FTL, Y’ALL Is The Sci-Fi Trip In Comic Form That We All Need To Take

Science Fiction has been one of my favorite genres across the board in nearly every type of medium since forever. Film, television, books, video games, concept albums, you name it.

There is just something so intriguing of a genre that thrives on the imagination with stories that are too big to fit within any of us. Stories that can make sense of chaos and ruin.

Stories that can give us a profound sense of belonging here on earth with gadgets and techno logic advancements that can carry us into the next age or even stories that take us to space and beyond.

Stories that are strange and amazing and that’s exactly where Iron Circus Comics has entered the picture and is consistent in bringing us such.

When ICC launched their kickstarter campaign for this book, I was hyped given the premise and the reveal of the gorgeous cover art by fave Paul Davey. The beauty doesn’t stop there, if you pick up a physical copy be sure to look at the back cover illustration as well! Would buy as a poster to hang up over my bed, just saying.

 

A Comics Anthology About An Earth Where Anyone And Everyone Has Access To The Stars!

The premise of this collection is:

Six months from now, detailed schematics anonymously uploaded to the Internet will describe, with absolute precision, how to build a faster-than-light engine for $200 in easily-available parts. Space travel will be instantly—and chaotically—democratized. The entire cosmos is suddenly within reach of all humankind, without organization, authority or limitation.

This comics anthology is about what happens next.

The concept for FTL, Y’all! was inspired by a 12-year-old RPG.net thread, which was in turn inspired by the work of Jerry Oltion. “FTL” is an acronym for Faster Than Light, commonly used in science fiction to describe the capabilities of warp drives.

The full creator listing includes these talented folks: Ahueonao, David Andry, NN Chan, Evan Dahm, Jonathon Dalton, Blue Delliquanti, Alexxander Dovelin, Sara Duvall, Jay Eaton, Cheez Hayama, Mulele Jarvis, Iris Jay, Jamie Kaye, M. Kennedy, Maia Kobabe, Seren Krakens, Rachel Ordway, Earl T. Roske, Kay Rossbach, Skolli Rubedo, Paul Schultz, Ainsley Seago, Sunny, CB Webb, Christine Williamson, Nathaniel Wilson, James F. Wright.

Wrangling all this talent together was tasked to longtime comics anthology editor Amanda Lafrenais who is also the creator of the web comic Love Me Nice, and a frequent contributor to Iron Circus Comics anthology projects.

Lastly, Matt Sheridan lends his expertise on the book design along with previously lending his talents for co-creating the promo video for the  FTL, Y’all Kickstarter campaign alongside ICC founder Spike Trotman.

“Passing Through” by Sunny & Jaime Kaye

This is a story where the first half of the book really took me by surprise with its bittersweet journey. Marty, a middle aged mail carrier is taking a well deserved vacation–he’s chilling, taking in the fresh air and doing some neat sight seeing. While doing this he’s on the phone with his partner who is also doing some sightseeing–yet they are miles and miles away, perhaps galaxies away somewhere in outer space, now that space travel is way more accessible.

While reading, I could really start to feel the distance between the two the more and more pages I turned which is a super effective part with the storytelling by the creative team of Sunny and Keyes. The juxtaposition of Marty exploring this fantastic place on Earth and not being able to share it with the person he probably holds most dear while this person is so enraptured with a place someplace else is…heartbreaking. The final page grants us these three simple panels that demonstrate so much in so little space: longing and perhaps regret and just maybe of being tied somewhere and your heart is somewhere you’re not.

 

“Senior Project” by Maia Kobabe

I appreciate this entry based on its premise alone: in the days of when everyone and their mother desires to make their own FTL engine, and I mean everyone from adults to students–we have a story about a young person wanting to explore ways to help keep Earth sustainable. In a classroom somewhere in a town or city amongst the FTL hype, there’s Willow riding solo to make their project on planting and harvesting with a new fast growing crop of modified seeds (I caught Willow’s usage of referring to their teacher as Mx. Bee, which marks the first time I’ve seen that gender-neutral honorific in a comic!). She isn’t ridiculed by anyone and what follows is a curious young scientist in a narrative of following her own path while we learn of the increasingly erratic climate of the earth.

