Friday, January 28, 2011

Comic Review: The War at Ellsmere

A rather slim comic this time but most American comics I've seen are one volume affairs. The art looked a bit Scott Pilgrim-ish but that's not a bad thing, no real other first impressions so onto the review!

The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks
Summary: After being offered a scholarship to the prestigious Ellsmere boarding school, Juniper takes the chance to increase her chances at getting into Med school. But this school is filled with almost nothing but snooty rich kids who get their kicks with bullying the scholarship kid each year and Jun's attitude won't help her out here.

The Good: The book may be short but it manages to wrap itself up quite well in 156 pages. That's pretty impressive but, as I mentioned above, most American comics I read are shorter so I guess they have practice. Yet it was still open enough in the ending to create a sequel if there was ever a demand for it, I honestly could see the story going either way but I think it was stronger as a one volume work in the end. 

The Bad: In the end, this book felt like a poor man's Gunnerkrigg Court (probably because I read it first). It didn't have the length or the complexity of GC and the setting was much weaker as well. And the story suffers from the classic cliche "oh look, all the adults only listen to the clearly evil character and this is used to create even more problems!" which has always bugged me, it's never a good sign when the author has to resort to unrealistic stereotypes to create drama*.

The Art: The art really does remind me of Bryan Lee O'Malley's art for some reason and I'm not sure quite why. I like the style well enough (probably because it's "animesque" and I really do prefer how anime art looks to most comic styles) but there was nothing really special about it that made it stand out to me (weirdly enough the designs of Jun and her friend also mimic the designs some of the characters in GC, pretty sure that's a coincidence however).

It's not a bad book in the end, I just feel like I've read better and this book just didn't satisfy my need for either a complex plot or a really in depth character study so eh, a dud for me. However, I didn't realize this until I was search the author's name, she did do a webcomic called Demonology 101 that I have bookmarked for reading someday so I'll probably check that out rather soon and see if I like her long form better.

*Also, as an adult now I'm actually a bit insulted by the stereotype, as if I can't understand someone's problems just because I'm old enough to vote now.