Cold Cut Distribution's Feature Spotlight #12 - January 1996


Gold Digger

Publisher:	Antarctic Press
Story & Art:	Fred Perry
Cvr Price:	$2.75  (now $2.95 from #28 up) 
Frequency:	Monthly

Storyline:

Growing up as the daughter of a powerful mage, Gina Diggers tried her best to master the arts of magic her father controlled so well - but try as she might, she just couldn't get the hang of it. Her father suggested she turn her attention to something else, and she became entranced with the arts of science and the power of the electron. When her father came upon the last survivor of a clan war between werecats, he adopted the young were-cheetah cub, and Gina now had a sister, Brittany. Now that Gina and Brittany are 18, they're off on their own series of adventures - saving the world on a regular basis in their own inimitable style. Oh, and they're both full of raging hormones, and looking for a guy...

Writing Review:

Wacky, fun-filled, rip-roaring adventure that would make Ian Fleming proud - if he hadn't been so caught up in the "serious" stuff. Fred writes on the level of a Phil Foglio if Phil could put things out monthly - the plots are tight, logical, and adventure-filled, the scripting is hilarious, the asides are perfect, and the nods to other books and the series' own continuity is solid and fun. Gina, Brittany, and the entire cast have well-defined personalities that are great fun to watch interact.

Art Review:

Fred's art has improved markedly over the three straight years he's been putting out this series. When he started with the original four-issue miniseries in 1992, his art, though incredibly kinetic and well-paced, was sketchy. Now he's solidified his sketchiness into a wonderful full-formed super-energetic line - and his composition is even stronger than it was when he started. Fred gets a kick out of adding all sorts of fun details in the background (book titles, little "mumbles" or "complaints" by background characters, etc), just like Foglio, and it's just as fun here.

Fred's people are usually... well-proportioned, and Gold Digger is no exception. Nice, though, that in this series the characters know it - they're actively searching out "handsome hunks" to date (or otherwise exploit), and it's fun to watch adventures with such sexy characters.

Audience:

Gold Digger is a wildly fun mix of James Bond and Indiana Jones with Buck Godot. And that's the most obvious parallel - fans of Buck Godot will go gaga over Gold Digger - especially considering it really does come out pretty much every month. Readers of Ninja High School, Buster the Bear, Swan, even Thieves & Kings should also take a look at Gold Digger. Though it doesn't have soul-searching heart-break or grand epic scope, its light-hearted adventure is a joy to read.

If you like Gold Digger, take a look at:


Arcana

Publisher:	Wells & Clark
Story:		T.S. Wells
Art:		Rob Clark
Cover Price:	$2.25   ($3.00 for the triple-size 72 page first issue)
Frequency:	Bi-monthly.

Storyline:

Con artists Flagg and Foxglove are working a variation on their regular con in a tiny village pub when it nearly goes bad on them. On the lam, they find bedraggled teenager Clorinda attempting to take refuge in one of their hideouts. The devious pair have tender hearts and talk Clorinda into joining their trek as she works out her problems. But as they take shelter from a storm in the house of a strange family, Clorinda struggles with her personal demons and her hidden abilities.

Writing Review:

Arcana has strong, serious writing - both plotting and scripting are excellent. Wells has a feel for both troubled teens with haunting memories and tender-hearted caring folk who just happen to be con artists - who see themselves more as fighting an unjust system (stealing from corrupt tax collectors, for instance) than wrongdoers. The main complaint I have is with the pacing, which is a slow, steady, measured gait (not unlike Cerebus in stretches).

The first issue is thankfully long, since Wells attempts a difficult writing trick in the very first pages - she alternates pages telling Clorinda's tale and Flagg and Foxglove's story - odd-numbered pages following the duo's narrative, even-numbered pages delving into Clorinda's troubled memories. This succeeds to some degree, but it's a somewhat disorienting introduction to a series. Luckily, as the giant-sized first issue hits its midpoint, we start Chapter Two, where Clorinda meets the pair, and it tells a coherent single tale from there on. Once you've finished the first issue, it's easy to look back on the disjointed opening as an interesting insight into the characters.

Art Review:

Clark's art starts out acceptable and improves notably over the run - though he still seems to be uncomfortable drawing muzzles (a necessary thing to do in an anthropomorphic title) in perspective. Early on, he also seems hesitant about getting expression on the nonhuman faces, but by issue 4 he's got it down. The panel borders owe a lot to Sim, though his layouts are more varied (with mixed effect). Backgrounds are minimal, but evocative - figures are more static than kinetic, but then this is not an action-oriented book, being more introspective. Overall, decent art, with room for improvement.

Sales Overview:

Arcana is something of a cross between Hepcats and A Distant Soil with a touch of Cerebus thrown in. Readers of Greymatter and Swan will also find something to enjoy in this intriguing light fantasy with introspective themes. The tie to Hepcats is particularly strong, from the obvious anthropomorphic aspect to the introspective and relationship-oriented themes, even to the young woman with the mysterious past. All Hepcats readers should check out Arcana, and most will find something to like - especially noting the relatively regular publishing schedule (it's been regularly bimonthly until issue 6, which has an announced minor delay and will be out sometime this month).

If you like Arcana, take a look at:


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