As regards subject matter, they range all over the place -thrillers, SF, fantasy, westerns, humour, historical, crime, etc- but the one place they don't go to is super-hero ville which is probably why this publisher isn't all that well-known. Also the very name connotes something different from graphic novels. I was aware of Cinebook but only on the periphery of my vision.
Cinebook: Science Fiction
About now you might be wondering why I'm suddenly writing about this publisher, though the above sub-heading provides a pretty big hint. I'm a regular reader of SFX's spinoff magazine about comics called (and how's this for imagination) Comic Heroes. In the latest issue they reviewed some of Cinebook's latest releases, giving a 5* rating and rave review to the latest volume of Orbital (see above). It intrigued me enough to order the first in the series and about ten minutes after reading it I ordered the next two from Amazon. After reading samples on the Cinebook website, I also ordered the first volumes of Aldebaran and The Chimpanzee Complex and, after reading them, I ordered the rest of their series.
To put it crudely, this is seriously fucking good Science Fiction in graphic novel form.
The artwork (which I'll go into later on) of the three, and while each is very different from the other, lacks the often flashy layouts and full page images of American, especially super-hero, comics -the Batwoman graphic novel looks great is sometimes hard to follow. Here the art is in all cases designed to serve the story, not get in the way.
(Incidentally, in the previous issue of Comic Heroes, they included a full but digest-sized copy of the first volume of the thriller/action series X111 -that's 13, not X a hundred and eleven. I quite liked it but not enough to invest in a series which spans over 20-volumes.)
Despite the rating of 12+ -which really only indicates that there's no sex or bad language- there's nothing remotely childish about this series which is dark and complex. Set a couple of hundred years hence, there is a community of alien races which Earth is about to join. Humanity is somewhat split on the matter and there are many violent alien-haters and a conference to confirm the union is blown up. A couple of decades later and humans are at the bottom of the totem pole, despised (and often with good reason) by many of the races for their violence. Indeed they nearly exterminated the humanoid Sandjarr. Now two new members of a diplomatic peace-keeping group are paired together -Caleb, whose parents died at the conference, and Mezoke a Sandjarr.
In the first two volumes they have to resolve conflict between humans and Javlods on a bleak planet with rich mineral resources. Needless to say this isn't easy. The main problem is that there are pathological bastards on all sides and there's no easy answer. Our two heroes are betrayed and subverted by almost everyone, human and alien.
You can see the style of the art above but note the colouring. Almost the entire volume is like that, dark and grey. This not only reflects the environment but also the tone of the story. The second story, which begins in vol.3 Nomads, is much lighter and more colourful and is set on the Malaysian peninsula. This time a nomadic alien race are the gatecrashers.
This is really all very well worked out with a detailed background and a realistic if perhaps pessimistic view of human nature. That said, it's a very refreshing change from mainstream American comics.
The Chimpanzee Complex vol.1 Paradox