Thaniel – A Morality Tale With A Difference
I am going to go out and date myself here, but there are days I miss the comic industry of the mid-80s. It was an experimental time when you could do things outside of the norm and comic shops would give it a shot. You could do something so out there like Bone, Cerebus, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or even Faust. Books that not only didn't look like their mainstream counterparts, they didn't even try. You could go black and white, you could have graphic violence and nudity or you can go with as family friendly as you wanted. The only real limitation was your imagination and how hard you wanted to work to promote it. I definitely miss those more experimental days of my youth.
So what got me thinking about those comics again? It was a new books from OSSM Comics called Thaniel. The fourth issue of the series hit shelves this week and I sat down this evening (or last night when you read this) and read the full series in one sitting. Now I'm not going to do what seems to pass for a review on some sites. I won't be explaining the whole story to you then spend a moment talking about the writing, then about the art and give it a grade of some kind. The fact is just about every comic out there has fans and detractors. What one person thinks of a book may be completely different from what someone else thinks.
What I will do is tell you that Thaniel is edgy and experimental in ways I didn't expect. For the first offering from a new company, I would have thought they'd play it a bit safe. Offer up something mainstream or horror to tap into the existing markets. And reading the first issue you might just get the impression that we are witnessing the birth of a new superhero. It almost has an urban Spider-Man vibe going on with amped up violence. By issue two that began to change and you start getting more of a revenge feel which gets totally blown out of the water by issues three and four. What you end up with is a well thought out, morality tale like nothing else on the shelves.
I don't know Omar Spahi the writer and creator nor the artist Terry Huddleston. I have no idea how much experience either of them have but I can say that both of them have a lot of potential. The production value of the book is great, but you can see both Spahi and Huddleston improve from issue to issue. The opening is a bit jarring and rough at points, but the series becomes smoother as each issue progresses with the fourth issue being very tight.
The company also experiments with the colors on the series. They went with a black and white with heavy shadows and the occasional single color splash. A blue sky, the red of blood, etc. It's not used in quite the same way as Frank Miller did with Sin City. They used it more to add depth or emphasis to a certain moment. This choice works really well with Huddleston's art.
OSSM did something unique here. They put out a book that isn't geared to attract and specific audience. You can't sit here and say "If you like XXXXXX, then you'll love Thaniel…." It's not that kind of a book. It's the kind of story that takes you on a tale where nothing you expect happens and in the end you are left thinking about what you just read. That's the key. When you put this book down, you will still be thinking about it. How long has it been since a new comic did that for you? For me it was sometime in the mid-80s.
For more on OSSM Comics and Thaniel, click here.