Marco Rudy, artist for publishers such as Marvel and DC has entered the realm of creator owned projects with RDW: A Tale of Lost Fantasy. Coming to life after a successful Kickstarter campaign, RDW: A Tale of Lost Fantasy Book 1, is the first in a series created, written, and painted by Rudy. Book 1 is now available and the creator owned project, a labour of love that showcases Rudy’s impressive art skills, weaves a tale that mixes fantasy with the five stages of grief.
RDW: A Tale of Lost Fantasy follows Astrid, a soldier and former field commander, struggling with survivors’ guilt after the loss of her unit. Astrid turns to a mind-altering drug to cope with her PTSD and her addiction and current withdrawal from it is central to RDW. Alone in the wilderness she comes upon three former soldiers and saves them from being attacked by ghouls known as Soul Reavers. Indebted to her, the three reluctantly agree to help Astrid on her quest to find her lost unit.
In the Forward, Rudy recommends that the reader take their time reading Book 1 to get the most out of the experience. His advice is appreciated. Much like a fine meal, rushing through RDW can rob you of what makes it special. There are many layers to this work present in the lush artwork and weighty subject matter. A look into the darker elements of the human condition, RDW explores topics such as PTSD, addiction, and withdrawal wrapped in a military setting that includes fantasy elements like dragons and elves. Adding folklore from Mozambique, Brazil, and the Indigenous peoples of the Americas to world build RDW, Rudy’s layered tale encompasses familiar problems through a unique lens.
Rudy has always been a strong storyteller and he is in top form on RDW. His sprawling layouts blending flashbacks and fever dreams with Astrid’s present shouldn’t be glossed over. Panel boarders come to life using elements of the narrative to set the mood, reinforce an idea or foreshadow what is to come. Visually stunning, Rudy’s artwork in RDW deftly conveys the thoughtfulness in his writing, especially concerning the sensitive issues he touches upon. Whether it’s a pained expression on Astrid’s face or a colour choice for a particular scene, Rudy’s layouts and colour palette convey so much, even in the absence of words.
RDW: A Tale of Lost Fantasy is an intriguing and entertaining first step into Marco Rudy’s creator owned world touching upon some heavy themes, including PTSD and addiction. The end of Book 1 left me wanting more and it will be interesting to see where Book 2 takes Astrid and her new companions. If you are a fan of fantasy or Rudy’s comic book career, RDW will not disappoint.