Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Development of a New Comic

Here's a distinctive comic with many promising aspects that needs serious development to be great.

The comic is Hatpire, by Becky Turpin. Usually a page, color, updated M-W-F, sometimes wrapping up in one episode and sometimes taking arcs.

I feel like a talent scout. A lifetime of immersion in comics has helped me spot a promising rookie, and I'm gonna spit tobacky juice and lay out some blunt comments. I don't even know if this comic has aspirations, but I'll assume so.

Like: The coloring, and the pallor of Hatpire (a vampire of the Nosferatu sort, with a top hat) against the sunny backgrounds;
Meh: Often the colors are arranged in a monochromatic rainbow, and read as a rainbow, especially when curved;

Like: The evolution of the cat into a real nuisance. Other furry friendlies, like a raccoon, convert themselves into burdens.
Meh: Punch lines. I don't think this is a punch line comic. More understatement would work better. End with a feeling, a realization, a dawning insight perhaps;

Like: The landscape. Dead trees and ancient boulders mingle with lushness and bright colors. Suggests the life and death cycle, and places Hatpire as a part of the universe, not a fantasy;
Meh: The artist has a versatile menu of expressions. Sometimes they don't appear in time, for example the last frame here needs a different face on the raccoon. He needs to go from the concerned look in the previous frame to the sly GLOM half grin.

Like: Hatpire's single fang. Nothing in horror history has made a vampire seem more ancient;
Meh: Sometimes I don't get it. This one took a long time. I've found in writing humor that sometimes the slightest change makes all the difference. I also test all my material on my wife before putting it in the done pile;

Like: The silence. You can hear the comic's sound effects;
Meh: The identity of the paper crane is not apparent until late. or maybe I'm dumb;

Like: Greyed hunchbacks;
Meh: Story arcs are too hasty. I draw three strips for every one we use because we edit them down to the best. Hatpire needs that.

Something tells me (probably the artist's comments) that the commitment and priority needed to make this comic spectacular might not be available. They aren't in most cases, including many that think they are, but with a lot of fundamentals in place, it would be great to see inspiration drive this comic to a higher level.

Will the strip plod forward, or climb? I think I intercepted it at a time when it can go either way. Maybe these comments will help.