EDIT: [March 2012] This is a review of the original, print edition. I subsequently worked with John “Koi” Carreon on revising the script of the digital edition.
Judging by “Marco’s Delivery Service”(written and illustrated by John Carreon) and its previous production, “My Falling Star Girlfriend”, Ravencage Studios (Facebook page) understands that while you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, it’s important to assume that many of us will do just that. The front and back cover of “Marco’s Delivery Service” (MDS from here on) are sturdy boards, which serve as the canvas for a colored front cover and a black-on-yellow logo at the back, both of which create a feeling of retro-fun. The front cover in particular calls to mind old school rebel-buddies-with-a-fast-ride shows, which is exactly the genre embraced by this stand alone komik, except in an anime influenced futuristic setting: think Outlaw Star or Cowboy Bebop.
Carreon’s art is distinctive, mixing some elements of the manga-style with the large heads and hard-angled figures of Western cartoons. The story is action packed, and Carreon infuses his chase scenes and explosions with a lot of energy. The technology and costumes have a coherent style, retro-futuristic, and it’s admirable that Carreon is able to maintain this unity throughout the issue. This helps give a certain depth to this alternate world.
Unfortunately, the writing does not manage to create a similar depth for the characters. While I’m not looking for massive amounts of character development from a one-shot, even by the end of the story I hadn’t gotten a good handle on who these characters were. (The scenes at the diner and the hangar merely show that Frank is serious and Jim is not, but that’s a standard buddy-show dynamic.) While it was a good move to start the komik in the midst of the action (the first scene shows the ship of the protagonists being chased by pirates), I’d have preferred it if the komik eventually showed us why we should care about what happens to these characters. While there are initially hints at deeper undercurrents to Frank’s character, this is never really explored, and his actions at the middle of the book (when he hands over a certain “super drive”) and his thoughts at the end of the book remain contradictory. While in a series this may be seen as laying a ground work for a subsequent adventure, since MDS is marketed as a one-shot, I’m looking at it as a bug and not a feature.
Other concerns, such as grammar problems and imperfect photocopying/printing (which leaves out some of the words at the outermost edge of the pages), are ones which plague many komiks so I won’t belabor the point. All in all, however, this is an improvement over many other komiks in terms of art and cohesion of concept.
[Note: If you're interested, Ravencage will likely be selling copies of MDS at the UP-ISSI Indie Komiks Bazaar this Saturday, December 4.]
It’s about… two partners in a futuristic courier service, as they try to make their delivery in spite of pesky pirates.
The language is… English.
It tastes like… Outlaw Star, without the lovable characters.