Saturday, January 12, 2008

Earthson #1 - A Review

Jody Parker of Dark Ocean Studios contacted us and asked us to review their book. We always enjoy looking at books from all self publishers and small press people, but also give our opinion. We want to see people who put so much obvious time and effort into their work to succeed, but we have to give our honest views.

Earthson #1 – From Dark Ocean Studios – Writer Jody Parker, Artist Daniel Logan and Colorist Jennifer Streiner

See their website

Purchase the comic here

Jim: This is set in a post apocalyptic future where the world is now called H’trae, which is Earth backwards and just a little too cute for my taste. The world is now populated by both humans and animal/human hybrids.

Let’s start with the art and the look of the book. I was impressed by the production values associated with the book. The art itself was decent and conveyed the story well, the coloring was stunning and the actual look of each page was well done.

The story itself lacked the special feeling that makes you want to come back for more. The first issue essentially introduces a male human character Aleyen who is something of a rogue and Leeyal who is female cat person. Now maybe this is just the male in me, but she was ugly and I have seen some really great looking female cat characters in comics throughout the years and she was not one of them. I guess it is like the movies and no reason not to have your cast be good looking. The story ends as Leeyal offers a job to Aleyen from her people after escaping the village and some guards who were after Aleyen.

A small interlude occurs in the book where we meet some other (at this point) random characters. While these characters may play some vital role in the future they added nothing to the first issue.

Gwen was unable to participate in this review but she mentioned to me that the book had the feel of someone who does RPG stuff. As I was reading it I got the same feeling. Now since I do not do gaming I could be wrong. Bottom line this is nothing wrong with that as the premise of many games are great fodder for comics.

All in all the book certainly has potential, but I think the first issue has to one that is a real bang and later on you can do quiet issues. This issue felt like all set-up and slowly paced and did not leave me wanting more.

Grade C

Lee: In my opinion, this is a fine fantasy-quest type of tale. I felt the story elements were generic to all fantasy-quest stories with typical leads and typical situations. The story was executed well and had the necessary elements of foreshadowing and subplots but it wasn't outstanding. The dialogue was stilted in places and generic nature of the characters (the Lone Gunman with heart of gold schitck) kept the story from rising above ordinary. The art was much of the same. It was executed well but not outstanding.

It was a huge plus that the body proportions were good. Nothing throws a story off more than when you're going for George Perez and get Carlos Meglia. But, Dan Logan needs to work on his overall layouts and especially action sequences. On page 9, the hero is fighting a group of bad guys but the page doesn't generate any tension. The first couple of panels show stiff characters talking without any visible tension of them preparing to leap or strike. When the band of thugs comes to join in the fight, they appear to be miles away from the main character which reduces the overall effect.

Visually, this is a sleek looking book with good colors and lettering. There were a couple of points where the lettering was obviously photoshopped instead of appearing as part of the page but for the most part it was good. I am divided on the colors. They were done very well but almost overdone compared to the rest of the story. I believe that color is an additive and can easily detract from a story instead of complimenting it. Just because you're awesome at photoshop and can use all 18,000 selections in the color palatter doesn't mean you should. Your ability to digitally shade and create cool effects won't hide your ability to tell a story. Color is to comic book what special effects are to movies. They look good but they won't mask the inherent flaws in the art or story. It's incredible hard to tell a story with three colors but it can be done (See Grendel: Black, White, & Red) and people need to remember that more is not always better.

These days, for a new book to succeed it has to be a unique take on an old theme or an EXTREMELY well executed story. Unfortunately, this book never rose above ordinary. Not bad but not great.

Overall: C

Surprisingly Lee and I hit the exact same grading on this comic. Also we had similar feelings about the book that it obviously had a lot of work and time put into it. It has some raw potential but the first issue was only ordinary and in the realm of comics we both think you need more to succeed. Still the core talent and ideas are there.

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