RASL Vol. 1: The Drift

February 22, 2009 | Trades

RASL Vol. 1: The Drift
Jeff Smith
Cartoon Books
$13 (U.S.)
112-page paperback
**** (out of five)

From the moment the first trade paperback for Jeff Smith’s new series, RASL, slips out of the crisp, white mailing envelope, it’s clear something is different.
The words catch the eye almost immediately: “Mature content”.
This book won’t be part of any story time with the kids all curled up in their jammies, like so many people have done with Smith’s bestselling series, Bone.
While that nine-book collection – which features an array of cute characters, lots of humour and sword-and-sorcery action aplenty – has now been passed on from the adults that read it when it was first published to their kids (especially thanks to the recent colourized Scholastic editions), the writer/illustrator freely admits he wasn’t really aiming to make a kids’ book.
With his follow-up self-published project, Smith has assured his intentions won’t be mistaken and put his work out there for only adults to see – and the results are pretty impressive, so far.
With the gorgeous use of thick, black inks and on clean, white pages, Smith introduces RASL, a very naughty man who’s gotten a hold of some amazing technology that allows him to hop from dimension to dimension.
Why all the hopping? There’s lots of rare art and other goodies to be stolen from those parallel worlds.
When one little thieving trip goes off the rails, RASL finds himself being hunted by a gun-toting creep who seems to have the same ability he does – and a much more deadly sense of right and wrong.
When someone close to RASL pays the ultimate price for his crimes, the thief becomes the hunter as he starts world hopping for a different reason: Revenge.
With a gritty book that features smoking, drinking, stealing, sex, strippers, fistfights and murder, Smith shows his creative versatility and opens readers minds to worlds of possibilities.

(This article was first published in the Toronto Star)

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