Indie graphics studio Th3rd World have been racking up successes with quirky and heartfelt comics The Stuff of Legend and Finding Gossamyr. With the studio’s latest title, writer Nick Tapalanksy and artist Alec Eckman-Lawn have crafted the alluring all-ages story, Thanatos Diver.
Set on the pokey-but-pretty Cervaille Island, on an apparent ocean planet, main character Samantha dreams of going beyond the sea. She’s an inquisitive and mischievous teen with itchy feet and a desperate sense of adventure, scavenging goods from the sea bottom in her cute tech-diver. After trying to get one up on a bitchy rival diver, Sam soon has all the adventure she can handle.
It’s a well written, effortless story channelling the best of Hayao Miyazaki. The only text is the speech, with the rest revealed by the art itself. The dialogue mostly takes a back seat, with multiple pages passing without the need for text. Indeed, it could be read without any text whilst maintaining a clear narrative.
The art has a lack of clear cut straight lines, which gives it an organic feel, mirroring life on the island. Eckman-Lawn is almost haphazard with his scruffy figures and strokes, and the watercolour festooned on top. The invigorating palate of bright oranges and the moody blues of the ocean depths show off life above and below the water line. The wrecked undersea cities themselves have an eerie beauty; a sense of all that was lost, but also a sense of escapade and exploration.
There’s plenty of mystery and unanswered questions left at the end of the first issue. It’s a very strong start, an engaging story with thrilling writing that proves the continued appeal of scavengers and good old fashioned adventure.
INFO: THANATOS DIVER #1 / WRITER: NICK TAPALANSKY / ARTIST: ALEC ECKMAN-LAWN / PUBLISHER: TH3RD WORLD STUDIOS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW