Powerful and moving. I cannot recommend it enough.
A computer programmer, a musician, and immigrant, and a social media star; four young people who have never met, but whose lives touch each other in ways they may never understand. What mysterious message connects them and can their stories ever have a happy ending? Find out in MIDNIGHT RADIO from Lion Forge.
Writer/Artist: Iolanda Zanfardino
Editing/Layout: Mike Kennedy
Publisher: Lion Forge Comics
Release Date: May 22, 2019
Cover Price: $14.99
Previously in MIDNIGHT RADIO: Iolanda Zanfardino has been working as an artist for Marvel Comics and Titan Comics, most notably in their Doctor Who titles and the Sea Of Thieves. This title, Midnight Radio, is her first publication from Lion Forge, but hopefully not the last.
WHEN THE RADIO SEEMS LIKE IT’S TALKING TO YOU
In San Francisco, computer specialist Mike is getting ready for his day when a mysterious message suddenly comes over the radio. The words, a plea to love and love no matter what, to do what needs to be done and to be true to yourself strike a nerve. You see, while Mike may have that anarchy tattoo on his chest, and his life has become one of schedules, four walls, and responsibilities. His mother calls and tells him how she ran into his old friends, the ones who worked on a computer game, and they were going to some concert in the desert. It does not matter, because Mike has to go to work. His job at Minus, a diet pharmaceutical company, may not be much, but once he wades through the protesters, knows he has security. However, a hacker has struck the company website, plastering it with pictures and information about young people who died because they took the diet pills. Now Mike has orders from his boss to shut the hacker down, even while he wonders about his place in the world.
Joanne has suffered a loss. Something happened that scared her into hiding her true self away. Now she is a busboy at a local restaurant and sees the people living their safe lives, oblivious to how it can all change in a heartbeat. She goes home and an old song is on the radio, and her guitar is in the corner, gather dust when it used to sing to her. She too will hear the message.
Seika has been arrested again, shoplifting. It is a point that the officers seem to know her, and she doesn’t care. She is trying to fill a hole that will not be filled with things she does not need. Now a policeman has offered her a deal, wear a wire, help bust some art thieves, and we won’t take away your Visa. Sika thinks of herself and agrees, never realizing the events about to take place will make her question everything. She too hears the message.
Stephen is a young man with an old soul. He does not speak, he can, but he won’t. He prefers to let his photography and his social media speak for him. His communication, solely through text, has placed a strain on him and his family and friends, each of who have their own ideas about why he is silent. However, his sister, sick and needing a transplant, understands, and loves him anyway. The message will speak to him as well.
Four young people, trapped in circumstances that may seem familiar to the reader, all about top have their life changed because of a message on the radio.
THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, UNTIL YOU CHANGE
Midnight Radio is the work of Italian artist and writer Iolanda Zanfardino and constitutes her first graphic novel with Lion Forge. I have seen her work in other titles and was impressed, but here with Midnight Radio she seems to take her skills to a completely new level. First off, she has a very, very fluidic look to her lines. It adds to not only her style but to the way your eye travels across the pages. The organic features look lively and as if, they are waiting to move to the next position, but she still has a strong architectural look as well. For example, there is a series of pages where a character is standing on a roof looking down on the city below. The buildings look solid and the perspectives are there. At the same time, your eye sees and feels the wind blowing around the character standing on the edge. There are many sequences like this, where the backgrounds have a solidity to them while the characters seem to flow over them. It’s not always perfect, but it is done so well the once that make you forget the others.
Then there is the choice of color. The use of a separate monochromatic palette for each storyline was a stroke of artistic mastery. It allows you to see when each character’s story starts and anthers begin, even when two character cross paths. There is a very primary look to the whole book, as the colors red, blue, yellow and green are used with all of their shades. It sets the mood for the story and adds to the visual eye candy.
BOTTOM LINE: MASTERFUL
I have commented quite a bit on the artwork, and rightly so, but the story is excellent as well. These are the voices of the disenfranchised, the ignored, the ones who settled, the ones who want more. It is a very now story that even those not living in the now can enjoy and appreciate. This feels almost a sequential art version of groundbreaking motion pictures such as Singles or Pulp Fiction. It speaks with a unique voice. My hope is, as she garners even more well deserved work, Iolanda Zanfardino remembers that voice and does not allow it to be drowned out by a chorus of corporate dictates.
MIDNIGHT RADIO is an amazing work by an amazing artist. It will take your breath away.