Saturday 20 June 2009

Ha, He Does Say 'Rack' A Lot

ATTENTION: Musings by Evan Diaz (reviewed here) is now Pajama Forest.

I’m sure you guys all know of The Rack. The webcomic set in the comic book store, Yavin IV? “That’s no moon, it’s a comic book store!” No? Well you’re clearly not a comic book junkie. I am no such thing either, so I don’t really get all the humour. You may shame me for not giving a flying figurine about D.C. or Marvel, but I know enough to know that Superman could kick the X-Men’s collective asses now that Professor X is gone. Anywho, to get back on t’Rack, The Rack recently created a spin-off webcomic about one of the characters, Lydia. Writer Kevin Church stays on to script things up, but Max Riffner now provides the art talent.

Lydia, which started on May 1st, follows the story of Lydia Park. Formerly the assistant manager of Yavin IV Comics, she now plunges haunch-deep into her new cube-jockey role as Associate Products Manager of Analytics (so sayeth the plaque) in some big corporate business thingy. So it’s kinda like Dilbert, but the characters have personalities. And it’s actually funny. There’s also some crossover with The Rack, to help the transition for the new comic. We hear mention of Lydia’s boyfriend, Billy, and we also see Abegail, both characters from said Rack. There’s also some reverse-crossover (what?) where Lydia reappears back in the The Rack. She’s a sassy lady who takes no shizzle (lip) from any hizzle (one).

Kevin Church’s writing style differs just enough from The Rack to make Lydia a different (i.e.: more bearable) and interesting read. She retains all of her character qualities, the aforementioned sass, as well as her often-biting sarcasm and sharp wit. I can’t write this without comparing Lydia to The Rack. The setting, obviously, is different. But office humour isn’t really much of a jump from the comic book store laugh-a-doodles (except now I get the punch-lines). Both are set in the work environment and Church maintains a good balance between situational and character driven storylines. He’s an imaginative man to be able to write so unambiguously about the same person and coax the funnies out as she makes this life change.
In terms of the art style changing, well, Riffner clearly has a different style to Benjamin Birdie. Birdie’s work starts off with very busy panels and with a fair bit of detail compared to Riffner. Recently, his work more of a simpler black and white style and has gotten less crowded. Riffner, who did some guest art for The Rack, uses his unique style for Lydia. Check out this sampler, son.
Riffner delivers his usual good job with the artwork. And this is where I have my only problem with the comic. His definitive, semi-minimalist, smooth, black and white style is almost exactly the same as in his other comic, Drunk Elephant (reviewed here). Personally, I was hoping for something else with Lydia, but he went with the status quo. I mean, there’s style and then there’s stale (that's a bit harsh, but I liked the phrase too much not to use it). Take Chris Jones’ (Snowflakes, Grumps) for example. He has a very distinct style, but I can’t say that all of his work is the same. Here, Lydia’s boss Ashley may as well be Kacy the bartender from Drunk Elephant. Riffner’s work is still top notch, don’t get me wrong, and he’s a fine artist (see his site here). I guess I’d just have liked to see him shake things up a little for the new comic. I’m glad that he doesn’t try to imitate The Rack though. That’s a big plus. The whole point is to have a fresh start with a new story and a clean look. If it had looked the same, I’d have been slightly upset. Spin-offs are meant to stand apart. Nobody wants another Joanie Loves Chachi on their hands.

I’m giving Lydia a 3.5 out of 5. It’s a well written, well drawn piece that makes the inter-comic transition quite smoothly. Church and Riffner have a great dynamic that makes Lydia a quality comic and a pleasure to read. Updates M/W/F so get a followin’, kids.
As an addendum, I’d like to thank everybody who checked out Star Trax. Hits are better than I expected. Seriously, you guys rock. Updates Monday and Thursday. (Pssst - the sketchblog updates today!)

Coyote Trax


Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting your own site on stumble to get hits!

Coyote Trax said...

FYI, I don't think I have a stumbleupon account. I just tried logging in and got nada. (I never remember signing up to these things).