Cast Iron Books is a fairly new publisher on the block but with some hefty talent involved in there first few releases they were definitely
Future – Writer: Tom Woodman, Artist: Rupert Smissen, Letterer: Adiya Bidikar
This sci-fi offering was one that I knew virtually nothing about but a glimpse of the cover was more than enough to get me reaching for that Kickstarter pledge button. It tells the futuristic story of Earth hurtling towards it’s death throws but the final roll of the dice in an attempt to save the planet sees the last astronaut on the planet, Murray Mielniczuk, being drafted in to go on a very different mission.
Murray herself is dying & with her engineer wife Kay being drafted in for the same mission it’s got the added pressure of trying to find a cure and give hope to the couple at the core to this tale. The plan to send them forward into the future goes well enough to begin with but as they crash land on an Earth that seems far more barren than they had imagined it’s clear that things just got a lot more complicated. They’re not giving up without a fight though and the adaptability of an astronaut, engineer and married couple sees them thinking for their lives and a greater good beyond that.
Murray & Kay are key to making things gel & matter as things unfold and Tom manages to keep things balanced between the bigger story of Earth and the central couple amazingly well. The heart strings are plucked along the way as we are really drawn into caring about what happens particularly to Murray but also how things develop as part of the overall journey they find themselves battling through. The visuals from Rupert capture the scale & intimacy that each of the differing aspects demand and the thrill of a life or death pursuit brings with it a hook that emphasizes a subtle hint of poignancy that invokes an impressive connection with the couple at it’s core. Aditya’s lettering keeps that all in check as fuller details of the mission and the snappy quips between the couple have a slick sense of control to them and that keeps everything flowing effortlessly.
In the end, this whole book is another example of how glorious it can be when a gamble on Kickstarter pays off and the difference here is that it manages to show us what Cast Iron Books is aiming to achieve but also just how well this creative team works together. Story, art & lettering are firing on all cylinders here to make sure that the multiple layers are given their own chance to shine and with Murray & Kay driving things forward with their own purpose and togetherness, it just feels like this has more to offer than was even suggested from that first look.
Candles – Lyndon White
Lyndon’s book of magic & monsters is one that I had spoken with him about in the past and when it found it’s home with Cast Iron Books it seemed to accelerate the chance of it becoming a reality. That being said, there was always enough of a glimpse at this solo graphic novel to dazzle and confirm that it had everything in place to be something special…..and when it hit the campaign trail as a hardback I was on it like a shot.
Telling the story of generation after generation being told NOT to have anything to do with magic it quickly becomes apparent that the world we find ourselves in has your classic mix of good verses evil bubbling away at it’s core. Central to this are two stories – first it’s one of Grace as she tries to play her part in saving her village from an evil plague known as the Dark-bark and all while she tackles her parents as they push her in the direction of fighting the good fight with arrows & fire. Second to this is the story of Ava as she tries her best to follow her mentor’s wishes and keep learning how to control magic as a means to fight the same fight but from a different direction.
Those two stories converge on each other with an effortless ease that sees things all build to a reveal that I never saw coming and it’s here that we realise just how good a writer Lyndon is. Alongside that is probably some of the best art we’ve seen from him and having already been in awe at his style & colours in his previous projects, it’s a case of him levelling up and then some as things evolve. The plot pacing is key to that reveal hitting home but it’s the glowing world and the attention to detail in his characters that gives you the strongest sense of the personal passion poured into this one. He HAS to get a nod for his lettering too as it allows the art to shine and the story to flow in a way that shows off just how much of an allrounder he is
Amazing story & awesome art are hard enough to come by on their own but to get them wrapped up in self-contained book does in fact take this into the realm of being special. In the end Candles ends up being a book of hope, possibility, magic & wonder that’s gifted to us with enough surprises along the way to ensure that the empowerment of it’s characters is felt just as strongly in the reader – kudos to Cast Iron Books for making this a reality too.
You can get hold of both these books and more over on the Cast Iron Books website and you can check what they and all the creators are working on through the links below too.