by Johnnie Christmas & Tamra Bonvilliain
What started in Brandon Graham & Emma Rios’s Island, the excellent Firebug gets completed by Johnnie Christmas & Tamra Bonvillain with the collected edition this week. Firebug is an ambitious and layered coming of age story about a teenage goddess that establishes Johnnie Christmas as one of comics most gifted storytellers, with bright and visceral color work from Tamra Bonvillain. It’s an engaging partnership between the two that makes FIrebug a must read for it’s spellbinding art and engrossing storytelling.
Firebug follows teenage girl Keegan, as she evolves from cult member to volcano goddess with disciples in tow. She lives in a fantastical city surrounded on all sides by a monster filled forest. Firebug makes a brilliant evolution throughout the comic, beginning in what feel’s like a story of normal and inauspicious group of teens from a tropical Gothic city, and seamlessly transforming into an epic about dueling gods, family, and love. Writer/artist Johnnie Christmas fills his pages with wonderfully detailed and lush visual storytelling. He has a sharp and distinctive angular line style that makes for distinctive and expressive character acting, with beautifully rendered design for the comics imaginative narrative. Known primarily as an artist, Christmas writing is second to none in Firebug. He pens wonderfully bouncy and vivacious dialogue, while his story building and pacing makes for an absorbing comics reading experience. Colorist Tamra Bonvillain gives Firebug it’s tropical flare with her bright and visceral palette. In Firebug, the coloring is essential for both narrative purposes within the main plot, in addition to how it establishes the books atmosphere. Bonvillain masterfully gives life to Chistmas’s pencils and inking with her radiant color work. She’s particularly impressive when filling out the books fire illustrations, with a bright, vivid, and complex shades of orange that looks live flames within the panels. It’s yet another stunning addition to her catalog, and indicative of her continued brilliance in comics.
Firebug is a fully realized and wholly original graphic novel, that establishes Christmas as one of comics most poignant modern creative talents for his singular style in art and writing, Firebug is the type of comic that can appeal to almost any reader, while being unlike anything else. With a scope and style that is singular to the medium, it’s an example of what comics can be at their best, acting as a form of pure expression for it’s creators imagination.