Writer: Paul Scott
Publisher: Paul Scott
(£5-99 from: Paul Scott, 13 Kiln Crescent, Bishop Middleham, Ferryhill, County Durham, DL17 9AP
or online at Solar Wind Comic
Omnivistascope is bound to be compared to the likes of the venerable 2000AD; in fact, I'm likely to do it a number of times during this review, and that's because on the face of it, they're very similar. Both are science fiction anthologies that shirk a shiny and clean approach in favour of a more grubby look and an often bitter ironic feel, and both offer up a strange mixture of humour and more grim dystopian fare. However, Omnivistascope (OVS from now on, thanks) doesn't tread on Tooth's toes, by virtue of its chunkier graphic novel style format; the different formats mean that there's more than enough room for both. All that said, if you like 2000AD, especially the 2000AD of the Eighties, then this will be a treat for you.
The danger of anthologies is that they tend to be variable in quality; their grab bag approach often uncovers both the best and the worst, leading to an unsatisfying reading experience. So it's good to see that OVS avoids this with uniformly good strips. Nothing in here is at all bad, and some of the stories are very good indeed; the only strip I disliked was "Keegan Jask," and that was more because it came across as very bland rather than it being actively bad. Similarly, supernatural investigator strip "Quisling" and the curious scifi/fantasy hybrid "Alberon" failed to excite me, but are certainly not weak strips, and I actually look forward to seeing how they develop from rather inauspicious beginnings.
The highlights for me included "The Survivor," a short twist-in-the-tale story in the vein of 2000ADís old "Future Shocks," with suitably grubby art from Chris Askham, an artist I'd like to see more of in these pages; "The Juggerman," a creepy blend of supernatural horror and that cool near-future scifi that no one seems to do any more but was all the rage in the Seventies; and "Dirk Despair," the comedic tales of a space adventurer who just can't be arsed to do any space adventuring because he's too depressed.
"54 Jones" and "The Way We Used To Live" are by far the best-looking strips, with absolutely gorgeous art from Matt Timson and Paul McCaffrey respectively; both again have that 2000AD feel, with the former coming across as something that would fit well into the title nowadays, while the latter again has the feel of a "Future Shock," albeit an exquisitely crafted one. McCaffrey's art reminds me of the work of Jose Ladronn, with a more human touch, and it makes this story easily my favourite in the whole bundle.
My only criticism of the book as a whole is that it's a tad too dark and dystopian; with the exception of the David Goodman-drawn "Space Lord" strip, even the humourous stories are deep in the realm of black comedy. Aside from that minor flaw, this is a wonderful package; there is a great deal of variety in the stories, even though they're all written by one person, and the quality is high throughout, in both writing and art. Omnivistascope is a highly polished and highly professional book, and is well worth a look by any fan of science fiction.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!