Review: The Legend of Bold Riley #1-2

Artist(s): Jonathon Dalton, Leia Weathington, Zack Giallongo.

The Legend of Bold Riley graphic novel was an excellent introduction to the eponymous character, a young lesbian princess travelling in a fantasy world. I’m very glad to see that writer Leia Weathington has now done what she’d promised to, namely to get more stories of her character published, this time in an open-ended series1, though at the same publisher, Northwest Press (you can buy the comics in both print and digital formats at their website).

In the first issue, drawn by Jonathon Dalton, Bold Riley is still living with the aftermath of a tragedy that had been chronicled in the graphic novel. She finds a kind of relief in drinking—and in bedding various women, according to the narrator. Things become more interesting when she meets a talking bone, who tells her his story: it’s part of the skeleton of a boy who’d drowned while trying to join with his naiad-like lover (this story takes place in an Asian setting, so “naiad” is probably not the right term). Identifying with his loss, Bold Riley decides to help him make the skeleton whole and find his rest beside his beloved… but of course, things are not what they seem.

Jonathon Dalton provides rich, dense art and colors, with a particular care to showcase the lush vegetation. He seems quite at ease drawing ancient civilisations and monstrous creatures—in fact, judging from his website, he seems able to draw pretty much anything. In any case, his work on this installment of Bold Riley’s adventures looks wonderful.

You can read this first issue for free on the website of The Advocate, in four parts: part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

The second issue, this time drawn by Zack Giallongo, is more esoteric than the first one: Bold Riley finds herself wandering the steppes and accepting the hospitality of an old woman who opens her yurt to her, instead of leaving her to die in an oncoming storm. A large part of the issue is devoted to mysterious visions that come to Bold Riley during the storm, while the old woman calmly keeps weaving her intricate carpets.
If anything, this issue reminded me of the best Hellboy stories by Mike Mignola, where nothing much happens but the reader feels satisfied nonetheless thanks to the coherence of the imagination of the artist.

The art is also very different from Dalton’s, closer to Konstantin Pogorelov’s, one of the artists in the graphic novel and maybe my favorite. Giallongo draws in a loose, atmospheric style that suits this weird episode very well (conceivably, that was the reason why he was chosen).

As with the chapters in the graphic novel, each issue of this series offers a complete story, one more stone on the path taken by Bold Riley. As they say in the funny books, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey that counts. Clearly, “they” have never been tourists sardined in a plane. But I digress. Bold Riley’s journey is among the more fascinating I’ve read recently, and I hope Leia Weathington will get to chronicle it for a long time to come.

  1. A short story of Bold Riley was included in the Anything That Loves anthology.

Comments are closed.