October Girl tells the story of Autumn Ackerman, an 18 year old who has always felt a little different. She exists in a world familiar to those who have survived the teen years and are moving into adulthood. She lives at home, goes to school, and works at a coffee shop where she feels as though life is sneaking up and preparing to pass her by. With an absent father, mother and daughter struggle to make ends meet. Through the eyes of a young woman Autumn’s situation seems hopeless, but she’s soon to find out everything she thinks she knows about the world is wrong, as the proverbial white rabbit leads her down the rabbit hole.
While Autumn’s situation is not dire by any means, it’s easy to relate to her plight. Her feelings of desperation are palpable. I think we’ve all had those moments where we look at our future and can only see brick walls and dead ends. We all want some intervening magic to come along and rescue us from the mundane. If only we could walk the path to Mordor, or ride through time and space in the Tardis. If only real life could be such an adventure.
October Girl is the brain child of comic creator Mathew Dow Smith who assumes both the writing and illustrating duties. Smith uses a minimalist approach to the artwork, forgoing detail for emotional impact. The bold lines remind me of Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” style of art.
Looking over Smith’s resume, I get the impression he’s primarily an illustrator. His work has appeared in the pages of DC’s Starman, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy (No surprise here), Marvel’s Nightcrawler, and Top Cow’s Witchblade. He is also known to frequent the pages of IDW’s Doctor Who, and I was pleased to see he’s written a few shorts for the Who series as well.
The thing about comic book artists who decide to write is, they often do one much better than the other, so you either end up with an amazing looking comic much too painful to read, or an ugly book never to receive a second glance. I think Smith has avoided this trap by both illustrating and writing a beautiful comic.
October Girl is one of six new books published by MonkeyBrain Comics, and it displays a respect for comics as an art form I can only hope they are committed to upholding. If all their books are as brilliant as October Girl, we have a lot to look forward to.
Reading Mathew Dow Smith’s October Girls was a joy. I can’t recommend it enough.
Matthew Dow Smith, Writer/Artist