Th3rd World Studios
Writer: Nick Tapalansky
Artist: Alex Eckman-Lawn
A comic where folks explore the sunken remains of civilization?! I'm game! A Free Comic Book Day issue that catches most of the first issue?! I'm SUPER game! Thanatos Diver is a new series that is being published one page at a time at this aesthetically pleasing website by Th3rd World Studios, the company that puts out The Stuff of Legend and Gossamyr. Nick Tapalansky has an incredible world building and well worded narrative, as seen in his other great works, such as Awakening and the short story he contributed to Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard. Alex Eckman-Lawn and Tapalansky have had some experience working together, as Eckman-Lawn has also worked on the aforementioned Awakening and Mouse Guard titles. He has also contributed to the compilation Moon Lake (see more of his art here). Man I gotta tell you, if there was one word I would use to describe both of these creators it'd have to be versatile.
Thanatos Diver is the story of Sam Loring, a young lady who has always been fond of exploration and lives on a small island called Cervaille. This island is surrounding by ocean (well yeah it's an island), with no land anywhere for as far as the eye can see. As a child Sam's mother, Katy, had discovered a submersible and as Sam grew up she began to pilot it. Why even use a submarine when you are on a secluded island? Because in the ocean around the island lies the remains of a sunken civilization, pretty modern too, buildings and factories and whatnot. Sam works with her father to explore these ruins to find parts and building materials which help the town on the island stay afloat (no pun intended... probably). Sam has a rival in this enterprise named Jade, who unearthed something impossible from the Forbidden Zone while the two were having a contest. What is the artifact? Why is the zone forbidden? What happened to that civilization?! We don't know... yet.
Tapalansky has written a world that seems small but dense with story. He makes the reader so curious about what life on this island is like while simultaneously throwing the mysterious depths around the island in your face. Something has clearly happened, and whether it is eventually revealed or not it is an extraordinary plot device that makes for an innocent but captivating read. Through dialogue early on it is clear that the island is not large. Therefore as the main cast and other citizens make their appearances, their tight nit connection is very apparent. The two rivals, Sam and Jade, definitely stand out from the rest of the crowd, having very similar goals but still maintaining their own unique personas. The island clearly has a lot of personalities, and getting to know each one is bound to be a trip!
Eckman-Lawn has captured an element of whimsy in this tale by adding vibrant colors to this beach environment and the characters that inhabit it. His illustrations of the ruins within the ocean also provide further intrigue, using dark shades for added mystique. The oceanic scenes are in direct contrast to the island, with Jade and Sam bridging the two areas together. The two ladies have hair colors and other features which bring life and fun to the dead sea. The other members of the main cast are all drawn in their own way, whether it be through outfit or a totally righteous moustache. It looks as though Eckman-Lawn uses pen and watercolors to create his art, as well as the panels that contain it. The final product is a light toned story with an evergrowing world that tantalizes the reader over what else it may contain. Oh and sidenote: I LOVE the way he draws noses.
Yes, folks, Thanatos Diver is off to a great start, and it's only going to get better. Normally when something gets the "All Ages" rating, I've noticed it slips more into the kid friendly side of things. However, this book does that rating right, with a rivalry and sense of exploration that the younger fans will appreciate and an overarching, curious world which adult fans will greatly enjoy. From what I have seen from Tapalansky and Eckman-Lawn, this story is a little outside of their typical styles. That being said I am super glad they decided to give this story life, because it is bringing a lot to the table. You can check this book out at the link mentioned up top or read the FCBD preview here. ALSO, there is a graphic novel of this series coming out at some point this fall so keep an eye out!