Monday, 5 January 2009

January Zuda Reviews

New month and a new batch of Zuda entries.

Lasers Dragons and Lies
It's a mix of Arthurian Romance and science fiction. The storytelling is rather awkward, the figure work is stiff and looks like it's all photo referenced and rendered with a rather crude line. The colouring alternates from acceptable to garish to muddy.
The story left me cold, but it could develop into something if the writing sharpens up and the characters develop beyond their one-note introductions. It's not my sort of humour and I really can't stand it when people try to draw each tooth and do it poorly.

Legacy of the Wanderer
Fantasy/Horror is my favourite blend, so this is already scoring higher for me, but the art and storytelling is really, really strong here. A lack of action hurts this entry, though. The writing will turn off the caption-haters out there, and, indeed, some of the writing is rather clunky and clich├ęd. The ending feels like how every character from Age of Conan starts, so that didn't show any originality. The only character developed is the stock villainous sorcerer. If this doesn't win, I'm certainly going to keep an eye out for Randy Humphries's future work.

An alternate reality SF piece. Um. . . .
You ever read or hear about something called a "moron plot"? Quite simply, it's a story where people would have to be morons for the story to take place. That's my take on the central conceit of Lifespan. Considering that the bulk of the eight pages are all deadly dull illustrations and captions or talking heads I really don't see this winning.

Love the Dango
It's genre is listed as comedy/other, and it is.
Very surreal one-page gags and well-done for what they are. This should have a home on the web and probably would develop a following. Dunno if it's a good fit for Zuda, though.

Monster high school students in California. Energetic, stylish drawing, but painfully stiff (and sometimes just bad) storytelling. Falls into the "well done for what it is, but what it is isn't what I like" bracket.

Project: Warhawk
Maybe I'm just in a bad mood, or just feeling slightly less charitable today. I appreciate that Dan Thompson like Kurtzman's EC war comics, but I can't tell if his badly drawn take on Kurtzman is some sort of intentional underground grunge take or just the limits of his abilities here. Does the story have a point? Dunno, lots of people shoot and lots of people die except for one guy and his bulletproof pal sums this up fairly well.

When it comes down to it I already have a collection of Kurtzman war comics and they're all better written and drawn than this.

Safe Inside
The brief description reads "A devastating global epidemic has turned many humans into zombies. Forcing the inhabitants of Earth to organize human-life inside enclosed settlements."
As much as I'm loathe to see yet another zombie strip, despite this being a zombie world we don't see any zombies in these eight pages. We really don't get the sense that the characters are really living inside an enclosed settlement. What we do get is punk teen terrorists, an over-the-top cop and robocop sidekicks. The art's cute, but that sums up how I feel about this one.

It does have a good title for a zombie strip, though.

Sea Dogs of Mars
Hands down the best title this month. It does tend to go downhill a bit from there as it has the worst colouring this month, overbearing the nice-though-too-faint pencil art. It sets up its premise well and the action moves quite deftly. If it wins and can get over its art problems it could be a good adventure strip.

The Devil's Cross
Another fantasy/horror entry. The art is not nearly as strong as Legacy of the Wanderer's, but it has a nice, gutsy brushwork happening. The Kirby dots everywhere don't do it for me, though. The writing leaves much to be desired and the dialogue more so. I almost stopped reading when the Soth wannabe said "Take your weapons and saddles. Tonight we will have our first hold-up." Hold-up? Wrong genre and century. Definitely the lesser fantasy entry this month.

We Make Clouds
An office comedy strip. It's nicely drawn, but comedy is really hard. Really, really hard.

Not going to try and rank these strip this month, but I'm thinking either Dango or Wanderer should be the strips to beat. I'm looking forward to the first update.




Johnzakour said...

Hey, thanks for checking out LDL. Yeah, zuda is a tricky bird for story telling. I am trying something different this tim. I look at as a mini adventure to introduce the characters (every so briefly) and to also usher in a much larger story.

Peter Timony said...

Nice reviews, but they all seem like gut reactions. I wonder if any of your opinions will change after a month of looking at them?


Anonymous said...

Hey, genius! Turn on that spell checker! (find it :)

Richard said...

Thanks for the gentle reminder --completely frogot to run a check before publishing.


Richard said...

@Peter Timony:

Yeah, these are the gut reactions. Last month I found myself returning to reread nearly every ranking update and even made a few comments along the way.
Being less formal now allows the whole process to be more flexible later with anything I write about the current competitors.

Shannon said...

Wow I got slammed. It's all good. I've been pretty harsh on some comics in the past myself and I can't expect mine to be immune.


RKB said...

interesting views harsher than I ever am, but I'm going to re-read them again keeping what you said in mind.
Nice blog too by the way.

MF said...

I agree. Comedy is really, really hard.

But I hope we get the chance to win you over!

J. Longo said...

Comedy's damn hard but also damn fun. Wondering if WE MAKE CLOUDS has grown on you? It's fighting hard as #2 against a standard Zuda win so we're hoping you and many others are feeling it. . . .