After a considerable New Year’s hiatus (brought on by the holidays and my day job schedule alike), I’m back again to bring you your next favorite webcomic (hopefully) while you fight valiantly to keep up those resolutions (or pick up their shattered pieces; I don’t judge)! Please, if you have any feedback, leave it here in the comments or contact me on Twitter (@Sully_Writes). And as always, if you have or know of a webcomic that you’d like to see reviewed, reach out and let me know!
Summary: Radio Silence is a full-color webcomic detailing the early days of a British rock band of the same name. The story centers around five eclectic characters, each facing their own struggles as they hit the road in search of fame and (for some of them) fortune. In order to succeed, however, they’ll need to learn to work together, and embrace the differences that they each have.
Story: At its heart, Radio Silence is a coming of age story. The characters are young, and their interactions under the confined and stressful circumstances of touring is what forms the core of the story. In fact, their actual musical successes and struggles take a back seat altogether, acting more as a setting than as the primary source of conflict. Whether it’s opening up to the band more, or perhaps opening up a little less, the relationships between the five bandmates (and to a lesser degree, their manager), is the focus of Radio Silence.
This can be an incredibly refreshing thing within the title. I always love to say, whenever anyone gives me the chance, “x is your setting, not your story.” The statement was originally addressed towards science fiction works, however I’ve found it to be applicable in nearly any genre. Music inundates this story without overwhelming it. While, occasionally, there are pages that have a few too many panels of equipment setup, Radio Silence does a good job striking and interesting balance.
While speaking to its strengths, it would be a disservice not to mention how well Vanessa Stefaniuk writes dialogue. The characters are believable and fun to read, and their interactions feel like those between real, genuine human beings. This is not a common strength in comics. Another enjoyable addition is the sheet music for original songs. While I do not personally read sheet music, I am fairly certain this is legit (to be confirmed by my brother at a later date).
Art: Radio Silence has a vibrant art-style and cartoonish characters. With ensemble works, a common problem is characters who appear too similar. Thankfully, this title does not have that issue. Each individual is recognizable instantly, and even by their silhouettes. They each have their own unique hair styles and fashion sense, and it really helps to add to their overall depth.
If there is a weakness in the comic, it is that the art is somewhat static. While not an action title, more fluid body language would go a long way towards improving the reader’s experience and the flow of the panels. The lettering also, occasionally, feels out of order. Speech balloons just slightly higher than the ones to their immediate left take the reader out of the immersion that the story offers in order to decipher which bit of dialogue comes first.
Conclusion: As someone who grew up in music and always wanted to be in a successful band, Radio Silence was a delight to read. Recommend it to anyone who is a fan of drama or coming of age stories, and maybe recommend it to your more musically inclined acquaintances. It’s not flawless, but I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed.