Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “web comic”

ElCicco #CBR4 Review#47: Hopeless, Maine by Tom and Nimue Brown

I’m reviewing yet another web comic! Last time it was the outstanding Darths and Droids. This time, it’s a series called Hopeless Maine. Book 1 “Personal Demons” is available in hardback book form. Book 2 “Inheritance” is available on the web site. My husband brought “Personal Demons” home from the comic book store and I was drawn to it by the art. Like the story, it is sort of dark/gothic. The authors describe their style as gothic/steampunk.

The story takes place on an island, Hopeless Maine, that is isolated from contact with outsiders. For reasons unexplained, many children on the island are orphans and end up cared for by a local minister and his wife. The main character, Salamandra, is an orphan who seems to possess some sort of magical power. It is unclear what has happened to her parents, but she seems glad to be rid of them. At the orphanage, she has a hard time fitting in with the other kids except for another girl who is either an imaginary friend or malevolent spirit, and Owen, the son of the minister who runs the orphanage. Salamandra has also befriended a crow and has contact with others on the island who also possess special powers.

In vol. 2, Owen’s mother dies and he wants desperately to leave the island. Sal finds out she has a living grandfather who lives in the lighthouse that is never needed because ships never pass by. Owen and Sal’s grandfather make a plan to leave, while Sal assists them and stays behind at the lighthouse. Will they return? Will Sal’s powers develop? And why are there so many deaths on the island? And why is it so hard to leave?

Some of the art details are lovely — there is an art nouveau feel to it and the magical creatures are unique. The human characters are less distinguishable from one another, which makes it a little confusing sometimes to follow the story. They look a little like goth Precious Moments.

The storyline is intriguing and I look forward to following the mystery as it unravels. Hopeless Maine is safe reading for kids, unless you are weirded out by the occult, in which case you probably don’t allow Harry Potter in the house either.

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ElCicco #CBR4 review #46: Darths and Droids by The Comic Irregulars

Darths and Droids  is a free web comic that role playing gamers and Star Wars fans (groups with significant overlap) will love. A group of such guys in Australia began developing this comic in 2007 after being inspired by DM of the Rings — a web comic that imagined Lord of the Rings as played by a bunch of gamers. Darths and Droids is about a group of guys playing a RPG and using the images and characters from Star Wars Episode I but creating an alternate story line. In this imaginary world, Star Wars doesn’t exist but the gamers invent a similar universe in the course of their play. The characters (Qui Gon, Obi Wan, etc) are being played by guys who don’t behave at all as the movie characters but are dead on gamers of the type you might know — the tech fanatic/min-max gamer who loads his character with specialized skills at the expense of more humanizing traits, the guy who just wants to fight and find loot, another guy’s little sister who tags along for lack of a babysitter, and a GM whose best laid plans get completely screwed up by his friends.

The use of actual stills from the movie makes this so much fun to read. I wish they would go back and reshoot the movies using this dialog as it is hilarious and entertaining and Lucas’ characters play against type. Qui Gon is a battle happy treasure hunter, JarJar is a genius, R2 is arrogant, Darth Maul is …. not at all what you would expect. Qui Gon and Obi Wan from the moment they enter the Trade Federation ship ruin the GM’s plan and pretty much act as lawless rogue forces, causing political trouble and unnecessary destruction. Qui Gon immediately wants to search for treasure and steal blasters. Really if you have ever played RPGs you will recognize all of your gaming friends in this comic and if you have GM’d you will commiserate.

Qui Gon is the funniest character. In addition to his distinctly selfish and martial instincts, he has a habit of massacring the GM’s specialized vocabulary (Jedi Knights are Cheddar Monks), trying to “cast spells” instead of using the force (“I summon bigger fish” has become a catch phrase among devotees of the comic), and forgetting what their mission is. The deal he makes with Watto regarding the pod race is so convoluted and ridiculous, you know that true gamers were involved. And the stills used to capture Qui Gon’s expression in any given scene are just laugh out loud funny.

The best scenes involve the introduction of JarJar and later scenes featuring Yoda and the Jedi council. A girl named Sally makes up JarJar from her imagination. “Mesa got biiiig long floppy bunny ears … and a tongue like an anteater. And mesa face is kind of like a pony … and mesa coloured peachy, pinky white!” She also turns the Gunguns into carnivores who prefer human flesh and eventually turns JarJar into a skilled and respected general.

When Anikin (played by a young woman who seems to be the object of all the gaming guys’ fancies) meets Yoda for the first time, there are several truly hysterical scenes. One involves an extensive rif between Yoda and Anikin on the “Fear is the path to the Dark Side” scene. The other is Episode 142, “The Source of the Force, Of Course, Of Course,” which deals with the whole “balance in the force” business and why creating more Jedi via blood transfusions (which Qui Gon does) is a bad idea. Every time I read the last panel in this episode, I laugh out loud.

Each page of the web comic is a numbered episode with a title, and at the bottom of each page is a commentary by the Irregulars along with a transcript of the page. The writer commentaries are often as funny as the comic itself, with ruminations on Star Wars, gamers, other RPGs and more. The writers are still producing this comic, going through every Star Wars movie. Now that Disney has bought out Lucas and is planning to produce more, it looks like they’ll be working for a long time. Yay! This is really funny and creative, and it’s the kind of thing you can put down and come back to later (much like an RPG). It was a nice break to read and now I want to go on a campaign.

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