In the world of graphic novels, I have many favorites, but when pressed to list my top five powerhouse creators (those who can write and illustrate) Hope Larson is always there. Plus, her talents do not stop there, she has also proven skills in directing (triple threat to the max) - check out Got a Girl's Did We Live Too Fast and the short Bitter Orange. However, today we are here to discuss her comics, in particular her new webcomic SOLO.
SOLO is a serialized graphic novel that Larson is releasing online. She has no particular schedule, which is why I choose to catch up when the next chapter is completed. There are currently six chapters available at this time. You can keep up-to-date on releases via the site or the SOLO Twitter feed. She is estimating the total length will be four to five hundred pages.
Why do I adore this comic? First, I love Hope Larson's illustrations. She very much has a distinct style, which I love. In SOLO, her panel work is incredible. Then, there is her choice of utilizing a three color palette - ie black, white, and an additional color. We have seen this style before in such works as Gray Horses (black, white, orange) and Salamander's Dream (black, white, lime green). Of course, she picked one of my favorite colors (green teal) for SOLO, which is an added bonus.
Then, there is the storyline - I'm hooked. The story starts with break up of the band Junior Twins, following the duo's personal divorce. The story in turn follows the guitarist Leah in her post-breakup adventure, which leads her to some of her most devoted fans. I really love the way Larson integrates music in SOLO (this is something I have been experimenting in my own work). Much like real life music comes does not come from only bands on stage, but also from singers on the street corner, from our phones, from even the hum of telephone wires. Music is everywhere and Leah can feel it; she even dreams it. Lastly, in a comic about music, some of the most stunning panels are those without dialogue. Larson to me has always had the ability to convey a story with only the visual and in SOLO, she again proves she can balance the noise of sound and music, dialogue, and silence.
SOLO so far is beautiful, charming, funny, and keeps me coming back to see what happens next (which is very important for not only webcomics, but printed issues as well). I'm selected a few panels that will convey the essence of the comic, but without any major spoilers.
Plus, for those not aware, Whirr and Shy Boys are not just names on tees. Since music is so ingrained in SOLO, there is a playlist on SoundCloud you can listen to while you read, or just because (this is an amazing mix!). Curated by Michael Stock, DJ of the Part Time Punks radio show on 88.9FM in Los Angeles & DJ/promoter of the popular Part Time Punks club night at The Echo in LA, this list includes not only Whirr and Shy Boys, but also Marble Arch, Half String, Nothing, Bleak Boys, Catwalk, Moscow Olympics, Hibou, Weekend, Tennis System, Savages, Toy, Tender Age, and Bouquet. I wish all comics came with a soundtrack.
There are many more chapters and pages that await us readers, but I encourage you to start your journey now and read along as new pages and chapters unfold. Again, new pages vary, but you can stay in the loop via the SOLO website and Twitter account. You can also keep up-to-date on Hope Larson's via her personal site (where you can find out more about her amazing work) or Twitter account. I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens next.