Thursday, August 16, 2018

Under Her Skin by Sara James & SturkWurk (#comics #bodysuit)

I am delighted to introduce a new name to our weekly showcase of illustrated delights, SturkWurk, who is best known for his work at TGComics.

To make his introduction extra-special, I am beginning my exploration of his work with his collaboration with the wonderfully talented Sara James - with whom, of course, regular readers are already familiar.

Under Her Skin is an exciting project, not a comic but an illustrated novella, with a story by Sara James, and art by SturkWurk. The story opens on an odd note, with an alien scientist by the name of Xy’maxyl (disguised as a cab driver) finding out he has been recalled home. After that delicious bit of oddness, we switch to Josh and Paul, two friends negotiating the lease on a stinky new apartment, who soon discover rotten slabs of meat hidden beneath the floorboards . . . and in the vents . . . and in the drop ceiling.

Although they have no idea what they have found, it is the strange body suit they find discover under another section of flooring - a suit that is bigger on the inside than outside - that triggers Paul's fascination with UFOs and ultimately brings the two worlds together.

There are some great sci-fi aspects to the story, but none so shocking as when Paul first falls inside the suit - literally falls into it, as if it were a gaping hole in the floor. Their initial experimentation with the suit is fun, first exaggerating their physiques, and then trying out different shapes, from pretty boys, to old men, to underwear models. It is Josh who first tests the suits limits, becoming a Hulk-like monster, before accidentally slipping into a female form . . . and getting stuck.

That is as much as I dare say about the story, because you really do have to experience it for yourself, but there is so much imagination here, so many sci-fi tropes played with, that genre fans will find a lot to love. The level of character depth and personality that Sara does so well is here as well, especially in Josh's experience, both before and after getting stuck. The story gets rather complex as it moves along, with the stress of faking a new life and interacting with an old one taking its toll, and escalates to a whole other level of sci-fi goodness with certain parties very interested in claiming (or reclaiming) the suit.

The artwork but SturkWurk is fantastic, really serving to bring the story to life. The basic, everyday scenes of people interacting are vivid and full of detail, while the sci-fi and monster scenes are equal parts intimidating and grotesque. There is not much in the way of sex, or even self-exploration, but there are plenty of nude scenes that demonstrate a wonderful variety of body types, skin tones, and expressions. SturkWurk makes great use of lighting as well, using shadows and highlights to set the tone, almost as if storyboarding a movie.

I wish I could say something about the climax, because it was so much fun, but you will just have to take my word for it that Under Her Skin is well worth slipping into.

Douglas Sturk (SturkWurk) is a writer and illustrator. He creates web comics for and, and can be hired for commission work.
Sara James was born in the rural hills and valleys of New York state's Leatherstocking region, where she grew to maturity before leaving home to join the Navy. After four years of service that took her to Chicago, Boston, Memphis and San Diego, she returned home to pursue a dual degree in physics and mathematics with a minor in computer science. At the suggestion of an English professor who encouraged her to pursue writing as a career, she began to hone her craft by writing stories in private. Publishing her first work in the year 2000 with Reluctant Press, she has continued to write and publish while maintaining a full time career and family. Her hope is to make her professor's suggestion a reality and become a full time author.


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