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Tuki #1 by Jeff Smith
Earlier this year, Jeff Smith launched a new webcomic, Tuki, which he has been serializing a page at a time on his Cartoon Press website. This week saw the release of the first print issue of the series. Set 2,000,000 years ago, Smith states that his aim is to tell the story of the first human being to venture forth from Africa. His protagonist, Tuki, belongs to the newly emerging subspecies of humans, Homo Erectus. Smith has clearly done his research on this period in human development, even providing a few endnotes in his back-matter. He understands that evolution is not a smooth process, but a messy one, involving multiple competing species fighting for dominance. In hindsight, we may know that Tuki is the future of humanity, though at the time, that was anything but a given.
All this makes the book sound like a heady, scholarly experience, when in fact, the opposite is the case. Smith’s story has a light-hearted manner about it. Despite its grave theme of survival, this is a fun read. For example, Tuki’s attempt to eat a piece of fruit that rolls out of his hand turns into a brief piece of slapstick. The sequence, like much of the issue, is rendered without dialogue, allowing Smith to show off his expressive cartooning style. There are some lovely images in this issue, which is only to be expected from someone of Smith’s talent.
This was a good, solid first issue, which drew me into the story. I am looking forward to seeing not only how the story proceeds, but how Smith develops his world as well. Once again, he has set a character off on an adventure, which promises to be well-worth the trip.