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In Review: MULP – Sceptre of the Sun Issue 1

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The first issue of writer Matt Gibbs and artist Sara Dunkerton’s new five part anthropomorphic adventure series, MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun, which we previewed back in May, is out.

Former soldier Jack Redpath is called to Egypt by his old friend Cornelius Field to look into the disappearance of one of the archaeologists on an excavation of a temple. This has uncovered a skeleton of a hitherto unknown race as well as pointing towards a treasure at another location. With Jack and Cornelius under attack before they even get to the dig site, and London based reporter Vicky Jones already tied-up and being impersonated when they do arrive there, Jack’s life is about to get a lot more adventurous.

MULP #1 page 2Mice and pulp adventure meet as MULP (mice/pulp – get it?) and as twee as it sounds, and perhaps looks at first glance, this is an impressive beginning to the story. Sara Dunkerton’s artwork is a treat, never more so than when she is drawing her rodent characters with their remarkably expressive facial features which are enhanced by the use of a muted colour palette. Most anthropomorphic adventure series, such as Rupert Bear or Bryan Talbot’s Grandville series, take their characters as human analogues to the extent that they are human size, MULP does not – in MULP the mice really are mice sized. So the world that they create, from their museums to their pyramids, are mouse-sized while the natural world around them such as the trees remain their natural size as shown by the seemingly enormous palm trees dwarfing the buildings and pyramids on the front cover. Instead of riding camels the mice ride lizards and use beetles rather than oxen as their beasts of burden. It all makes for a deliciously bizarre sideways take on 1920s Egypt.

MULP #1 Page 3It is Matt Gibbs strong script that binds this whole concept together, giving the reader little time to consider his mouse sized world before his initial two characters’ lives are put at risk. He manages to squeeze in a lot of story and exposition, mixing Indiana Jones with a miniature Planet of The Apes. The story proceeds from Egypt to London, and apparently on to the Americas in future issues, as our heroes attempt to recover history changing archaeological treasures for science before the treasure hunters find them for their financial gain.

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MULP’s production values are equally as impressive with the stapled comic having glossy card covers around its 23 pages of full colour story as well as 4 black and white pages of Sara Dunkerton’s initial sketches for her characters and the world that they inhabit.

MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun Issue 1 is a strong start to this new adventure series. With an intriguing backstory and lovely artwork, it is well worth tracking down a copy and I am already looking forward to seeing future issues.

• There are more details of MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun, including an e-preview of issue 1 and how to buy a copy, at the MULP website: www.mulpcomic.com

• There are more details on MULP writer Matt Gibbs on his website: www.mattgibbs.net

• There are more details on MULP artist Sara Dunkerton as well as more of her anthropomorphic rodent artwork on her blog: www.saradunkerton.blogspot.co.uk

About Jeremy Briggs

News, reviews, interviews and features for print and on-line: Spaceship Away (since October 2005), Bear Alley (since February 2007), downthetubes (since June 2007), and Eagle Times (since October 2008). Plus Titan’s Dan Dare and Johnny Red reprints, Ilex’s War Comics: A Graphic History and 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and Print Media’s The Iron Moon and Strip magazine.
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