Review: Ren Rats


I imagine that writing about the Olympics would be a shameless way to drive some traffic to the site, so here’s my best attempt at forced tangential commentary:

As Bob Costas reminded us Americans again and again* over the last few weeks, a lot of historical things happened during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. And my family is very much down with history: my parents have both participated in the local historical play; my brother-in-law has done World War II re-enactments on the beach at Conneaut, Ohio; and I’ve personally gotten involved with BYU’s medieval club, Quill & the Sword. This club has had to deal with a lot of flack from the campus student association—not all of it unearned, since the medieval club seems to attract people who act before they think.

One can ask for no more cheerful celebration of everything that is wrong with medieval and Renaissance clubs than Ren Rats, by a fellow who calls himself Piz.** You have the people who meticulously remember every detail of trivia, the ones who forget what’s important, and the ones who go around offending the “mundanes” as a means of entertainment. There’s the tendency to go for shock humor as a way of getting announcements out. To be honest, the members of the KUMRC are a lot like the main cast of Weregeek: reacting to people’s rejection of them by acting all the more repugnant.***

The plot of Ren Rats is, according to the “about the comic” page, taken from real life. Except, of course, where it isn’t. This means that, in essence, Ren Rats is one elaborate inside joke. Unfortunately, inside jokes don’t translate very well to a public medium, as anyone with a good set of kidneys in their head can tell you. This, combined with the occasional hole in the fourth wall, makes the comedy feel just a little forced. But then, there’s always the fussy nerd to take down a few pegs if the jokes start to feel stale.

The art looks to be just a step above MSPaint, with rather little progress or improvement from day one to nearly three years later. Characters’ cheekbones stick out like they have impacted teeth, and their expressions seem to default to a heavy-lidded smirk. The “scroll” effect on the comics is clever, but it’s added to each comic individually—and then the rest of the area is made transparent to fit with the page layout, leaving artifacts along the edges of the curves. You can see the same thing on the navigation arrows.

The strange thing is that, in doing this, Ren Rats manages to capture the essence of many a medieval reenactor: a bit on the awkward side and in need of some cleaning up, but essentially well-meaning.

Comic Rating: One last rehearsal at 2 A.M.

* and again and again and again . . .
** Ha! I made it tangentially relate after all!
*** This is not listed among the ways to make friends with people, and for good reason. Those “be true to yourself” teen movies generally forget to add, “but still be polite to those around you.”

, , , , , , , , ,

  1. No comments yet.
(will not be published)