Saturday, 23 March 2013

The sound of kickass: Unsounded

Genre typically works because of its constrictions, what I like about Unsounded is its ability to take the typical fantasy tropes of magic, empire and violence and mash them about. This isn't a Dragonlance pissant high fantasy nor a Gene Wolfe moralistic mess of broken dreams. This is a deep work, not a 'monster of the week' type strip. You will need to ingest a fair bit of information in order to read this strip on update.

Now, if you were particularly supercilious you could call it steam-punk but this comic doesn't have that genre's artificial ostentation and glib self-awareness. It's a fluent and subtle work that deserves your attention; there's a hybrid vigor set in place here that isn't at all self-conscious.

 After a while the genre doesn't matter and you're dragged into reading this by the intrigue and the dense narrative. Trying to work out what's happening as different storyline streams interconnect is the best part of this strip, the complexity is implied not avoided.

The artwork is simultaneously lush and precise, one of an increasing band of webcomics created by professionals veering into webcomic territory, the webcomic being an entrance into dead wood publishing with previous failed attempts by webcomicers to monetize easily swept away by the critical mass of kickstarter.

The first few chapters seem like the author establishing themselves, trying to get a grip on characters, they're simplistic at first but gradually reveal layers of nuance, the easy choice you'd think a web-cartoonist would choose for a serial strip instead gets dragged into a an amoral world.

The main character, troublemaker Sette, isn't Pepper from Lackadiasy, who is against my will,  my favourite character in webcomics this year, she is however a vivacious bundle of scurvy gibbering chaos. Her chaperone Duane is a cipher, if their characters seems throwaway in the first 30 pages they slowly establish an emotional attachment out of sheer adversity,

If China Mieville is a source of love/hate reaction in my life then this strip is better for me, a way to show how to intelligently establish steampunk without the ostensible proto-socialist attitude.

The initial nervousness of the creator melts away as the scope of this vast world becomes more apparent, more valid a choice. It's not high fantasy dreck, more an engaging political excursion, a fun romp through genre fiction as viable narrative device.

1 comment:

tom thumb said...

Solid reviewing style.

Where can I get in touch to request a review?