Writer/Artist: Rossi Gifford
Publisher: Chapter House Comics
Whimsy! Some comics have it and some don't. This here book has it in spades! Spirit Leaves tells the story of Freya, a deer girl, and Skoll, a wolf boy. Both of these individuals live in a world of balance, with spirits and demons constantly fighting to make everything work. Freya's tribe, the Herd, have sensed a disruption in the balance, where the demons are starting to take more prominence. Against their wishes, Freya goes out to figure out why this shift is occurring and how to stop it. She figures this will solve everyone's problems and give her a chance to prove herself. In her travels she runs into Skoll, a wolf boy from the carnivorous tribe, the Pack, whose goals are similar to hers. The two decide to team-up to hunt down the demon known as the Beast. What the duo doesn't know, is that there are many other threats and challenges in the woods besides the Beast...
Gifford writes a fantastical world that is just as vast as it is mysterious. With a quick description page at the beginning giving us a little preview of what we are going to get, we get thrust into the story. The story works at a great pace to give us the information we need before showing the team up of the two main characters, which fleshes out the world enough to suck the reader in before the main adventure. This is a world of animal/human tribes, good, and evil, all being encapsulated by the enjoyably naive team of Skoll and Freya. This team has a fun amount of depth as both of these individuals had very different upbringings, both of which give into the idea that this is an environment that is constantly working in balance. Skoll and Freya both have their own unique personalities furthering the individuality between the characters. Skoll is more abrasive whereas Freya is more peaceful, just like the animals they represent. With those two diverse personalities in this mythical world, we are witnessing the beginning of a very enjoyable quest.
The art in this book is what really caught my eye. Looking at Rossi Gifford's art style (you can too at her WordPress) you can tell that she has incredible sense of layout and concept. From cover to cover this comic is exploding with style. On each page, traditional paneling is replaced with overlapping story moments, getting the most detail as possible onto each page, and those overlapping moments are all drawn with varying shapes and figures. The character models are fable-esque and combine human/animal combinations that don't venture too far to either side of the spectrum. The character that really stands out is Freya. With piercing red eyes and white skin that stand outs very well against the increasingly dark environments, everything from her reactions to her action sequences has a great uniqueness to it. There's a clear level of graphic design prowess to to this whole story, and the resulting product is stunning. I mean... good god look at the covers!
Spirit Leaves is a type of story that I've never quite seen before from a creator which I will now make sure to follow. From illustration craftsmanship to overall execution, Rossi Gifford has a lot of great stuff at play here! Again, if you want to see more of her work, check out her WordPress. Spirit Leaves #1 came out this past week for only $3.99!