Surreal Murder Mysteries
Staff: Craig Daley
A lot of effort, a little payout
Both the story and the art are by Craig Daley on this one. Let’s start by saying that the cover did little to inspire me. It was a plain black background background with default red text in the “Chiller” font.
The art is the first thing you notice. It’s not exactly professional grade. It looks like someone got a hold of Adobe Illustrator and just went for broke with little training. Some things have strokes while other things don’t, there is a painfully armature gradient on a lot of things, and it seems like a lot of this was just traced. I think the color pallet that was used was limited to the default pallet that come with the program rather than going for something better done. The whole art style lends itself to a lack of emotion, repeated faces (I think the redhead has 1 facial expression the the entire first story), and a disjointed feel in relation to the tone of the story. There is also this very odd situation where some characters have lips and others seem to not.
It wasn’t until page 6 that I lost it though. Suddenly David Duchovny’s traced face appeared on the page. I thought to myself, “What is Mulder doing here and why isn't Scully with him?”. Then the very next panel his face gains these massive eyes (in comparison) and I couldn't help but imagine chibi version of Fox Mulder. I could seriously identify the pictures on Google image search that this guy traced.
The first story says it will change the way I shop forever. It gives us a nice little suggestive opening page and then we hop the train to exposition town. A lot of the dialogue is handled very clunky (“He reckons that within a couple year this place will be opening Sundays.”). We get off at plot point station and end up in the township of “muddled murder mystery plot”. It ends on a supposed cliffhanger but because I was so devoid of anything resembling emotional investment in the characters (Ok… aside from chibi David Duchovny, but that was out of morbid curiosity).
The second story is a historical horror story. It starts off with a rhyme. It wasn't particularly good, but at least it showed an understanding of how to do so. It was better than the car ride of exposition we got in the first story. It’s a telling of the story of spring heeled jack with a dual timelines twist.
The third story spends a lot of pages on a soccer story that really doesn't go anywhere. It was context for the rest of the story, but it could have been summed up in about a page. Instead we have to sit through eight pages of it.
The fourth and final story involves missing villagers, spies, and UFOs. I won’t harp on it too much as it shares a lot of the same issues as the last one has (heavy on exposition in place of dialogue, drawn out introduction, etc).
The typography shows a lack of understandings of the fundamentals. It seems like he just tried to mimic what he has seen in other comics. It’s basically a white square with a black stroke and a carrot facing the speaker. The font was pretty plain, but at least it was legible.
Ultimately this comic shows something that very few do- genuine effort. It pains me that Craig didn't get a good team together for this. Some of the stories have genuine potential and could be very interesting, but fall flat on execution. I've done the whole Illustrator thing myself and this guy must have put some serious time and effort into it. If his skill matched his dedication to getting this comic out he’d be Frank Quitely. Unfortunately, he squanders and sort of talent he may have by trying to conquer this himself with no help. I’ve worked in the game development business and there is a common misconception that developing an idea is the hardest thing to do. I’d say it’s about 20% of the process and it doesn't mean anything if it’s not executed properly. This comic has some decent (I won’t say great) ideas that would work in a TV show like Law & Order, but are so poorly executed it’s akin to lighting the comic pages on fire. From the tracing to the unbelievable amount of exposition crammed into every panel, this comic falls flatter than the 2D images that were traced for this comic.
Art: 1/10 (Traced images)
Lettering: 3/10 (At least you can read it)
Plot: 3/10 (Standard but exposition heavy)
Novelty: 4/10 (It's nothing really "new", just tropes rehashed.)
Review from: http://indycomicreview.wordpress.com/