Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Comic Review: The Originals

I don't actually have that much to say about this comic. For starters, it caught my eye when I was at the library but, when I flipped to the back cover for a synopsis, there was nothing there, not even a blurb by another author telling me why this book was awesome and that I should love it. And, going out on a limb here, it would seem like it's a bit hard to get people interested in a book that doesn't tell you what it's about at all and they just have to read to find out, heck, I couldn't even figure out when the setting was supposed to be until a good dozen pages in and basic information like that should really be avaliable for the reader to easily find. 

The Originals by Dave Gibbons

Summary: Set in a future that looks an awful lot like Britain in the 1960s, Lel and Bok are bored by mainstream pursuits and activities so they join up with a gang called The Originals

The Good: The story, which is rather similar to some other stories like The Outsiders, is simple to follow and moves quickly, the entire book is only a bit over 150 pages and doesn't need to be any longer or shorter. Viv was a surprisingly well-developed character, probably the best one in the entire story, and she was much more interesting than the love-interest-of-the-main-character normally is, although it would have been nice if she acted more instead of just talking.
The Bad: While it's not a bad thing to have characters curse in a story, if it's in character, the characters here managed to say the f-word 143 times in the course of 160 pages and it simply didn't have the same effect by the end of the book, it just felt a little annoying to see the characters curse yet again. Another, slightly bigger complaint about the story, why use a setting based on the past instead of creating a new one? While the setting worked, and the author was using it to connect to the 1960s, it always seems a bit lazy to have a story set in the future yet have a fictionalized, historical setting*. Finally, in the end, was there any point to the story? Even if nothing else happens in a story, something is supposed to change and, in the very end, it just didn't seem like anything had changed.

The Art: All of the art in the story is in black and white (with plenty of shades of gray, looks to be computer shaded) and, as odd as it sounds, it works well with the futuristic setting. It's a futuristic setting that draws heavily on a historical setting and the black and white color choice helps blur the distinction between these two times even more. The setting is also heavily influenced by the 1960s Mod fad and that's apparent in the character's clothing, rides, and even to an extent in the buildings the story takes place in. 

Weird, when I was double checking character names on Amazon I glanced at the reviews there and found someone claiming that this was the first comic ever to deal with the idea of "rebellious youths." The review is a few years old (from 2005) but even then this is hardly a new concept, I know two young men whose names are Kaneda and Tetsuo who would like a word with this reviewer.....

*I remember making a similar complaint about Black Hole Sun, planning on  (eventually) writing a proper blogpost about this trope.

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