Friday, August 8, 2014

Not So Wild Review: Zebra Girl

It's been over a year since I did one of these so let's dive into:


Trying to remember when I started Zebra Girl was kind of a challenge, since the most I could remember is recognizing a crossover within the Wotch once, and it turns out I basically started at the same time.  When I started, the comic was already 5 years old, so it was fairly mature by then.  Re-reading the comic for this review though put it's full development into perspective and resulted in me appreciating the comic that much more than I was before.


It started as a humor comic, using odd, narrative generated gags.  I think the goal was to stand out against the rash of comics that were nearing, or just past their peaks at the time, like Sluggy Freelance and such.  The jokes, as such, were more aggressive and took advantage of the fact that it WAS a comic.  So strange gags like "Find the error in this comic" and a whole panel would be turned on it's side would show up pretty frequently early on.  It didn't last forever though, and as time went on, the humor toned down more and more to the point that I almost forgot it was a gag comic at one point.


This change is reflected in the art.  Early on it was very sketchy, slapped together by Joe (the artist) sitting at a table and drawing with a pen.  It got cleaner, but as the comic got less funny, it also got darker.  This caused all sorts of problems for Joe as the dark wasn't just flat black, but built from crosshatching, which took time to do with a pen.  Eventually he found a new way to do it and it comes out regularly every week now.  And it looks GORGEOUS.  It looks amazing, and is definitely the best black and white art I've seen in a comic to date.


I guess it was inevitable that the comic would shift from gag strip to something more dramatic.  After all, the main character has been turned into an actual demon from hell, that's bound to have consequences.  The transition has gone not quite to full on, supernatural drama, but more toward a kind of fairy tale.  A dark fairy tale, like one of the old ones that No Rest for the Wicked likes to bring up.  Perhaps even darker.  It's interesting how magic is quickly entering the world at large, yet the world doesn't seem to mind.  It's in the dark shadows, but the normal, real world, just looks to avoid these places, or it embraces whole heartedly and changes lives forever.  I know this sounds more like the setting, but really that's what the story has done, established setting for the characters to act out their roles.


Above all things, it's a comic about characters, their change and evolution as they find their place in the world, and more.  Jack starts the comic as a bit of a screwball and perv, and with one mistake begins to grow up.  Now he's an ascended wizard with all the power and mystery such beings have.  As Jack's twin, Crystal shared many of his traits, but ended up being more innocent and, well, normal than any of them.  Though without her friends, she would just be a normal person, and she is, in a sense, grateful for it, and eager to see more without ever crossing into that world totally..  Sam starts out in a bad place, homeless, hopeless, and possibly suicidal.  By the current storyline, he's attending fancy parties, which is quite feat for a 5 foot tall talking cartoon rabbit.  All 3 have grown from their starting points to become something more than they ever were, and all pale in comparison to what Sandra has experienced.  She became a literal demon from hell, and carries the weight of that, shifting her personality and desires as she comes to understand her new body, and cease hating it.  Her journey is the focal point, and the rest of the cast kind of sits back and waits for her to get the ball going again.  When they meet again, things will be interesting.


Re-reading Zebra Girl has actually made me like the comic much, much more than I did originally.  Yes, I did like the comic before, a lot, but seeing it evolve, again, and grow, I think it might be one of the best comics out there right now.  With the consistent update schedule, the amazing art, the wonderful fairy tale feel and the great characters, it is far greater than I think I originally rated the comic in my own mind.  I think everyone should read this comic.

Well, that's it for this week.  Hell of a struggle to get time to finish this damn thing, so hopefully next week I'll get more time to do more webcomic stuff.  Until then kiddies.

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