Review: New Frontier #1: Third Wheel, by Hanna K

The saddest thing about my TCAF trip was completely missing the PEOW! Studio booth. Hailing from Sweden, I missed a chance to get copies locally of their brand new books. When Zainab Akhtar (blog: Comics and Cola | tumblr: wellnotwisely) previewed the second issue of Náva, I knew it was a comic I needed to own. So, I had missed my chance to get copies at TCAF. What’s a guy to do? Well, make a big order of foreign comics to save on shipping, that’s what.

I was immediately attracted to New Frontier #1: Third Wheel because of its brilliant cover. The book’s cover is risograph printed in blue, yellow, and fluorescent pink, and the interior is 40 pages of comics mostly printed in blue riso. PEOW! has chosen some really high quality papers and inks for the production, so this is a really great looking and feeling mini.

New Frontier #1: Third Wheel revolves around two orphan boys, Tomen and Hegarth who live on a wrecked space colony/spaceship called the Explorer. The colony has devolved into a state of anarchy after an accident prevents the colony from launching from orbit. The leading characters don’t seem to care about that too much – they’re busy trying to scavenge food and stay out of trouble. When a mysterious girl with strange eyes and hand-like feet enters their lives, things quickly change.

While there is plenty of mystery in this slice of life/sci-fi tale, one thing is certain, and that is the shared affection the two boys have for each other. Hegarth plays a more fatherly role, protecting Tomen and keeping him as safe as possible. Tomen, the younger, is prone to outbursts and tantrums. The relationship feels very real, and the characters seem very genuine in the sense that Hanna K does a great job of creating a big brother/little brother chemistry that works. When Hegarth rushes to protect the girl they find, Tomen reacts jealously, and it feels true to life.

I also like New Frontier #1: Third Wheel’s layout. The panels are really clean and Hanna K is able to fit a lot of information and action into each page. The comic flows well. One thought, and this is more on the role of the internet in illustration, but Hanna’s art is very similar in style to other tumblr comics authors. The style looks really good, it blends traditional comics, manga, and a lot of illustratorly influences, but I’m starting to see similar things from other artists.  It’s something like an “internet house style” if you will. Still, in monochrome, Hanna does a great job of creating depth and perspective. I would love to see the whole comic in color.

New Frontier #1: Third Wheel is rambunctious, infectious sci-fi, and PEOW! has done a great job of bringing the comics to the page. If you have the means to buy internationally or have a comic shop that can order you a copy, I recommend it.

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PEOW! Studio is a comics collective based in Sweden. You can find their website and store here, and they have a tumblr at peowstudio. Hanna K regularly does work with PEOW! – you can find her tumblr at hannakdrawsNew Frontier #1: Third Wheel can be purchased from PEOW! on their website.

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