hmmm.... seems someone reviewed blue skunk already... even after i posted my clever little placeholder. things will be getting messy very soon, i think.
nut-bunnies! (old freakazoid saying)
i'll just do a review for blue skund AND school spirit (i've been looking for an excuse to go through school spirit's daunting archives)
CORRECTION: it's not daunting... it's... what's the word... organized. which is scary and different for me.
Against my better judgement, i'm listening to "Kid A" while writing this review.
ART: Okay. The Art... It seems to have gone through three distinct styles. The first was a little "dirty;" with light sketch work and computer coloring. The second was plagued by an over-abundance dark shading. The third, and current, style completely omits any visible pencil or ink work, with the whole thing being presented in a photoshopish all-paint look. I always enjoy seeing an artist experiment with different styles. It is for this reason that I am hesitant to give a final score to the art. What I can say, is that I am not completely happy with any of the above styles. They all show room for improvement. I would like to see a mixture of all three, actually. Coloring from the third, sketch-look from the first, and dark line work from the second (sans the over-inking). A few other things of note are: the anatomy work seems very "aeon flux" inspired (fits the story content), the overall appearence would be greatly improved if the pictures didn't have so much jpeg compression, and the font work is sometimes outside of the bubble (little pet peeve of mine). All in all, the art, i assume, from what i've seen, will steadily improve. But for now...
STORY/WRITING: I've always hated reading comic-book-style strips. The need to keep coming back every day in hopes of closure that may never come is enough to drive me stark raving buggo. Luckily, there is at least one completely finished story arc in the archives! On the whole, I was driven to keep reading in a "what the hell is going on?" sort of way. Which is cool. Means it kept my interest. I like the world that has been created in this comic and I am muchly curious to find answers to questions that have been asked. I am also quite pleased with the characters. But, like with all stories that pull their climax punches, I'm still not sure whether or not the plot developements will justify the crafty set-ups. (i.e. god, i hope it doesn't turn out like Shymalan's "The Village.")
SITE: It's a site. There's a tagboard. News posts. It is not terribly exciting to look at. There are some neat wallpapers (i love wallpapers!). The "cast" and "archives" links don't work. Ummm... fix that. Or remove the unclickable buttons.
OVERALL: Good stuff that shows promise. What else can I say. The art needs help, the writing needs to stay good.
Like I said, i've been looking for a good excuse to read the work (in it's current entirety) of Keenspace's famed aussie writer. Seeing as how he ended his review of my strip with a favorite strip, i'll start mine with my favorite strip: http://schoolspirit.keenspace.com/d/20040822.html
It took me a bit of time to get it (noticing the sign in the last panel). At first I was like, "what's the joke, yo?" and then I was like, "that's awesome." Because, well, it is.
ART: Honestly, the little kids scare me in places that i wish i didn't have. After about twenty strips I had convinced myself that all children have giant ears. After that, it was smooth sailing. It has a very distinct look to it and could never be confused for any other strip. This is a good thing. I've always thought that being able to create iconic styles that suit the subject matter of the writing were of the utmost importance in creating a strip. In that sense, the work is a good fusion of this medium that I like to call, "sequential art (thanks scott mcloud!)." I would like to say one very important thing, though. The grayscale gradients are something that i'm not particularly used to. Maybe it's a "down-under" thing. Anyway. In the end, it's not the best art i've ever seen and it's certainly not the worst. Does it do the trick, though? Yessum.
WRITING/STORY: Here's the kicker, i guess. Many people (including the author i'm reviewing) have said that my comic lacks a story. And it does. Why? Because anyone who does comics knows that creating a story brings up many many too many problems. When a regular ol writer wants to tell a story, there are certain comic-specific problems that he/she will never encounter. The most important of these is that people like Kurt Vonnegut never have to worry about whether or not joe-reader has read chapters 1-6 before he/she moves onto chapter 7. It is because of this, that every once in a while (not too often, though), the comic has to waste 1 to 2 panels (half the strip!) to explain what has happened in the previous strips because that imformation will be needed for the all-important punchline. So, what's a comic writer to do? Should caution be thrown to the wind (assume that your readers know what's going on in the story), or should you hold the hand of all new readers so that they can still get the joke (so as to not alienate the ever-important new fans)? I don't really know the answer (i have avoided story arcs until very recently to avoid this problem). What I do know, is that the obligatory recaps are sparse in this strip and probably only noticable to people who are reading them in a row (i.e. me).
But what about the quality? Yes. yes. . . the quality. What can I say. It's very well written. It may not be my cup of tea (the humor seems to be constrained at times by the necessity to follow plot), but it is always an endearing strip. It also has a distinct character driven (huge fan of things being character driven) story that it is telling. And, thankfully, the characters are all very likable in their own unique ways. If I had to describe the writing in one sentance, i'd say that "it's cute and warm and fuzzy in all the right ways."
GRADE: B+/A- (leans more towards the A- though)
SITE: It's awesome. Not so much in a visual flair sort of way, but in a "has everything I could want" sort of way. The site resembles an elementary school desk. And has links to art, cast, forum, etc. etc. etc. It even has a page that defines those wacky aussie words for us damn yanks.
OVERALL: Well, it didn't have me burst out into fits of laughter too often, but I very much respect the work. It shows quality, class, and (this last one's important because it's rarely done right), heart.
GRADE: B+/A- (leaning towards the A-)
(artists who were reviewed, feel free to contact me. i'm always happy to talk to fellow comic-ers)
that's it! i'm done! FREE TIBET!