BEASTLANDS #1 by Curtis Clow and Jo Mi-Gyeong
BEASTLANDS #1 introduces us to a world where Keepers help keep you safe. Mac, Ping, and Ava venture forth in search of someone they've lost. Curtis Clow unravels a story that is sure to keep our adventuring shoes on nonetheless. Paired with Jo Mi-Gyeong's art, this story is a must read!
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A popular trope in the literary world is animal familiars. From Hedwig in HARRY POTTER to the dragons in GAME OF THRONES, animals play a major part in our literary world. But in BEASTLANDS #1, written by Curtis Clow and illustrated by Jo Mi-Gyeong, these animal Keepers are much more. This sponsored review takes a look at one of the best indie comics I’ve read in a long time!

After a tragic accident, the king officially outlaws Keepers — or, beasts that are supposed to help their human companion. However, it seems like not everyone is willing to let go of their sweet, loving Keepers.

Beastlands #1
Image courtesy of To Infinity Studios

BEASTLANDS #1 Introduces the Keepers of the Story

The story starts with a King. He declares that Keepers are the root of all problems. Although we don’t know the whole story, we get an idea that the king blames his Keeper for the death of his daughter. He outlaws all Keepers, including his own. He decides to make an example of his Keeper and executes it in front of his kingdom.

Meanwhile, a group of kids are battling with some unsavory characters. Ava stands defending her two friends, Ping and Mac. Ping is visually cowering, but Mac is ready to help at any moment. Right when the baddies are about to attack, Mac’s Keeper, Renzo (a blue wolf/cat hybrid) comes leaping to their rescue. The bad guys run away once they realize there was no winning against these kids and their Keepers. We learn that the troupe is searching for Mac’s father, who has been missing for some time now. However, their adventure takes a few crazy turns when an important member of the group goes missing.

This story takes place in a renaissance-type world. Although we’re taken to a new place, we haven’t exactly seen the laws of the land explained. However, in place of learning the actual world, we learn and focus primarily on the characters. Clow and Mi-Gyeong may have more in store for us as far as how the world works. But for now, I was definitely happy just focusing on the characters.

Mac, Ava, and Ping for the Win

One of the things Clow is absolutely amazing at is character building. Through a few exchanges, we get a strong idea of who the main characters are, focusing on Mac and Renzo. The other kids in the group also have very distinct personalities.

Clow also works to gives us diverse characters without drawing attention to their differences. This is absolutely necessary in a book like this. Instead of drawing our attentions to their differences, he just shows us who they are through their actions. When Ping is cornered by one of the baddies, she calls for Ava and Mac to help. Ava rides her Keeper and thrusts an arrow into the bad guy’s face. It’s moments like these where we get a real sense of who each person is. Ping is perhaps more reserved in fighting, which causes her to rely heavily on Ava and Mac for protection. I bet Ping is really the brains, though.

There is one minor thing that sort of took me a moment to figure out. The name of each character gets a little lost in the dialogue. I was so caught up in the action of the comic that I missed what each character’s name was. I had to double back around to find out. However, this is a minor thing and is perhaps more chalked up to reader error.

Beastlands #1
Image courtesy of To Infinity Studios

Art to Remind You of the Children

I don’t think there are enough words for how I want to compliment Jo Mi-Gyeong’s art. Mi-Gyeong uses a cartoonish style, which is perfect for what this comic is doing. It forces us to remember that our protagonists are kids. Mi-Gyeong’s art also does a fantastic contrast with the fight scenes. Usually, art like this paired with gore can seem too childish and takes readers out of the story. However, in BEASTLANDS #1, this is not the case.

The Keepers are, by far, my favorite part of this issue. Each one is a mixture of animals that seems wrong but oh-so-right at the same time. I am in love with Ava’s Keeper, an animal with a ram’s head, bird legs, and butterfly wings. This mixture of animals is phenomenal. They’re imaginative, and it’s refreshing to see animals that are very different from our normal world. It keeps me hooked; I want to see what other Keepers exist in the world. Are they all the size of horses? Are some of them more violent than others? We have to wait to find out, and I’m so excited for the next issue.

The majority of the comic is done in monotone, earthy colors, which brings a sense of realism. The first few pages show the king, feeling devastated and lost, is surrounded by gray darkness. But Mi-Gyeong contrasts these earthy colors with vibrant colors from the Keepers. While the king is giving his speech, his Keeper is behind him in a bright white. Mi-Gyeong’s choices ensure the Keepers stand out on each page. Our eyes are always directed towards these awesome animals. The gray and white also stand out brightly with the red of blood, making the moments a little more shocking.

Overall Thoughts on BEASTLANDS #1

When I first got this comic in my hand, I was surprised to see it was independently published. I absolutely love BEASTLANDS #1 and cannot wait to see what comes next! Curtis Clow and Jo Mi-Gyeong do a fantastic job of keeping us on our toes and wanting more. It’s sort of like Clow and Mi-Gyeong are the Keepers of our story. Although, I’m sure they’re not white pegasus dogs or blue wolf cats.

Be sure to keep up to date with this comics release. The Kickstarter launches March 19th, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled! Or, sign up and keep track of its release here!

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