By Oliver Gerlach
Ryan K Lindsay and Alex Cormack’s Stain the Seas Scarlet, coming soon to Kickstarter, is an efficient 22 page oneshot tale of space resistance and revenge. It’s nice to see something so self-contained and confident in its brevity, and for the most part everything attempted here is handled deftly.
Lindsay and Cormack present a well-realised space dystopia in which the war is long over, the bad guys victorious. It’s very efficiently presented, with no extraneous worldbuilding getting in the way of the story. The brevity of the book is very much an advantage; keeping the full story to 22 pages ensures that there’s no space for distractions or sloppy pacing. This is a tight, engaging story, although the delivery of it doesn’t entirely work.
The narrative jumps backward and forwards, telling a story of revenge through flashbacks. There are a lot of these, and it bounces around fairly wildly. This, combined with the lack of a distinctive visual identity for each period, makes keeping track of the story a little challenging in places. Fortunately, as the issue progresses, it becomes more linear and a bit easier to keep track of. The final page, however, gives the non-linear structure a very effective payoff; it’s a nice big moment that makes the structure feel worthwhile despite the slightly wonky beginning.
Lindsay’s writing has strong, distinctive character voices, filled with rage and profanity in a way that gives the story a real sense of drive and vengeful energy. It’s very effective work, even if it does get a bit wordy and occasionally feels a bit like an unedited stream-of-consciousness piece. The cast is small and well-focused, and the range of different lettering styles keeps things very clear and unambiguous, without looking overcomplicated and chaotic.
Cormack’s art is delightful. The storytelling is clear, the character designs are distinctive and unique, and the action is energetic and driven. His colors are also good, filled with bright and vibrant reds and purples. This is a book with a very strong visual identity, as well as a strong sense of place and atmosphere in the cold blackness of space. The cover design sets the tone, with one brightly colored figure floating alone in an empty starfield.
Overall, Stain the Seas Scarlet is a good and tightly packed comic. It’s fun, it’s driven, it’s well-paced, and it looks great. The slightly incoherent structure lets it down a little, even if the payoff at the end is good. It’s definitely worth a read, and it’s refreshing to find a one-shot comic that doesn’t feel rushed and in need of more pages.
Stain the Seas Scarlet
Writer: Ryan K Lindsay
Artists: Alex Cormack