HOME SICK PILOTS #1, out on December 9th from Image Comics, is the first issue of an ongoing series by writer Dan Watters, artist Caspar Wijngaard, and letterer Aditya Bidikar.
With a story that takes very thrilling, unique turns, and a beautiful artwork that is a joy to look at, Home Sick Pilots begins to show signs of an extraordinary series every comic reader should watch out for.
About the series:
In the summer of 1994, a haunted house walks across California. Inside is Ami, lead singer of a high school punk band—who’s been missing for weeks. How did she get there, and what do these ghosts want?
If you’re a first-time reader of Watters’ work, prepare yourself to be amazed. Every element of Watters’ writing goes like clockwork. The story’s pace never drags out, with each reveal coming at exactly the perfect time. The characters are sharply-written, believable, and positively punk. The dialogue flows nicely and naturally, with each character having his or her own unique manner of speaking.
But, Watters’ writing especially shines when he gives the reader a breather from time to time in the form of a blank page with sparse narration. It gives the reader time to think- time to process what they had just read. Most importantly, this further puts the reader in the main character’s shoes and allows them to learn more about her past, personality, and relationship with this bizarre house.
Wijngaard’s gorgeous artwork steals the show in Home Sick Pilots #1. The acting looks phenomenal yet simple, giving the reader the ability to tell how the characters feel at any given moment. His choice to always show the midst of a violent act, like a cop being kicked in the face, pulls the reader right into the action. In addition, the vibrant colors Wijngaard uses, especially in the pages’ blank backgrounds, make this comic look all the more alive and fun, and his choice to pull back on the amount of colors he usually uses in the rather freakish moments of this book gives these sequences all the more importance and tension.
Most notably, there is a two-page scene where all the characters we’ve met so far are inside the Old James house. The way those two pages are laid out is nothing short of brilliant. We’re watching the characters interact with each other and explore the house like puppets in a dollhouse. In this scene, it’s almost as if the reader themselves is taking the point of view of this strange house. Also, what adds to the weirdness and creepiness of it all is that the scene plays out non-linearly. With that, the reader also gets to take a peek at how this strange house might actually work—great work from Wijngaard.
Bidikar‘s lettering style in Home Sick Pilots #1 is as punk as it gets. The balloons are never perfect shapes, elevating the comic’s rebellious mood. The simple, small sound effects never draw too much intention to themselves, which works great with the stylish artwork. Bidikar places the sparse narration in the blank pages and manages to keep the reader engaged, even though those pages don’t have much to offer.
It would’ve been easy for Bidikar to go crazy with his lettering style, considering the comic’s punk, hipster feel. But, Bidikar resists the temptation and letters in a very delicate, constrained manner, which works beautifully here.
Home Sick Pilots #1 is an exciting first issue. The story takes surprising turns and keeps the reader engaged from start to finish; The stunning art looks fresh and lively, which is exactly how a comic book about punk teens and a living house should look like. Strongly recommended for fans of Monster House and Green Room.