Wednesday, March 16, 2005

26th Leg: A Lesson is Learned, But the Damage is Irreversible

There must be a certain amount of irony that with the event of this week, and I'm exploring a comic with this title.

It's really in keeping with the surreal tone of life lately.

Comic: A Lesson is Learned, But the Damage is Irreversible
By: David Hellman and Dale Beran

Setting and Elements: Surreal, Modern Life
Content Type: Satire, Philosophy

Art Medium: Digital Tablet Art
Art Style: Loose realistic, Painted Colours

Is About: I honestly don't know. (Kidding) It's basically a surreal reflection of modern life and issues. Kind of the stuff your subconscious would tell you in dreams, I suppose.

Website: http://
Frequency: Irregular
Availability: Free

First Impressions and Presentation:
The art alone is very eye-catching and vastly different from the usual list of style offerings you find on the web. (See why distinctive art styles are always a good thing?)

The site presentation has its own individuality, with a rather large logo, blog and comic sandwiched in between. I find the huge logo and downscrolling a bit annoying though, especially reading through the archives with it loading on every page.

The Concept:
This is a comic that comes the closest to fine art. The skeptical would probably attribute it as the comic equivalent of the Tate Modern. You either don't understand the art or you do (or at least, pretend to, understand it).

Personally, ALIL feels more like one of those bizarre dreams you get where you fight of giant prunes with broadswords, or something like that.

The Art:

I remember being intrigued by the art style. It was something of a culmination of fine art painting and digital graphics. Think oil or acrylic painting done with a tablet and you pretty much have what ALIL looks like. Very distinctive, very eye catching.

There's an incredible wealth of lush detail, especially in the backgrounds. I also get the feeling that the panels are heavily referenced; the human figures frequently look almost stylised photographs. sometimes.

Looking at the comic, it seem really more like a series of paintings in comics form rather than a comic. This page alone would looks quite acceptable hanging from a display unit in a modern art gallery as from a humble html page or the great WWW.

The Writing:
If I said I understood it completely and it is insightful and profound, then I would be lying and you should all be throwing tomatoes or something at me.

To be perfectly frank, when I read this comic, I feel like I'm in one of those bizarre dreams that I get most of my best ideas from (don't diss dreams, they're great fun for creative inspiration). You know, one of those dreams where you get a series of event that play out, and where everything seems perfectly normal even if the flow of events aren't exactly... logical?

And when you wake up, you have no idea what it's all about, but you have a nagging feeling that dream that dream is trying to tell you something you can't quite get?

That pretty sums up how I felt while reading ALIL. It's not like the other comic I visited a few legs back (Buttercup Festival, in case you need a reminder.). Both I'd classify as 'surreal' but these are different kinds of surreal comics. In Buttercup Festival, I'd say that the humour or punchline is surreal. In ALIL, the entire sequence of events in the comic is surreal, and if you take it at face value, it does not make sense at all.

It does tend to make you think outside of your usual mental sphere though, and perhaps the lack of definition in the content is the whole point. Kind of like abstract art; You don't really know the meaning of it. You can only take a guess or make one up for yourself on what you want it to mean.

The same goes for the blog posts beneath the comic.

It's ironic that the first thing that comes to mind as a problem with the comic is the site design. More specifically, the HUGE logo that takes up the whole screen at the top. It's irritating to have to scroll down so much every page. I'm a lazy reader, I know.

The other problem I can see is that not everyone is going to get this comic, and most likely it'll end up either inspiring the reader or making them go "WTF? What a load of pretentious cr..." and shut the browser window.

*grin* No matter how I try, I keep going back to the fine art analogy, don't I?

Definitely something very interesting and new. I don't profess to understand it, and it both disturbs and intrigues me. I don't see it becoming a regular read, but I think there's something interesting there it how it pushes the boundries of what a webcomic can be.

The Next Leg:
Looking through the bowl of candies that is the link page, I settled on The Thieves of Thalegore. Mainly because I found it amusing how my eye consistently read it as: "Theng-ga-lore".

I know, I'm crazy sometimes. Now excuse me, I have a database to wrangle with.

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