THESE SAVAGE SHORES #1 / Writer: Ram V / Art: Sumit Kamar / Color Artist: Vittoria Astone / Letterer: Aditya Bidikar / Cover Art: Sumit Kamar / Publisher: Vault Comics / 3rd October 2018
It’s been almost two months since I wrote my last review and that review was also a Vault Comics release. I’ve said it many times before but Vault are ticking all the boxes for me when it comes to their releases. Sci-fi, fantasy and a little horror are all covered and those 3 genres are right up my street when it comes to comics. And with These Savage Shores they’ve once again released something truly wonderful.
Firstly a bit of background on how this title came about. Back in May 2018, the London-based comic collective White Noise made up of Ryan O’Sullivan, Dan Watters, Alex Paknadel and Ram V signed a four-series deal with Vault Comics. These Savage Shores is the fourth release from that collective. Only last week we saw Fearscape (Ryan O’Sullivan) and Friendo (Alex Paknadel) getting a release and Deep Roots (Dan Watters) is up to issue 4 as of this week. Each of the collectives releases have received huge praise online and I am hoping an extra deal is in the pipeline.
These Savage Shores opens in the idyllic setting of an Indian landscape. Two lovers surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna discuss how one could have fallen for the other. We are then whisked off to Tall ships at sail and a lone passenger penning a letter back home. Filled with hues of orange and yellows, the colour palette used really gives the sense of a blisteringly warm climate. Let me also point out that from these early pages the lettering by Aditya Bidikar really stands out. This is not something that is always picked up in reviews but Bidikar really sets a high standard with his work. Jumping from speech balloons/bubbles to the grand handwritten calligraphy of the passengers letter.
As our passenger writes his letter home, panels flick to Georgian period England. Here we are made privy to why he is now aboard the tall ships and that he is known as Lord Alain Pierrefont. From this point onward the panels run like the most impressive movie storyboard you have seen. Page 6 alone is one of the most stunning uses of panel work I’ve laid eyes on this year. Action flowing panel by panel almost seamlessly. 9 panel layouts mould into each other, 7 panel layouts with a central landscape/corridor panel giving a vast sense of scale and detail. Huge praise to both artist Sumit Kumar and colourist Vittorio Astone because Ram V’s story has been given one hell of beautifully crafted visual experience. The pen work on characters and backgrounds are exceptional. Characters are easily distinguishable from one another due to the attention to detail given to each one. Same can be said about the backgrounds. From the gloomy oil lamp lit streets of 18th century London to the hazy sun drenched climes of Malabar District, India.
Ram V’s writing in These Savage Shores is more of a literary style. Something that can also be seen in another of the White Noise collectives releases, Fearscape. This kind of writing adds more depth and exposition, conveying to the reader that this is a grand tale. A tale that isn’t completely given away in the first issue (thankfully). You can see from Ram’s story that he’s passionately writing about a place and culture he knows well. For the outsider this is a joy. Cultures, wars and superstitions from a far off land, the changes that colonialism and the British East India Company brought about. This book is such a joy to read, did I mention it has Vampires!
You may have seen a few titles featuring Vampires over the past few years but These Savage Shores is something unique. With a hint of Hammer Horror and a Vampire mythos set in India, Ram V is taking us on a journey that the majority of us will know nothing about. And that’s something that excites me.
Verdict: 5 Homo Nosferatu Vampiris out of 5