue. Navigate to his Bandcamp or his website for more details. Each soundtrack is about 20 minutes long.
While cat lovers are going to gravitate to the cover, the human interest story will keep readers engaged for the entire story arc over the coming months. Fans of sci-fi and space-oriented stories will want to check Strayed out. The first issue will drop this Wednesday, August 14. Physical copies will be available at local comic book retailers or digitally at Dark Horse and ComiXology.
Creative Team: Carlos Giffoni (writer); Juan Doe (artist/colorist/cover A artist); Matt Krotzer (letterer); Chas! Pangburn (editor); Dustin Nguyen (cover B artist); Morgan Beem (pinup artist)
Publisher: Dark Horse
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