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Three factors interest me after reading the first issue of Southern Cross, the Image Comics mystery–set on a futuristic tanker spaceship–by writer Becky Cloonan, artist Andy Belanger and color artist Lee Loughridge. Something about the way the cast is introduced as the series lead Alex Braith boards the tanker flight to Titan (a refinery moon) plays out in a manner that is reminiscent of a 1970s murder mystery movie set on a train. Secondly, the cinematic scale of some of Belanger’s establishing shots, particularly of the tanker itself. But most of all, I find myself taken by the troubled and somewhat internally conflicted character of Braith herself.
Although Southern Cross, the sci-fi horror series from Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge, doesn’t debut from Image Comics until March, its production blog has already proved itself a must-read. Or a must-view, in any case.
The series follows Alex Braith as she boards the oil tanker Southern Cross en route to Saturn’s moon Titan to collect her sister’s remains, retrace her steps and uncover answers about her death.
On the blog, the creators have posted everything from character designs to logo treatments for the comic’s galactic oil company to — best of all for anyone who ever spent hours poring over schematics of Titans Tower or the U.S.S. Enterprise — a top-down blueprint of the Southern Cross itself.
After the January Image Expo, Image Comics received some flak because most of the creators on stage were white men. On Wednesday, Publisher Eric Stephenson’s keynote address to the Image Expo held in conjunction with Comic-Con International included the following comments: “If we want to build a more diverse industry, though, if we want to develop a more diverse talent pool, then it is of utmost importance that we produce comics that appeal to as wide an audience as possible …”
That was said within the context of the historic gender disparity in comics, especially when looking at mainstream comics and the direct market. There’s more evidence than ever that the gender disparity in readership is no longer true; women are just as likely to read comics as men. If that’s true, then one would hope that just as many would be likely to attempt to make comics. That doesn’t seem to have come to pass in this corner of the industry, but Image announced a trio of upcoming releases that will hopefully start to shift the momentum in the right direction. If nothing else, these are among the most promising books to be announced at Image Expo, and they build on the gratifying surge in creator-owned comics.