Let Capture Creatures Capture Your Imagination

Hand holding firehose at a flaming red panda named Bon-Bon; park ranger Teddy running screaming from the still-flaming Bon-Bon

Capture Creatures, Volume 1

Frank Gibson (writer); Becky Dreistadt (pencils); Kelly Bastow (inks); Tracy Liang, Joseph Bergin II, Lin VIsel, Becky Dreistadt, Katy Farina (colors); Britt Wilson (letters)
Boom Studios
February 2018

Decades after war ravaged the environment, teenagers Tamzen and Jory visit the Pacific Coast reclamation area, Tamzen to see her scientist father, and Jory to work for him as an intern. After discovering an unusual animal desperate to get back to its home on an island off the coast, Tamzen and Jory, plus park ranger Teddy, steal a boat. On the island, the trio discovers a whole host of amazing creatures who are under attack. Now the friends must figure out who threatens them and how to make it stop.

Capture Creatures cover featuring Bon-Bon the flaming red panda leaping toward the reader, with other capture creatures at the bottom, including a tiny deer with stag beetle antlers.

Capture Creatures is the brainchild of Frank Gibson and Becky Dreistadt. After developing the creatures as an independent project, Gibson and Dreistadt turned them into a series of comics, collected here by BOOM! Studios. Their concept feels very “Pokémon meets Beauty and the Beast meets Godzilla.” When offered the opportunity to read about a deer with candlesticks for antlers helping repopulate an island from a man-made disaster, I’ll always say yes.

Left panel: Tamzen laying by a tiny weasel with a lit candle in its mouth, next to an equally tiny dear with candles for antlers (the source of the weasel's candle), asking, "Would you both mind helping us get through this cave?"; right panel: deer grins and weasel squeaks excitedly.
Candtler-thieving little cave weasel…

While the creatures themselves have a very Pokémon feel, Capture Creatures invites readers to engage with the story, the concept, and nature itself as allies. Tamzen and Jory aren’t out to find more of these new animals for a battle royale. Instead, the teenagers want to protect them. This framing allows the emphasis on conservation and restoration to shine through.

Throughout the comic, the capture creatures steal the show, beginning with Bon Bon. Although Bon’s ancestors were probably red pandas, they didn’t have a flaming little twig on their foreheads. A possible rock-shark makes a brief appearance, although a flaming giant panda, an electric lynx, an enormous axlotl with a lotus pod on its head, the aforementioned miniature deer with candtlers, and a fire-breathing badger large enough to carry a small army garner more space. In addition, Dreistadt liberally decorates the landscape with a host of other creatures we see in brief glimpses.

Visually, the bold-lined, rounded drawings paired with vivid colors remind me of Steven Universe, Star vs the Forces of Evil, and Gravity Falls, cartoons aimed at the same young audience as Capture Creatures. Dreistadt and the other colorists play with light and color, illuminating scenes with the capture creatures’ yellow-orange flames and cool blue-white lightning bolts. Meanwhile, they bring the forest to life with a hundred shades of green and bio-luminescent flowers.

Teddy illuminated in shades of pale blue, white, and aqua, facing off against a giant lynx. The lynx zaps him with a wave of blue electricity.

Although Tamzen, Jory, and Teddy begin to crack the mystery of the island as the first volume of Capture Creatures comes to an end, there’s still so much to learn. Where did all these animals come from? Why are they re-emerging now, after all these years? What was the disaster that decimated the landscape and wildlife along the Pacific Coast? Will our heroes succeed in saving the island and its inhabitants? Why exactly do those cave weasels keep stealing the cave deer’s candtlers? I can only hope we get the chance to return to the coast and find out.

Laura Stump

Laura Stump

I'm a constantly sleep-deprived writer who mostly prefers the company of cats to people, although cats (curse their lack of opposable thumbs!) can’t fetch beer from the fridge the way people can.