The Merchants of Venus – Neal McPheeters & Victoria Petersen

Merchants of VenusThis was a short story written in 1972 by Frederick Pohl and turned into a graphic novel in 1986. Both of these time periods impact on the language and the art of this piece.

The story reads as a noir with a troubled protagonist narrating his tale of getting mixed up in something big. Instead of a detective we have a space taxi driver turned treasure hunter. But there is certainly a dame in this.

The story is slow and intrigues rather than excites. The pacing is slow by today’s standards and the ending is ok rather than the star of the show. There are some sci-fi elements such as enhanced lifespans and alien civilisations and a bit of space opera. The language and the terminology of Venus feels natural and isn’t explained adding to the feel of authenticity. I did find myself thinking of the original Total Recall film in tone.

The art is pencil sketch coloured by marker pen. You wouldn’t see this style in our digital age but a lot is done with this limited medium. The layout is dynamic, alternating between square panels and borderless art. There are some neat tricks in composition that shows a lot of thought has gone into the art. The words tell the story, often through narration, and whilst the pictures never get to take the lead they certainly inject a sense of place and wonder.

A pleasant diversion and a Thumbs Up!

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