Strictly based on the fact that the main character had a tail, I had completely different expectations of the kind of comic Unsounded would be than what it actually was. Hey, I remember high school. I remember the influence anime had on many of the artistically inclined. Everyone who was drawing anime had at least one character with a tail, or fangs, or cat ears, or was a robot girl… or all of the above. Unsounded could easily be written off as, “Oh, that one girl from school made a comic about her character she always doodled in her notebooks during class,” but you’d be missing out on something that’s surprisingly mature and well written!
The story follows the main character, a child named Sette, and an undead man named Duane with magical powers who is accompanying her on her quest. Ashley Cope does a great job of introducing these two to us. Sette is an antihero – chaotic, immature, and trouble – and she’s introduced in just such a way. She’s not very likable at first, but she grows on you. Her companion is mysterious, and his nature is revealed over time. He’s the serious and stoic straight man to all the chaos Sette brings to the story.
I was surprised by the relatively mature nature of the story being told. It’s a fantasy world, but a bit on the darker end of the spectrum. I mean, not as dark as like, Game of Thrones… but there’s slavery, some child abuse, sexual dialogue, prejudice, death and dismemberment… that kind of stuff. It’s not a very nice world, basically.
While each character in the story was introduced really well, I had some trouble following all the countries and cultures and races being discussed. A lot of unfamiliar titles were being thrown about fast and loose with no real introduction to what they actually meant. I think if it were just a few, it might be intriguing, but I found myself wondering if there was some Dune-esque page in the front of the book, or maybe a map, that I should be referencing.
I really enjoyed the fantasy creatures and magic that she’s created in this world. Both felt unique and actually kind of scary. The art does a great job of making them feel more real. I felt like all the movement involved in the spell casting type moments was really well captured. She’s done a good job capturing physical movements of the characters too – some great scenes. The art as a whole is very good; it doesn’t have the feel of a really professional grade comic, but there was never a moment when I thought any of it was at all lacking.
Ashley Cope mentions in the back of the book that the story has been 15 years in the making, and that her main character, Sette, was originally conceived as half-demon with wings. I may be wrong, but I get the impression that this character did come from that long ago time of the stereotypical tailed anime character, and maybe Cope couldn’t let go of that tail. It’s possible that in other books the tail may have a good reason for being a part of the story, but I don’t feel like the character needs it, and have to admit that it threw me off of taking the book seriously at first. Maybe I just hate tails. I’m sorry.
Anyway, I really liked it. It’s mature, well written, good story, good characters, and good art. AND written locally!
All images belong to Ashley Cope.