It takes a special kind of talent to be retro without being repetitive. Too often comics that harken back to the Silver Age just end up copying them, and to anyone familiar with that time period, fall flat. That’s not the case for Pink Lemonade, a new series from indie publisher It’s Alive that’s both as original as it is reminiscent of 60s comics. That’s an impressive feat in itself, but especially when you consider that auteur Nick Cagnetti serves as its letterer, author, colorist, and artist. So, should you pick up Pink Lemonade when it hits comic stores next month? Read on to find out.
Imagine if Evel Knievel was born into a Jack Kirby-designed universe, and you essentially have Pink Lemonade. She’s a high-flying, death-defying adventurer with a motorcycle best friend and a bad case of amnesia. When we meet her, Pink Lemonade is trying to rediscover a purpose in life, but all she has to guide her is a bright pink bike, a stunt suit, and strange dreams of battling otherworldly entities.
Fortunately for her, Pink Lemonade meets two kind strangers in Pammy and Linda, who invite her to their home for dinner. Pammy’s a little girl who idolizes the mysterious rider, and Linda is her comic-drawing mother. The two bring focus into Pink Lemonade’s world, and their influence sets Pink Lemonade on a path to do as much good as she can with her bike and her skills, memories or no. However, Pink Lemonade is soon to learn that the otherworldly entities she sees in her dreams are bleeding into real life, and if she’s going to find out more about who she is, she’ll have to confront some very strange, and possibly deadly, challenges.
Cagnetti’s introduction to the world of Pink Lemonade is chock-full of mystery and surrealism, and he does a great job establishing a very large, mystic universe. At the same time, having Pink Lemonade interact with Pammy and Linda grounds the human element of the story. Pink Lemonade is both the audience’s introduction to the world and the person at its center, kind of a Mulder and Scully at once. That’s a cool thing to see, ensuring the reader will invest in this story.
All that said, the absolute strongest piece of Pink Lemonade is the artwork. As we mentioned earlier, this is Silver Age comics fun at its best. Fans will notice influences like Jack Kirby, Adam Strange, and Amazing Fantasy, but at no point is there any copying of what’s come before. Nick Cagnetti knows the instruments of the Silver Age but doesn’t repeat any of the tunes.
Cagnetti does with 70s motorcycle aesthetics what Mignola does with occult artwork: he matches familiar icons with a distinct style. The result makes the reader feel like they’ve been transported to the world of an action-figure ad. In fact, Cagnetti actually throws in some fictional adds of his own, which feature into the story and give the reader the sense of going through an old comic issue. It’s sure to please readers who prefer that type of book, but also anyone who likes to see the style imitated. Fans of Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer or Batman ’66 could do worse than to add Pink Lemonade to their pull lists.
If there’s one thing that Pink Lemonade could improve upon, it’s the dialogue. Occasionally characters will overexplain something that’s going on, or say something that feels unnatural to their situations. This can be distracting, especially since the art already speaks for itself so well. Cagnetti is great at drawing expressions; we don’t need Pink Lemonade to say how she feels in a thought dialogue box. To be fair, this is a Silver Age pastiche after all, and anyone who’s read Reed Richards introduce himself a thousand times knows those comics could be talky.
If you’re a fan of the Silver Age or Silver Age-style art, this comic is definitely for you. But there’s another type of comic reader that should check this out, and that’s anyone who’s forgotten how fun comics can be. If you’re bogged down by the gritty, dark tone that some comic book movies have taken, pick up Pink Lemonade. It’s a positive, fun book, but it doesn’t lose any resonance for it. It’s that kind of story that gave us our favorite Big Two comics today, and it’s always nice to be reminded of their origins. You can pick up Pink Lemonade at your local comic book store on October 16th.