Reading Pile: White Ash TP Vol 1
White Ash was something I meant to check out a couple years back as it was being released, but well, I meant to check out a lot of things and we all know how current I am with my reading at this point. Anywho, I finally picked up the trade and I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy/drama/action/horror hybrid.
The story follows Aleck who's trying to escape the small coal mining town of White Ash as he's feeling trapped wants to go to college. Just as he's on the way out an explosion at the mine threatens his father's life and bears ill tidings for the entire town. Aleck soon begins to learn the secrets of his family and the entire town as he quickly gets thrust into a supernatural world full of dwarves, elves, and monsters.
WA has a bit of a CW tone to its drama, only it's handled exceedingly well with strong scripting and characterization from writer Charlie Stickney and it knows how to balance all of the various tones. The first few pages set up a good sense of the creepier aspects of the world, and then we get a tightly paced intro to the town and the core relationships of our main character.
As the story progresses we get equal parts humor, romance, and fantasy mystery as Aleck's heritage is revealed and the stakes are gradually increased. The best part about the pacing though is that there's a definite long game developing as this feels like a strong first season that can act as a complete story but also wants to engage the reader with a growing mythology.
Conor Hughes' artwork enhances that sense of engagement with his crisp linework, strong narrative flow, and a keen eye for facial expressions and body language. Combined with Fin Cramb's coloring that infuses the book with tons of tone and atmosphere the art is just a lot of fun to take in as it brings forth a really strong sense of this world.
The first volume clocks in at 192 pages for $19.99 so it's a solid deal for a chunk of reading. Considering the six issue series was $3.99 a pop you're actually saving some money, plus you get some process pages and pin-ups on top. Thee only downside is that while it seemed like every chapter break was supposed to feature a full color virgin version of the issue's cover, the color versions of issues two and three were omitted for some reason. It's not a deal breaker of any sort, but just sort of odd
If you're in the mood for a fun and engaging fantasy drama hybrid then I definitely recommend giving this a shot. Creators Stickney and Hughes really hit it out of the park for me so I'll be eagerly awaiting the next collection.