Craig Astro

Posted: Tuesday, August 22, 2006
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Craig Astro Creator(s): Chris S. Ellis
Publishers: Fiction Graphic Productions (Self Published)
From: UK
Price: £5(UK)

Craig Astro is a prime example of a comic that grew into graphic novel proportions when it really shouldn’t have. This tale of vigilante revenge, where the ‘wronged’ little guy seeks to even the score for the shooting of his ex- girlfriend and so ends up taking on a renowned [and evil] media tycoon is just too long and as a result loses the tension and pace the story demands. Shame really because at five quid this is not a cheap comic, the question to be answered is whether this comic is worth it.

There are aspects about the production that are highly professional, it a sturdy well bound volume [and a volume it most definitely is, 84 pages split into five chapters] printed on good quality paper, however there are other aspects that let the comic down and lead to what is ultimately a disappointing read. The font has been blurred in the printing process and this often makes the physical reading of the frames difficult. Add to this changes in font and font size and the overall effect of the verbal elements ofCraig Astro lack unity.

Visually the characters have something of a modern day Captain Pugwash look about them. This is good because I really like Captain Pugwash but it is not enough. The fact that some appear to have been cut and pasted onto backgrounds means that some of the frames lack unity. The finished art work is inked but is some places remains pencilled, this can be effective if used for effect but for the most part seems comparatively random in this case.

Overall the backgrounds are just too Spartan and too many of the frames just feel too empty. The dominance of eye level shots in most of the frames means that the perspective lacks variety and as a result, despite the fact that this is an action comic it lacks energy and dynamism. The perspective is just too repetitive. Again by itself this need not be an issue but when repetitive frame perspective is joined by a somewhat drawn out narrative then issues of retaining reader interest and attention do become apparent. This is not helped by some very erratic speech balloon choices. We go from oval to square, to none at all to and it all tends to get just a little messy.

The narrative drawn out, especially in the introductory phase, and in need of serious editing. Craig Astro could have been half the length and would have packed far more punch if it was shorter. In reality the chapters consist of a series of fight scenes linked by some fairly predictable dialogue. Overall the twists and turns are just too easy to see coming. In places the dialogue is clichéd and in other places just plain confusing. For example,

there was a sharp feeling of irony that hit me more than his bullet ever could, in his brother I had found the oracle of my own hatred whom I will rival until fate turns it’s leaf, yet here I had found a potential, worthy, alliance.

Say that again.

The story demands the use of flashbacks but too often the transitions between the time zones is just too subtle and in some places this can lead to some confusion especially over the health and location of the ex- girlfriend, Sophia.

Overall Craig Astro is just too static to really work. This is a shame because hidden within this average comic is a great one just bursting to get out. I don’t doubt that Ellis is capable of producing such a great comic but the sad truth is this is not it. It needed some serious editing, pruning and proofing if it was to deliver. Maybe next time.

In a Word: Corpulent.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me