Everyone seems obsessed with leaving while this young person is a greenhouse setting up timers and keep up with the project while everyone is on break. The art of this entry allows some the story to be told in the torn out pages of Willow’s journal that they’re keeping for class so when an unexpected variable enters the greenhouse/lab space there is an opportunity for another experiment to be born. Kobabe’s Senior Project comic illustrates that there is more than one way to compliment the lives of others, there is more than one way to save lives and different desires to do so can bring us together.

 

 

“Cabbage Island” by Muelle Jarvis

An entry that I’d argue is most certainly one the strongest entries in the anthology: Hondo and Yū live in Japan on a rapidly detonating Earth in the near future. Yū, ever curious and ever disatified with the place she calls home is ready for an adventure, a change of pace and a new life–even if she’s not entirely sure what lays in wait for her when she gets there. The schematics of the warp drive couldn’t have hit the dark web at a more opportune time for this Engineer who has a plan to carry her to the stars.

The narrative plays with time, starting off with Yū in space and switching back and forth to show her progress with her project on Earth–the sleek darkness of outer space is a visual to take in along with the more airy but cluttered look on home on Earth. Cabbage Island is a beautiful and painstaking hopeful tale of leaving it all behind, leaving your corner of the world, your island for something bigger, brighter and better and also putting everything behind you to get there.

“Space To Grow” by NN Chan

Space to Grow is an entry in this anthology that brilliantly captures the reality of dealing with trolls and touches upon the themes of voyeurism and cyber bullying–in outer space. We’re introduced to a young, fresh faced and eternally enthusiastic astrobiology grad who goes by the username of SpaceAce heading out on her first Space mission. Her mission is to explore different planets, collect samples for research and study and of course, document her travels via blog. It’s like a travel blog for budding scientists for educational purposes that’s open to the public eye. It’s all very exciting and novel.

However, once SpaceAce starts creating vlogs, or video logs with her adoring audience, she starts noticing a trend of trolls commenting that starts to affect her every day life aboard her ship and her drive for science. The visuals of seeing all the little projected screens with the nasty comments page after page was starting to wear me down as SpaceAce herself is starting to look drained the longer and longer she’s exposed to it. Chan does a superb job showing how abusive cyber bullying follows women online everywhere–even to space and also how trolls will hate science, non aggressive, non violent stances to anything and women folk in general. Space to Grow is a comic about reclaiming your time and space when you’re out doing what you love and you’re challenged by the troll community far away from home.

FTL, Y’ALL is a immerse trip into the imaginations and hearts of all the folks who contributed to this volume of comics. With the premise of technology and science, defining and redefining what home is and exploration that isn’t just in space–this comics anthology does deep and it is better for it.

With over 20 stories and over 300 pages of comics, FTL, Y’all! is one of Iron Circus Comics’ biggest and most intriguing anthologies ever.

And if you’re a ICC fan like myself, I think it might be in your top three after you finish reading thorough the tome–it’s a strong contender to the Smut Peddler books for me. While the anthology boasts a big variety of different art styles there are a few stories that have art that is a bit hard to follow and may come across as distracting.

Thankfully its not enough to ruin the experience for me and even those stories do, at heart follow the theme of the adult sci-fi anthology even if the unique art styles flex in their own way. I was really impressed by the wide range of personal struggle and out this world drama bombs that were dropped making nearly every story I read a treasure to read and ruminate on.

There seemed to be a story for everything under the sun from having unwavering moral responsibility to keep access to evolving technology for the people and keep government out (Alexander’s Dovelin’s “LIA”) to having to grow up fast in a new and changing world when adults fail you (Rachel Ordway’s “Fail safe”, Nathaniel Wilson’s “Story of A Rescue”).

There were stories that gave a spotlight on not being welcomed due to being apart of colonizing efforts (Jonathan Dalton’s “Words From The Dead” to being seen as “other” when being human isn’t the majority  (Evan Dahm’s “Way Home”) This collection captures some of the best storytellers and artists with some veteran talents and newer emerging faces that I look forward to following and seeing in this newer wave of folks working in the comics industry giving us that work.

9 “FATTEST SLACK OF LOOT RIDES SHOTGUN ON THE WAY BACK” OUT OF 10

 

Pre-order FTL, Y’ALLL here. It’s dropping with a release date of 12/25/18.

See reviews of our other Iron Circus titles here. See more of Iron Circus Comics here, on Twitter & Facebook.

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