Review by Frank Plowright
Unnatural is a genre-straddling series roving across crime, erotica and fantasy, yet always also set in a recognisable reality with comments to make about our society. It’s smart, and it’s beautifully drawn by Mirka Andolfo as she brings the animal people to life.
The lead character is Leslie, introduced just before her 25th birthday on an Earth populated by assorted people with animal features. She’s pig based, with a small curly tail and ears on the top of her head, but otherwise human, although her naturally blue hair is cause for frequent comment. Her age matters, because in a society actively promoting genetic segregation she’ll be computer matched with an ideal partner if she hasn’t found one herself before she’s 25. Forming relationships with what are considered other species is heavily promoted as wrong by the authorities, as are same sex partnerships. Anyone is perfectly entitled to ignore these strictures, but doing so pushes them into a tax bracket most can’t afford. Andolfo packs a lot of information into a first chapter that’s nevertheless fast-paced and intriguing.
A lot depends on the cast being likeable, and Andolfo quickly establishes sympathy via nuanced character art and scenes designed to show what Leslie’s life is like, and the threat hanging over her future. Her friends are equally sympathetic, and equally distinctively designed.
With the world around her established, Leslie’s life takes a distinctly sinister turn. She has unprompted erotic fantasies about a giant white wolf, and appears all too rapidly inducted into the partner locating programme. By the end of four chapters her life has changed completely, not for the better, and we’ve been given an extensive, and sometimes heartbreaking, tour into her past and present.