Saturday, February 23, 2008

Acid Keg

(Above) An
Acid Keg installment with Clive and Helen. Click to enlarge. All work copyright Steve Hogan.

I've finished reading the web comic Acid Keg and of course I have things to say.

I greatly enjoy Steve Hogan's artwork. At its best it tingles all the senses and you want to bite it.

The modern Acid Keg is a serial featuring Helen and Clive, ex-lovers but still bandmates in "the modern situation," a band which is contractually obligated to release albums. Clive is the guitarist and voice of the band, but he is often self-absorbed, leaving bassist Helen feeling at loose ends.

The band's destiny, along with lingering romantic tension between Helen and Clive, is constantly derailed by the inclusion of pop culture figures and scenarios: James Bond, mad scientists -- even the gas bloated corpse of Scientology gets a good kick in the nuts. Hogan brings these influences in partly as homage and partly to speak of the absurdity in life.

I could recommend this strip because I like it, but that's a notoriously unreliable barometer and I need to speak honestly about the downside. The plotting is rough, and occasionally gets way off track. You want to forgive it, because the art is so good, but it's doing a potentially great strip a disservice.

I do my strip, Scratchin Post, with my wife. I write, she draws. But I am a cartoonist of middling caliber myself, so when I compose a story, I storyboard it. Every frame is laid out, all the dialogue. By cranking out story after story, the good ones surface and the others either get revised or left as cautionary tales. My wife massages it all along into what you see.

I don't know how Steve plots, and it's not for me to tell him what to do with his comic. But I recommend he dabble in our production method as a way of appraising stories before committing to them. A really tightly plotted Acid Keg would be a wicked good piece of work.

Whatever Steve decides, I admire and enjoy his work, and if you don't know it you should take a look.

Also check out his gallery.