Here's most of my review of Inverloch volumes 1 & 2, from the latest issue of Inkspot, #52 (soon, but not yet available online at: Inkspot 52)
Inverloch, Volume 1 & 2
by Sarah Ellerton
A5 Colour 168 p. (each)
Seven Seas Entertainment, U.S., May & Oct., 2006
ISBN 1933164131 & 1933164271
The first volume of Inverloch presents a gentle and assured start to an epic fantasy adventure series. Acheron is a member of a horned wolf-like race, the d’akor - always cute but also clever and dangerous. Encountering Shiara, an elf-girl, Acheron finds himself drawn into her tale, and selflessly sets forth on a quest to locate another elf, Kayn’dar, missing for the past twelve years. While this first volume is less exciting than what follows, it is enjoyable and beguiling, and a perfect introduction to this world.
Volume 2 builds firmly on the first book, with a somewhat more serious tone and much faster pacing. Acheron wanders out into a world largely dominated by humans, where elves and d’akor exist on the fringes. The cast of characters fills out in the second book, with the gradual addition of three companions - Lei’ella, a disguised elf thief-catcher; Varden, a human thief; and Neirenn, a young elemental mage - each with their own motives for the quest.
It’s pleasing to see the proliferation of Australian fantasy comic series, such as Terinu, Deerflame, Azerath, The Crumpleton Experiments and The Dreaming. Inverloch itself began (and continues) as a popular webcomic, updated several times weekly, with word of mouth serving to increase its popularity. It fully deserves being picked up by an international publisher for release in these book collections.
The Internet showcases many artists, but Sarah Ellerton’s tale is a first-class webcomic - all the work of a single dedicated artist. Ellerton started drawing and showing fanart at various sites before beginning her own tale, and this has clearly served as a sound apprenticeship, with figures and landscapes rendered convincingly and expressively. Her sharply outlined figures against painted backgrounds is an innovative approach, reminiscent of animation, that well conjures up a different world. While the colours are somewhat saturated in print, this is consistent with the feel of the work.
Although Ellerton has admitted that she didn’t begin work with design and story details fully figured out, she has clearly worked to address this: Inverloch does read as a well-planned tale by an assured writer/artist. Within Inverloch itself, there is some visual development, as is typical with most characters and strips. Ellerton chose to redraw the first five pages of Volume 1 - a flashback sequence - due to this development in style, but the work was always of a professional standard.
The Inverloch books are highly recommended for all ages. I look forward to the future volumes!