Reviews

15

Jul 2015

Why I Read: Lost Nova

Posted by / in Reviews / 1 comment

lHi, everybody!  It’s Delta-v again and I have another favorite webcomic to share with you.  This one is the most straightforward premise yet, a straightforward swashbuckler with sailing ships, elves, humans, half-elves (Halvers), a quest, and a sunken civilization, a la Atlantis (or Mu, or Lemuria, depending on your literary tastes).

Author and artist Stefanie B. said I could, so let’s cast off for adventure as we explore Lost Nova.

 

Synopsis:

As Martin Bannog and his son Harris walk along the beach near their home, they encounter a waterlogged bundle containing a young, brown-skinned girl with an elaborate tattoo on her left cheek.  She’s alive, but only just.

FoundlingMartin carries her home, and together the single father and young son care for her.  She captures their hearts and she becomes a member of their family, and helps them with the family tavern.

As she grows into young womanhood the girl, who is named Pyrena, shows a marked preference for ships over more ordinary pursuits.  It is at this point in her life that a powerful, fast leviathan hunting ship sails into her town’s harbor (and into the pier, as well).  On the ship, Pyrena sees a Halver woman talking with someone apparently about the docking procedure (or lack thereof) of the ship.

Later that evening, the Halver woman shows up at the tavern, and, being subjected to the discrimination and spite that Halvers endure, ingratiates herself with the Bannogs.

Vera

The woman suddenly notices Pyrena’s tattoo, but is unable to say much before Harris, grown to an imposing size, throws her out.

After closing time and after Pyrena has gone to bed, the woman has the gall to return and try to talk to her.  Pyrena was having none of it, so the woman climbed up to Pyrena’s second story window.  She tells Pyrena an amazing story about the Lost Island of Nova, and that it might not have sunk after all.  We also learn that, although Pyrena can’t read the common language (typified by English, here) she can read ancient Novan, to a degree.  The woman, who gives her name as Vera, also hints that she knows quite a bit more about who and what Pyrena might be.  Pyrena, desperate to know more about herself, begs to follow Vera.

It’s hard to imagine a greater contrast between the two women Pyrena is short, tending to the curvy, somewhat retiring, quiet, and rather unsure of herself, and wears longish dresses while Vera is tall, thin and angular, brash, and loud, favoring more mannish attire.  Vera is also more athletic, and a seasoned fighter, which may also help explain her choice if clothing.

After a painful parting with Harris, who happened to be awake, the ladies leave for the ship, named the Odalisque, where Pyrena is introduced to some of her shipmates, a very nasty human slave named Dampton, and the far nicer elf, Owen Kairn,  the First Mate.

The CrewNext Pyrena meets Captain Ben Scalby, and learns that she is a Ghillie, a race of elves living in the southern reaches of the continent.  The meeting does not otherwise go well.

Cap'n

In his defense, Captain Scalby wasn’t angry at Pyrena, he was just feeling put upon, which is apparently a frequent condition of those around Vera.  At this time we also get the first hint of the secretive group, the Children of Nova, which employs Vera.

Not too long after this, Pyrena, who was feeling a good deal less enthusiastic about adventure on the high seas, was informed (Dampton, again) that such adventure could also be dangerous.  Pyrena was no big fan of danger, as she explained to Vera.

rant

Vera manages to reassure her, and less anxious, if not exactly mollified, Pyrena faces the adventure to come.

 

How I Found It:

I stumbled across it in a mostly Underdog populated cosplay circle.  There are also links on deviantART and Twitter.

 

Why I Like It:

It’s a tale well told, with good plotting and flow, engaging characters, and an interesting take on the “Lost Continent” sub-genre.  I found myself drawn in to the story, and caring what happened to the characters–even Dampton.  The story itself is fun, like looking over the shoulders of a group on a treasure hunt, watching as they uncover clues and make assumptions.  It’s adventure on a grand scale.  The characters are well rounded, and grow as we read, changing our first impressions as the story unfolds.  There’s plenty of drama, enough humor to leaven the suspense, and a sense that something unexpected is just around the corner.

Stefanie has obviously put a lot of thought into the design of the Lost Nova world, from their religion, to their economy, social mores, legends and character traits, all while maintaining a sense of wonder.

I’ve read a lot of novels, And I’m favorably impressed with Stefanie’s writing.

The artwork also deserves mention.  She has a clean, almost spare style so important in a  black and white comic, but the characters are full, with beautiful shading and close attention to perspective.  She can also draw believable hands, the holy grail of comic art.

Her expressions are right on, especially when the character is doing a “take”, or expressing a more subtle emotion, and impressively free of false hints, where the viewer might misread a less well drawn face.

Body language is also excellent, with no false notes there either, and there is a fluidity to the various poses which gives them a remarkably life-like feel.

The cover pages and the colored pages at the beginning of the comic show a harmonious and subtle blend which I found quite appealing, and gives some clues to Stefanie’s overall vision for the comic.

 

What Could Be Better:

Not much.

Since it was pointed out to me a while ago,  I’ve become rather a fan of being able to navigate to the next page by clicking on the current page.  I also found myself wishing that the Archive page was current, but since I’m not looking up pages much any more because my research is now finished, it’s kind of a small niggle.

I ran into a navigation problem where no matter which navigation button I clicked on, I was taken to the last page of the comic.  This, however may be a problem on my end, since it was sporadic.  If it is my computer’s problem only, allow me to humbly apologize in advance.

(Dan noticed an occasional typo in the comic while reading some of it as well.  Just something to keep an eye out for.)

 

Final Thoughts:

I would not hesitate to recommend Lost Nova to anyone who is looking for a first-class read, and am looking forward myself to the next page to post.

Indeed, my chief annoyance is the distressingly small number of people who are voting for Lost Nova on the Top Web Comics Top 100 list.  This is far too fine a comic to be treated like this, and I call upon all who read to take the time to remedy this appalling oversight.  You can redeem yourselves by clicking HERE and voting.

All images are the property of Stefanie B. and are used by permission.

  • NickDA

    Like it yay