I just got an interesting new book from Canadian publishing house StudioComix called Six Faces of a Dice.
This black and white comic is written by Spanish author Juan Sepulveda and is illustrated by Argentinean artist Hernán Campos. This first issue, titled Face 1/6: Bitter Surprises, is apparently part of a larger six-part series (hence the name Six Faces of a Dice) each with a different style and theme, based on a collection of original short stories written by Sepulveda. Of Six Faces of a Dice, Sepulveda writes, “Puzzling arguments will arise on behalf of other genres and atmospheres that are dreamlike, surreal, and nightmarish, and will transport the reader to a different world where nothing is what it seems.”
The story of Issue One revolves around happenstance, betrayal, and fraternal loyalty (or lack thereof), and Campos’ artwork rises to the task of conveying the heaviness of these themes. The story has a number of settings and uses a number of characters that my be a bit foreign to American readers.
To begin, one of the main settings is a Spanish roadside brothel. This low-rent whorehouse is seedy, to say the least, and Campos' artwork does a great job of rendering the depressing atmosphere of the place. The brothel serves as a stop over for truckers, and, believe me, this place ain't no Stuckey's or Flying J. No ordinary "Lot Lizards", the women in this place are tarted up and are there for one purpose, and one purpose only. I don't know what Spanish law is regarding these establishments, but the one depicted in this comic seems to be out in the open, readily available.
Likewise, one of the more interesting characters in the comic operates in a world outside the normal American sensibilities. Kirill, a Russian citizen living in Spain, is a hitman whose background includes a stint in the Kosovo conflict. These mercenaries were responsible for untold horrors in the former Czechoslovakia and after the war, apparently some of them made their way to Spain. In Spain, they hired themselves out to do all sorts of dirty work. In Six Faces of a Dice, Kirill exists in an emotionless shell, hiring himself out to do the dirty work that others couldn't stomach. His face remains blank throughout the entire comic, even as he puts a bullet into an innocent man.
I was quickly drawn into the story because there seemed to be a number of unrelated things occurring at once. In the span of 14 pages, though, everything coalesced and all my questions were answered in an interesting and satisying way that made me want to hear other stories about these characters. The version of the comic I got suffers from a rather stilted English translation, which pulls a bit from the emotional impact of the tale, but Sepulveda has said that a new translation is forthcoming, and I am looking forward to seeing that. Even in this translation, the writing is powerful. The artwork of Six Faces of a Dice is very engaging and the pacing is fast enough to have kept me turning the pages.
Still, the comic points to a bright future for Juan Sepulveda and Hernán Campos, and I recommend grabbing a copy so that in a few years time you can show it to your friends and prove to them that you were there at the beginning.
More information about Six Faces of a Dice can be found here.
More information about StudioComix can be found here.