Powr Masters Vol. 1
Writer/Artist - C.F.
Publisher - PictureBox. $18 USD
Naive in the best possible way, C.F.’s Powr Mastrs captivated me over a year ago when I bought this volume based only on word of mouth. I hadn’t seen a single panel and from the elaborate logo and no-nonsense pricing and credits below, I thought maybe I was in for a stern sword-and-sorcery epic. And yes, it’s a fantasy, but with soft edges instead of gleaming swords and chains, shy smiles instead of grimaces.
That’s not to say it’s a spoof or deconstruction, but C.F. is taking his time getting around to the heroic journey, and that’s fine with me (that’s assuming there definitely in one, as I’ve yet to read the second and third volumes). Right now, he’s setting up the world of “Known New China” and its colorful cast of witches, warlocks, warriors, organic robots and shadowy ids.
So many characters are either in the process of transforming, already changed, or able to shift between different presentations of their selves that it all works as a delightfully fresh metaphor for the transition between adolescence and adulthood, especially offhand way C.F. digresses from anything that smacks of forward narrative momentum into the sweetly childish scenes of the Sub-Men, who look and act like they came out of Yellow Submarine. These are actually important scenes in the sense that they help build up a believable world with its own barter system, though most of the diverse creatures get along well enough that one wonders from where the conflict will emerge.
It’s fun trying to get in the author’s head a bit, wondering why he stops at this or that point to add overtly sexual elements to an otherwise innocent work starring a boy in a furry costume not a million miles away from Where the Wild Things Are. The rigid lines, while showy and a way for C.F. to directly reach his audience and remind them he’s there making the work for them, also seem to be a way to make sense of the confusing world of adulthood that’s peopled with deceitful, two-faced practitioners of magic and strange science. It’s an astonishing piece of art that leaves an impression of innocent talent to be protected even after several pages of human female/male jellyfish tentacle sex that would be purely gratuitous in most hands. And the other gift is that every time one looks at the book again, it’s hard to fight the impulse to draw. Invigorating, rewarding work.