The Webcomics Weekly is back in your life. This week, Emma Kubert has a webcomic! It’s called “Brush Stroke” and Elias Rosner has some thoughts on it. Webcomic wranglers also need help deciding who a certain character looks like. Meanwhile, the second act of “Lavender Jack” ‘The Two Jacks’ begins. The lush romance of “Lore Olympus” also continues.
‘Episode 1: A Starry Night’ – ‘Episode 10: Erase the Mistakes’
By Emma Kubert
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
Before I start, can someone PLEASE help me identify who Devon looks like? I mean the “Elf Quest” characters but that doesn’t seem right. It bothers me A LOT and that’s all I can think about when he shows up. It is the shape of the face. So chiseled. So bad boy. So tortured. OKAY. On the exam itself.
Maybe it’s because I reviewed “A Fake Affair” a few weeks ago, but I continually remembered the works of Akiko Higashimura while reading “Brush Strokes”. A cross between the introspective autobiography of “Blank Canvas” and the wackier antics of “Princess Jellyfish”, “Brush Stroke” tells a semi-autobiographical story of May Collins, a 21-year-old artist who moves across the country to join her. estranged mother in an attempt to reorient her life after her father ran into debt.
Bildungsroman webcomics, especially those that also fit well into the Romance genre, can often be extremely slow. It’s good for keeping tensions high and letting those emotional moments really land at home, as the main character’s development and maturation is all the point. However, it is also infuriating to have to read, week after week, as there is often little forward momentum. “Brush Stroke” solves this problem, giving us a refreshingly fast-paced comic, with conflicts developed and resolved in one or two episodes rather than twenty.
The flip side of this faster pace is that the emotional developments also occur on the same timescale, lessening their impact on the reader. “Brush Stroke” could benefit from a little pumping of the break, allowing each scene to breathe, with less dialogue per track, more smaller glimpses of people’s emotional state, and happening on a bigger number of panels (or space, if pure scrolling is used.) This brings me to the other issue with “Brush Stroke:” Kubert’s limited facial expression rage.
For a comic like “Inkblot”, a fantasy adventure full of emotions and even bigger settings, this is not a problem. However, the more limited scope and grounded nature of the “brushstroke” necessitates a greater range of faces. Without seeing the nuance of a character’s body language or facial expression, it becomes harder to connect with them as Kubert intends and that means we get fewer silent panels or quiet, introspective scenes to compensate and provide a cleaning palette for the goofiest, high-energy scenes.
That said, May’s relationships with the other members of her family start to develop well and the big personalities work well for the majority of the comic and when Kubert slows down the whole comic begins to sing. My absolutely favorite scenes are in “Chapter 6: Dripping Gold” and “Chapter 9: Cleaning the Brushes” when the inks are falling and we are left with chalk and, finally, brush strokes, involving the shapes of people and places against a wonderfully shaded background of color. It’s like watching one of those fountains of chocolate ripple and swirl, with memories forming in the creases and ripples of the falling chocolate, and then it changes again and we find ourselves in front of a wall of melted brown candies, wondering and hoping for answers that may come… but not yet.
By Dan Schkade (writing and art), Jenn Manley Lee (color)
Reviewed by Michael Mazzzacane
The second act, “The Two Jacks,” begins with the kind of formalistic time that eschews “Batman: Year One” and absolutely lush coloring from Jann Manley Lee.
Episode 96 marks a rare long-term occurrence of “Lavender Jack” as it is an episode that does not feature any of our character quartets. It’s interesting to think about after the last episodes of Boba Fett’s Book, and how he turned this show into something completely different. That’s not the case with the Act Two opener, which focuses on a day in the life of Lady Hawthorne the ‘Secretary’ (read: the real power behind the throne and Queenpin of Gallery), who is all marked by the kind of punctual time apart from the “first year”. The shift in focus helps reveal macguffin teases like Project Postscript and reminds readers just how dashing Lady Hawthorne is. While the tape ends with the not-so-subtle threat of what happened to former Lord Mayor Quincy, the real threat comes when Schkade throws spot blacks to cover a good chunk of his face as American M Garrett comments on widows dressed in white. .
The time stamp also helps give a sense of temporal unity between these two strips, as Episode 97 shows the lush Tuesday sunset from the top of the Margrave Building as Johnny Summer has an encounter with Inspector Freddie. . Jenn Manley Lee’s coloring is one of the secret ingredients of the series. His use of fiery orange in the big faux-Jack splatter image after they blew up the resistance cell was great, but to be fair it’s kind of a standard comic book image to which you expect. The subtle gradation of orange and how this layer interacts with everything else in the color palette for this scene is wonderful. Schakde’s hard shadows slowly grow as the tape progresses and Lee follows the soft shadows and keeps the orange in line with everything else! That mixed with some excellent pin-up imagery akin to Johnny Summer’s witty dialogue, the episode 97 opener is a joy to read. The rest of the episode is solid too.
These two episodes set the stage for this second act as the gang is reunited once again and they have to figure out what Project Postscript has to do with everything Mimley and Ducky have been up to for the past two years.
By Rachel Smith
Reviewed by Mel Lake
After all the buildup from the previous dozen episodes, Persephone has finally arrived in the underworld. The moron who interrupted her in line for the train to the Underworld turns out to be Thanatos, the god of death, who had a good reason for not wanting to be late: it’s his performance record. . (Spoiler alert: he is not get a raise.)
But while Hades is busy dealing with his lazy employee, Persephone meets Minthe, who immediately recognizes her in the tabloids and unknowingly sends her to Tartarus. In “Lore Olympus”, Tartarus is a zombie-like forest of shadows that threaten Persephone until she unleashes her powers to protect herself and triggers the intruder alarms across the underworld. Don’t worry, though, Hades literally rushes to her rescue, finding her high heel and lending her cloak in a sequence of events that surely left Hades/Persephone readers and shippers swooning. He takes her back to his office to warm up, and then Persephone reveals that she’s there to be an intern. (Looks like she should have started with this as soon as she arrived? I know, I know pointing out storylines spoils the fun.)
The sequence in Tartarus is gorgeous, with Hades checking out every big, dark, and beautiful romantic hero box out there. He gently puts her shoe back on, a la Cinderella’s Prince Charming, saves her from angry shadows like virtually any storybook hero, and safely pulls her away from danger in his arms. It’s all very romantic, and while Hades is immediately back to himself in the next episode, it serves as a great reminder that while he might be an emotionally damaged nervous wreck, there’s a reason Persephone falls in love with him. These episodes are straight out of the romantic tropes playbook, and Smythe executes them with precision. Persephone may not want to be a damsel in distress, but she embodies that role in the story right now, and though she proves her mettle in a chess match with Hades, putting the heroine in jeopardy and allowing the hero to save her is a classic reference. event in a novel. Hades seems to realize he’s head over heels in love with her, ticking the “no turning back” box in the romance plot plan, and Persephone isn’t far behind.
Unfortunately, since this is a romance and we all know how romances go, obstacles stand in the way of our marriage in the form of a jealous lover, Minthe. (And in all honesty, Hades didn’t really break up with her?) The power dynamic inherent in the relationship between Hades and Persephone continues to get more complicated as the story progresses and we’re not even at halfway through the first season.