Space might seem like a fun place to visit, but there are rules for navigating the complex galactic society. And Jas, a young human from the hick planet Earth, will have to learn quick if she wants to survive.
Jas’ life isn’t going so good: rent’s due, fired from the job, dropped out of university. Walking home one night, she finds Khut, a shape-shifting alien on the run from Taikese commandos. In exchange for helping Khut, Jas asks to tag along and see the galaxy. But Khut is not just any shapeshifter, they’re the last of their kind and wanted by the Taikese Empire. Fleeing from planet to planet, Jas begins to learn more about the wider galactic society, which is more complicated the further she gets from Earth. Along the way, the two companions join competitive racer Sanna, robotics professor Garatcha Kese, and the exiled AI Dizzy. But the Taikese are still pursuing Khut, and Jas needs to come to terms with some bad news about Earth. No day is ever normal when you’re traveling in space.
Star Trip is the creation of Gisele Jobateh, who describes her work as “Sci-fi and Fantasy with queer elements and bright colours.” Unlike other science fiction stories, Jobateh’s story lines often include anthropological information and commentary on political and cultural factions. Though a story about a young woman who goes on an adventure, Jas is constantly forced to acknowledge the differences between Earth and other planets, including some elements that rub her “hick” sensibilities the wrong way. One example is Sanna, a Zettian female, whose culture allows women to go shirtless, similar to Earth men. Jobateh does not shy away from showing Sanna’s body, nor treats her as fan service. Sanna’s design is functional and cultural, meant to show the character as she is. As Jas and the reader become used to Sanna, her design becomes normal.
Other elements that buck sci-fi tropes are the number of women in the stories. Although Khut is genderless, they often present in a feminine form, blending the lines between sex and gender. As for the main crew, women outnumber the men and are often the leaders. Despite their toughness, the female characters are considerate as well, again challenging the stereotype that being strong means a person cannot be emotive. One main male character, Vron, a Taikese leader, treats his male and female subordinates with the same standards, expecting nothing less than full commitment to the job. And as a comic with queer elements, non-binary characters and relationships are the norm and given equal time to develop.
The art has evolved over time. Jobateh’s original designs had thick lines, resembling in many ways a painting or drawing. While beautiful, the art now resembles a comic more, although having lost none of the beauty. The species of the galaxy are wide and varied, from plants to mammals to fish. Most interesting is Jobateh’s use of height comparison. In many science-genre stories, most species will be on the same scale, with smaller or larger characters brought in only for specific stories. But Jobateh consistently uses different sizes and shapes to highlight distinctions between species, showcasing her creativity with the multiple characters she creates. And as promised, her comic is colorful and bright, brilliantly contrasting among the different planets.
Star Trip is a comic about a young woman learning the galaxy is bigger than she thought. Read about Jas and Khut at Startripcomic.com.