Eventide (pronounced Evan-Tide) is everything you’re looking for that you didn’t know you wanted. Written by newcomers Kimberly Gaines and Shawn Lanier, Eventide is available at Grub Machine Comics starting today. The combination of originality, story, and awesome art makes this a comic that readers age 8 and up not only want to read but should read.
I’ve been waiting for Eventide since before I was a GeekMom. I saw Ms. Gaines talk about Eventide back in June 2015 at the now defunct, one-time-only NYCC Special Edition. I was in love from then.
I followed her on Twitter and waited. Comic books take a long time to make, life gets in the way, things happen. I assumed that the book had died the death that happens to lots of projects.
I will thank Twitter just this once. Thanks to the Twitter notification that Ms. Gaines had tweeted for the first time in a long time, I rushed to the app and instantly PM’d her. Y’all. You are going to thank me for this. Promise.
How diverse are the characters?
Eventide has some of the most diverse characters I’ve seen in a while.
The very first panel is a young woman of color wearing glasses.
Our main character, Connor, is a white male with red hair and freckles. While having a girl or a racially diverse character as the protagonist might be better for many people, Eventide is a comic book containing a male protagonist who does not have the traditional toxic masculinity we see all the time.
Connor’s best friend, Rosie, is the smart one, which could be a bit cliche, but she’s also super attractive, thus deviating from the pretty-or-smart cliche. Yeah, she wears glasses, but she’s fashionable and not in that quirky female geek way. Seeing a smart girl portrayed as being just your normal girl without that side of “but she has a good personality” feels pretty excellent.
Eventide offers more than just racial diversity. It offers the healthy diversity wherein the characters’ diversity is simply another part of their identity. Instead of Black or Latinx characters whose identities become about their race, Eventide gives readers characters who have distinct identities, oh yeah, and they are Black or Latinx.
Eventide has adults who don’t understand kids, bullies, geeks, and popular girls. The characters look diverse, but their personalities and roles in the book are less related to how they fit into Eventide‘s world, not how they look.
What is the story in Eventide?
Well, that’s the best part. The story is awesome. No, really, trust me here.
I can’t talk too much about the story (Spoilers, Sweetie!) but can say you’re going to really enjoy it.
Eventide starts with a young woman in the subway being attacked by a mysterious monster. This hint of mystery and danger at the beginning carries over throughout the whole issue. The power of this compels you to keep reading.
Connor is an orphan in the grand tradition of superheroes with dead parents. The difference is that he seems pretty well-adjusted about it. He’s not a moper like Batman. He doesn’t bear the burden of guilt a la Peter Parker. He’s just a kid whose parents died and who has to work through that.
Over the course of the book, Connor gets bullied, no one believes him about the monster he thinks he hears, and he tries to get the pretty popular girl to go out with him. For the record, as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, the plot gave me a pleasant “School Hard” vibe.
Plot-wise, the mystery and horror set out in that first page continue throughout. Narratively, this is really where the art comes in.
What did you think about the art?
I loved it. I loved every panel. Really.
Normally, I hate angular art. I don’t like sharp corners. I can’t explain it, just not my aesthetic. Ultimately, this is why I’m probably not a huge manga/anime fan.
Sean Dillon’s art in here, though? Dude. Sean Dillon’s art. It is my everything in this book.
Everything is the perfect blend of sharp angles complemented by just enough softness at the edges. It’s a perfect crossover sort of manga/anime with traditional comics art. I’m just in love.
I mean, take a look at this image:
The sharp angles on the fingers mimic the sharp angles on the monster which also tie into those cracks on the wall.
But let’s talk about that face. There’s an angular aspect to it that’s really reminiscent of manga/anime in the chin area. This is balanced by the softer edges of the cheek bones and nose.
You guys, this is only one panel of this whole book. The art only gets better from there.
The colors are the perfect blend of bright with muted. Connor’s bright teal jacket and pops of color in the other clothing stand out against the more muted background colors. With the exception of the pale green school hallways, everything else is done in darker, muted purpley-gray-maroonish tones.
In conversations with Gaines, she told me, “Also, all my images are unlettered, which is how I like it.” This choice perfectly showcases the art.
Can I read Eventide with my kids?
I had the eight-year-old read this. There are a few “what the hells” and one character refers to another as a “prick.” As a warning, that’s about the only one I can think of giving.
My kid loved it. The main review? “I liked the end. I liked the story but I loved the *edited for spoiler*. I liked how she designed it. I liked how it looked like it had armor on it. That was cool.”
Let’s put it this way. I loved the book. I loved the art and story. I plowed through Eventide because I wanted to know what happens next.
My kid who talks nonstop? My kid was quiet for the duration of reading this book.
Clearly, anything that attracts this much attention from the nonstop kid is going to be a winner in my book.
Really, what I loved about this for my kid is what I loved about it for myself. The characters, even in this first issue, are not cliched. They’re fun. They’re teens. There are no bad messages.
While I was writing this, my kid was watching a cartoon geared for kids that slyly propagated everything I hate about toxic masculinity. I made my kid pause after hearing a male character say, “I wish I was a girl, then I’d be nicer and less evil.” Then we discussed why I hated this and how my kid can’t watch that show for a while. That one line is the reason that I monitor what my kid watches regularly. It’s not a big line, right? It’s sort of a toss-away? At the same time, it also portrays evil and violence as something inherent to being born male.
Eventide is the perfect response to these kinds of gender-dividing messages. While the story plays with bullies and toxic masculinity, the main characters, both boys and girls, are kind and smart. With so many negative representations of young people out there, Eventide does an awesome job of promoting positive narratives for all kids, of all races and genders.
I loved Eventide. As someone who waited almost two years for this story, who stalked the website on more than one occasion, I’ve never been happier to be right about a thing.
Go out. Buy Eventide. You won’t be sorry.