Saturday 18 April 2009

As Existential Quandaries Go...

The sky is grey here and has been for a while now. It makes for a nice backdrop against which to write my thesis. Now I’m not used to all this thinking, but recently I’ve found myself reading more “thought-oriented” webcomics than usual. And thus I’ve brought some of the newer and more interesting ones here. Now, I realise these won’t have as much of the funny as you may be used to, but I also realise that funny isn’t everything (“It’s not?” you say, “No, chief!” I reply with gusto). Let this forever be remembered as the time I wrote intelligent reviews.
So sit back and engage your brain-sense processors, chief! Cos for the next couple of weeks you’re in for deep-thought treatment from the latest thinky-dink comics the interweb has to offer!

First up is James Finlay’s “The Republic of Here”. Having started literally only in late February, this comic is still wet behind the ears but shows an awful lot of promise. As mainstream comics go, this will probably never be one of them, though the definition of “mainstream” is getting blurrier by the month in webcomic terms. Nay, I would probably classify this as an “indie” comic. Such a thing may spark debate, so here’s why I think (know) I’m right. First off, its premise is not humour, it is philosophy. Secondly, the art style isn’t comic-like. It’s a unique blend of doodling and fair-trade coffee. And, as existential quandaries go, this is one of the stranger ones. So I dub it an indie comic.

So what’s it all about, chief? Well, at its most basic level, it deals with meaningless existence, and how each character comes to term with it. The main character is a robot, Irving (or 111001, as his robot friends call him) who is capable of thinking outside of 1’s and 0’s and dreams of the number 2. Upon waking up, he finds himself on a new plain of existence, reality or thought. We know not what it is. But here Irving meets the two other main characters, Oswald and Adeline. Both have similar stories to Irving, having been in a place where their existence was unreasonable, and they woke up one to find themselves “here”. (That’s where the comic draws its name from, son!) The story is essentially Irving coming to terms with this new existence. What was once purpose without meaning is now meaning without purpose. I have high hopes for this plot, but it does run the risk of getting real old real fast. I can’t wait to see how it goes.

Art-house magic! Since this is a comic about mundane drudgery and the overcoming thereof, we are treated to shades of melancholic grey, “here” being a lighter shade than Irving’s previous existence. The characters themselves are drawn in a more doodle-like fashion to convey a better sense of non-conformity to the normity. Also their names are written on their shirts. I don’t know why that is, nor can I offer a reason. It makes my job easier though *smileyface*. Interestingly, each character has its own speech-bubble font. I like this aspect. It’s a nice touch. At times there’s a very “Matrix” type look to it, what with loads of quasi-meaningless numbers floating around that are liable to take an eye out if people aren’t careful.

Overall, The Republic of Here is a decent and insightful comic. It might even make you think about your own life! Or not! Frankly that’s up to you, chief. To sum up, it’s a nice allegory for mankind’s mundane existence and how so few of us dream of things outside it. And if worse comes to worse, it could easily transcend the genre into humour! All they need to do is open a bar called “Cheers” on this empty plain of existence and throw a pregnant sassy waitress into the mix! Ahem… But I digress. Read The Republic of Here! I give it 3 out of 5 paw-prints or ‘Trax’ or something. Do you see?

Peace and chicken grease.

Coyote Trax

1 comment:

Lifon said...

Wow. This is some deep stuff. This comic really made me think about life. Sorta. Kinda. Not really. But it was pretty darn interesting nontheless! And as always, great review Tracks. I love the new little rank thing ya got there, quite a nice addition.