The Future of Comic Books? The Shadow People

If you're looking for something new in the world of comics, this is it.

The Shadow People by Nathaniel Osollo

A self-published comic available at $10, plus $3 dollars for shipping. Published in 2014.

The premise: This is “An augmented reality story” conceived, written, and drawn by Nathaniel Osollo.

The story: A ghost-like character becomes aware of the “Shadow People.” “They’ve been here for quite some time. Longer than most I think,” states the unknown narrator, describing what the ghost-like character encounters. Once one of the Shadow People reveals himself, the two have a day of fun, culminating in their becoming friends.

The art: The lead character is the perfect foil to the Shadow Person that appears. The ghost is white, while the shadow is black. Looking at the art before employing the app, one can see that there are empty spaces where something must appear. However, the Shadow Person can only appear when the app is employed. It’s quite impressive that Osollo is able to get so much emotion out of a ghost that has only eyes, and no nose, mouth, ears, or hair. All it takes is a slight change in the eyes for readers to understand the joy that the ghost feels. The Shadow Person also has a good range of emotion, though he uses a mouth at times to promote the right thrills or laughs. The shapes that the Shadow Person employs are very clever, especially when a painting is encountered or both characters are looking in a mirror.

The twist: To quote from the inside front cover, “The Shadow People is a story that utilizes Augmented Reality. This means that there is digital content in the story that requires a smart phone or tablet to view.” By downloading the free app Aurasma and following “TheShadowPeople” your comic will spring to life and reveal the Shadow People.

To show how amazing this is, I’ve taken a picture of the comic with my tablet on; this is the image I’ve used in this review. To the right is the book and how it looks to everyone, but on the right is the table showing what appears with the app on–The large Shadow Person has come to life.

I took the comic to work to show my co-workers and soon I had a crowd of middle aged teachers wondering where I found this book and were there any others like it. The possibilities for this technology in comic books are endless. Imagine a supernatural or horror book using this technology to show the spirits that exist beyond the sight of man, or a protector that watches over someone on another plane.  I showed the book to several children under 10 and they were utterly fascinated by how images could appear on the tablet, but not on the actual page. Could this be the future of comic books?

The final line: This is a 16 page comic measuring 8″ X 5 1/4″ done in black and white. I find the price to be reasonable considering the absolute wonder it has brought to all who have seen it. It’s exceedingly clever and fun. It can delight anyone of any age and left everyone smiling. If you’re looking for something new in the world of comics, this is it. I hope Osollo does more with his Shadow People. Overall grade: A

My apologies for not getting the links to insert correctly. If you’re interested in ordering the book directly, this address will take right to the online store.

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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