Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sea Dogs of Mars

Sea Dogs of Mars - Christopher John Beck & Keri Woodward

The first impression I got when I read this was 'colorful'. Extremely colorful. Bright, vivid, glow in the dark burn your eyeballs out colorful.
I'm not saying it needs to be toned down, it overwhelmed me a little bit at first but the ol' peepers came around soon enough. It could be a calling card. A mark of style. Hell, go for it.

There's a clear plot, a little bit of intrigue, some character moments but no character conflict as far as I can tell so I'm willing to give reasonably good marks for the writing. It's a bad match for my tastes so I'm not going to gush about it. It's entirely possible for a comic to be well written and yet not appeal to me personally and that's what we have here.

Since I'm attempting to assemble references for my own entry now (rare update, that's all you're getting) I'm turning an eye toward the architecture, culture, and tech that makes this 'Mars' in the year 3127. Looks Asian to me. Interesting choice but who am I to say that form won't win out over function in the next millenia? It does suggest building materials that wouldn't necessarily be available on another planet but hell, you could probably explain anything away. Just be careful that there aren't ever any contradictions. The technology needs to be advanced enough to explain the look and the culture needs to be 'artful' enough to explain the look.
You're saying something when you design future tech and you need to be mindful of that. It needn't (shouldn't) be a primary concern but it's the sort of thing that a fan would notice.
The devil is in the details.

Now I'll get to something real, something useful.
On page 4 we've got a simplified 'plaid' design on the drifter's headwear which works fine in the smaller panels but in panel 2 we're too close to the character and you can't get away with simplifying the design at that scale. It needs to wrap around the folds when the camera is that close to the detail.

I wonder why the pirate doesn't have any eyelashes? Combined with the thick eyebrows she looks a little bit manly in that last panel.

Finally a critique that I'm not even sure I'm going to explain correctly.
I've been TOLD that vectors are best for any art done on the computer if you want to scale or reproduce and I've been TOLD that vectors don't show up as 'aliased', so what I'm wondering then is why the panel borders look so jaggy?
I'm guessing the panel borders were drawn in PS and the dialog was done in Illustrator?
Go to panel 4, look at the diagonal panel borders, zoom in on the word balloons, compare to the panel borders.

I don't know if that's a problem for the rest of yinz but for me I think I'm learning a lesson about methodology here. Definitely a problem I'm going to avoid if I can.

Strong 3 star entry.


mpd57 said...

Looking forward to next month's reviews, oh yes. Ever thought of expanding your reviews to cover other comics or webcomics or even associated media to fill in the gaps as it were. It's your blog but it might make for a more cohesive total must read kinda site, instead of pot luck what's he moaning about now site.

Paul said...

It's less about attention for me than it is about growing Zuda in any small way I can.

I'm doing the same reviews that I used to do but I'm doing it in blog format which I realize isn't particularly noteworthy in and of itself, but it's still a step up the respect scale above a post in the comments.

Now I grant you a big regular audience would accomplish even more of this, but I don't really think I'm all that interesting when I'm not reviewing webcomics.