Friday, February 4, 2011

Not So Wild Review: Sea of Insanity

For about 3 years of my young life, I lived in Greece, on the island of Crete specifically.  While I regret my lack of exploration (I was only 11 at the time) of the culture and land today, I did get a healthy appreciation of Greek history and mythology.  So when a comic shows up claiming to have roots in Greek mythology, I sit up and take notice.  That's probably how I found comic 15, Sea of Insanity.


So what happened to the Greek gods after they fell out of favor?  They're still around apparently, living and working amongst us, and occasionally causing problems.  Though in general hiding, a few people are let into this world, including Finn, who simply needs a place to live.  There have been other comics that have done this, of course, including Gods and Undergrads, but Sea of Insanity seems to do it better by not going too big.


The main human characters are Finn and Gil, our fish out of water characters.  Or fish in the water in Gil's case.  He turns into a fish randomly.  Anyway a fish out of water character is supposed to ask questions and let us get a feel for a story's universe, and they work well here.  Gil works even better as he a psychologist and actually brings a different sort of analysis to the gods and goddess than they normally would get in such a story.  Finn is the main character of the comic, though not the driving force of it.  That said, he is the most grounded of the group, ignoring high minded ideas and treating everyone, even the gods, as just normal people.

On the mythological end of the scale sits Isle and Calliope.  Many of the events in the story center on Isle and all three live in her apartment.  Isle is probably most important and her relationship with Finn is appears to be the main arc of the story.  Calliope acts more as the information board than anything else, but she's been slowly developing a decent character.

There is a hefty list of supporting characters including The Sibyl (an oracle of sorts and her partner, as well as the gods Apollo and Artemis, and more besides.  Apollo plays the roll of antagonist in the comic, but makes few appearances.  The supporting cast enter and exit cleanly, but few get much screen time and thus little development.


The art of Sea of Insanity has always been one of the odd ducks in the bunch.  It's clean pencil, meaning it's been cleaned up, but not inked.  The characters are realistic in design and stature, and the environments rather detailed, but it all feels a bit incomplete. Like the inking would finish it and it would be a regular black and white strip, or it should be rougher and be more like Megatokyo or something.  It's in a weird area that likely would turn off some people.  I'm used to it at this point, and the penciling is so clean it could almost be mistaken for light inks, but it's not the best in the world.  It's also not terrible.


As I said, the story revolves around Isle, her work, her mind, and her rather strained relationship with Apollo.  And at the same time, there really isn't a main story.  There's no epic tale being told here, just a series of personal relationships that seem to be a story.  Similar in structure to Out There, it runs based on individual events but with no obvious direction.  There are some hints at a larger picture thing going on, but it's hard to pick it out directly.

The personal relationships, though, bring me back and keep me involved.  I want to see what happens to them as the story goes on, and I care about them, but the plot isn't necessary.  If it was more like Out There, where you just have interacting characters, I would still be hooked on it, perhaps more so.  The individual events that drive the comic are rather well done and brief (well, brief for a comic that updates weekly).  They typically focus on a couple of the main characters (or a supporting character if necessary) and try to dig deeper into them as a result.


The comic died for about 2 years at one point, the result of the artist going through some medical hell and became one of the reasons why I insist webcomic artists tell their fans what's going on.  I was surprised when he started updating again, and pleased.  That said, the comic isn't great.  It's pretty good, but nothing exceptional.  I think much of my enjoyment comes from my personal relationship with the mythology it's based on.  It's probably not worth reading for most people, but I do enjoy it and will continue to read it, as long as he doesn't have someone hit his house with a car again (yeah, that happened).

Well, enough of that.  Until next time kiddies.

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