The Transmedia Tales of September Mourning
Top Cow Productions, Inc.
Betsy Gonia (c), Katarina Devic (c), Sumeyye Kesgin (a), Emily Lazar (w), Mariah Mccourt (w), Troy Peteri (l)
“September Mourning has no past that she can remember, only a strange and shadowy present filled with the voices of the dead. Turned into a unique hybrid by the former Reaper of the lonely, injured, and abused, September Mourning is the only human/reaper to exist. Tasked with reaping the souls of the “worthless” by her mysterious tattoo, September hides and protects them until she can help them realize the last thing they had left undone in life. Whether it’s aiding souls to expose abusers, find lost loves, or settle old debts, in each case September is guided by voice of the Skullfly, which only she can hear.”
An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
September Mourning Volume 1 is more than just a comic book. It is one part of a transmedia project put together by Emily Lazar. Across a stage production, social media, webisodes, and comics, September’s story is revealed piece by piece to fans. This is the way the project was proposed to Top Cow’s founder, Marc Silvestri, who helped Lazar develop the story and loaned his pencils to the cover of the comic. “The idea sold itself as it is very original in concept,” Lazar explained to me in an interview. “Marc is all about groundbreaking original content.”
Lazar herself is the face and voice of September Mourning. The character spawned from her obsession with death and the afterlife. “I’ve been surrounded by loss from a very early age on. September Mourning was my way of bringing what’s in my heart into a creative space. The trans media approach idea came from social media actually… social media platforms are the perfect modern approach to story telling in my eyes. There are so many ways to cross market a really amazing story.”
Each medium tells September’s story in a different way, from a different angle, and as long as the fanbase continues to grow, Lazar has “an infinite amount” of volumes to share. “It’s really all about our audience…. as they grow larger in numbers we would love to continue with more volumes, more characters, more storylines to be told.”
The comic includes the two stories that originally began with a Kickstarter. “A Murder of Reapers” introduces us to the main character and the mystery of her creation when a the Reaper known as Riven gives her his soul, for unknown reasons.
Riven’s sacrifice and his betrayal of his role as a Reaper continues to play out when the story slips into the realm of Mortem. Here, The Dark Man and his minions plot to destroy September Mourning for interfering with Fate’s ultimate evil plan.
The human element is brought in through Claire, a young girl who has the ability to see Reapers, despite being blind. Her ability has left her ostracized from her family after her sister’s death, but it is not until she’s handed The Book of Fate and tasked with finding September Mourning that Claire’s life take on meaning beyond being an outcast.
In these first five collected issues, September and Claire’s purpose is spelled out in small leaps and bounds that give the book a disjointed feel. Each time it seems like something is going to dig a little deeper, the panels skirt away to something else, connected loosely by narration and dialogue that sometimes tries too hard to be hip and edgy. September has the excuse of her complete lack of knowledge of herself or her true purpose, but Claire’s personality still needs a lot of fleshing out beyond “sarcastic teen.” Much of this first volume is spent with someone who knows nothing of who she is, and Claire, who knows nothing at all of what is going on between the real world and the darkness of Reaper world. It was not until close to the end of the book that I found myself interested in joining these two as they unravel the mystery that connects them. The second story, “The Hand of Fate,” is where we start to get an inkling of why The Dark Man isn’t happy with what September does with the souls she reaps.
The rough, jagged edges of Sumeyye Kesgin’s art suit the dark theme, but I find myself disappointed in the lack of detail, particularly in September Mourning’s costume, which is so intricately detailed in real life. But I do like how the otherworldly spectrum of deep blues and purples, interjected with a bloody red, runs across all of September Mourning’s mediums.
This is volume one of the comic, but Volume II of September Mourning’s story is already available in its musical form through Sumerian Records. Meanwhile, the webisodes, which were originally to be produced by the now defunct MTV Geek, are once again in the works. “We have recently signed a contract with Riveting Entertainment to bring the webisodes to life. The webisodes will contain a story arc different to what is in the books but of course still in the September Mourning universe. Live action. We are very excited to bring this to life.”