Readers of The Lost Art

Flight: volume one

March 4th, 2009

Writers and Artists: Bengal, Bill Mudron, Catia Chien, Clio Chiang, Chris Appelhans, Derek Kirk Kim, Dylan Meconis, Enrico Casarosa, Erika Moen, Hope Larson.

Reviewer: Alex


When it was released in summer 2004, Flight seemed highly symbolic of the change that had occurred in Image comics. Although Image had been set up over a decade previously by renegades from the ‘big two’ (Marvel & DC) with noble ideals of creative freedom and creator-owned titles, through the 90’s the publisher had become almost synonymous with rubbish X-Men rip-offs (epitomised by Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood) and the Top Cow imprint’s scantily clad babe (Witchblade, Tomb Raider etc.) drivel.

However, change was in the air, and a much more open and experimental policy was allowing aspiring new creators to get interesting books out with good production quality and maybe even a bit of promotion. Flight, a full-colour anthology of short pieces (loosely ‘flight’-themed) by mostly unknown, mostly young artists with backgrounds mostly in animation or webcomics, is almost the antithesis of the ‘old Image’, but it got a great industry buzz and was well received, perhaps vindicating the change in direction.

But is it any good? The answer probably depends on what you’re looking for. There can be no argument that this is a beautiful book to look at. There is a broad spectrum of art on display, mostly with some cartoony element, but also ranging to more realistic or slightly experimental styles. It’s all very pleasing to the eye, thanks in large part to the excellent use of colour throughout, which boosts each story’s thematic tone and gives the book a real sense of vitality. The content of the stories is as varied as the art, with a little of all kinds: humour, action/adventure, allegory, drama, visual poetics. As with any anthology, some appeal more than others, but the standard is high and all are readable and enjoyable.

However, with an average length of about eight pages, there’s only so much that can be crammed in to each story, particularly when many of them favour a partly or even completely wordless approach. For some people, the book will just not be substantial enough, lacking sufficient narrative meat to satisfy their hunger for plot and layered characterisation; such readers would probably be best off with a more sizeable metaphorical meal (maybe that big ‘bleu’ steak From Hell). If on the other hand, you are looking for a mixed bag of sweets, each vibrantly flavoured, then Flight is for you! It’s great for dipping into, even if you’ve already read it, just to appreciate the art or maybe pick up on a nuance you hadn’t noticed before.

With a second volume already out and a third due in summer 2006 (although this time not from Image), there’s evidently appetite for this kind of tasty treat!

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Image Comics (11 Aug 2004)
Language: English
ISBN: 1582403813

(First published 27/07/2006.)

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