Friday, October 24, 2014

Best Overall: Art

Schlock's art didn't appeared perfectly formed from day one.  Like most of the comics I have read, especially the older ones, the art started kind of terrible and gradually got better over time.

The first year's art is pretty bad though.  So bad the note block suggests skipping it and going to another story, which is 10 YEARS later.  I think you miss a lot doing that, so I would never suggest it, but comparing the first strip to, well, anything in the last 4 is enough to make one cringe.

It's also perfectly normal since most comics start out well below par with their art work.  Looking past that first couple weeks, the art does get significantly better.  By the time of The Teraport Wars, it's more than tolerable.  Hell, it's probably at least that good by the end of the first year.  Typically the best looking strips are the Sunday strips, where Howard really stretches his artistic legs during this period.

That 10 year jump, though, that is a fully matured artist at work.  ALL the strips look like the Sunday strips used to, with the shading and lighting that comes with it.  It's an amazing improvement, but not unexpected as it did take a decade to get there.

My choice to represent the art then comes in that block, in the form of Random Access Memorabilia.  And it has quite a few moments strewn throughout it's 13 and a half month long story that are worth looking at.

It starts with the Gavs.  Back in Teraport Wars, Gav was one guy.  At the end of the story, Gav was a demographic (something like 950 MILLION of them).  The result is an interesting delimia:  How do you be an individual when there are literally a billion of you running around?  The answer for the Gavs is this story, and it starts with rooms of Gavs.  I think this is a great introduction to the level the art has reached at this point as both strips represent the literal same character but with multiple differences so they are unique again.  It serves as a visual indicator for what's being said in the strips and setting up the story.

Which deals with nano-bots and such that build the identical Gavs into true individuals.  There's something wrong with it though (as in it's been hacked, spoilers and such), so when one rips off his own head.  This becomes a plot point and the visual evidence is used to show how wrong something has gone.  We are show a visual comparison of the Binnie before his self decapitation and afterwards.  It's something that can only really be shown through the art, though there is some dialog to go along with.

Without dialog is when Tagon, after putting on his very nifty battle suit realizes he must be in it for a while, and thus must insert BOTH catheters.  I love how the entire joke is related via the art, and it's something that would have taken a great deal of effort earlier in the comic.

Some of the best art is pure characterization, specifically for poor Tagii.  The AI of the Toughs ship in the story was doing an amazing job, is dramatically disconnected because she might have been working with the enemy and a spy (only the later part was true).  Not being disconnected properly, and being a VERY fast thinking AI meant the few minutes and hours she was disconnected was more like thousands of years, resulting in complete madness.  Glimpses are given as to how crazy she's been going making her scarier and scarier.

In the end though, the best art is for the Pa'anuri, the dark matter creature that at the end we learn was created by the device the Gavs had been playing with.  I don't recall it showing up visually much before, but even if it was, the first view of this one is spectacular.  It is rather simple, honestly, blue and black, but it's more that we're seeing a shadow created by the Pa'anuri via various instruments aboard the ships.  The view shows how amazingly BIG these things are, and how it just rips through the Morokweng like it was barely there is just as amazing.

This art is definitely some of the best if not the best Howard has done for the comic.   It relates the story in ways that really never came through before, and much better than any dialog read could have done.  The story is also a tour de force of Schlock as a whole.  Great characterization, including a bit near the middle that finished Tagon's back story I talked about last time.  Great humor that wasn't just restricted to Tagon inserting things that are usually one way only.  And a great story, probably one of the best, and one of my favorites of the comic.

Next time, the last pillar of Best Overall.  Until then kiddies.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! Your reviews are always detailed and insightful :) I wish to read some reviews from this list of 100 best web comics for 2014! Pick the one that you think is well deserving.