by, Sara Goetter
Ya know, I always feel like there is a large saturation of fantasy stories in novels and comics. I must confess, normally the genre doesn't quite grab me. However, this year at Topatocon I had the pleasure of meeting the very personable Sara Goetter, and picked up this little one-and-done gem. To see more of Goetter's fun (and occasionaly dark) style and stories, visit sgoetter.com.
Haircut features the knight, B, and the princess she is protecting/freeing, Mildred. As soon as the story begins we get retold of a battle with a magic rock troll, the result of which was B having to cut off Mildred's long hair, hence the title of the book. From there, the duo gets confronted by an army of skeletons pouring out of the ground led by none other than Mildred's father... the KING! With extremely powerful force working against B, will she make it out alive? Will Mildred be forced to return to the castle? More importantly... will her hair grow back?! Well YOU can find out by clicking that link in the first paragraph and seeing for yourself.
Goetter takes a less is more approach to this story which benefits the comic as a whole. Clearly a master of context clues, she gives us a lot of the information we need as to why B and Mildred are together, what their relationship is, who they are running from, and much more. She also has a knack for creating palpable connections between characters. As soon as we are introduced to B and Mildred there is a definite magnetism beneath their already strong friendship, and even in this relatively short story there is a satisfying development as the tale progresses. Lastly, I'd like to mention the dialogue being used here. Both protagonists use a vernacular that is very modern but still has roots in the fantasy genre, mixed with a very contemporary wit making for two humorous and likable characters.
The art style portrayed in this book is just as enjoyable as the characters! Each character (at least the human ones) have large eyes and angular noses, the King's and Mildred's noses actually match almost perfectly. I'm assuming that was intentional, and I dig it. Going back to the subject of context, through her Goetter's character models she makes it very clear what each character's role is, and even if the words were taken out the story and these characters would still be easy to understand simply through the illustrations. The style in this book uses dark outlines and then slightly lighter linework for everything inside of whichever object is displayed. There is a subtlety to the aforementioned lighter linework that adds a nice little touch to each panel. One of the really cool effects used in this comic is the King's use of taking over a body. Basically, the King is speaking through/fighting with one of his soldiers. Goetter illustrates this by alternating panels between the King in the castle and the body in the battle in way that produces perfect cohesion and understanding of the situation. In all of the comics on Goetter's website, it is clear that she has her own unique look, but it is how she uses her style as a method for even better story telling that is impressive.
Haircut is an enjoyable and surprising journey into the realm of fantasy. With some fun twists and turns as well as an overall open minded tone, it's hard not to love this duo. This is a one shot, but here's to hoping there will be much more, as there is clearly a lot of opportunity for more adventures! This comic is only $5 and can be purchased with some super awesome video game inspired prints at http://sgoetter.storenvy.com/. Get you some!