Friday, July 24, 2015

The Classic: Volume Three

The first thing that stuck out for me with Volume Three of Errant Story is how awful the volume cover looks.  I don't know why, but Meji looks really, REALLY off model.  Flat, rough, and terrible.  I'm reasonably sure that most of the cover art, either for the volumes or chapters, are all sketches of one for or another, which is probably why Meji looks so bad, it's an early, quick version.  It's a jarring image, but it's only temporary.

Anyway, the reason Volume 3 had to be separated out is because this is when the story actually gets going.  One and Two are basically set up and backstory, both for the world and the characters, and while there is some more here, it's more about moving the story forward rather than stopping and talking way too damn much.

But it starts with Anita being a bitch.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention her in Volume Two where she's actually introduced, but that's more because there's really little about her there.  She's the leader of the Ensigerum Order, the time ninjas that Sara belongs to, and in Volume Two, as in Volume One, we really don't get much about her there.  It's in Volume Three that Anita starts playing a more major role, and one of being probably the main antagonist of the whole story.  Yes, even though Ian is the "villain" (for relative levels of villainy), Anita is the one that eventually pushes the whole thing over the top.  She is not a nice person, like at all, but backs it up by being a really good at what she does.

The most memorable moment for me, for some reason, is when Sarine and Jon have sex.  Yeah, okay, maybe it's the titillation factor, but it's actually a great character moment for both characters.  The setup is simple, Sarine crying over the thought of having to kill Meji, who is a stable half-elf (one with self esteem issues and a spoiled attitude, which is very prevalent throughout this volume).  Then Jon pulls his gun out with the idea of defending the girl.  There's more to it, of course (go read it already), but in the end, the act is one that is not really out of character for both.  The fact that Sarine tries to erase the event from Jon's mind the next morning is also in character (he noticed).  Then the Paedagogusi arrive.

The Paedagogusi are basically the Elven version of angels, but they're fairies that are, um, unconventional to say the least.  To say the most, they're right out of Exploitation Now!  See, I told you it was part of the root of the comic.  Meji and Ellis's sniping dies down a bit in time for them to arrive and introduce a whole new level of, um, annoyance.  To the characters, they're not that annoying to the readers.  They're basically a kind of comic relief that actually has a point to them, and in the end a pretty powerful role in the story.  Here, two of the five of them are guarding Anilis', um, resting place.  It's unclear what Anilis is or why she's there, dead, sleeping, lazy?  Doesn't matter, but Meji follows through on her plan to gain ultimate power to pass her class. . .

And finds out Ian beat her too hit.  We get a flashback sequence for him, starting from the decision to begin his journey, his fight with the Elves, and eventually his "accidental" absorption of Anilis.  It does appear to be an accident by the way, I don't think he meant to basically eat her, but after a bit, he adjusts.  When he officially reappears, he, um, opens the roof of the inn Meji and the others are staying at, and whisks Meji away.  With this, Volume Three ends.

After two volumes of sheer exposition with one fight and some flirting, this is the meat of Errant Story as a story, and it's only the beginning.  I really did think it would take longer to get to this point, but I guess that just means the last volume is just lots of action and violence, which it probably is.

Next time, Volume Four.  See you then kiddies.  And sorry again for the lateness, my job hours are mean and cruel in so many ways.

Friday, July 17, 2015

God this summer (AKA nothing)

It's been eating me that I can't get more out this summer.  Work schedule is nuts, as usual, with early mornings and long days.  Barely have time to READ the comics, let alone write about them.  And when I do have time, I'm too tired to stand up straight.  Don't work for an inventory company kids, unless you don't have a life, because you won't have one after they're done.  Half done with Volume Three of The Classic, hopefully it'll be up next week.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Classic: Volume Two

I considered posting Volume Two and Three of Errant Story together, but in the end, they both deserve their own posts, so I guess we'll have a lot of pages for The Classic.  Ah well, more writing for me, and reading for you.

Volume Two is really more exposition for the comic.  And a fight.  But mostly exposition.  It's spaced out enough with the action that it doesn't feel overblown, but there is still a lot of talking in this volume.  Not as much in the first one of course, but enough.

