Friday, May 17, 2013

Comic Review: Off*beat (volume one)

So apparently I was out of it back in February since I hadn't heard that some of TokyoPop's former employees had formed a new company, Chromatic Press, and that they had plans to do a kickstarter to try and fund the final volume in one of TokyoPop's OEL series which apparently a lot of people liked, Offbeat. I first heard about all of this when the kickstarter launched and I was torn, I don't have enough money right now to support a series I've never even read, on the other hand it sounded like something I'd like and I had realized when looking at it that the creator also was doing a webcomic I like, Witch's Quarry. So I didn't pledge, if it had looked like they needed just a few more people to get it to the goal I would have pitched in, and when I got back home and went to my local library there I found a very battered copy of the first volume just sitting on top of the comic section as if it was waiting for me. Sadly they don't have the second volume, although I might poke around at some of the other libraries near me to see if they do, but hey, one volume is totally enough for me to tell if I want to read more.

Off*beat by Jen Lee Quick

Summary: Tory is smarter than your average high schooler and instead of using his vast intellect to cure cancer or such he is currently using it to stalk his new neighbor who lives across the street. In Tory's defense, Colin does seem to live under some strange circumstances and when Tory's other neighbor manages to dig up some dirt it seems like Tory might actually be onto something.

The Good: At this point the story is still very ambiguous if there really is some great, sci-fi-ish conspiracy involving Colin or if Tory is just being way too imaginative and with the way it's set up I'm not going to be disappointed no matter which way it turns out. I have to admit it's a bit odd that I'm more amused than skeeved out over Tory stalking Colin, my normal reaction, I guess it's the way it's set up here, and because the reader knows that it's more-or-less harmless, but regardless I need to commend Quick for making me like a main character that I normally would dislike.

The Bad: The early timeskip threw me a little bit and I do wish it had been less big, it's a bit hard to accept that Tory remained obsessed about Colin for that long even though he had no leads on him and hadn't discovered anything. Thankfully I think we're also going to actually learn some stuff about Colin in the next volume (because right now he feels more flat that mysterious just due to a lack of panel time), honestly I'm glad that I didn't read this when TokyoPop was originally putting it out since the wait and possibility of never finishing the series would have killed me.  

The Art: There's actually not a very big change in style between this and Witch's Quarry which surprised me a little bit but here it's already pretty solid. The backgrounds/scene setting shots are a bit basic but there were only a few times I had trouble figuring out the panel sequence. All of the characters look distinct although the girls look a bit odd, they look a bit more cartoony than the guys and I hope that they look a little more natural in the next volume.

So, giving this a recommendation, I'm dying to track down the next volume and the final one when it's released, and now I'm more curious than ever about Chromatic Press's other works, fingers crossed that they succeed and are around for a while!

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