Trying new titles is always a good thing, and one that provides a lot of excitement. Also, it is a good way to expand your horizons because there are a lot of companies out there that provide fantastic titles just waiting to be explored. One company that knows this and tried to make it easier for new readers in 2013 was Aspen Comics with their 10 for 10 publishing initiative. The goal was to put out ten new series with each first issue of that series only costing a single dollar. A pretty sweet deal no matter how you look at it.
One of those titles was Jirni by J.T. Krul and Paolo Pantalena. It details the journey of a girl named Ara who is in search of her mother who had been kidnapped years earlier. Not only that, but while doing so she is trying to figure out more about herself because Ara also happens to be part djinn, a fact of life that helps her out in battle, among other things, more often than not. She encounters all sorts of threats on her travels, from bandits to an enslaved genie and even an old woman who is more than she appears. As Ara makes her way across the land and gets closer to her goal, her unknown nemesis – Torinthal – will do anything to stop her.
The book features some great artwork from the previously mentioned Paolo Pantalena which is a little reminiscent of early Carlos Pacheco, and like nothing else Aspen is putting out today. The outcome is quite a marvel to look at and at times you feel like you are watching a Disney movie as it has that animated quality. Surprisingly it works really, really well. The designs are attractive and well thought out from the look of the djinns to the cover layouts to the look of the characters such as Nylese and her tail. There are not enough characters in mainstream comics with tails so that already garners an extra point. If a sequel is planned, Pantalena will hopefully be on board.
As far as diversity goes, Jirni embodies that wholeheartedly. There are no other books like this on the market, the closest possibly being Fables, but where one is about established fairy tales, this one is wholly original material. It is simple in premise, and nothing says a book has to be overly complicated, and it is written straightforward with a definite goal in mind. Because of that, and also for being truly entertaining, the book is worth your time and effort. Krul has created a nice, little magical world with Jirni and it is one that provides a nice alternative to all of the usual published fare.
4 out of 5