Monday, December 08, 2008

Postcards #3: The Cattle Raid of Cooley

Comic: The Cattle Raid of Cooley
By: Patrick "Paddy" Brown

So I got this request to look at this comic from not an email, but one of the comments in my previous postcards.

If you like "story-oriented comics", you might consider checking out mine. "The Ulster Cycle" is a series of serials set in Iron Age Ireland and based on Irish legend. The first story, Ness, followed the daughter of the king of Ulster on a personal vengeance quest as war threatened her father's kingdom. The current one, "The Cattle Raid of Cooley", is set a couple of generations later and stars Ness's grandson, a teenage rookie border guard who has to face an invasion single-handed. It's at:

hope you enjoy.

I'm a mythology junkie, but for some reason or other I never gave much attention to Irish mythology. I think I've have heard vaguely of the Hound of Ulster, but never quite did I look further into the myth than that. Naturally, when I popped over and had a look and Paddy Brown's site I was quite delighted to see a comic about Irish mythology of all things!

I'm not sure if it's just my connection, but for some reason the page takes a-g-e-s to load on my compy. It could be the sad excuse of my ISP of course, but something on the page seems to wreak havoc on my connection speed every time (a total of three different attempts on different days) I visit the site, which is something I do not experience on other comic sites.

It is just me? No idea, but it makes reading the comic difficult. The first page is inaccessible, due to the multiple pages on one page and the slow load speed causing some of the images to not load at all. Pity, what I can see of them seems interesting.

Hm... checking on the file sizes of the individual pages, they seem to be around 340KB or so each. Strange they should be so large for art that 's pretty much 2 colours. I can see how sticking 6 of these in a single page cause one's connection to have a heart attack. Frankly, for this style of art I would have thought a PNG would do a better job as opposed to a JPEG. Really bloated JPEGs, at that.

Since I had to skip a few pages that refused to load, it's really hard to get into the story. One thing I do note is the style of dialogue is different. In many fantasy comics, you tend to get these medieval looking characters speaking in modern Americanized english, so it's a nice change to see the characters speaking in character, so to speak. (Did I confuse anyone with the last sentence?)

The art is very nice. I love the use of lines and the style, but the use of red line on white background bugs me. It's the same argument as the first postcard: poor contrast and an unnecessary strain on the eyes. (which is my polite way of saying: "Ooo nice art... but MY EYES!).

I quite understand the want to tint greyscale art with a slightly different colour to make it a little more interesting. After all, I sepia tone my comics as well. But even in the tinted art there's still... well black. or at least, very dark areas. In my opinion, the eye-strain can be greatly reduced and the red tint still retained with a simple hue adjustment and a decrease in the colour saturation:

Original - Panel from the comic

Edited - After 60 seconds of Photoshop work

All in all, I could like this comic. It certainly piqued my interest but the harrowing experience of trying to read through the snail-speed-loading archives resulted in me backing off. I would definitely recommend shrinking the image size bloat. It seems unfair that technical issues can torpedo the chances of a comic being read, but alas, if the effort of going through the archives is greater than what the protagonist doing in the comic... it does.


  1. I'm sorry you found the archives slow and difficult to read. I've put a link at the top of the archive pages to make it easier for you to read it a page at a time, and I've converted the early pages to gifs (the later pages already were) which are a bit smaller than pngs. I'm not changing the colour though - it's drawn in red ink, and that's how I want to present it.

  2. Hi Paddy,

    I'm glad some of the feedback help, and I certainly respect your wanting to stay red ink. We're all entitled to our preferences. I might stop by again and see how a second reading goes a few months down.