Thursday, June 15, 2017

REVIEW: Echoes From The Drift by Craig Petersen

Above: Promotional artwork for Echoes From The Drift by Craig Petersen. Copyright Craig Petersen 2017.

In the mid-90s I discovered Southern Tribe, a sci-fi comic book series produced locally by writer/artist Craig Petersen. At the time, when I wasn't attending high school, I was hard at work practicing writing and drawing my own comic books. It was a big inspirational boost to see that someone else was out there publishing comics in NZ, and essentially living the dream! Towards the end of that decade I moved to Auckland to attend university, and got to meet Craig in person at Armageddon Expo. Along with Zak Waipara, Craig was one of my first mentors, who helped welcome me into the DIY world of the NZ comics community.

Flash forward 20 years later: Craig now lives in Europe, and last year launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for his new sci-fi comic series, Echoes From the Drift. The series follows two young adventurers - Jenni and Zayf, as they explore parallel worlds. Thanks to this funding, issue #1 of the series is now available and can be ordered HERE.

Above: Character designs for Jenni and Zayf. Copyright Craig Petersen 2017.

The first issue opens in 1987, we meet Jenni, a punk styled twenty-something coming home after a long day working at a video store. Her flatmate, Rhonda, is on her way out the door for a hot date, leaving Jenni to indulge in an evening watching tapes of her favourite sitcom, One Knight Stand. Her viewing party is soon interrupted by the opening of an inter-dimensional rift, which drops an alien beast into her living room, followed by drift traveller, Zayf. Jenni and Zayf manage to force the beast back into the rift (and in the process destroy her apartment), at which point Zayf prepares to make a hasty exit...except Jenni - a huge sci-fi fan - wants to come with him. After a quick discussion, Zayf agrees to bring her along and they jump into the next dimensional rift. On the other side they find a dystopian wasteland, and seek refuge at an outpost known as 'Respite'. Inside Jenni notices some familiar faces: her friend Rhonda runs a robot repair shop, and isn't that her building's cleaning guy? Zayf warns her that they should move on, he wasn't expecting to see 'echoes' so soon...

Echoes From The Drift has a great sci-fi set-up, with plenty of opportunity for world building and fun character interplay. The dimension jumping sub-genre of sci-fi is fairly well traveled at this point (Fringe, Sliders, Quantum Leap etc), but Craig has remodelled it with a retro 80's skin that feels fresh and fun. The opening of the comic riffs on Cameron's original Terminator, with nods to anime cartoons, 80s sitcoms and Mad Max sprinkled throughout. Craig's artwork has improved greatly since the 90s, with confident storytelling and a rugged texture to the inking and colouring which suits both the 80s punk vibe of the first half of the story and the dystopian locations of the closing. If there's any draw back to the first issue, it's that it ends on a cliffhanger. But there's also an 8-page prologue story included, Ruins, which fills in the back story of the dimension they now find themselves in, so it's hard to complain.

I highly recommend checking out Echoes From The Drift #1. You can purchase it directly from Craig's website HERE. While you're there, you can also download a FREE PDF version of the prologue story Ruins to get a taste of what the series has to offer.

- AK!

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