Monday, March 10, 2014

Webcomic Review Month: As the Crow Flies


http://www.melaniegillman.com/


Charlie was looking forward to her hiking/camping trip but upon arriving realizes that she's the only non-white girl in this Christian group. She's already queer and a teenager, can she end up enjoying her week in this white centric world after all?

The first thing that stood out to me about this story was the art, while I follow a number of comics that are partially or wholly traditionally created (I feel like I've seen a shift back to traditional inking with some of the newer pens out there actually) Gillman's colored pencil art still stands out and as someone who dabbled in colored pencils for years I'm amazed at how even she's able to keep her tones and gradients. She also has a really good grasp on drawing a variety of body types and faces which is great since this is a story that lives and dies by how well the reader can connect with the characters (Charlie is our only point of view character and certainly the main one but if you have a really well-fleshed out main character and paper-thin side characters then the entire story will collapse). I felt that she really captured the feeling of a lot of summer camps too, you're there, a bit excited and a bit worried about what the heck is going to happen to you over the next week, and the adults are telling you some of the things and intentionally keeping a few secrets. You're not so sure how well you're going to like all of this, especially when Charlie notes that the hiking expedition her group is going on is following the footsteps of a bunch of white settler women who were seeking to "washing away the dirt and whitening our souls", but there's not much help for that now.  

I truly am looking forward to whatever the resolution of this comic ends up being since I have no clue at all what it'll be. Many times stories fall into patterns, tropes, so I can tell whose going to fall in love with who and who will die but this isn't that kind of story (well, I believe that Charlie has a crush on one of her leaders but since I could have sworn I read elsewhere she's asexual and the about page calls her queer I'm understandably confused). Perhaps Charlie will be able to discover a truth for herself that gives her life more meaning, perhaps the other people in the group will expand their world views a bit, heck I expect some kind of disaster but I don't know if it'll be emotional or a physical, real-world one! It's not a suspenseful story but it is a gripping one, Gillman has created a very nuanced character with Charlie and I hope she's able to have a good time on this trip after all.

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