Slightly Exaggerated (Writer: Curtis Clow / Artist: Piuk Bak / Letterist: Toben Racicot)
In a world where religion is the ultimate law, Mia must steal back a sacred artifact from a crazed cult leader as she suffers from a mysterious curse that is slowly killing her by the day. Set in an over the top whimsical land filled with flying sea creatures, talking animals, and crazed cultists Slightly Exaggerated combines Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider esque treasure hunting with the fantastic wondrous world one could compare to Studio Ghibli. Slightly Exaggerated is a fantastic ride into an all-new kind of world while also dealing with a lot deeper subjects such as death, leaving a legacy, religion, and questioning what you have been told.
Now I’m a real sucker for anything Ghibli related or inspired, so when I read the first issue of Slightly Exaggerated I immediately wanted more. It’s something about fantastical worlds and creatures that just gets me hooked. From the rodent masked cultists to the vast amount of creatures, Slightly Exaggerated is a book that deserves recognition.
First things first, I haven’t read any of Curtis Clow’s previous work (Beastland and The Wild Cosmos), but I will certainly have to check them out after this review. What I can say though is that the first issue of Slightly Exaggerated was an absolutely thrilling ride from start to finish. The way Clow expands upon this beautiful world while still leaving aspects to mystery is absolutely brilliant. Every page I read I wanted to know more and more. Are there more cults? What cursed our main character? How does this world’s religion work? How are those whales flying?! Okay, that last one doesn’t need to be answered, but the fact is that Clow has created a story that fully invests readers into this world while still keeping its own mysteries.
So you have an absolutely beautiful story with twists and turns, but what characters propel this already amazing first issue further? Well, look no further than the non-believing thief, or archeologist as she puts it, Mia. Each and every one of Clow’s characters are so unique, but Mia really brings the themes of this book to light. Since even though she is cursed and likely to die in the coming weeks, it’s not the death aspect that scares her, it’s that she’ll just be forgotten.
This idea that if a person died today, who would remember them tomorrow works exceptionally well and is interesting to see within a fantasy story such as this. Especially in a world where religion is law, it’s fascinating to see the contrast separating Mia from everyone else. Mia just wants to be remembered when she’s gone. Whether it be the recognition from masses or the bonds that she makes along the way. Nobody ever wants to be forgotten and that’s what makes this story so different from the rest. Slightly Exaggerated isn’t just your regular fantasy treasure hunting adventure, but a deep dive into what it truly means to leave a legacy.
Now, what would a wondrous issue like this be without immensely beautiful imagery? Artist Piuk Bak’s work is an absolute compliment to Clow’s already marvelous story. No joke, before I even read a word, the artwork is what sold me the most. Bak’s use of color and line weight adds not only to the overall story, but it drives home the similarities one could make to a Studio Ghibli film. There were moments in the story I had to stop reading and completely take in the overall beauty of Bak’s work. The way Bak uses each and every panel with purpose and timing, always keeping the reader enthralled within the action by turning solid straight panels into a jumbled overlap of movement and excitement.
It’s something about Bak’s style that instills a sense of wonder and inspiration every time I turn the page. My favorite scenes being when characters are in the air or looking up to the sky, it just sparks something inside that I only ever feel when watching (and I know I’ve said this numerous times already) a Studio Ghibli film! From the action to the overall tone and style, Bak has certainly flown above and beyond with this tale.
Slightly Exaggerated is one of those series that goes under the radar of most mainstream readers, but I can say for sure that this series holds a lot of potential if given the chance. If you’re the type of person that enjoys action-packed fantasy adventures with loads of twists and turns along with heartfelt moments, then look no further than Slightly Exaggerated. I highly recommend this book not because I personally want to see more, but because this book deserves attention and recognition.
Review by Nate, Writing Intern