Fantasy Sports No. 1
Whether you’re suffering post-SPX withdrawal or are reflecting on your tragically SPX-free weekend, I’m sure you’re curious about the Ignatz winners. Who are these earnest indie creators picking up awards? Should I buy these books? I can enthusiastically say yes, buy them all and do it now, but let me tell you about one in particular that you and the too-smart-for-their-own-good child in your life should pick up: Fantasy Sports No. 1, by Sam Bosma.
Tiny but mighty Wiz-Kid is supposed to be massive, muscley Mean Mug’s intern, but the pair’s differing personalities are interfering with their work. When the odd couple coworkers set out to prove themselves to their boss by robbing a heavily guarded ancient tomb, they run into the tomb’s magical guardian, He of the Giant Steps! To secure the treasure, they must learn to trust each other and work to their strengths—including their strengths on the basketball court!
What immediately stands out about Fantasy Sports is the colors; while the magnificent, seaside city landscape and quirky character designs swiftly carry the reader into the book’s fantasy world, the colors knit the story together. Each character has a unique color palette that creates the effect of theme music on a television show; readers subconsciously learn about the heroes and villains’ personalities without reading a word. Mug is perhaps most obvious; his peachy-redness communicates the fury and passion that fuel him. By contrast, Wiz wears blues that mark her as his obvious foil; her cool, collected nature allows her to use finesse whereas Mug relies mostly on intimidation. He of the Giant Steps’ yellow-greens reflect his similarly cool personality, and on a more literal level align him with concepts of envy and monetary greed. Bosma brilliantly uses this color coding to allude to who has the upper hand; when Wiz takes over the basketball court, her cool colors infiltrate the backgrounds.
That our protagonists are glorified grave robbers adds a pleasant moral greyness to the story; there is no good versus evil, and characters who could be flat archetypes are casually complex. Near the end of their basketball battle, He of the Giant Steps comments that he sees his evil self in Wiz, and her lack of reaction suggests that she is aware of her own darkness. Equally compelling is their intimidating boss; I finished the comic not only wondering about Wiz’s capacity for evil, but also curious about this strange, corporate tomb-robbing organization headed by a magician who seems to care about their employees’ personal growth.
Bosma’s Ignatz is well-earned; Fantasy Sports beautifully blends a fantasy quest with a sports story in an absurd way that feels fresh and fun. Kids interested in both fantasy and sports will be delighted to find them innovatively combined in a comic that doesn’t condescend to its readers, and those uninterested in sports will find basketball to be pleasantly engaging when paired with magic.