Monday, 29 August 2011

Nine time's the charm: The Fox sister

I'm more used to imagining the nine-tailed fox manifestation as typically Japanese but it has roots across most of East Asia, it's a trickster form, imagine Renard the fox mixed in with slavering blood-lust. If my most recent experience with Korean themes resulted in me bugging out then this strip, The Fox sister, is hopefully a decent antidote to that.

Having been scared into whimpering submission by Japanese films such as the grudge and the ring series this was welcome respite

Already the pacing is measured between humor and horror, the horrific prologue doesn't make any sense as yet,. in the main storyline we're injected into a typical Korean city, we don't know much about anything as yet and I'm guessing this is going to veer into an initially uncomfortable 'odd couple' set up with our female protagonist and the tall blonde doofus westerner with the dog as the loyal companion / goofball.

All we've really got for now is the artwork, the story will make itself known as it gets along, this is more of an introduction to a webcomic that's getting going more than an established strip with an established character.

That said, the artwork here is lustrous and sheeny, just the right side of cartoony without devolving into too much cuteness, this scene with the character's face in reflection in the sword is masterful and this willingness to devote a whole page to set the mood is admirable, it shows is a mature handle on narrative pacing, presumably aiming at a long haul of a story. Maybe best to check up on it in a few months though when it's more established.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Something in the air tonight:Sfeer theory

If this is a steampunk or fantasy webcomic then it's not easy to place, I don't think I've seen 'Regency-punk' before especially not in an alternate world setting, an alternate nineteenth century magical monarchy perhaps, think along the lines of the meek and you're halfway there. Sfeer theory is a big picture type of webcomic within the context of a wandering magical dilettante called Luca Valentino as a lowly tech assistant at the Uitspan institution. It is certainly not an easy project to have begun.

The line-work and coloring are miles ahead of most webcomics, the dappled use of shadows here is unexpected and overall the artwork is clean-cut and sharp, sometimes painfully lucid, on a computer's screen it looks crisp in a way that a physical page would easily soften and dull, The style seems to be using an anime influence without the restrictions of its cloying touches, an anime inflection then and consistently good with perspective handled adeptly; this is a well-established style and suits the confidence of the story being told in this strip.

Likewise, Muun's narration here is world-weary, literate and quite assured, I've found the creation of a civilized world takes more chutzpah than the staples of a barbarian adventure, a lazy equivalent would perhaps be Full Metal Alchemist with the application of magic being the centerpiece of the strip.

 The use of 'Sfeer' is an underlying emphasis of the mechanics of this world and the reader is slowly getting a handle on it. The vocabulary guide is helpful as the magical terminology is part of a consistent system. Again, like most good webcomics this is more story based than 'slice of life' and looks like it'll be an inevitable 'slow-burn'. So far there's only been an introductory chapter but I'm already hooked.

I'm aware I use the words 'slow burn' as a shorthand for a long term investment of your time and I'm also aware that some of my previously reviewed webcomics such as Family man is quite heavy going but these types of labour-intensive long-term investment strips are what keep me going.

As much as I like video games,  gamer strips are too anecdotal and ephemeral to last as a webcomic genre to be viewed in the future, they'll just be sad dated relics like juggalos and class distinctions.If my first webcomic crushes like Niego and Butternutsquash have let me down then I'm hoping to read this webcomic for a long time in the future.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

I don't like people : Corporate skull

Jamie Smart was always the hyperactive clown in the dismal array of Slave Labor Graphic's stable. His inclusion into the niche comic publisher that emphasized a gloomy self-consciously Gothic aesthetic seemed initially a misnomer but on closer inspection his gibbering violent fables add up into something more than a light-weight goof-off.

If  Jhonen Vasquez is the sardonic luminary of SLG's roster then Smart's violent and scatter-shot approach in Bear was the antic trickery of the court jester.

Nothing is serious or sacred for Smart and the basis of Corporate Skull stems from extremity. If Bear was a disconnected series of snippets of ludicrous violence then this is an anti-corporate obvious entry point for gen-Y that manages to capture the quiet wretched lower-middle-class desperation of the cubicle-slave.

 The eponymous main character, Corporate Skull,  is reborn after his mishap and subsequently finds freedom in ignoring all of life's strictures and bringing the motherfucking ruckus. This issues is it's not altogether certain how such a rebellious 'bad-ass' is going to progress into a well-rounded

As such, there's little internal logic to the transformation to the main character, a knowing 4th wall breakage and if this is going to be implemented as a long-term storyline that might be a problem. The need to guide a story about a 'too cool for school' skull-headed rebel means he'd need to create a long-term schemata for the strip.

That said, I'm always a sucker for a pretty face and visually this strip oozes cool and chutzpah in its frantic disassembling of our addled western lifestyle. The cutified scale of this strip perversely sets it up as a modern-day morality tale by intimating that the world of work is a childish pursuit with most people as status-obsessed imbeciles who obsess about arrant shiny nonsense until we devolve into a slurry of greedy abject slavery. obscene gibbering aside, this is a slick and visually gorgeous attempt to mindjack the reader with a political slant and a restless roving eye for dumb-fuckery. Anti-establishment poses are usually glib knowing acts of self-awareness and this is no exception.

For all its obvious constrictions this longer format looks like an attempt to answer the questions about human nature Bear occasionally posed in between the congealed blood and inhuman laughter.

Any misgivings aside this is still something different, the initial riff on suicide isn't anything most slice of life or gamer webcomic creators would ever touch and Smart's background in indie 'dark' comics means he can easily work around in a wry and bleak moral underpinning to his humor. His background in print tree comics has put him miles ahead of the pack and even if this strip isn't established as a webcomic presence it deserves to be on the ideas present here.