Monday, 2 May 2011

Animal house: Family man

If you're expecting cheap thrills,  Family man is not going to provide it. If there is a lupine werewolf horror element here it's going to be a long time coming. We're placed into the world of  the eighteenth century,  which were boom years for German universities, Prussia in particular emphasized technology and philosophy.

We're brought into this new age by the experiences of Luther Levy, part of a lower middle class family of indeterminate social standing, looking for a university post. Their father's conversion from Judaism into Christianity being a key point here. It's an interesting tack as it's certainly a world webcomics have not touched; the cusp of the industrial revolution.

This is another case of beautiful backgrounds and perspective and a more shaky grasp on facial features. It is a strip willing to slow down, letting scenes play out over several pages adding an almost filmic quality. The first image that came into my mind upon glancing at the opening scenes of chapter 1 was the grimy uh...'rococo punk' of Brotherhood of the wolf.

The artwork is technically miles beyond the expectations we currently have for webcomics but the queasiness I feel on glancing at the protagonists face is sometimes off-putting (L.A.W.L.S  is another chief offender I think.)

The eighteenth century hasn't really been an epoch that fantasy has touched. Its themes and vistas are hard to transplant outside of earth's time frame. While steam-punk and low fantasy can recreate new worlds by virtue of their technology or lack thereof,  this period finds itself in limbo as far as the fantastical in concerned.

It's too early for steam-punk and too late for fantasy. I'm not  sure if this strip this lies within my purported remit but its sheer depth makes it a good historical fantasy, the creator is deadly serious about recreating this world and any flaws present are equaled out.

The archives are pretty large and the reader is chucked into a homecoming with lots of exposition given by various characters. It's titled as a graphic novel, and the emphasis on chapters and pages makes it feel like a clearing house for a dead wood comic more than a webcomic per se, that's not necessarily a bad thing, just look at Ellis' Freak Angels, The notes and the FAQ are quite dense and clearly show a well thought out internal world  This is a slow burn and there's not a lot of whiz bang adventure or gun fights or hectic adventure.

This webcomic WILL take a lot of reading and the pay-off, even more so than any strip I've reviewed, will be longer than a casual strip. The farewell from Luther's mother shows an undercurrent of emotion that isn't really current in webcomics as yet, regardless of how sophisticated the medium has become. There's lots of lingering stares and 'needless' panels and pages but frankly this is the closest to a novel in webcomic form I've seen so far.

Musical accompaniment: Gravenhurst; The Western lands. coy folk softness and screeching distortion mix up like rosewater and ichor in a foretaste of hell.

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