Saturday, March 2, 2013

Accidental Space Spy

The Accidental Space Spy is a free online comic written and illustrated by the talented and unpronounceable Øyvind Thorsby.

It’s about a regular guy, whose name we don’t know, incidentally identical to a renowned space spy called Plume. Planet Petrevolt hires this Plume for a mission requiring his skill and knowledge, but ends up accdientaly abducting our protagonist. Knowing he can’t tell the truth, since Petrevolt would order his execution for “knowing too much,” the guy pretends to be Plume, and goes on this mission traveling to different planets and learning about the ways of all the species of the galaxy.

With the already characteristic graphic style of Thorsby’s, much like that of his other works (Hitmen for Destiny and Lies, Sisters and Wives), the story of fake Plume and green Mr. Potato Head who mistook him for the real agent unfolds in a bizarre world of thick black monotonous lines filled with plain saturated colors, like the drawings of a person who opened Paint for the first time.

Hard to get used to at first, maybe. But with the passing of the strips you end up fascinated by the design’s simplicity. And it’s easy to understand that such a simple style makes it easier for the author to keep the story going at a good pace, and also gives him the freedom to represent the most complex aliens imagined by man without the need of thinking too much about the representation’s verisimilitude.

The writing’s extremely interesting. Though the characters aren’t as deep as I guess you could expect, each one has certain distinctive particular treats, wisely chosen, that never respond to any stereotype known to men. Every time a new character shows up, you find yourself wondering which’ll be their particular personality, how will they talk, what will they value over what other thing. And the answer to those questions is always a pleasant surprise.

Definitely the story’s most interesting point, however, are the alien races Thorsby creates for each new chapter, and particularely their mating habits, each one more strange than the previous one:

  • There’s the huggians, who don’t feel attracted to their females, whom they hardly ever see, but to the mortal traps the females build to protect their eggs from being impregnated by weaklings. The more fatal, the hotter.
  • There’s the tailcutters from Castration Planet, who, when sterilized, offer instinctively care and attention to their closest fertile relative. Fertile tailcutters, therefore, are always trying to castrate their fertile relatives in order to win that care, and not be castrated themselves.
  • The fringurfringurs from Planet Vlymsorvlymsor, where even the most unimportant lie’s punished by death. Their way of talking’s particularly interesting, the discourse developed by those who know any metaphor or imprecision can end their lives. They remind me of another great character of the same author: Jymre.
  • The Planet of the Living Notebooks, where no creature has a memory more than a few minutes long, and where the living notebooks live, creatures who write on their own body every bit of information they need to survive and mate.
  • The srunners from The Best Fucking Planet Ever, whose females store in an internal organ the semen of every male they had sex with, and can choose at will when to get pregnant and with whose seed.
  • The twolesies from The Planet of the Reversed Gravity Zone, who believe in magic at such point that they’re capable of hallucinating with all their senses any magic a sorcerer says he’s gonna do, and even can die in the spot if a sorcerer says they’ve been struck by a fatal spell.

All these planets and these creatures that populate ’em, and the evolutionary course that led ’em to be like they are, are thought to an extraordinary level of detail. And, as I’m thinking of writing a few things about this comic in the future, I wanted to point it out now, even though in order to do so I had to write this, which is essentially a list of characteristics without any meaning beyond stating that this story exists and it’s worth checking out.