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Posted April 13, 2010
After being out of print for over twenty years, Winterworld by Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino seemed destined to wallow in obscurity. Though a comic masterpiece, few would ever know it existed.
Things were rocky from the beginning of the epic saga. Its sequel, Wintersea, never even made it on to store shelves. Fortunately, the veil has been lifted. Thanks to the folks at IDW, Winterworld and Wintersea are finally being re-released as a stunning black and white graphic novel.
Even though it first saw print two decades ago, Winterworld feels like a story written for this generation. Its plot involves a frozen apocalypse, a shift in climate that plunges the Earth into an endless winter. The world's survivors are left in a frosty dark age of sorts, huddling together in tribes, killing each other for food and shelter and, like the mighty Pizza Hut tribe, worshiping relics of a nearly forgotten society.
As climate change becomes a bigger and bigger concern in our world today, Winterworld feels like an ominous warning from our own calamitous future.
Chuck Dixon's work has been recognized in the mainstream comic world for a long time, but little of his work has risen to this level. It's not because Dixon isn't any good as a writer - in fact, he's extremely talented - it's just that Winterworld is so good that it's clearly the high water mark in an already illustrious career. His portrayal of characters and sense of pacing are so far ahead of their time that it is difficult to believe the series was originally published in the eighties.
The late Jorge Zaffino brings Winterworld's bleak desperation and violence to life. His artwork is vivid and detailed, providing a gory apparition of survival that you simply cannot pull your eyes away from. His work has an early Frank Miller feel, without all the blocky exaggeration. Clearly, absence of color only adds to the Zaffino winter-not-so-wonderland. The black and white presentation lets the artwork breathe and stand on its own, and the book is all the better for it.
It's depressing to think that Winterworld has remained hidden for so long. It is truly a work of art that rivals anything being put out in the comic industry today. It's horrific, desolate and brutal all in the best ways. And from now on, it's required reading for anyone who wants to spout off about global warming.