Ben Sears’ Night Air is built around characters that have apparently appeared in zines and anthologies, but I confess to being totally unfamiliar with them. It’s a spirited book aimed at kids and features wacky elements of science fiction and horror merged into a brief, absurd story with good humor and explosions.
The story focuses on a reckless, adventuresome kid — the Koyama site refers to him as Plus Man, though I don’t believe he is named in the book — who is working a card game scam with his robot in order to get some money from some alien thugs.
A quick escape for the two of them leads to the opportunity for a treasure in a castle, but, of course, nothing goes easily and there is a level of “Scooby-Dooification” in order to solve the mysteries contained in the castle, as well as those surrounding the treasure. Not that it’s as simple as someone faking the supernatural and pulling a rubber mask off them to prove that — not even remotely that simple.
The book is a fun enough romp in the first third, but the story really comes to life upon the castle entrance with the introduction of a number of goofy and macabre characters, each with their own worries and agendas, who butt up against Plus Man’s attempts to grab some treasure for himself. It’s the banter between boy, robot, and weird creatures that really make the book flow and provide a lot of the depth that carries it.
Sears’ art is perfect for what the book achieves. There are areas of sophistication in presenting the world, coupled with a child-like quality that brings the story down to earth to the ages it seeks to entertain, but in a very natural, never-pandering way.
This is a good effort from Koyama for kid-oriented comics, providing thrills and laughs, but not at the expense of clever and intelligent work alongside.
John Seven is a journalist and children’s book writer living in North Adams, Massachusetts. His books include ‘A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide To Anarchy,’ ‘Happy Punks 1-2-3,’ ‘Frankie Liked To Sing,’ and others. Find out about all his things at johnseven.me.