Sunday, 14 January 2007

Some Velvet Morning: Flatwood

I neglected this strip when I first came across it some time ago, even now going through the archives, Flatwood looks too cartoony at first, a weird chibified experiment, but, then, typically the first 30 strips of any webcomic contain dodgy artwise. This sketchy linework later coalesces into something distinctly sinister and smooth. The animation above the strip with the blinking eyes and the black background creates an all-over aesthetic for the strip that is quite welcome. The outlines of the panels are fluid, melding into the ever-present darkness, this is a reading experience with a design in mind.

If the narrative is strictly linear than at least its direction is that of discovery not gag driven cycles that infest the gamer and slice of life strips that make up the majority of webcomics. It resembles adventure more than horror, in fact, the ambiguity present about identity and place put forward something close to a dreamlike state, magical realism or speculative fiction with the addition of horror elements. This sense of disorientation is heightened by as the strip has turns of surrealism and sometimes segues into pure streams of consciousness. Lately this trend has created a webcomic that has increased in both levels of artistic merit and surrealism, resembling a well made rebus puzzle.

The young man who awakens in Flatwood has a number of questions about identity, whether this is a stage of death and the little critter he finds is a goofball version of Virgil in Dante's inferno or a denotion of the evil that is all around him, I like this wayward aspect of the strip, it ignores the usual trends in favour of the narrative. I still don't know what's fully going on but I've accepted the rules implicit in the strip in order to access the spine tingling senseof adventure in this distinctly morose landscape. This strip will take time to process as you go through it but Zac's emphasis is on the lengthy portrayal of how identity is unravelled amidst chaos. This is a solid example of the ignored genre webcomics that deserve your support.

(I did have a post about the Broken Mirror but for some inexplicable reason that website has been hacked - why? Do Islamic terrorists like good story-driven webcomics?)

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