The second issue of writer Matt Gibbs and artist Sara Dunkerton’s five issue MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun, now being published by Improper Books, is being launched at Thought Bubble 2015. This anthropomorphic adventure series set in the 1930s follows a group of mousey archaeologists who are travelling the globe in their attempt to find an apparently all-powerful ancient artefact, the Sceptre of the Sun.
In the previous issue Professor Harvest-Scott’s Egyptian dig had discovered a Rosetta Stone type stele, beside one the giant human skulls that have been previously uncovered around the world, that told in Egyptian hieroglyphics and ancient Greek how the people had turned against the ancient gods. Those gods sent a flood to the world that virtually destroyed life on Earth but they then gave an artefact to the survivors, the Sceptre of the Sun. A third section on the stele appears to be written in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican glyphs that the Egyptologists in the group cannot decipher. Professor Wrenfew at the British Museum is able to translate this and it leads the group to South America.
Issue 2 begins with the group, including ex-soldier Jack Redpath and reporter Vicky Jones, in the ruins of the Mayan civilisation as they try to keep one step ahead of the conniving Mademoiselle Moreau and her stealthy sidekick Genevieve who are attempting to find the Sceptre and its presumed associated treasure for their mysterious employer. With virtually all their notes stolen by Genevieve, the group hires local guide Mateo to take them to Machu Picchu where they hope to discover more clues, but Moreau and her cronies are one step ahead and are prepared to stop at nothing to prevent the archaeologists from discovering the Sceptre first.
With the wealth of detail and locales that the story to date has taken in, it comes as no surprise that writer Matt Gibbs is a trained archaeologist. Here he has taken the flood myth and incorporated it into a story that is so easily described as a mousey take on Indiana Jones. Yet that does MULP a disservice as here the main cast is larger that those movies and yet, despite the many mouths that are speaking in a relatively short page count, the complex story never gets muddled. Unlike all too many comics these days that drag their feet with their storytelling, MULP simply gets on with the action.
Sara Dunkerton’s lovely art rises to the challenge of a whole new civilisation in the Andes, whose buildings are rather less iconic and well-known than issue 1’s pyramids and Egyptian statues, and it is noticeable that there are more larger panels in this issue than before which perhaps shows a growing confidence in her artistry. With Mateo she also gives readers their first view of a rather more rotund guinea pig character amongst the rest of her much sleeker mice. As in issue 1 planes remain the preferred method of transport and Sara provides readers with some rather nice mousey representations of a period accurate Tiger Moth and Ford Trimotor.
MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun was a favourite of mine from its first issue and this second part doesn’t put a foot wrong as its lovely artwork and fast-moving plot widens out this mousey world and deepens its characterisation. The ending tells readers just enough to know where our heroes are off to next and I will most certainly be along for that ride as well.
• There are more details of MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun, and how to buy a copy, at the MULP website: www.mulpcomic.com
• Matt Gibbs and Sara Dunkerton talked to downthetubes about MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun here.
• There are more details of Matt Gibbs’ work on his website.
• There are more details of Sara Dunkerton’s work on her blog.
• Matt and Sara will be at Thought Bubble in Leeds over the weekend of 14/15 November 2015 where they will be selling and signing copies of MULP 1 and 2. They will be at the Improper Books sales table which will be located in the New Dock Hall, tables 47 and 48.