The first major bit is a flashback for Meji, and it's what finally broke the commentary track version of the comic.  The art is very different from the rest of the comic, with these long, almost brush like strokes used for the shading and coloring.  It gives it a very nice look, but apparently made it a pain to actually prep for publication.  On top of all the other issues happening at the time, something had to give and the commentary track was one of them.  Several of them in fact.

Still, it's an interesting look at what Meji was like prior to events in the comic, and she's not exactly a happy kid throughout.  It was kind of obvious before hand, but made even clearer here.  Her slow physical development made her very self-conscious and withdrawn.  She was more than happy to live with the lie that she was just a human prodigy rather than a half-elf.  It also shows, once again, her mother is a non-entity in her life while her grandfather, while stern, at least is interested.

Then there's a fight with the elves.  We only see a bit (the last part is done in Volume 3), but it's enough to show that Ian is kind of a badass, taking on a cluster of elf soldiers basically alone.  Still, as the first major action scene it plays out pretty well, showing the sheer confusion and anarchy that should reign during such an event.  The fact that Sarine stays out of the fight (and instead heals one of the wounded elves) says more about her than even a few words could ever state.

In fact, most of this volume is about Sarine.  And we get to see quite a bit of her.  Um, meaning she's naked in a few scenes.  Actually, there's more than a little nudity in this volume for some reason.  I guess this is the point where Poe said "I need more readers," and while that is cynical of me, that might actually be the reason.  It's never full frontal or vulgar, but it's there.  Which ends up being an odd contrast to the fact that so many curse words are censored throughout.  I think this is actually very common throughout all of Poe's comics, but it just feels weird to me any more.  Not sure why, perhaps I'm just more used to the less dainty comics that are out there any more.

Back to Sarine and that bulk of the volume involves her in one way or another.  From interacting with Jon and Meji to, well, telling the story of the Errant Wars.  It's actually very tragic, terrible, and very plausible.  From just what was seen in this volume, it's abundantly clear that it happened, and it was horrible and terrible and left some really nasty scars, especially on Sarine's psyche.  Hell, it all but wiped out the elves as a whole (they went from occupying 2 continents, to having barely enough people to populate a single city).  And it really still hasn't handed.  Sarine is going around killing errants (ones who have gone crazy for the most part) despite not really wanting to.

That's really the core of Volume Two, the history of the Errant Wars, and how it set up the current state of the world.  There will be more backstory as the comic goes on for the other characters, but with the end of Volume Two, the basic world building is done, there's little more to add.  Then Anilis shows up and things get a little weird, but that's for Volume Three.

Until then kiddies.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Well, I'm dumb

I actually had an article written, but I didn't finish it up and then set it to post.  This week has been kind of stupid like that.  I apologize and it will be up next week.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Spending a little money

Actually, a lot of money because damn was that trip expensive.  1300 in car repairs (don't ask), 300 in gas, 200 for the room, 170 for my "ticket" plus all that I spent on food, my trip last week was a drain both financially and physically.  Still worth it.  More worth it was upon returning home I got where another 20 dollars went just before I left.

In the midst of talking way too much about Errant Story, I opened with a reminder that Errant Story remains the only comic I have ever given money to.  It was five dollars, and I don't remember exactly when.  Poe made an extra appeal one day and I had some cash in my paypal account, so I shot it over.  A bit later, because paypal has my address attached, I received a little pin with Ellis on it.

It's not that I don't like spending money, my random collection of junk and shit ton of books says otherwise.  The issue is that for a long time, I didn't have any extra money to spend.  Good timing led to my donation, nothing more.  There have been a LOT of comics I've considered donating, buying, or even joining in a Pateron for, I just don't because, well, I didn't have the money once, and it's made me very frugal ever since.

I take a lot of time and thinking before I spend money on something I'm not sure of.  Sure, I'll buy a couple books or some chips at random, but I'll think for a good 30 minutes on a computer chair, even when my current one is crap.  And I don't mean looking for it, I mean finding it and debating if it's still worth it.  Impulse buys are not my thing, and of course the internet is built on impulse buying.

Still, with my current income and my love for webcomics, I suppose I should spend more on them.  There are a LOT of great comics out there, and a little bit of financial support is all they need to keep going.  It's why I point out Pateron campaigns every once in a while.  Donations aren't as common as they used to be, but tip jars are still out there.  There's always the convention circuit, selling nick nacks, art, and of course books.

