Friday, May 30, 2008

"Roza" Reviewed

Roza, by Kelly Hamilton

Kelly Hamilton's Roza is one of those comics that look like it might be worth reading, but you're uncertain. It's pretty, but what if the story is bad?

Roza is about a girl, a horse and rat, and various creatures that fall in and out of the story. Just about everybody is enchanted in some way, and has mixed feelings about it. 

The comic has been running for over a year. Chapter one is a solid tale of escape and evasion, with Hamilton's Romantic forest backgrounds and ancient villages providing significant enhancement. The writing and plotting are competent, but non-sequiturs -- the bane of many fantasy tales -- interfere frequently. Mixing phrases that have only appeared in the last twenty years with imitation Shakespearean pronouncements is a common mistake, aggravated by Hollywood abuse, and it marks a lack of editorial control. Fantasy requires timeless, neutral language with a bias toward Anglo-Saxon root words. Outbursts of teenage speak are deadly to the mood and atmosphere. "We have awaited your return" should not appear in the same story as "The fun's not over yet."

There's a similar moment later, when guards are checking for papers, as in IDs. This is fantasy, so the author can set the rules, but this is too 20th century.

Chapter two, more ambitious, is more jumbled, with some transitional scenes that are not seamless. It might look better when it's done, but it would be reassuring to see Hamilton regain tight control of the event sequence. Particularly troubling is the two dimensional brigand character.

Roza, who looks rather Romany, is a fresh character, in her Brothers Grimm peasant dress and rendering free from the sexual exploitation that is so commonplace. Hamilton has to make some decisions about her mouth, however; specifically, her lips. In some scenes she appears to have a wide mouth with full lips, but she also appears with the pinhole mouth we commonly see on Agatha from Girl Genius. People with full lips do not make this mouth, they make a rictus. 

Also, having grown up on a farm with a full compliment of beasts, I suggest Hamilton decide whether her renditions of goats and horses is an outcome of her style or a result of insufficient study of how animals are assembled. They're not painful, but they are somewhat improvised.

Regular readers know that though I had a long affair with D&D as a boy, I am not a devotee of fantasy. The fact that Roza held my interest suggests that fantasy fans should visit the strip for a look.

Roza is a member of the Tomgeeks Webcomics Collective.