This might just be my favorite story I’ve read this year which is hard for me to actually say. I’ve read a lot of good titles this year and currently I’m struggling back and forth about what to put at the top of that list. The thing that San Hannibal has going for it, is a rewarding ending to a mystery. A mystery that I can happily say that I didn’t have figured out, at least not the meat and potatoes. Granted a good mystery should allow the reader to figure it out for themselves and while I feel that San Hannibal did just that, but I didn’t want it spoiled for myself, by myself. I don’t know how long it’s been in my life that I chose not to over analyze a story to the point that I had an angle or just plain had it all figured out. A lot of it comes from the style that San Hannibal was presented in. The growing inclusion of colors at first seemed like a cool stylistic choice, but with this final issue it’s clear that the colors have real meaning to the story.
Now I can’t say for certainty what they represent, but I suspect that each of the core colors represented an aspect of the story or at the very least the involvement of a character in the story. For instance Diane’s final scene in the comic is all blue, much like the issue that introduced her. Honestly I can only provide guesses at this point, but it definitely makes the re-reading value of this mystery go way up.
You may be wondering when I’ll get to my usual synopsis of the issue, but I’m not going to tell you anything about it. Instead I’ll tell you that writer/artist Dan Schkade is my creator of the year if we gave out such an award on this site. His narration for this issue alone is masterful, but his work on the series overall has been impressive and an absolute treat to read. I just don’t think there’s been another series this year that’s been as poetic, informative and delightful to read. I know I’m throwing around adjectives, but that’s all I can do in an attempt to describe how damn wonderful this story has been not to mention the artwork.
In fact not mentioning Schkade’s artwork would be a terrible crime. Since taking over with the second issue I’ve been more impressed with him as a creator. I don’t think the first issue is bad by any means, it’s a great issue and fits with the series, but when Schkade took over that’s when the book really took off for me. His scene of panel layouts and his awareness of the coloring is fantastic.
Of course I have to talk about the coloring some more. Jesse Snavlin may not have colored half of Image or Dark Horse’s releases this year like others in the profession have, but she is my colorist of the year. This issue in particular is so complex with the coloring that I don’t even know where to begin. The decisions of what to color, what to leave plain and who; it all just meshes together to work perfectly is just beyond me when I look at it. It’s easy to overlook the complexity of the coloring, but trust me you really should study it and pay attention because Snavlin is just on another level. I wish I had a better vocabulary to describe the coloring so I’ll just say that it’s stunning and gorgeous to look at.
You may have missed this series. It was released by a smaller publisher and only had two creators attached to it. I hope that you didn’t. I hope that you took a break from some of the more over hyped titles that blew up on the creator-owned circuit this year and got a taste of what true comic book making looks like. In case you didn’t catch that I’m taking about San Hannibal, my book of the year.
Score: 5/5 (though if I rated the entire series together it would break the scale)
Writer/Artist/Creator: Dan Schkade Colorist: Jesse Snavlin Publisher: Pop! Goes The Icon Price: $2.99 Release Date: 12/17/14 Format: Mini-Series (of 5); Print/Digital