Reaching for the Top Shelf (i)
Today I’ll kick off with a couple of webcomic reviews prompted by Rob’s recommendation of Top Shelf 2.0 last week. On my own blog I have tended to concentrate on the competitions over at Zuda Comics, but here I’ll be looking, not only at Top Shelf 2.0, but at the wider webcomic community to see if I can find anything that may be of interest to the more literate reader – that means no spandex and capes, unless I can’t help myself. I tend to follow my nose with this kind of thing and look for I name I recognise.
So the first name that pops out at me is that of Renzo Podesta whose name I do indeed recognise from one of the Zuda competitions a while back. That entry, Hopeless Youth, didn’t have an enormous amount to commend it, evidenced by its last place final ranking, but here on TS2.0 we find him teamed with a writer content to tell the very short and simple story of The Barber. I don’t know if this was completed before or after the Zuda entry but there is a very distinct difference in the standard of artwork alone, the TS2.0 being of a much higher quality. There isn’t a single panel that doesn’t look as it should yet each seems to drift betweens styles: dense solid black inks replaced by bright delicate line work, and then onto some cross-hatching: a pen, a brush, light loose scribble and hard determined splatters. Whether this style aids the story or detracts from it I’ll let you decide for yourselves. I find it interesting, but not wholly satisfactory. Screen 3 with no dialogue works a treat and the next screen too has much of interest, but in such a short piece, only six screens, I can’t see that inconsistency helping. The story by Elton Pruit is a piece of autobiography it seems. The emotion doesn’t quite reach me, but it did enjoy it for what it was and it neatly leads me to his other work on this site.
This Is Where I Am is another short piece of only eight pages, and perhaps native New Yorkers might ‘get’ to this quicker than I did, but I didn’t see ‘that’ coming at all – not even close. I’m happy to recommend this to you and won’t say much more about it story-wise so as not to spoil it for first time readers. In the detail I’m not a huge fan of the art, but the layouts are great and the story itself carries most of the weight. Having said that though, the art really comes into its own precisely when it is needed and anything other than the approach taken on screen five might have been in the worst possible taste. Artist Noel Tuazon hits just the right note at just the right moment and I have to say it’s very few comix that make the skin shiver across my back quite like this one does. I sincerely hope that there was very little autobiography here.
More reviews shortly, but if there’s anything you particularly want me to look at or maybe even write a review yourself just let me know right here.