I just wanted to say that I wrote this column entirely of my own free will. K Lynn Smith never once threatened to take my lunch money, nor anything else. Everything I say is true.
So I first met K Lynn Smith online on Instagram. She has an incredible sense of humor and I for one was looking forward to seeing her illustrations in Hope by herself and Dirk Manning.
Her art was kinetic, with a trace for an older style, but still very engaging and filled with nice little bits of psychology. I kept hearing that she was an amazing storyteller with Plume, and I have to tell you, every bit of what you hear about her is true.
So in light of this strange new world, I decided to buy some graphic novels to review for the column going forward. Imagine my surprise she showed me where to get an amazing book of hers for free. Plume might be one of the best romantic western comics I’ve ever read.
Created, Written and Illustrated by K. Lynn Smith
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing
Plume is a surprising delight from the beginning. The premise is very simple. We see Vesper and an angelic-looking ghost wreaking havoc in the west. Vesper is more Billy the Kid or Indiana Jones that one would ever expect. Part rascal, but there’s this sense of danger and fun with her. This was a woman used to the hard ways of life and had survived it. Her associate is Corrick, a kind of stoic bodyguard. Even from the beginning, you can see that they cared about each other, just in how they interact. They are old friends, just shooting the breeze while riding a chariot of fire. You know the usual.
The story then flashes back to Vesper’s origin. Vesper Grey is failing to be something that her Aunt Agatha tries to shape her in. She’s not cut out for etiquette or any kind of the prim and proper lifestyle of ladies in that time, much to her Aunt’s dismay. The Watch she wears around her neck is subtly there and is cast in a similar golden light to Corrick’s eyes, and you find out why very shortly. A moment of impulse caused Vesper to go on the ice to retrieve her blown off hat. The ice cracks and she falls in. Right when things were about to go fatal, Corrick saves her for the first time.
It turns out, as long as Vesper wears that watch, Corrick will always protect her, no matter what. Once that little secret is discovered the story really begins, as Vesper’s father comes home to whisk her away. Along the way to deliver some artifacts, her father is killed in the ensuing gunfight by Dominick and his gang, and Vesper vows revenge.
Plume opens with lines from revenge, but I’d argue that revenge is a very small part of the story. The whole omnibus deals with the past sins of not just Vesper, but Corrick, who definitely is more than meets the eye, and Dominick, and why he was so obsessed with killing Vesper’s dad. Everyone’s past catches up to them throughout the series, and questions of revenge evolve into bigger things. I won’t spoil it too much, but Smith illustrates the key differences between justice and revenge, and which course is truly braver and why.
I love all the characters in the story. Tegan is an adventure-seeking whore who definitely has as much brains as beauty and a certain salt of the earth charm. I even grew to like Dominick, who through the entire series proves just how much a dumb SOB he really is. But there’s something fun and simple about him, that I get the feeling that K Lynn enjoyed his tale. Each character has many layers and nuances that add dimensions to a great concept.
Plume is a country song told from start to finish. This is ultimately a romantic story, and the ending is incredibly bittersweet and perfect for Vesper and Corrick. I won’t spoil it, but I will say you will cheer when you get to the end.
In short, this is a fantastic graphic novel, with a great concept, great characters, psychology. There’s an incredible amount of subtle show and tell throughout that hints of bigger things to come. My favorite two chapters in Plume were near the end. Wounded is a very heart-wrenching moment. One of the characters doesn’t make it out of the issue and their end is incredibly noble. There is sadness, but there is acceptance and I really enjoyed that look of mortality.
The next story after, is about uselessness. Corrick goes through quite a transformation by this point and it is that issue where his humanity is explored. He had become so used to being one thing, that he has to learn how to trust other aspects of himself he hasn’t had to for a long, long time. I really think this chapter was necessary before the final battle. He was no longer just an otherworldly prescience, but a man, scared of what might happen next. It’s amazing how much those quiet moments matter in stories like this, but they do.
I cannot recommend this enough. And right now, it’s free. Go get it. I promise you you’ll want to donate to K. Lynn when you’re done. I’ll be buying her next book for sure.
So my current guest is a radio personality all her own. Sista C Charlotte Ferrell is a radio personality at Simon Fraser University. She let me come onto my show, and I promised that I would return the favor. It took me a while, but I finally delivered. It’s a great show. Charlotte is an amazing personality and has had an interesting and we talk about it for quite a bit…until the coffee shop closes. Take a listen below.
So I know the timing is a little peculiar right now when you factor in this whole COVID thing that shall not be named. But it’s now, it’s never. You never know when the right book at the right time is going to come out. My book is finally ready.
The Cloud Diver is the Matrix meets Indiana Jones. Johnny Wheeler is a diver going nowhere fast. With his faithful daemon Stevie Y, Johnny follows a girl with a gunblade into the cloud and gets a file that everyone from zombie mobsters to unicorn’s that fart rainbows is after. Adventure has found Johnny and all he wants to do is run away. His only salvation? The girl with the gunblade, who probably doesn’t like him very much.
I hope you guys check out the Cloud Diver on May 1st. It’s going to be a doozy.
That will do it for this column. Next one we talk about lucha libre. It’ll be good. I promise.