“Service Failure”: Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward’s ‘The Ancestor’

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Ancestor is the first of a new ongoing series in the pages of Island written by Matt Sheean with art from Malachi Ward It’s first chapter, ominously entitled The Service, features an all encompassing inbuilt social network of the same name and focuses on the exploration of social media in a not too implausible near future of information over stimulation. Imagining a near future with a population ever more reliant on aps, the programs gently request the user to “cede partial motor control” for a bar tending program as casually an app would now ask you for location permission or access to your photos. As the protagonists are driven into a compound with a suppression field the tone of the comic takes a noticeably uncomfortable shift. Perfectly capturing the feel of a lot of social media and the anxiety and uncertainty caused from even a few hours separated from our devices and the internet, yet how overwhelming it can become when it’s constantly on in the background. 

The new ongoing story already has an intriguing narrative mirroring the real world push and pull around social media with its vocal supporters and detractors. Initially I was skeptical after the first issue that the format, allowing stories to be continued maybe two months after the start of a story, would test everyone’s patience including my own, but so far it seems it was a smart move, building anticipation for the next instalments as well as giving time for the stories to sit with you and seep into the imagination. Even this month’s cover by Farel Dalrymple of Pop Gun War fame featuring a strange alien craft is a delicious tease for his full blown contribution in the next issue.

Ancestor is currently running in Island as of the third issue. More of Malachi Ward’s art including the process behind Ancestor can be found on his tumblr

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