Review - Warpaint #1

"The past sneaks up on you, like a scary hand, reaching for your shoulder in the dark."

There's a lot of great things about being a kid, most of which center around a generally reduced sense of responsibility. As one grows older though, that sense of innocence erodes and is replaced with the reality that life is hard and you have to be tough. In Warpaint #1 from Witchworld Limited, that lesson is made very clear. The issue is written by Kev Sherry and illustrated/lettered by Katia Vecchio.

As fashion model Sophie Ember prepares for the catwalk, she receives an upsetting message that forces her to confront events from her teenage days and the actions of her best friend Selene, the only person who had the courage to stand against the misogyny of their upbringing.

There's a lot to unpack in Warpaint #1, much of which hinges on the difficulties of being young and faced with any sort of prejudice. Sherry does a great job of framing the current state of affairs for one in a group of friends by flashing back to a particular moment in time. In that moment, Sherry depicts a group of girls just trying to enjoy being friends while faced with bullies who are hellbent on making their lives miserable as a means of masking their own insecurities. It's a tried and true plot device that--sadly--doesn't require Sherry to fabricate much of as such incidents are all too real in today's world. Sherry's dialogue feels natural on both sides of the social battlefield, presenting Sophie, Michelle and Selene as young women grappling with maturing, both physically and socially.

Vecchio's linework is subtle yet effective in its portrayal of kids being kids. The lines are very thin and wispy, lending a delicate sensibility to the proceedings that works very well for the subject matter of the book. Pages don't feel overcrowded with neatly arranged panels, all of which feel sufficiently full of action to keep the reader engaged. There's an inherent simplicity in Vecchio's approach that just works really well, managing to keep things interesting without being too busy and affording the characters very expressive faces. The colors are very vibrant throughout the issue and lend themselves well to buoying the overall spirits of the characters throughout.

Warpaint #1 is something of a coming of age book whose name is very appropriate considering what the bullied have to endure in order to survive. The name itself is cleverly applied in one instance in the book and acts as a rallying cry for people who feel as if they're not accepted for whatever reason. Sherry's script is very meticulous in its message and presentation. Vecchio's artwork is adept at walking the line between capturing the innocence of youth and the cynicism of maturity. Warpaint #1 is a very poignant first issue that has a lot of important messages about growing up and how to cope with life's difficulties.

Warpaint #1 is now available. The graphic novel collecting the entire series is also available.