Sky Doll (Marvel)

Sky Doll, Marvel Comics edition
I’ve long been a fan and advocate of European comics, a field in which I think some of the most exciting work in the comics medium is being done.

Japanese comics (“manga”) have made significant inroads into the U.S. market, becoming something of an obsession in some circles, but European comics have been slow to find acceptance, partly because it’s still difficult to find European comics albums here, and even harder to find translated versions of comics produced in French or Italian.

There have been attempts over the years to bring over some comics from France, Belgium, Italy and the UK (including Marvel’s very nice reprints of material from Jean “Moebius” Giraud in the 1980’s), but they never really captured the audience they might have.

To Marvel’s credit, they are trying again to import and translate some comics from France, this time in partnership with French publisher Soleil. They’ve started with one of my favorites, Sky Doll by Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa.

If you don’t have access to the French originals, and missed the quick reprint in Heavy Metal, here’s a chance to pick up on the series anew. (See my previous posts on Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa and Sky Doll in Heavy Metal, in which I post additional images from the series and describe it in more detail.)

I give Marvel extra credit here, not only for bringing French comics to the American audience, but also for starting out with an adult title, in both senses of the word. Sky Doll, though not as overtly sexual as some comics, is labeled with a Mature Content advisory and contains nudity and sexual situations.

Don’t be put off by what might look at first glance like a cheesecake sci-fi story; the series is actually mature in the real sense, and deals with those very subjects, the objectification of women as sexual objects, personal freedom, societal control, and individual resistance to unacceptable social norms. On the other hand, don’t let me give you the impression that the story is high-handed and preachy, it actually manages to deal with those subjects in the course of a fun adventure story, amid wildly imaginative settings and striking design work, rich with detail and sparkling with ebullient color.

The first issue of Marvel’s Sky Doll (a three issue limited series) reached the comic book specialty stores last week, and may still be on the shelves in those stores adventurous enough to have ordered it. If not, you may be able to order it directly form Marvel or from an online specialty store like Mile High Comics.

I also give Marvel credit for doing a good job with the reproduction, capturing the intricate details of Barbucci’s drawings and often subtle tones of Canepa’s colors despite the reduction in size from the original French albums to American comic book format.

There is an article on Newsarama about the series, that includes some pages from the story as well as some of the pages in this issue that preview upcoming Marvel/Soleil projects, Universal War One, Samurai and Scourge of the Gods.

The official Sky Doll site, that was up for several years, has gone offline. There is an unofficial site (FR) that contains a lot of art work if you click around a bit.

Barbara Canepa, writer and color artist for Sky Doll, keeps an active blog (in French, Italian and often English), in which she talks about Sky Doll and other projects. Likewise, Alessandro Barbucci now has a blog as well.

Note: Some of the sites linked here contain material that is NSFW and not suitable for children.

6 Replies to “Sky Doll (Marvel)”

  1. Just out of curiousity, what exactly is “inappropriate for children”? Not trying to be a prick or anything (in case I get an answer all I’ll say is “thanks for explaining it”), just honestly asking since I read the first two albums when they were published in Italian and can’t remember absolutely anyhing of that kind (maybe the US verison has some stuff added).

    I haven’t had the time to check the authors’ blog, but I remember reading some interviews with them a few years ago and Canepa claims it’s all painted with real materials / without Photoshop (although some of the scenes look like they’re constructed on a comp, for example when they reach the cuboid building with texture in the 2nd volume). Just thought to mention it as a curiosity.

  2. By “inappropriate for children” I generally mean violent (which Sky Doll is not), sexually suggestive or using nudity in a sexual way rather than in the context of “artistic nudity” (and don’t ask me to define “artistic nudity”, I don’t know how).

    Usually, I mean the label as a notice that parents should judge the material to decide if it’s appropriate for their own children. It’s not meant to be a judgment so much as a courtesy.

    I believe that Barbara Canepa does most of her color art in watercolor. But I’ll see if I can find out if she used any digital compositing in Sky Doll.

  3. Thanks for explaining it.

    Just got the USA edition as a present from my coworkers and … it’s so small (physically); I thought they printed it in harcover and big! Just goes to show how human brain makes assumptions I guess. Nonetheless, the art still looks amazing and the atmosphere is totally charming.

    And in case Barbucci’s sketchbook gets published in USA and you decide to cover it here… I definitely won’t ask why the “inappropriate for kids” since it was deemed to much even for Italian sites that published the previews (they had to cut it a bit) XD

  4. Fantastic issue. Was worrying about the reduced size of art but as I have the Italian HC editions there is hardly any problem in reading viewing the Marvel edition.

    Cant wait for the rest of Marvel/Soleil books to come out as it is something different and refreshing.

    I have the HC sketchbook also showing preliminary and fully penciled pages and I hope that Marvel also prints it too, or at least they include it in the collected Sky Doll HC book when it comes out.

    9 out of 10 stars

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