Hello loyal readers! Read another great graphic novel and I was surprised to find out (after the fact) it was an indie book as well! I’m talking about:
RASL is a sci-fi crime story about an inter-dimensional art thief, who has taken this acronym as his moniker. It is, as I mentioned, a graphic novel and I happened to pick up a compilation of all the issues together. The edition I found was also in full color.
WHY I PICKED IT UP
I was browsing for something to pass the time in my local bookstore and I noticed it was authored by Jeff Smith—Jeff Smith who wrote and illustrated Bone, one of my other favorite graphic novels. Naturally I decided to give it a go!
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT
The premise is, I feel, the coolest thing about this book—universe hopping, art thievery, gunfights, sex, etc.—and I love that the author borrowed heavily from real life topics. Topics like native American folklore (There’s a “Crow” character), modern day string theory, the true history of Nikola Tesla & friends, and even some urban myth are woven together to create a fantastically plausible backstory for our world(s).
I like Jeff Smith’s art style—it’s just a little cutesy with an edge—and it appears he’s gone for a darker tone than his previous work. It works here, as this is a much more mature story than bone. I like the darker themes, and I like that they’re present but not gratuitous.
The plot is solid and grips you all the way through—I read the whole thing inside two hours.
And best of all, I like Jeff Smith because he doesn’t just draw a bunch of talking heads—the pictures move the story. As it should be.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER IF ANYTHING
I think the biggest “coulda been better” that sticks out to me is the color. The author/illustrator has some clear skill and his drawings and panel compositions are—as far as I, the uninitiated can tell—spot on. But he releases his work in black and white initially, then goes back to color everything for some of the compilations. He did this with bone, and I found out later RASL started in B&W as well.
I just feel like the color flattens his drawings, makes them look much less skilled, and a little less interesting. His B&W drawings carry so much depth without even a shade of grey.
The only other real complaint I have is that one section of the ending feels a little rushed. There is a gunpoint standoff where one or two of the characters “monologue” away while doing nothing but holding a gun. Could have been better, but it’s the only point to me that stands out as such.
One last thing: I wish I got to find out what happened to Sal’s face.
So I read the whole thing and I’m an even bigger fan of Jeff Smith than I was before! If you like graphic novels, sci-fi, or noire-type stories, try this one out!
And if you’ve read it or want to read it, leave us a comment and tell us what you thought!