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  • Writer's pictureTrusty Henchman

Reading Pile: Arise, Ye Skeleton King Book 1

I Kickstarted this project for a few reasons, but key among them was that it's co-written by the co-creator of Atomic Robo, Brian Clevinger. I love Atomic Robo, plus Escher Cattle's artwork looked incredible sharp in the previews.

AYSK follows a band of morally loose scoundrels (and one good boy) as they float from town to town grifting money with their various schemes. After a bad turn of luck, their leader Renfaer steals a treasure map that will hopefully turn their fortunes around. Unfortunately they need the help of a rival to translate it, and none of them realize what it will really lead them to.

Montagne is the goodest of good boys.

If you like fantasy comedy then this will be a great fit for you as Lee Black and Clevinger's script has smart and quick comedic pacing throughout. While virtually every character besides Montagne is either a petty jerk or generally morally questionable, the dialogue and Cattle's art infuses them with a ton of charisma. And like most of Clevinger's work regardless of the genre, it's just plain fun.

A big part of the draw for me after a few pages in was Cattle's tight storytelling as they packed the panels with a ton of detail and action. Most importantly though is their attention to facial expressions that just gives the visual narrative that extra oomph. If you took away all the word balloons you would still be able to get the gist of the story, which is something that I feel very few artists can really achieve without it being a special project.

The book clocks in at 40 pages of story with 12 pages of assorted bonuses in a 6x8 format. The Kickstarter for the physical book cost about $12 (plus shipping), and you do get the digital copy along with that. One element I do get confused about with many Kickstarters is whether or not they are charging you for the physical and digital when the only way to get the physical is to get both. I generally assume that's not the case because that's not a super great system, so then that means the price for a physical copy was $17.75 after shipping. Now with creator owned projects and zines and stuff like that I generally am ok with it costing more, and I did really enjoy this first volume. But I've also bought small projects similar in size or even bigger than this for half that cost or less, so that price does sting a little. I'm down to support, but I also gotta be careful with my money.

At the moment I'm not entirely sure you can buy the physical copy outside of the Kickstarter as it doesn't seem readily available at their webstore, but that could just be a matter of time. You can sample a good chunk of the first book though, and I highly recommend checking it out. Book one leaves it on a cliffhanger, and the premise about the deal with the titular character sounds like a lot of fun.

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