I just purchased Perils of Picorna at MICE this weekend. I was really drawn in by the cover, a cute, well drawn, girl who looked like a reluctant hero. I flipped through it and after walking around for a few hours decided that I would regret it if I didn't buy it. I’m glad I swung back to pick it up.
Written by Amy Kaczmarowski and Rick Silva and drawn by Missy Pena, Perils of Picorna is a fantasy Dungeons and Dragons type of world. The story is about a young servant girl, Picorna. This first chapter is about her taking on a daring mission, the first step (I'm assuming) of her becoming a full fledged hero. The world is completely realized, right down to the back story of most of the characters. The writers give us just enough back story without detracting from the current story.
The backgrounds in this book are fantastic. They are rendered with ease, and never seem labored. I always have a good sense of where the characters are in their world. Most of the artwork in this book is fantastic. For being Missy Pena's first published comic, she should be very pleased. Her character designs are tight and fun to look at. Each character has their own distinctive facial features. Character design and backgrounds are definitely Pena’s strong points.
Pena is such a great artist that the cold font sound effects that are pasted over her artwork clash immensely. I cringed every time my eyes slipped over a sound effect, feeling instinctively that Pena could have rendered something much more pleasing to the eye that fit more organically with the rest of the panel. Being on font, the text font was not distracting at all. There were a few odd shaped word balloons, but nothing entirely too distracting.
The page layouts were well thought out and considered. As far as words versus pictures go, I feel like there were a few too many words in some parts of the book. Characters would speak paragraph after paragraph to each other. Five paragraphs on a page and you might as well be reading a novel. People don’t usually talk like that, unless they’re long winded and in which case you might avoid talking to someone like that. There could be some more concise way to get the information and characterizations across. Much of this feels like the writers trying to cram too much information about the world or situation at the reader. I feel that some of it could have been weeded out and put in the back few pages, where there is a page of back story for the two main characters. So much dialog halts the flow of the story. Anything more than three or four sentences in a panel is too dialog heavy.
There are two action sequences in this story and they both felt stiff and rigid. There was little mounting tension in both sequences. And the characters action poses felt wooden and unnatural. I would suggest lengthening the action scenes in the future; really make them count for something. These are big moments, let the readers know that by giving them the space they need. Especially the final action sequence, it’s only 3 pages, one of which is a splash page. I would suggest that Pena study up on some classic fighting comics, anything by Akira Toriyama (the creator of Dragon Ball), to help strengthen future action scenes. And don’t forget the dramatic tension that can be utilized with page turns. The bottom of the right hand page should keep the reader wondering what’s happening next, so that they can’t wait to turn the page. Like a sword slicing through the air, right above Picorna’s head, that would hold me rapt.
The design layout of the book was poor. Some of the panel boarders were cut off and the margins were anywhere from a half inch to one sixteenth of an inch.
Aside from those nitpicky things, I very much enjoyed Perils of Picorna. I am now invested in this character and am anxiously awaiting her further adventures in 2011. I also can’t wait to see how Amy Kaczmarowski, Rick Silva, and Missy Pena evolve as a group.