By Shayna Marchese
I’m not sure what to make of comics that exist both online and in print. Is it a minicomic? Is it a webcomic? Either way, Shayna Marchese’s Voids looks great. Not only is she a cartoonist but she’s a respectable designer as well, which translates both on the page and online.
What you get in print is an attractive, grayscale, hand-held version of what’s available in a limited color palette on her website. The color adds a variance to the page that isn’t lost or compromised when it’s printed in gray. With my lousy internet connection, I’d take a hundred print copies over a color comic online any day, even with a page set-up as neat as Marchese’s at voidscomic.com.
I was handed parts 1-3 of Voids at MoCCA last month. Parts 4-5 aren’t yet printed but they are available online. What a relief! After breezing through the first three parts I was dying for more Voids. Part 6 began serializing in May of this year and updates are promised every Wednesday.
The Voids minis were packaged in a neat, square envelope with a linen-like texture. The three books inside are square shaped, 5”x5”, and offer a black glossy cover with just a snapshot image of what’s inside. This gives the books an air of mystery, which is certainly what they deliver.
The story is about a girl named Sara living in New York City. Her life goes through a lot of changes right away, such as being abandoned by her roommate, returning to an old job and getting dumped by her boyfriend of three years. Everything she does is suddenly strange and new. Not to mention she seems to have picked up three stalkers: the can collector who might be leaving her pennies, the boy next door who seems to have a thing for her and Kara, who gets uncomfortably into everyone’s business.
The art feels mostly rigid and unemotional yet simple and likeable. The characters very rarely smile but their mouths are sweet and little when they speak. The plot keeps getting thicker even though Sara would prefer to be left alone. It feels like comics noir, a theme emphasized by the low-key coloration, and it’s very exciting to see everything unfold.
Certain unexplained things keep happening. Why did Kara punch Sara in the face? Is it a coincidence that their names are so similar? What’s with all the pennies? How did Kara get a published copy of an as-yet unfinished book? Will someone please explain this to me? Shayna? Please? I can’t wait to finish reading these books.