Friday, January 10, 2014

Retrospective; Serenity Rose

Wait, there's no Serenity Rose on the read list?  Actually it is, under the website name Heart-Shaped Skull.  Technically the name of the comic is Serenity Rose, and back at the end of November it ended.  Which threw a wrench in my plans to have it be on my "Can't Live Without" list.  Guess I'll have to live without it though.

Not that I think it's over for good.  I'll get to that in a bit, but I will say that this phase of the comic's life is over, and that fits a retrospective as well as anything.  The last page is a "Let's Go Exploring" moment for pete's sake! (and if you don't get that reference, I will educate you sometime this year).

I almost want to talk about this more as a proper review than a retrospective because there's so much to talk about.  Little things like a floating teacup near the end, a mysterious villain, awesome characters (I love Tess), and a growth curve most comics only dream of.  If the comic wasn't so relatively short (despite 10 years of being online), I could almost do another Standard on it.  Almost.

There are two phases to the comic, differentiated by a stark difference in art style.  The earlier, "muppet" style and the more realistic style.  When it switches, the basic framing of the comic, a drawn dairy, more or less fades into the background, only coming back for the occasional backstory interlude.  It doesn't feel as jarring as it could because of this. It works so well that during a period when I couldn't read a pair of chapters in the middle of the comic, the brief bits caught me up very quickly that I didn't even really notice I missed it (though actually reading those sections showed how much I actually missed).

I think, though, the best way to describe this comic is to point out that it's not a "growing up" comic.  So many of those are out there, it's cliche and would have been rather easy, but there is no easy way out here.  Sera is 22 when the comic starts, in college, with all her high school days, as awful as they are, behind her.  So the characters are older, but that doesn't mean they don't have growing up to do, right?  Here, no, she's done growing up, the comic goes in another direction, growing into.  Very different things because what Sera's life will be in the future isn't quite written.

It becomes clear after the first chapter that the entire piece is about what she could be if she wanted.  She could be a rock star, a ruler, a pirate and even just go completely mad.  By the end, she choses none of those things, but the journey to that point is the point.

And I suppose that's what makes this comic so good to me.  It's not another high school/college strip, it's not about wacky antics or grand mysteries.  It's about one person finder her place in the world after all that growing up stuff is over, and seeing what the world really has to offer her, and what she has to over the world.

So why don't I really think it's over?  Well, that's easy, the artist said it wasn't over.  He'll do more with Sera in the future, that's clear, but what?  I think I know.  He recently had a kickstarter (which I failed to mention because I didn't notice it until it was basically over, along with the comic, I'm really bad at that), and that ended with a thank you video.

Where Serenity Rose rises up and gives a whispered "thank you."  Looking through some of the kickstarter stuff, she was created as a subject for his animation coursework and moved to webcomics later.  Yeah, I think he's planning a video series.  Whether he gets to it or not, I don't know, but I think it's in the cards at least.

Until then, this comic is over, for now.  I'll put it in Hiatus until it's officially done, or not as the case may be.

Next time, um, not sure.  Depends on how insane my new job is (looks pretty nuts).  Until then kiddies.

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