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For those of you who don’t recognize the name of She Wolf #1 creator, Rich Tommaso, you’ve been missing out. He’s been working in comics for over 20 years, usually self-publishing or releasing work under the umbrella of a bunch of smaller press publishers. His style is definitely more in the cartoonist realm than your straight ahead comics realm, and as such gives off a vibe more influenced by underground/indy artists. Traditionally, he works in the crime genre, with his last series, “Dark Corridor”, being published by Image.
His work is off beat and his art style may take some getting used to if you’re more comfortable with conventional comics, but if you’ve enjoyed the style of other indy artists such as Charles Burns or Daniel Clowes, then you’ll be
right at home. She Wolf #1 is the story of Gabby Catella, an 18 year old high school student who has an encounter with a werewolf and soon after begins to experience strange visions and experiences.
Of course anyone who has ever seen a werewolf movie is going to know exactly what’s happening here, but the treat of the issue is the surreal weirdness that Tommaso infuses into every panel. His cartoonish style only serves to heighten the bizarre and sinister visions and dreams Gabby begins to experience, and the stripped-down narrative of the opening issue allows the mood and atmosphere to take centre stage. It’s a bit of a weird issue, to be sure, but it’s supposed to be, in order to put you within the subjective nightmarish reality Gabby is trapped in.
Tommaso begins the story in media res, which gives him the option of other filling us in on how Gabby found herself in this situation, or not, really. He’s skilled in filling in Gabby and her relationship to her world in subtle ways, through her behaviour and of those around her, rather than laying it all out obviously. Her haircut and pentagram necklace marks her as a teenage outsider, if the way that teachers and her family treat her doesn’t do so already enough. There’s also an interesting feminist subtext in how Gabby is seemingly blamed for her involvement in, and for being attacked by, a werewolf. This will develop further, no doubt, but I couldn’t help but wonder if Tommaso is talking about our perceptions of women who are the victims of violence. Or maybe it’ll turn out she does deserve some blame.
In any case, the first issue is intriguing enough for me to be interested to see where it goes. I enjoyed the unconventional art and Gabby is a fun and interesting character to follow. It’s the potential of the issue the leads me to give She Wolf #1 an 8/10.
She Wolf #1 will be released by Image Comics on June 22, 2016.