I first discovered the character of Chapel in Dark Horse Presents. I tend to pay close attention to any single page comic they introduce; this mostly because you know that they have to be good. The creator has one page to impress an editor to get into the issue and they did it. It says something about a creator when they can do that. The Chapel Chronicles Collection is just that, a collection. It’s the culmination of creator Emma T Capps web-series of the same name that is still currently running. Capps has managed something that most fans of comics never will and that’s writing, drawing and printing her own comic. Now, this isn’t just a printed collection of the web-series as Capps offers insight below each page about what inspired that particular comic. Sometimes it short and others can be quite lengthy, but all of them are informative.
There were some story sequences that I enjoyed. Chapel’s fascination with hats never grew tiresome and felt as if Capps had infused a part of herself into the character. I enjoyed the hedgehog and thought that it was quite cute. The story really does come across as a fantasy biography in many ways, especially when you read Capps notes at the bottom. I liked that aspect of it and think that it worked with the format and structure of the series.
Now for me personally, this book was good. Once you got the rhythm of the storytelling that’s about it; there are some interesting interludes and such, but for the most part it’s consistent with its presentation from beginning to end. I’m sure fans of the series would love to own the book, but I don’t know if it’ll bring a lot of new fans to the series. I do think that it’s a great starter comic for kids and teens looking to get into comics, but have no interest in superheroes. If this was around when I was kid I definitely would have liked it because I’ve never been content in just reading about people in capes and tights.
The art style reminded me a lot of Home Movies, which is a very good thing. I think it gave the series a stylized look which is important. More importantly it allowed the settings and backgrounds to contain a fair amount of detail without cluttering the scene. There is a good balance with the details. The coloring is also very strong and the lighting effects, while noticeable, are still effective for the scenes.
What I actually really enjoyed about the series was the bonus material in the back. Seeing Capps’ process from beginning to end, the equipment used; it was all very interesting. That’s again why I think this would be a great comic for people looking to get into comics, especially at an earlier age. The truth of the matter is that Capps has accomplished something at a very young age and that’s commendable all on its own. Then you have to take into account that the writing and art are of equal quality and it’s a bit more impressive. It also makes me feel as if I’ve wasted well over half of my life, but hey that’s my problem to deal with.
I don’t know if I would personally continuing following the life and times of Chapel, but I’ll definitely check out Capps’ next project. She’s a talented creator and I suspect that her writing and art will only get better. In the meantime though, check out the trade and get the web-series experience all in one shot.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Emma T. Capps