In 2013, Anthea West released The Earthbound God. Six years earlier, I became acquainted with her online. I’ve been a supporter of her work since she started producing comics; I need to state this before I get into the review, to be clear that I adore her work, and consider her a vital friend in the comic book world.
When I picked up The Earthbound God, during its initial release, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that shortly thereafter, the book sold out, and Anthea West needed to print more to meet demand. I can only imagine what might have drawn people to this book – pun definitely intended. It must have been – and I really can only guess – the beautiful concept of the book, one that inspired me to support her IndieGoGo campaign for the first print run. I was not disappointed with the book, and I know that I am not alone.
West tells a wonderful story of wayward sisters in a frozen world, sisters by bond rather than blood, travelling from two very different places in the mountains. During the winter, they must find and kill the Earthbound God, Mij, a bounty kill that would secure their future. Through their journey, West paints a clear picture of a strange world, where language is a constant barrier and a superstitious force, and something to be played with in the writing. In few words, West shows readers the importance of story in a world without electronic communication, where instances to find food and warmth can be few and far between.
Of vital importance in this tale is the relationship between the sisters by bond, Yaeya and Eusha, dressed in thick furs, with remarkably expressive faces. Their relationship is complicated, but understand easily in the ways they interact throughout the book.
This is a fully fleshed out book, drawn in black and white in such a way that the frozen-over world can be felt through the pages. The creative use of panelling, and the value placed upon blank space, draws a complicated picture.
With clear influences from Princess Mononoke, and a long history of her own creative drive in character and monster creation, West delivers a powerful book, with a disturbing antagonist and a harsh environment to offset the embodied enthusiasm within our heroes.
The book is available through Forbidden Planet Dublin; if you ask nicely, and if she has copies available, Anthea might be able to bring copies to Dublin Comic Con. (Update: Anthea will definitely be bringing copies of the book to DCC.)