Every comic that manages to get some traction going gets a book at some point.  It's not just to make money, books are usually a drain rather than a money maker, but it is a right of passage.  An announcement that the artist and the comic are here to stay.  It's the culmination of the dream of every artist, whether it's a comic, a story, or, well, anything, to say "I'm Published" and have it be real.

So back to the story, which is I don't spend money.  Except when I saw that Ben Fleuter, artist of Derelict needed some cash to get over a hump (and freaking jury duty).  His deal:  The first volume of Derelict, Deligue, he signs it and pays the shipping.  I got the package over my vacation.

I've only just flipped through it, work schedules and lack of sleep preventing me from doing much more.  Some more background stuff I could probably find on the wiki or TV Tropes, some special art, a short little story, and a signature on the title page.  Technically my statement that Errant Story is the only comic I have ever given money to is correct, I did it with no expectations of recieving anything.  This time, I bought a book of one of the best comics I currently read.

Worth every penny.

Next week, we should be back to The Classic.  Until then.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Nothing, too tired

Spent this last weekend at XPFest, and driving back and forth to West Virgina.  Too tired to write anything.  Next week I should be back.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Classic: Volume One

Well, there are also a few people that think we were all put here by a group of super advanced alien life forms. . .

Errant Story began in November 2002, only a  few months after Poe's previous comic, Exploitation Now! ended.  Yeah, they're that close together, and I started reading it a few months after that (my review went up in January 2003, so yeah).  Talking about the first volume of Errant Story really can't be done without mentioning Exploitation Now! because it is the foundation of that introduction.

The humor from EN! is very evident in this volume, especially in the conversations between Ellis and Meji.  They remind me of toned down versions of Bimbo and Ralph.  They constant sniping and bickering is definitely right out of EN! and later jokes (there's a yaoi gag there, and if you don't know, don't look it up) are in the same vein.  This humor will be sprinkled throughout the comic until those fairies show up when they'll bring it full force once again, but we're a ways away from that.  Still, there's a lot of EN! humor in the first volume.

And a LOT of dialog.  My god there is so much on a few of the early pages.  I remember the commentary track mentioning they were breaking up some of the pages because they were solid dialog, but I had forgotten how bad it really was.  Meji's introduction is her talking and the page is more dialog balloons than art.  It does pull back after that, but expect a lot of talking early on.  Reminds me of when I reread Life of Riley and how much dialog was in that comic too.  Same time period, so I guess I really didn't notice.  EN! had the same issues near the end of it's short run, so again, more overflow.

I get why there's so much there, this is Meji's introduction and there wasn't any good way to relate it besides having her and Ellis snipe at each other over it.  All of the main characters (Ian, Sarine, Jon, Sara, Meji) are introduced through the length of the first volume.  Sure, Sara doesn't get much time (an alt-text even mentions she won't be significant for 400 pages), but the rest get some characterization.  It's not everything (Volume Two does more of that), but it's enough to give the readers an idea of who the characters are.  Sarine doesn't really like what's she's doing, but does it anyway.  Jon complains about wasting bullets to save Meji, but the next scene has him shooting leaves for practice, undermining his argument.  Ian's reaction to any comment regarding his sister hints at his reactions in the future, etc, etc.

If anything, Meji gets the least characterization, outside of Sara of course.  Mostly, she admits to being lazy, but there are less than subtle (aka Ellis) hints that she's insecure about her looks, is ignored by her mother, and reacts poorly to criticism (aka Ellis).  It's a little more limited, even though we follow her more than the others, but given the length of the comic is her coming of age, I guess it's fitting.

Finally, there is some world building early on, but much of it is limited to off handed comments.  The last full chapter features more about the ancient history of the world than the modern era than the rest of the comic, all done in a single conversation.  Oddly, much of what's said is true (including the quote at the top here) so the major storyline is pretty well established even this early on.  I'm sure the details were still kind of nebulous at this point, but the setup for a much longer story were well settled by now.

It's a good introduction to a longer story, one that is growing from very little.  The players are introduced, the world is built, the tone is settled, and the story is moved along.  Next time, Volume Two and maybe Three, depends on how much of is there.  Until then kiddies.