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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Markosia: White Crane: The Legacy of Fang Chi

Writer: Zanna Vaughan-Davies
Artist: Santiago Espina
Soft cover
full colour
Mature Readers
Publisher: Markosia Enterprises
Buy it from, and select Foyles bookstores.
Cover price........?


The year is 1713, the place is Tai'he mountain, where 500 years before, Chang San Feng, a legendary Taoist monk created the martial art of Tai Chi Fist after observing a crane fighting a snake.

On a quiet and secluded spot, a young girl is being trained by her father in their family’s rare fighting style. 17-year-old Fang Chi* is growing sick of the intense training and isolated lifestyle – she craves friends, companionship and adventure. (*Note: In China the family name appears first.) 

This begins a journey of violence, mysticism and friendship that leads Fang Chi to 
become one of the greatest martial artists of her, or any, generation – leaving a 
legacy that could save the world… or destroy it.  

You can have that PR version or this one:

"Alice in Wonderland meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Written by a someone with two decades of experience in the esoteric Chinese internal martial arts, WHITE CRANE is set in 18th-century China and is inspired by a true story. This book follows a young girl’s adventure as she is guided by the spirit of the White Crane on a quest to take revenge on the twisted sorcerers of an ancient Serpent Cult, creating one of the world’s deadliest martial arts in the process."

Right, well, Hong Kong Kung Fu comics and I'm your man. Okay: this is not a HK Kung Fu comic but there are so many elements of them as you'll see from the pages reproduced below.  I need to point out that this is not the Markosia version I have but the self published book and the new one will have a few "tweaks" which means I'm reviewing a book that I hope will not be significantly different from Markosia's.

The story flows well and the art I liked and I don't think I've seen Espina's work before. The colouring was excellent throughout and I was really enjoying the read until I got to Chapter Two.  Nothing wrong with the story that was still okay.  It was the art. It seemed to definitely drop a few notches. How could Espina produce crisp,lovely work in Chapter One but then...?

It gets VERY confusing: Art by Santiago Espina  but Additional Art by Adrian Rodrigez and then, at the back of the book -ALL credits should be clear at the front of the book because I had no idea whether the difference was down to one artist doing chapter 1 (Rodrigez) and Espina jumped in from chapter 2 to try to continue in a similar style.  Usually you find "Artist pgs 1-5 blah blah blah" and "artist pgs 6- " so I still have no idea whether Espina went over (inked) Rodrigez's pencils or someone else did but Espina took "...over inking duties himself from issue 2 onwards",  You see the confusion -it might not matter to some people but we are in 2016 and we need to see full credits. Creators rights and historically this should all be clear.

Here is my problem.  If Espina produced pencils for chapter 1 and someone inked over them -who?  If someone else did the inking and both chapters are Espina's pencil work then letting that inker go was a mistake. Don't get me wrong because there are some very nice touches but the difference was noticeable immediately. A lot of the "saving graces" came courtesy of the superb colour work.

Putting being an awkward bastard reviewer aside: the story was good and the flow and action scenes were well written -you got to love the "Pounding Fist -Fire" stuff!- and there is a very nice cliff-hanger ending so that was enjoyable and made up for some of the art downfalls. So, yes, I'd say it is worth buying but that brings me to something else I noticed.

Markosia is publishing this book, however, on the White Crane site I read: 
"Volume 2, coming soon(ish) with your help!Please back our fundraiser on Indegogo..."
ARGH! So does this mean Markosia is only publishing volume 2 if it gets the crowd-funding?? Because if so I've just broken CBOs golden rule of "No crowd-funding project publicity".  Is Volume 2 fully drawn or will it only be drawn if the crowd-funding works?  Is Markosia only publishing books this way now?

I've spent a lot of time trying to work out what is going because all of this is information I should have for a review. Check out Markosia and the White Crane page and decide for yourself but I certainly hope Volume 2 is being published.

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