Weekend reading and preview: The Solar Grid by Ganzeer is a dark, thought provoking piece of SF

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Fans of Vertigo Comics and Image Comics recent turn to intelligent SF, here’s another comic you should be checking out: The Solar Grid by Ganzeer.

Ganzeer is an Egyptian muralist and graphic designer who was forced to leave his home after being targeted by the current Egyptian regime as a terrorist after he made some cartoons critical of that regime. A troubling story but a sadly commonone aorund the world. After moving to New York (and later LA) ae’s gained a good bit of attention here in the US for his artwork, which is in the tradition of street art and posters, with a sharp edge of social comment, particularly on the economic disparity of the haves and have nots.

But he’s also a big comic book fan at heart, and The Solar Grid is clearly inspired by Vertigo’s golden age, particularly Warren Ellis, but stands on its own as a very contemporary take on Wikileaks, Donald Trump, climate change, crowd manipulation, social media and the other heartworms of modern life. The story veers between the effects of a cynical ecological disaster and a whistleblower on the run 400 years in the future, and an even more desolate world 400 years after that where two children – one with some cybernetic parts – squabble over scraps beneath an artificial sun that never sets. As in the best dystopian comics, no matter what the date of the story, it’s set five minutes in our own future, and that makes it scarier than any horror movie.

Ganzeer is a designer and sloganeer at heart, so the art is a little wobbly here and there, but the story is frequently presented in slick, attention grabbing posters, ads and dialogs from talk shows and web chats. It’s a detailed and dark world filled with thought provoking echoes of our own, and following the money reveals that freedom is an expensive illusion. And despite his love of American comics, they’re filtered through a very different cultural sensibility that gives the narrative extra snap.

For more info, here’s a profile from The Guardian.

The Solar Grid is going to be 9 chapters when its finished; two chapters are available, downloadable at $1.99 each – at 38 pages each, it’s a reasonable price. Do yourself a favor and spend $4 on an independent comic that has heart and brains.

There’s a preview of Issue #1 here and here’s a few pages from issue #2. Chapter #3 is due in October. For updates, sign up for Ganzeer’s newsletter. 

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