Monday, June 24, 2013


by Ross Campbell

I consider myself a big fan of Ross Campbell's work, but at the same time, I have to say that the cartoonist confounds me sometimes.  Campbell is best known (aside from his recent work on Glory at Image) for Wet Moon, a sprawling late teen drama about punk kids who have trouble navigating their relationships, and who are dealing with a killer in their midst.  It's a strange series of graphic novels, but there's something about it that makes it almost impossible to put down.

Shadoweyes is Campbell's newer OGN series (two volumes have been released so far), and it contains a number of the features one would expect from a Campbell comic - physical deformity, gender ambiguity, and girls and women shaped like real girls and women, in all their diverse splendour.  It's also unlike his other work (predicting the evolution that brought him to Glory), as it has a much more frenetic pace, and the art is much more hurried.

Scout is a young black girl living in a dirty, crowded metropolis in the future.  She is vegan, and very politically conscious.  She likes to patrol the city as part of a neighbourhood watch initiative with her best friend Kyisha (who is, of course, intersex).  After taking a knock on the head while helping a homeless man, Scout later turns into a blue creature with a tail.  At first, she can control the transformation, and uses her new abilities as a chance to help others, but does that according to her own moral code.  For example, when she stops a guy from robbing a store, she then stops the cops from arresting him, since he didn't actually do anything.

Scout rescues Sparkle, a girl from her high school, from a weird kidnapping scene, and they begin to get very close to each other.  It's at this point that the series most begins to resemble Wet Moon, as Campbell suggests that the two girls fall for one another (the next volume is called Shadoweyes in Love), and as Sparkle is missing fingers and toes.

At times, I found myself frustrated with the pacing and lack of clarity in some scenes, but at the end of the day, this is a very good book.  Campbell tells stories that no one else in comics tells, and you have to admire the consistency of his artistic vision and gender politics.

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