Tuesday, September 02, 2008

36th Leg: Sam and Fuzzy


I couldn't find a link image from their link page, so I borrowed one from the archive page instead


Comic: Sam and Fuzzy
By: Sam Logan

Setting and Elements: Present-Day, Alternate reality 
Content Type: Humour, Adventure

Art Medium: Black and White, Line Art
Art Style: Stylised Cartoony

Is About: The adventures of the eponymous Sam, a "normal small-town guy" and his friend Fuzzy. Who is a bear... like... thing...
Frequency: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
Availability: Free

First Impressions and Presentation:
The page is very nicely done. It's very clean and functional, it really compliments the art well. 

And from what I can see the art is very cute indeed, black and white with clean lines, cartoony portions. I really have no idea what this comic is about with a title like "Sam and Fuzzy" so anything goes.

On a side note, I find the little details, such as graying out the ads on the side of the page to match the rest of it a very nice touch.

Getting good vibes so far, and special bonus points for the "Read from the beginning" link so handily displayed! *clickety click!*

I have to say I am impressed at the lengths this comic goes to make it friendly to new readers. There's an introduction and a recommended starting point, Plus a handy bookmark feature too boot. 

The Concept:
Sam and Fuzzy seems to be founded on the premise of epic, whacky adventure of a normal guy in really abnormal situations. And with a really abnormal companion (In this case, Fuzzy)

Jumping in from the storyline "Noosehead", it follows the exploits of "Crush" (Sam's nickname) who is a fugitive hiding from a bunch of very angry ninjas by being a roadie for the superlatively famous death metal band Noosehead. Of course jumping in at this point I got a bit disoriented, so it took me a while to figure out the concept.


The Art:
Sam (The artist, not to be confused with the character Sam) has a very consistent and distinctive cartoon style. A lot of his character designs are elegantly simple but expressive, although some of the simplicity goes a little too far that it is hard to tell what some of the characters are supposed to be at times. For example, I had no idea Fuzzy was a bear. I thought he was a robot for a good few chapters...

Similarly, I'm not a big fan of Sam's (the main character)'s rather clownish design once he ditched the "Crush" look. A bit too simplistic when you compare it against most of the others. Still, the characters are nothing to complain about, you can tell most of them apart easily, except for most of the ninjas, but then that's intentional.

The background art is in keeping with the character art... minimalistic yet suggestive and suitable. Logan keeps it devoid of superfluous detail, with just enough to let your imagination fill in the blanks. 

All in all the art is solid, once you get used to the style, which may be a bit strange to some. 


The Writing:

At first I felt very confused, probably due to too many characters being introduced at the same time. Granted, it was probably because I jumped in at the recommended storyline instead of starting at the beginning, but after the initial confusion things sorted themselves out and I started to follow the story. Plenty of helpful recaps are provided and while I have no idea how annoying they might be to someone who has read starting from page one, they work for the new reader if you're prepared to accept that a lot of these characters have bloody convoluted pasts.

Characterization of a lot of the secondary characters are excellent. Sam starts off a bit flat ad Fuzzy is annoying but after a while (especially in the recent story arc) Sam's character really starts to develop. Fuzzy is still annoying but you develop a tolerance to him after a while, which presume is the point.

The story plots start off relatively humourous (the lead singer of the death metal band is sick of depressing, angry music and wants to change his musical direction to folk songs, much to the horror of his recording company) and moves on to an epic, full-blown, convoluted conspiracy theory (the recording company is evil, meanwhile Sam is destined to be the ruler of an army of evil ninjas who all want to kill him). 

Surprisingly the story weaves together pretty well. Being the sharp-eyed martinet for gaping plot holes, and with a plot this complicated, I was surprised I didn't spot any that rang my warning bells yet. That's not to say that it's one of those comics that start out humourous and move on to be unbearably draggy and serious. In fact despite the increasing scale of the storyline, funny moments that had me barking in laughter were liberally sprinkled throughout the pages. (The name cards for the ninjas are my personal favourite)

Problems:
I'll be honest and admit I'm picking nits here. As I mentioned before, there are a little too many characters to wrap your head around at the beginning. Some people may have the patience to read through the first part until things start making sense. Others would just skip the whole thing.

The other thing is quite trivial but had a bit of an impact on my read. There are many guest comic periods throughout the run. Unfortunately most of them were just popped in mid-storyline with no option to skip them altogether. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind guest strips, most comics have them. Some of them might even be awesome. I just don't bloody like them in the middle of my first read of a comic, especially if they are in between pages of a gripping storyline. Pop them into their own section or gimme a link to skip them, please.

Overall:
All in all I enjoyed Sam and Fuzzy. It didn't quite blow my mind and keep me reading into the night like Dr. McNinja did, but it was relaxingly entertaining. It was a good read although I almost wish I hadn't started from "Noosehead" but from page one instead. It would have allowed me to escape this nagging feeling I was missing out on quite a bit of background during the whole time I was going through the archives. I might just add this to my read list and check back once in a while :)

The Next Leg:
From the lineup on the Links page, Dresden Codak looks interesting. It's an rather odd name, I dare say I should be able to tell you why it's called that by the time I complete the next leg of my journey.

5 comments:

  1. Yay, Ping! You're the best reviewer. I'm going to have to link this site, if you don't mind.

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  2. Dude, you HAVE to take the time to read Sam and Fuzzy from the start, from its gag a day origin to the current serial format. The nihilsm of Fuzzy will really start to make sense.

    WHY he is the way he is and what he really is however, is still part of the mystery. Even after 5 years, this comic still manages to surprise and make me go "WTF?" and then "Whoaaa".

    MY nitpick on Sam and Fuzzy is that it isnt updated often enough. You basically have to stop reading it for a month and then catch up to get an appreciation for the story arcs, characters and surprises. My favorite character (which made NO sense at first) was the demon-possessed refrigerator.

    Read from the start, before Noosehead - which is essentially act 3, and you will understand what it has to do with why theyre on the run.

    Well, the mice mafia (or were they gerbils?) with their secret weapon are still my favorite characters in all of webcomicdom. Its a pity they had to die.

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  3. What a thoughtful and comprehensive review!

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  4. Glad you liked it. I will have to go back and reread the thing from the start I think. Sometimes reading from the first page is still the best way...

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