Fourth Dimensional Summer of Fun Review

By | Wednesday, December 13, 2023 Leave a Comment
Let's take a look at Fourth Dimensional Summer of Fun by Seraji, which he ran as a Kickstarter earlier this year to collect the material he'd created over the past couple of years. Seraji described the original first issue like this: "Fourth Dimensional follows Mon, a fugitive who comes from a race of extra-dimensional beings; and Ava, a young Iranian woman in a search for self-discovery." Not surprisingly, that does technically cover the book's basic story, but doesn't carry a lot of nuance.

The basic framework isn't especially surprising. Mon understands human speech and basic mannerisms, but is largely ignorant of social mores and cues. Ava is relatively listless as she's trying to figure out what to do with her life, and starts to pick up the fearlessness and sense of adventure from Mon. The setup isn't that partiularly different than, say, the premise of Third Rock from the Sun or Brother from Another Planet. The tone here is notably different than both of those, however; not quite as satiric as Third Rock but not as deeply serious as Brother. It has a tenor closer perhaps to various Spider-Man stories, in that there are some heroics but of the more light-hearted variety.

There's a couple of things that really stand out for me in the book. First is the overall storytelling. The book opens with Mon appearing on Earth before Ava for the first time, and then jumps to two weeks later where Mon is living in her apartment. We do get hints at Mon's backstory throughout the book, but there's no boring exposition that spoon-feeds the reader with a bunch of world-building that's effectively irrelevant to the story at hand. I liken it to when I first saw Star Wars in 1977 and Obi-Wan casually mentions the Clone Wars. Audiences had no clue what that was for YEARS and could only offer speculation, but that was okay because the Clone Wars were absolutely irrelevant to the original trilogy. Likewise here, we learn that Mon has escaped the Fourth Dimension, but we get no sense of how or why. But that's not the point of the stories here anyway, so you can just roll with it as enough of a reason to put the character on Earth. I feel like a lot of creators would provide all this heavy backstory right up front to ensure they include every scrap of detail they thought of with their world-building, but I respect that Seraji has showed restraint, only dropping in what is needed for the story at hand.

The second thing that stands out to me is the art style. While the illustrations themselves are relatively in line with what you'd find in just about any comic you might find from Marvel or Image or Dark Horse or whomever, Seraji does a lot with the coloring. He uses a lot of what I might call emotive coloring. Frequently in comics, colorists limit themselves to whatever the actual colors are "supposed" to be; grass is green, sky is blue, etc. It's called "local" color. Emotive color is when the artist chooses colors that are less a direct reflection of the object itself, and more how they help to evoke a feeling. Yellows and reds for warmth, for example, and blues for cold. Seraji increasingly does that as the book continues -- I presume stemming from his ongoing comfort with the characters and the skill he has in rendering them. He even takes it to the linework itself, often coloring those to compliment the story as well, instead of just leaving all of the lines black. I don't know that all the color choices work each and every time, but they certainly do more often than not and I really like that he's experimenting with them.

Overall, I think the book is, as the title would like you to believe, fun. There is a larger story at play here, and this one book likely won't answer all of the questions you might have in reading it. Seraji briefly compared the basic structure to Bone in that things start fairly small and expand to bigger and bigger adventures as the story continues. I don't know if he has a fifteen year "plan" the way Jeff Smith did, but I think it's a reasonable comparison. In some ways, this does feel like a sci-fi version of the early issues of Bone. (Although it doesn't have a "stupid, stupid rat creatures" moment yet!) Ths book is available now from his online shop for $25 US and I think it's a worth a look if you want a fun, ligh sci-fi romp.
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