Sometimes you randomly stumble upon a comic that fills you with so much joy that you love every aspect of it while it reminds you of lighthearted stories you’ve read in the past; Eric Skillman and Miklós Felvidéki’s fantastic Action Journalism will give you all the feels.
The duo explains the story as thus—”Written by Eric Skillman—award-winning Criterion Collection art director and writer of Liar’s Kiss (Top Shelf)—and drawn by exciting new artist Miklós Felvidéki (Spera), ACTION JOURNALISM is an exciting, genre-hopping series about the adventures of crusading journalist Kate Kelly. The series is a lighthearted riff on the “intrepid reporter” archetype—Lois Lane, Tintin, etc. And like those characters, our series has about as much to do with actual journalism as Indiana Jones has to do with archeology. Aliens, mad scientists, sinister military organizations, whimsical fantasy kingdoms, and more—and that’s just the first five issues! Fast-paced, self-contained stories, appropriate for all ages, the series is being published weekly on Comixology for the next three weeks—and with luck, more to come!”
That alone should get you excited. But, let’s talk about what initially drew me in.
EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!
It’s nothing new that comics drop daily on ComiXology, making it easy for your title to get lost. That means you usually need something that’ll catch a readers attention; Action Journalism has just that. One that made it stand out from the others was its format. Instead of being akin to other comics, it sets itself apart by acting as a newspaper. Although it may be digital, Felvidéki makes it look like it’s printed in a newspaper, fitting the story’s themes. This looks amazing and unique, making you wish for a physical release later on. Not only does the newspaper quilty draw you in, but the team’s quirky use of the cover.
Skillman and Felvidéki keep the newspaper theme by having a huge headline explaining the plot. But, they also use the cover as a first page. Having a great cover is a smart way to draw in readers, which each Action Journalism issue does magnificently. As a fan of covers that catch your attention, I’ve never seen a comic use the cover as a page. Nonetheless, Action Journalism continues to impress.
The story doesn’t outright say it, but there certainly is a retrofuturism vibe going on. Not only that, but there are Buck Rogers and other serial moods, combined with a main character reminiscent of Lois Lane. This resemblance is mentioned in the extra’s section as well. Only one issue in and our main character, Kate Kelly, has already won me over.
As this review covers a few issues not yet released, spoilers will be kept at a minimum.
Action Journalism follows Reporter Kate Kelly as she finds herself in unique reporting situations. This ranges from sneaking on an alien spacecraft to interview and rescue an alien queen, bartending at a Science Expo, and a fantasy land field trip. Throughout the series, she doesn’t outright kill anyone, it’s actually quite nonviolent. This could be due to the nine and up age rating, but it’s nice to see someone win by their smarts. Nonetheless, each adventure is fun to the highest degree. Each issue feels like a story ripped from the Golden/Silver Ages with wacky, fun situations.
Kelly’s use of intelligence instead of fists is a fun alternative to the endless superhero fighting. Even her fun demeanor, and take no shit attitude is fantastic. The first issue will make you want to know more of her, but as the series goes on you’ll find yourself wanting more time with her. Granted she is the main character (and a great one) her work acquaintances are given fair amounts of page time and are all fun in their own rights.
One character that deserves mention is the superhero, The Valiant Volunteer. Although he is given only a few panels in the first issue, you crave more information on him. Luckily, Action Journalism #4 and #5 focus on him. Sadly, we cannot delve deeper into it, but The Valiant Volunteer may be one of the best superhero ideas in recent years. I had to back away from the computer as I was so amazed at the concept the team came up with.
ACTION JOURNALISM HIJINKS
As memorable as Action Journalism characters are, the plot of each issue is just as, while being outlandish. Each adventure Kelly goes on feels fun, crazy, and something straight from the comics or years past. One minute she is sitting at a fountain and a colossal goldfish pops out and takes her to a fantasy realm. Yeah, Action Journalism goes there. Yet, at no time does this seem out of place in the series, hell even Kelly is used to it. These fun adventures are just that, fun. If you need a comic to sit down with and make your day better, Action Journalism is where it’s at. Even your kids will enjoy it greatly.
Felvidéki’s style feels very much like the pulp fiction the team was going for. By combining a little bit of realism and cartoon visuals, Felvidéki’s art complements Action Journalism exceptionally well. That and the use of halftone for the newspaper theme is beautiful in its execution. The newspaper pages cannot be stressed enough, because Felvidéki makes it work perfectly. Even though you’ll read this digital Felvidéki does so well that you’ll feel like you are reading a newspaper. Hell, I swear I could even smell it at one point. Nonetheless, a printed edition of these issues would see me first in line.
Felvidéki’s designs are a delight. No matter where Kelly is taken in the story, his heart and soul are poured into the panels. Each design is larger than life, all while having a certain charm to them. As fun and quirky as Skillman’s plot/writing is, Felvidéki’s designs and art breathes even more life into them. Not only is Felvidéki’s art enjoyable to the ninth degree, but damn does he back in absurd amounts of details. When thinking about a comic with newspaper esque art, you’d feel like some details would be lost. But, at no point does this happen in Action Journalism. There are even moments with little plot details tucked nicely away in the background.
Another fantastic aspect is the team trying out different things. Namely, flipping the pages 90 degrees in the second issue. Not only was this fun for story reason (and visual), but it shows that the team is willing to be unique with art in the medium.
ON THE COLOR AND LETTERING BEAT
Action Journalism contains halftone, a newspaper printing style used for years. Not only that, but Felvidéki uses minimum colors. The only time you’ll see bright colors are on the cover pages for the headlines. Nevertheless, his use of white, off-color white you’d see in a newspaper, grey, and black are magnificent. At no point will you think the series needs colors. Felvidéki’s use of halftone and a few shades of two colors work so damn well while helping amplify the general vibe of the series.
During the second issue, when the pages are turned 90 degrees, Felvidéki has the dialogue bubbles follow the flip. Not only that, but when Kelly goes to fix the problem, the art begins to spin in a circle. Felvidéki has the word bubbles follow this spiral, making you rotate the page along with the art. These moments are spectacular while showing Felvidéki’s eye for composition. Even the lettering font looks like something you see in a newspaper. Nonetheless, he isn’t afraid to make the word bubbles and fonts change for the mood they are portraying.
JOURNALISM AT ITS FINEST
A comic that you can just relax and have fun with that puts a constant smile on your face is one of the best things in the medium. Action Journalism’s first five issues are just that. It’s a damn blast to read, and will remind you of the books that put a smile on your face when you were younger. If you’re in the mood for a new addiction, check out the first issue on ComiXology. Not only will you love Action Journalism, but you’ll be happier to boot.