From start to finish, “Owlgirls” #1 is quite possibly the most unique comic book flying under the radar and hitting stands this week. After achieving success via Kickstarter, Dave Ryan, Robert J. Sodaro and Rachele Aragno bring a 1940s story to print starring three owl-faced sisters.
Magdalena, Maggie and Martha have the faces of owls, but otherwise appear to be normal women in New York City. Betrothed to Gebedhia, the mortuary proprietor, Magdalena serves as the matriarch of this odd little clutch. The cast is rounded out with an old lady who appears to be an analogue for Death, or may very well be Death herself. Writer Sodaro doesn’t spend the entirety of “Owlgirls” #1 running the reader through expository boot camp, choosing instead to add flourish to the version of SoHo these ladies inhabit. The writer does scatter plenty of mystery seeds, however, and ends the issue with a threatening cliffhanger.
The art is what really separates “Owlgirls” #1 from everything else. The comic book opens with a quick of 1940s New York presented in a style that treads between photo-referenced and clearly hand-drawn. It’s charming and engaging right from the start, especially with letterer Wilson Ramos, Jr. selecting Courier or a similar typewriter looking font to inform the reader and serve as tour guide.
The art itself is a solid collaboration between Rachele Aragno and Dave Ryan. Readers might see bits of Howard Chaykin, Matthew Clark, Guy Davis and early Mike Mignola in the these pages that are filled with 1940s fashion and decor, complete with flowery wallpaper and black and white checkerboard pattern tile flooring. Rather than spoil the art by applying modern coloring processes and tones, Ryan and Aragno elect to preserve the period feel and deteriorated nature, leaning heavily towards shades of sepia with deep, rich blacks to anchor imagery throughout the story. The characters throughout “Owlgirls” #1 are very distinct, a fine decision by the artists as they establish the foundation for this series to build upon.
While “Owlgirls” #1 snuck under the radar for me during its Kickstarter campaign, I’m glad I found it now. This is an odd little mash-up that could only succeed from an independent publisher and stands out as a true gem. I don’t know where the creative team plans on taking this adventure, but “Owlgirls” #1 provides plenty of options, from tales of acceptance to mystical mayhem to mobsters showing up at a mortuary. Robert J. Sodaro, Rachele Aragno, Dave Ryan, Wilson Ramos, Jr. and Lawrence John Hansen have cooked up a bizarre time capsule packed with mystery that has my attention and deserves some more eyeballs checking it out.