Sunday, June 07, 2009

Postcards #9: Hero

Today's postcard is notable in that this is the first Postcard I've been asked to do not by the creator of a comic, but an ardent reader of it instead.


As you probably have guessed, I'm emailing about a webcomic: Hero, by Hwei Lin Lim. I know that you are extremely busy and probably have a request list the length of an astronomical unit, but on the off chance that you have a bit of time...

If you haven't read it yet, well, I can recommend it at least as a personal favorite -- the art is beautiful, the story dreamishly meandering but well-told and meaningful. There's about 200 pages in the archive, and the narration/dialogue is done through hovertext, which I think is very liberating for both the visual and textual aspects. And if you have read it before, then I would be very interested in what you have to say about it, again given that you have the time.

And uh, I got some metaphorical weird looks last time I made this clear, but just so you know, I'm not Hwei -- I'm just a really, really invested fan. If that's a problem, then just say so and I'll disappear like a well-bleached stain. Thanks for taking the time to read this email!


How am I to refuse such a charming request?

The first thing that will strike anyone who reads this comic is the total absence of the usual text and narration bubbles. Instead Hero truly transcends from "comic" to "webcomic" by making use of hover text for the narration.

This is not the first time I've seen anyone experiment with the web format by making the reader interact with the comic (in fact every page of Dr. McNinja has bonus jokes hidden in the image text) .But this is the first one I've seen that actually seen that makes the hover text the focus of the delivery and succeeds because of its simplicity. 

Others had the readers click to make a text bubbles or additional panels appear. Some played sound effects to go with the action scene when you clicked it... but here... just hover over the relevant panels to make the appropriate text appear.

So the reading of Hero makes one feel more like they are reading an interactive picture-book, and oddly enough it makes one slow down to appreciate the beautifully watercolour-isque art and the enthralling, stylish story more.

Hero has a narrative style that is immensely distinct and endearing. Everything is narrated from the point of view of the protagonist, and by extension, every thing is described as a comparison based on the protagonist experiences.

For example the protagonist is so impressed with the memory of a wolf which is devoted to its human companion that he describes always having someone who will keep you company and wait for you as "having a wolf"

The odd speech bubble does make an appearance, but they are always pictorial "speech" bubbles.

I especially like how Hwei manages to sneak in bits of her local influences into his work. Subtle inside jokes like this one resonate with me :) (Yes yes, I did chuckle when I identified the cendol, sate and ang ku kuei!)

The story flow is interesting, although sometimes it feels like it jumps from one point to another, leaving the reader slightly bewildered at points.

In one chapter the format suddenly changed without warning, leaving me anxious that Hwei was abandoning her trademark speech hover thing only to have be relieved when she went back to it a chapter later. I'm still not clear on why she changed the format, my guess is that she was experimenting... but it did disrupt my reading for a bit.

All in all, Hero is something very special and unique out of the comics I have read, and in terms of webcomic finds, this is a motherlode of a Find! Finding comics like this totally makes writing blog worthwhile. I think I need to send Aoede a thank you email for this.

Edit: I'd confused Hwei's gender (Heh due to me thinking Hwei was the surname and Lin Lim was the name, which is masculine. ) My bad, and fixed ;)

Postcards are reviews requested by (mostly) webcomic authors. They focus less on reviews and more on critical insight and unreserved, honest, feedback. You can request for a review by emailing Ping at webcomicfinds @ gmail . com and if it interests her, she'll take it up. But be warned, when Ping says honest feedback, she really means it.


  1. Dahhh! A review!

    :D:D orz incoherent babble

    Sorry, it's just awesome when other people articulate things. Er. >.>

    I think the format change was probably deliberate for that city, but it's nice to see that perhaps I'm not speaking purely out of jilted familiarity when I say I preferred the alt text.

    (P.S. It's possible that I've been laboring under false delusions for a while, and Hwei is actually a cross-dressing dude, but I always assumed he was a she. There may or may not be actual reason for me to believe this. I can't tell, since I don't pay attention.)

    Yay :D

  2. wow what a great find! awesome stuff! :) Ill totally check this out!
    I used to know a 'Hwei' years and years ago, who used to be part of the small press comic group Im apart of now. Their style was similar to the art shown here too, I wonder if its the same person? 0_0 They quit the group years ago, just because they moved away from England and lost contact!
    Id like to do stuff like this in webcomics sometime soon, first I just need to figure out the technical side of things =3

  3. I remember really wanting to like this comic some time ago. It was airy, moody, and experimental, but in the end I couldn't connect with the character or his world. It was just too hazy for me, I guess. At too text heavy. I found myself getting less and less interested, so I stopped reading. :(

  4. Different people different tastes. I showed the link to a few people, a lot of them couldn't get used to the hovertext either.

    But like I said once you do... can't let it go.