- Posted by Johanna on May 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
- CREDITS: written by Sandy Sandfort and Scott Bieser; art by Lee Oaks
- PUBLISHER: Big Head Press; $12.95 US
Escape From Terra runs every weekday as an adventure webcomic. This 192-page collected edition reprints the first 315 strips, two to a page in most cases. The half-page web sizes are stacked, one on top of the other, to make a traditional comic page.
Unfortunately, the sepia toning of the web strip has become grey, black, and white, which makes it look flatter. The authors — Sandy Sandfort, who wrote the original short stories; Scott Bieser, who adapted them to comics (and also runs Big Head Press); and illustrator Lee Oaks — are aiming to recreate the old-fashioned space adventure comic with a distinctly libertarian political underpinning.
Finding out that these strips were adapted from text stories didn’t surprise me; it explains the wordiness of the comics, where the art contributes little to the stories. The science fiction strips that inspired the authors were never this talky. Because of the politics, there’s very little action here. Even when something exciting happens — an asteroid strike puts some of the characters’ lives at risk — everyone mostly talks about it a lot.
The first character we meet is a bureaucratic functionary. He’s been set up to be a strawman to make fun of, a collection of horrible traits to show how terrible a large, controlling government is until he “gets religion”. He and a co-worker (with not much character to her beyond being more sensible than he is) head out to a frontier asteroid society to tax the inhabitants and bring them under control. It’s a fascinating glimpse into what scares libertarians, but as a story, it’s plodding.
The stories are also didactic, putting message over entertainment value. Sandfort is said to have been inspired by the works of Robert Heinlein, but Heinlein knew never to make that mistake. I couldn’t finish the book because it was preaching to the choir, so perhaps all these faults are remedied as the strip continues. What I got through, though assumes that everyone reading it already agrees with the politics: government bad, unrestricted capitalism good, mandatory government schooling bad, kids working good, etc. It’s all taken for granted at the same time it’s explained at length. Ultimately, I found it boring to someone not already drinking the kool-aid; if you agree with the politics, though, you might find it an enjoyable fantasy of how the world should be.
Escape From Terra Volume 1 will be available in late July. It can be ordered through the Amazon link above or through your local comic shop with Previews code MAY10 0818.