Friday, December 3, 2010

Not So Wild Review: Errant Story

Back with another Not So Wild Review and this is comic #13.  Which is actually kind of odd, considering Sluggy Freelance was #2.  That means that of the first 13 comics I reviewed, I no longer read 12 of them, for various reasons.  So let's get going.


My first encounter with the work of Micheal Poe came from his previous work, Exploitation Now!  I don't even remember how I came across that comic, but I do know that it's run had more or less ended by the time I started reading the archives.  Upon completing it, the ad came up directing people to follow his new comic, Errant Story.  The comic was, at the time, about 2 months old, and I never stopped reading it.  In fact, it remains the ONLY comic I have ever donated money to, not even Sluggy earns that honor.  So what's so great about it?  Let's break it down.


Whenever I read Errant Story, the main cast kind of reminds me of an RPG party, and that's probably on purpose.  Each has a specialty and knowledge the others don't and when they get into a fight (which doesn't happen that often) they know their roles and set goals on the fly.  They're also completely independent in thoughts and actions from each other.  I think often when characters are built for a story, eventually they all come to share the same personality, but not this cast.  Yes, they have the same goals, but they voice their concerns and act as one would expect them to despite all this time.

I guess the important thing is that they act in character without being stupid about it.  When it's smart not to say something smart assed, they usually don't.  But when it's time to, they aren't afraid to do so, at all.  The downside is that we really don't seem to get a lot of time with them.  It's weird, but there is so much going on that seeing the main characters interact with each other is a little rare, they're more often playing off the situation rather than each other.  When they do interact, it's great and tells us a lot about them, but it's usually cut short by the most recent disaster.

Here's my thing, after 7 years of reading this comic, I can't remember all the main characters names.  I know who they are, give me a picture and I would know what they've done, but I don't know their names, little of their backstory and what they're doing at the moment.  Maybe it's the fact that I read so damn many comics and I just simply don't have the memory space for it, or maybe it's how frequently it updates, but the names escape me.  Weird, isn't it?


The art of Errant Story is some of the most detailed black and white artwork you will find on the internet, especially for a comic that updates twice a week (at one point it was THREE times a week, which is even more potent).  Character designs are wonderful, detailed, and it's usually very easy to tell characters apart.  Usually.  The detail of the world is incredible and likely unmatched by anything I've ever read.

It is better than when it started, of course, you don't draw a comic for this long and not improve, but most of it seems to come more in the form of shading and realism than anything else.  The line work has been universally excellent and while there have been improvements it's not such a completely different comic as some others.


This is an epic fantasy tale, a grand one involving gods, people with the best of intentions and whole governments going nuts.  It has a deep backstory, with a world history running the entire time, but only recently has this really come to light through the off day updates.  I think this is a good thing as dumping this kind of filler description on a young comic would have drowned it pretty quickly, but as the story is nearing it's close, it's nice to finally fit the pieces of the tale into it's historical perspective.  Kind of a nice touch.

The story's basis is that Meji, a half elf with poor grades, has decided for a final project to obtain ultimate power and enslave the world!  So she sets off and runs into various characters including profession assassin Jon, elf ranger Sarine, fellow half elf Ian and Jon's time ninja sister Sara.  They then go play with gods and things go to hell in a handbasket, to say the least.

It's a well told story spanning a good chunk of the world and history.  There's a LOT going on, but it's focused enough to be centered on the few important characters to not let it go spinning out of the control. There are some areas where what's going on is hard to follow, but those are mostly early on and eventually get ironed out.

I do want to compare it to the end of Exploitation Now! which was a bit of a mess at the end.  It went wild and over the top to the point that it was utter madness.  Errant Story doesn't suffer from this as it was actually planned out to begin with, and while I'm sure there have been changes since the comic began, it isn't utterly random and chaotic.  Well, chaotic in terms story lines.


Errant Story is a great comic, and while it has a few flaws, one would be hard pressed to find one that's better that updates as frequently and with such quality.  It's one of the first comics I recommend when asked, and if you're not reading it, you must not like fantasy comics or something.

I've basically been reading this comic since nearly the beginning, and I know I'll read it through the end and possibly into it's eventual and possible sequel.  So go read it already!

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