Questing! Swords! Necromancy! All of these things are completely foreign to me, sadly. Should it be sad that I’m not familiar with necromancy? I guess there is somewhat of a negative stigma attached to the esoteric art of RAISING THE DEAD. My upbringing tended to skew more science fiction and less fantasy so I was very curious about the independent comic book Songs for the Dead when it was brought to my attention. How did I feel about it? Hit the jump to find out!
Songs for the Dead by Michael Christopher Heron and Andrea Fort, with art by Sam Beck, is the story of a young bard (Bethany) who is also a necromancer on a quest to undo the negative stigma the title of necromancer carries with it (#notallnecromancers). Bethany is an optimistic and kind character, proper hero material, and she promptly gets in over her head by running afoul of a dark army. Oh, and they have a necromancer too. An EVIL one.
The artwork in the book is fantastic (fitting for a fantasy book)with lots of work put into both character and background designs. In the second issue there’s a scene at an inn with a wonderful establishing page that I can only liken to the cantina scene from Star Wars. The background characters all have their own unique design that made me want to know more about the world these characters inhabit.
From a story perspective, the series begins with Bethany gathering quests from a town square bulletin board. The world is expansive without being overwhelming. There’s no epic prologue to the story, no 500 page prequel that is required reading prior to reading the story that you just picked up. It starts on a very intimate scale and slowly draws the reader in to the world.
The first issue is an excellent introductory issue, it functions very much like a pilot episode for a TV show would. Characters are introduced and the rules of the world are established. There’s also a fair amount of action too. The issue even ends with a stinger that made be immediately pick up the next two issues and consume them as quickly as I could. Which leads me to my first, and only, criticism of this book.
There’s not enough of it. Yet.
Since it is an independent comic book, the creative team behind Songs for the Dead is doing this as a labor of love. As a reader that really comes across and that’s one of the things that makes the book so engaging. The creators are really bringing their A game on the book and it’s something that’s readily apparent on every page.
Personally, I’ve seen a lot of indie books over the years that were just kind of… There. Songs for the Dead is the furthest thing from a DIY xeroxed book that I’ve ever seen with a level of craft demands attention. I’d very sincerely like to see more of this book. Check out the website here, as well as their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The fourth issue is forthcoming, set for a Fall 2017 release.