Shi: The Way of the Warrior – William Tucci

This represents all that is great in self-publishing: one person with a vision and the courage to stick to it no matter how bold and unique it is.

Shi is a woman descended from a line of Japanese warriors who fights against the Yakuza on the streets of New York City.

This is a dense read with dialogue, internal monologue, narration, and recollection all on the same page. The story flips forwards and backwards in time, scenes change from panel to panel, characters discuss philosophy and art history in depth and the whole work is littered with quotes from the Bible, Sun Tzu, and even Bruce Lee. You wouldn’t read this to idly pass the time. It takes a bit of thought to untangle the threads.

The art is incredibly enthusiastic. You can tell this is a labour of love. Each panel is packed full of much more detail than you would normally expect. There are bold angles and a lot of experimental ideas. The bordering is highly unusual and there is a lot of intentional bleed and crossover between frames.

You can actually see the style changing from issue to issue as Tucci discovers new techniques and becomes more confident as an artist. He will try something for a few pages just to see what happens and often this is a great success. The whole work is full colour which is incredibly unusual for a self-published work. It is worth going back and looking at some of the beautiful compositions and artistic choices made. This is an inspirational work for anyone thinking of creating their own book.

Being self-published there are a couple of typos and misprints but they make you admire and respect the work even more. This is where the iconic Shi began back in the 1980’s. There is a two page introduction by X-Men guru Chris Claremont delving into the history of comics. The author also talks about his inspiration and there are very early design sketches showing Shi’s evolution.

This is the opening part of an on-going story so there is no resolution at the end but a dramatic setup for the next instalment. It is only four issues long but the concentration of the script makes it feel lengthier. The deep narrative also distracts you from the fact the heroine spends a lot of her time in a very skimpy outfit.

For the sheer amount of effort it must have taken to produce this and the overwhelming originality packed in I give this a Double Thumbs Up!


Tomorrow: Valentine: Fully Loaded – Daniel Cooney

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