'"I came here to go to space and drink coffee, and I'm out of cof--" SCANNING IDENTITY'''
Space Trash 1, P.6
by Lydia Butz
Published Independently, Oct 2016.
We all know the feeling. Hell I know the feeling right now. You want to sit at home, wrap yourself in your favourite cultural cuddly-blankets - mine: watching old COFFEH Time vids by Dodger of Dexterity Bonus/presshearttocontinue - and sipping at a hot sweet tea. Especially when the outside world looks bleak, grey and draining. Thankfully I do love my job, so despite wanting to kick back and listen to why bagels are amazing - THEY ARE - I go into work ready to embrace whatever comes my way.
The unnamed girl of Space Trash however has other ideas. She is sitting at her computer, unemployed and having very little desire to go out into the big wide world, when her friend - the identity to the speech bubbles is currently a mystery! - tells her to go get a job. Now luckily, our heroine has a daddy in the space business who finds her a job. Hideously under-qualified but full of memes and coffee, she joins the Moon 5 crew. This space trash-collectors are made up of Arlo (mechanic), Threep (who appraises the space junk...scarily so), Herb (captain) and Dr H. Summer (doctor), whose hunky physique immediately catches the clumsy heroine's eye. What could possibly go wrong? At the end of Vol. 1 and the beginning Vol. 2, we see our heroine drifting in space with a space cat. These chapters begin to tell the tale of how she got to that point.
Let us talk about the art first. Space Trash uses 1-2 bold colours per page, consisting predominantly of three tiers. In Vol.1-2 shades of salmon pink and dark blues dominate, suggesting this will be the main colour palette for the comic. I enjoyed this as it was a distinctive style that I had not seen before and I also liked the way everyone was a similar shade, Butz hasn't gone overboard in inking in who is an alien and who is human. Butz is about to convey expression skillfully and with a simple beauty that felt refreshing, conveying a lot of emotional detail despite the general minimalism of dialogue. Our heroine is naive yet fully honest in her outwards persona, I never felt she was putting up a front to the other characters or to the reader. I do wonder whether her personality could be deepened in order to steer her away from traits veering towards clique: melodramatic in the face of anything gross or resembling hard work, only to be won over INSTANTLY by a good looking guy. While I realize this factor can often be true to life, especially at the rough 18-21 age she appears to be, but I still found this a little tiresome. It is a very common trait in a lot of teen fiction that a good looking guy can persuade women to do anything and forget their own opinions for the sake of having a 'chance' with him. However, I may be jumping the gun and Butz could intend this as satire, I will not pass judgement until I have read more chapters. But I digress...
The art style is very clean and fluid, there aren't any sharp angles or straight lines, no high contrast or edgy shading. There is a simplicity to the detail, but that does not necessarily mean there was a lack of it. In the bunk-rooms you can clearly see slime and scratches on the pipes, but it does not dominate the panel, it was there to spy and explore.
Humor is extremely well conveyed, again this is conveyed mostly through expressions, specifically those of the main character. Her eyes tend to 'bug-out' in moments of fear or anxiety, they narrow when she is devious and they turn to tiny lines/dots when she is clumsy or clueless. Currently all the characters are pretty standard: you have the cute character the hardcore slightly crazy character, the genuine friendly character, the lazy but in-charge character. I've seen these characters before yet I'm excited to see how Butz will develop them. Their personalities come across very well - which is a testimony to Butz use of dialogue considering its minimalism - but I feel we haven't seen their full extent yet. In terms of time, each chapter has so far conveyed a 'day in the life of' snapshot of our heroine's journey: Vol.1 she signs up for space + arrives at Moon 5, Vol. 2 her first night + morning at Moon 5. This reminds me of daily shot manga like Yotsuba&!, which I loved and devoured with a scary passion, so I hope for a similar journey with Space Trash.
I would highly recommend reading and following this artist/writer. The chapters thus far are available online, but they are lovely things to own, treasure and you would be helping an indie artist! Her website is here: http://lydiabutz.bigcartel.com/category/comics and Butz sells badges + stickers to go with the comics!