Tuesday, May 24, 2005

31st Leg: Vindibudd, Super Hero in Training

Another week of drama and controversy in webcomic-dom. Keenspot artists go independent and form Blank Label Comics, which looks to be interesting and bears keeping and eye on. Keenspace gets the decision to be renamed confirmed but the chosen new name of Toonspace isn't sitting too well and now everyone's scrambling for an acceptable compromise.

Me? I'm sick of all the hoo-hah and I am not going comment on the overblown molehill any more. Instead, here's a long-awaited Find report. Enjoy.

Comic: The Adventures of Vindibudd, Superhero in Training.
By: Andrew Williams

Setting and Elements: Aternate World/Dimensions, Superheroes, Surreal, Fourth-wall breaking
Content Type: Satire, Parody, Pop-culture/Social/Political commentary

Art Medium: Inks, Flat colour
Art Style: Angular, Stylised Cartoony

Is About: Superhero Vindibudd (The guy in the blue cape), who is a superhero... in training. He and his sidekick, General Safety go through a series of adventures(?) about life, love and the occasional Lord of the Rings obsession.

Website: http://www.vindibudd.com
Frequency: Irregular
Availability: Free

First Impressions and Presentation: The website is bright and bold, and a little bit gaudy, very much like its genre stereotype before 'dark and gritty' became the fashion.

Oddly enough the first thing that stuck me was not that the art, but how difficult to read the hand-lettering was.

The art is unusually angular and stylised, and appears to have its own distinctive identity. (Always bonus points there)

The Concept:
Superhero Vindibudd at first glance, gives the impression that it's a superhero comic. On closer examination however, you quickly realise this is not really a superhero comic in the traditional sense of the genre. In fact, it's closer to a political/social satire strip starring superhero characters who are the personalisations of various concepts. For example, you have the superheroine "Common Sense Girl", who shows up whenever a good dose of common sense is needed, and "General Safety" who advises criminals to "run not walk or they might slip and fall".

All in all, a rather interesting concept, and I'll admit it took me by surprise. I was expected a typical young superhero in a superhero academy bildungsroman-type story, instead it's less of a story comic than a commentry strip. I have no idea how common these kind of comics are, but I haven't come across too many of them, which is always a good thing.

The Art:
To be honest, without the character costumes, I can't tell one character from the other. For example, I went through most of the comic, thinking the character "General Safety" was another character called "Not Vindibudd", and it wasn't till later when I realised they were separate entities. I have no idea if this is a satirical poke and superhero comics in general, but Andrew does make use of this similarity as a key point of one of his storylines, so it seems to be to some extent, intentional. If it wasn't, he sure made clever use of it!

One other thing about the art is it appears to be inked with a single sized pen, and the lack of line-widths variation does tend to make the characters look flat. I'm not sure if my cohenrency level is very high today, so lets turn to the 'picture is worth a thousand words' adage:

Original art

Altered art to include line-width variation
(Apologies to Andrew for vandalising his work.)

It's a shoddy job of alteration on my end, but I hope that the thicker lines do make the image 'pop' out a bit more and serve as a contrast and explain the 'flatness' remarks.

All in all, the art for Vindibudd is capable, and doesn't feel awkward, and has its own unique look. The flatness and homogeniety does take away from it somewhat, but those are not very major factors.

The Writing:
The premise of Vindibudd that's it's satire and commentary, so it relies heavily on pop culture and zinging humour to make its points.

Unfortunately, maybe it's because I'm not American, but having read through the archives, I didn't 'get' most of the jokes. The majority simple flew past my head without my comphrehension. There were a handful of brilliant ones I did get, and I laughed very hard at those, but they were few and far between.

There are some interesting forays into continuous storylines as well. Unfortunately these forays are frequently interrupted with unrelated joke/commentary strips mid-storyline, so continuity is often broken and scattered.

The characters, like I have mentioned before, appear to be the literal manifestations of the qualities they stand for, like "Common Sense Girl", or "Easily Offended Man". It's an interesting concept, and a lot of the clever jokes work even better because of this, but it does also mean that they get very limited character growth because the characters are not just people, they're stereotypes on/with purpose.

I must confess I've read through the entire archive of Vindibudd, and I'm still left with a very hazy impression of the whole comic. Although nothing in the comic seems bad at all, nothing appears to particularly grab my attention either. I found it very hard to get into the comic, and it wasn't until the later chapters when I really started enjoying some of the strips. (Particularly the ones with Fluffles/Dagzar in them. I am very susceptible to cute Golden Retrievers. They rule!)

All in all, Vindibudd is a comic with a very interesting concept and the execution is not bad at all, but for some reason, it seems to suffer from a lack of focus in direction.

There's nothing pointedly wrong with the comic, and I think a number of you will be able to enjoy this comic without even noticing any of my nitpicks. In fact, some of the strips are incredibly clever and witty...

But there's just that something missing.

The Next Leg:

Proof that I'm also susceptible to ninja-cats.

Also, I'm planning a new feature to Finds that you might find interesting. More that later.

Edit: Hmm... rereading that review a few hours later, it seems to be more critical than I intended it to be. I should include a disclaimer somewhere that the events mentioned in the beginning of the post made me crabbier than usual, so keep that in mind as it reflects on the writing. Makes you wish Blogger has those little mood emoticons Livejournal has. -Ping

1 comment:

  1. Aggh, I love Vindibudd. :D It constantly surprises me, and makes me giggle. :D I LOVE YOU VINDI!!!!