An anthology book about Dia de los Muertos? That has a hook to it.
There is a lot in this book that is interesting to read and see. On the inside panel they call the comic “Riley Rossmo’s Dia de los Muertos” and it is easy to see why—his hands are all over this book. If he didn’t bring the art to the book, then he was there for the colors and layouts.
There are three stories focusing around the theme of Dia de los Muertos. For those who don’t know about the holiday, there is a line from the book that explains it best: “From October 31 to November 2 is when the veil between the spirit world and our world is at its thinnest, and it’s easier for the dead to reach into this realm.” Part of the tradition is to dress as the dead to be able to trick the dead so they don’t come after you. Interesting holiday, and it is interesting to see how that theme gets played out in each of the three stories.
If you go into this book knowing how that about the holiday and tradition, then there is a lot that you pick up on and enjoy from the book. Unfortunately, one of the weak spots is that they only explain the holiday in the second story. The first one doesn’t make mention of this much, and while it doesn’t impact the overall story, I think you miss a little bit from it because of this. But it is nothing that a second reading will cure, and that is something I highly recommend, if only to take in the art a second time.
The first time I saw Rossmo’s art was in Green Wake. To me, it felt sloppy, really dark, and really not suited for the printed page. I could barely tell what was happening, because I just felt that black was splashed everywhere on the page. In this comic, Rossmo opens up his color palette for a variety that really opens up the art. There is a clarity and skill that is reflected from what we see in the opening salvo, which I think was the strongest out of all the stories. The other stories tended to be a little more off the mark from the goodness of the first one.
I think that it is a good thing that each story has a different feel to the art. That tells me that Rossmo is employing different techniques to try and tell each story with a unique narrative through the art. I can applaud an artist for doing that. Showing depth of range with your art skills can come in handy when the right story comes along. After reading this first issue, I don’t think this is the right story, but I like seeing how his technique develops and the differences shown with each chapter. Think of the art as maturing in the exercise that this comic book brings.
Each story has its own writer, but there is a unique theme that they all share: all are written rather well. Each one tells the story it needs to with a focus to not be overbearing with the words, a positive in a book where the art wants to shine a little brighter. Even in the second story where I thought the coloring wasn’t the best, the actual written words ultimately sold me on the story.
When I’m done with the book, I don’t get the sense that I want to read more stories from future issues of this book, I just want to see where the art goes. I’m not the kind of person that buys a book strictly for the art, but this is one series I could see making an exception for.