The Adventures of Geraldine Barker
Story and Art: Angie Spice
Dialogue and Historical Advisor: Helen Strickland
MANGA SENSIBILITIES COMBINED WITH AUSTRALIAN FICTIONAL HISTORY…. AND IT WORKS.
Here is an unpopular opinion in 2018: I cannot stand Manga, Anime, or anything similar. I am not sure why this is. Oversized eyes, overdone onomatopoeia, and that weird little teardrop thing that often appears next to upset characters… I just don’t get it. However, I am aware of its popularity and respect it for what it is. Simply put, just because I don’t like something doesn’t make it bad.
When I was given a copy of Courier #0 to review, the first thing that struck me was the art. It was very, very Manga. This stands to reason, creator Angie Spice seems quite fond of the arrt form and its country of origin. This really shows in her work, it is unabashedly Manga in style, right down to the paneling. I found my old prejudices kicking it, and I was taken aback.
But I’ve got a job to do though. I cannot let that stand in the way, old feelings be damned. So I soldiered on.
And I liked it! I guess it was the setting and story that made it seem familiar, and I was able to enjoy myself. Presenting an origin story of sorts, Courier #0 shows the titular character as a young girl, with her Father along for he ride. Set in Hobart in the early 19th century (whilse the main story takes place in the 40s) , Geraldine Barker has an unforgettable encounter with the soon-to-be-extinct Tasmanian Tiger. The story belays the art and paneling, and feels surprisingly genuine, nothing seems out of place or anachronistic. This is certainly due to the involvement of Helen Strickland, who served as writer of dialogue and a historical advisor. It is nice to see a historical advisor given credit, and her contributions to the story are clear. Hobart in 1916 is seen in the opening page, with the transport and architecture giving a realistic vibe. Even the cages at the zoo where the Thylacines are kept seemed like something you’d see in real life. It made the characters, Anime as they are, seem a little out of place. It’s made up for with the simple familiar dialogue and sweet storyline. The paneling can be eclectic at times, but overall it has a nice even flow. Another quality this book shares with Manga is the lack of color. I would say the art is above usual standard, yet I have no real basis for comparison, as I’m not a regular consumer of Manga. It would be fun to see it colored, as the cover really pops. All in all, I am glad I gave it a few reads. Not bad, Spice and Strickland. Not bad at all.
As famous Tasmanian Chopper Read once said – “You can’t really have an opinion on something unless you’ve tried it.” In the constantly changing world of art, this is especially true. It is also important, however, to regularly keep on trying. Dip your toes into unfamiliar waters every now and then. As the art and culture changes, so too can your opinions. I for one am very glad I tried something ‘Manga-ish’. again. The entire story had a weird combination of goofyness and authenticity that worked very well. Above all, the story had genuine heart. Spices’ love for the medium of Manga is put through a filter of Australiana, and the result is something very special.
Check it out, especially if you are not a fan of Dragon Ball Z. You may find something you like here.