Hauntingly fantastical and beautiful.
Proxima Centauri issue #1 hits comic book store shelves this week. It is the first in a six-part series from Image comics by visionary and sole creator Farel Dalrymple.
Proxima is a story of a young teenage wizard by the name of Sherwood Presley Breadcoat. Sherwood is trapped in a spectral zone, existing inside of a Jupiter-sized dimensional nexus sphere in orbit around a red dwarf star approximately 4.25 light years from Earth’s sun. He is searching desperately for his lost brother Orson and is accompanied by an array of colorful characters. One such character is scientist Duke Hertzog, who has constructed a ship to house them and keep them safe. Also along on the adventure are Shaky the Space Wizard, Dr. EXT the Time Traveller, Dhog Dahog, and a ghost named M. Parasol whom Sherwood is in love with but can never truly be with. The Scientist sends Sherwood into a side-pocket dimension on a salvage mission to find Quantonium Z-cells. On his mission Sherwood runs into all sorts of strange fantastical creatures who try to harm him along the way — there are fly-like monsters that emit a pheromone that disrupts the mind, giant troll-like beasts, one of which eats his exploration craft, and a very aggressive bully that attacks Sherwood at the end of the issue for invading his space.
This story is amazingly written in a most unconventional way. It does not conform to the limits of traditional comic book method and execution. The narrative of the story is told in a unique format that uses abstract metaphorical imagery fueled by the emotional frustrations of a teenage boy trapped, desperately searching for his brother. Whereas most comic books have a solid narrative and dialogue structure, this story integrates the written word with the visual images seamlessly in a way that bend and twist into each other. Dalrymple’s words, images, and emotions flow freely and in an almost three-dimensional fashion across every inch of the page. The hand drawn homemade feel of the artwork is reminiscent of artists like Maurice Sendak or even Shel Silverstein, right down to the hand-drawn price tag on the cover art. It’s organic, original, chaotic, and seems to evoke an emotional connection with the reader on a very personal level. It’s as if the reader is viewing the world through how Sherwood would draw his reality for someone himself. This title does not spoon-feed the reader exactly what is going on and requires a certain freedom of spirit and open mindedness from the reader to let it take them along for that ride. Although this may cause some confusion for a lot of people at first glance, it’s what makes Proxima Centauri so incredibly unique and such a wonderful piece of work.
Proxima Centauri may not be a must-have for all readers, but it’s definitely worth picking up and experiencing. It may require reading it through a couple of times to really get a grasp what’s going on, but the images and emotions that it invokes are hauntingly fantastical and beautiful to look at. An amazingly unique ride through a world that is as chaotic as it is fantastic, Proxima Centauri is an imaginative breath of fresh air that is much needed in the comic book world today.