Stormfield, the Collected Comic Strips, Vol 1

Posted: Tuesday, December 19, 2006
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Stormfield, the Collected Comic Strips, Vol 1 Creator(s): Wes Alexander
Publishers: Cartoon Conquest Publishing (Self Published)
From: USA
Price: $3.95(US)

This 40 page book collects together the Stormfield comic strips that appear in about 450 newspapers across the States and as such serves as a great introduction to those of us unfamiliar with the strip and a nicely packaged collection for those regular readers. Essentially the strips follow a well known format, familiar to anyone who has read Peanuts or Denis the Menace or any of the similarly formatted newspaper syndicated strips. You know the score, four frames that capture a slice of life with a gag punch line in the final frame. Like the two strips that I have just mentioned Stormfield is primarily concerned with kids growing up and captures their ‘take’ on girls, school, adults Christmas, bathing etc.

I for one love that page of every decent paper that contains the comics and I rue the fact that in my part of the world so many papers are cutting the strips back or eliminating them altogether. There is few better ways of starting the day than with a quick read of The Phantom or Garfield. The truth is though that these kind of strips do tend to work best when delivered in short sharp doses such as in a daily newspaper. A quick chuckle to put us in a positive frame of mind for the day. When collected together they do tend to get a little monotonous therefore I find it far better to dip and delve into collections like Stormfield as opposed to reading cover to cover in one hit.

The two principal characters are Alex and Dalton two kids who represent all that is basically good about the American perception of youth. One white, one coloured, both smart, if a little cheeky. Both inquisitive and yet still charmingly innocent. That last word is important when considering Wes Alexander’s created world and these two likeable rogues that dominate it. Alex is kind of like a watered down Bart Simpson. A rogue but lacking the urbanised cynicism. Playful and a prankster but never nasty or malicious.

The America that is presented here is reminiscent of a golden age past. It is the childhood that we all like to think we had. A time of great innocence, a world of tree huts, paper planes and long summer vacations. Where our thoughts drifted to girls, food and even road kill but our every action seemed destined to either get us in trouble or cause us embarrassment.

It is a nostalgic world that Wes has created. The romance is innocent and the pranks harmless [mainly]. In short Sormfield is a feel good collection. This is not meant as a criticism at all, quite the opposite, in fact it did remind me on many occasions of my own childhood growing up in a small town where to me the sun always shone and the world extended about as far as I could reasonably walk.
The glimpses of life we are given are not necessarily deep or even insightful but they are a reality, they do bring a smile and they are hopefully still typical amongst kids yet to grow cynical.

This collection won’t make you laugh out loud but it will make the sun shine a little brighter even if only for a brief time.

In a Word: Nostalgic.

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