I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Omar Spahi, writer of Thaniel and Xenoglyphs, last August at the WV Pop Con. To say that I was impressed with the presentation of his work would be an understatement. I found Omar to be very personable, and he offered a solid ‘event’ deal on his books. But, what impressed me the most was that he wasn’t pushy. Given his presentation, I decided to support the startup publisher, OSSM Comics, and spend a little money.
At the time, there were only four issues of Xenoglyphs and I purchased all of them for $10. I thoroughly enjoyed the books and have read all subsequent issues. I interact with Spahi from time-to-time on Twitter, and when he told me Thaniel was releasing in late March, I told him I would definitely give it a chance.
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!
Thaniel is about a teenager who once associated with the wrong crowd, but realized the error of his ways and wants to right his wrongs. He has a mysterious background; all we know is that his father wasn’t in his life. There is a potential love interest in a childhood friend who has always seen the best in him. His new life forces him to go toe-to-toe with those he once called friends. Lastly, there is a hint at a potential superpower that is intentionally left undeveloped.
Perhaps that seems cliché, but I like to think of it is as covering your bases. If you’re releasing a comic in 2014, chances are you aren’t going to be able to introduce an original origin story. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, and Thaniel certainly has some elements that deviate from similar iterations.
So while the story is a little derivative, it isn’t lacking crucial elements for a book of its tone. In fact, what’s great about Omar is that once he has a solid foundation, he’ll twist it. Spahi is a fan of comics and pop culture, so he knows how most stories generally progress. He is very conscious about making sure that his stories don’t follow the beaten path.
My expectations for Thaniel, having gotten to know Omar, is that after the stage has been set everything that we know will change. I think most comic readers can get behind that notion.
I really liked the black and white artwork with the use of red only for blood. Terry Huddleston did a solid job on the character models, particularly when it came to facial expressions. There wasn’t a great emphasis on the background, but I believe that was intentional.
The book is rated ‘M’ for Mature, mostly due to the violence and language. Unlike Xenoglyphs, this book is much darker and delves into the psyche of Thaniel; a good portion of the book is comprised of his thoughts.
I certainly believe this book to be worth your time, especially if you get the chance to interact with Spahi at a convention at which he has a booth. If nothing else, you’ll have a great experience and leave the table with a solid purchase from an independent publisher that cares about his craft and the people who read it.
As a fan of comics and pop culture, I try to support startup initiatives like this whenever I get the chance. I enjoy the subtle twists on tales that I am familiar with. That fact that Omar is someone who also interacts with his readers on social media is just a bonus.