So… what do you do when, after decades collecting and reading comics, you suddenly discover a flourishing Australian independent comics scene with its own rich history? Why, you create a central clearing house/index where all things pertaining to modern Aussie comics can be found and researched by those with the desire to delve into the local scene.
OK, that’s done. Next?
Simple! You next turn your clearing house into a shop, stocking as many comics from as many creators as will agree to join your venture.
All right. Sure. And then?
Well, I guess then it’s time to publish! Lots of local talent out there, right? OK, done.
Hey that was easy! Let’s publish our own book!!
Sydris #1 is Shane Syddall’s final transmutation of a wannabee comic shop logo, designed by Shane Syddall and Kerry Harris (there’s an origin clue in there…). When the shop venture failed to get off the ground, the logo then morphed into the logo used by Syddall for a family of websites aiming to aggregate and promote a large part of the Aussie independent comics scene. These websites then became the hub of a new Australian comics imprint: ComX Studio.
And now, the logo comes to life. Well, comic book life, at least. Sydris Comics the shop has become Sydris, a most unusual superhero, published under the ComX Studio imprint.
Story 1: Meeting Sydris
As mentioned in an introductory piece after the first tale, the idea of Sydris is for a superhero who is – almost literally – whatever the creators want him to be. There is no specific style, no bothersome continuity and no specific set of powers. Don’t expect to see The Handbook of the Sydris Universe any time soon.
This first tale, written and drawn (or, in his words, “scribbled and scrawled”) by Peter Wilson, is a sort of self-reflecting mirror of a tale. Because, while Sydris can be anything his creators want him to be, it seems that – within the story - he is also pretty much anything his fans want him to be. As a result, what we see unfold is simultaneously a homage to the evolution of certain favourite characters; a parody of their changeability as times (and tastes) change; and a chance to see the same character interpreted by multiple guest artists - all within the pages of one story!
Willson has “scribbled and scrawled” this story in a simple cartoony style, interspersed with the above-mentioned guest artists. It is a dialogue driven tale and therefore a bit wordier than the average comic these days. But the balance of art and words is still just right to get the story across.
The tale concludes with the reminder that comics, in the end, are as much about the fans and the creators (and those groups are by no means without overlap) as they are about the characters and the tales told. And that is a nice reminder to have.
Story 2: Nightmarish Dayz
The title of this tale – revealed only in the contents page at the beginning of the book – can perhaps be deduced purely by reading the story. Written and drawn by Ryan Vella in his own unique and recognisable style, this story varies markedly in appearance and tone from the previous tale.
Sydris encounters three adversaries that are both bizarre and unique, each showcasing Vella’s pencilling style and range. Without any particular success against any of them, he moves from one to another until the surprise reveal at the end – which a few readers may well see coming.
Vella’s art is somehow incredibly detailed yet clear and very readable. His prose is relaxed and laconic, clearly not taking itself too seriously. As required, this is a very different Sydris but an enjoyable one
Story 3: Sense of Occasion Part 1
Another tale, another artistic style. And another variation on our chameleonic hero.
Written by Haydn Spurrell, with art by Ben Sullivan, the final story gets us right back to superheroing central: team members; overwhelming threats; mysterious villains; sound effects. And of course, the now seemingly mandatory heroic landing pose (albeit presented here in homage/parody). Of top of all that, it’s to be continued! Boxes ticked!
Here we see the hero Sydris in all his power, all his glory… and all his fallibility. At least, that’s what we see of this Sydris, our third flavour of the issue. A hero who seems to struggle at times to keep his eye on the prize, to the chagrin of his teammates.
Spurrell and Sullivan have woven a tale that looks and feels like a classic heroic adventure of earlier times. Think 1960s DC. Think E-Man. But above all, think quirky and original. From the bright colours and simple linework to the witty, concise dialogue, this final version of Sydris is bright and entertaining, with a nice teaser of more to come.
One further note on the artwork. The artists of the first two tales have scattered numerous references to other independent Australian comics through their stories. These include their own creations and those of others, in a nice unifying touch for this fledgling imprint seeking to be a beacon of the genre.
Sydris is Shane Syddall’s labour of love and, you know, that comic he always wanted to make. It’s quirky, it’s fun and it poses a few very interesting questions about just what is a superhero anyway.
With the help of a bunch of great Aussie talent, Shane has created a first issue that’s fun and – perhaps most impressive at the beginning of year 86 of the superhero genre – a little bit different.
Buy it. Just because.
4.5/5 just for the fun factor alone
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