Comical Musings

Tag: elf

Review: Nicky510

by on Jan.25, 2010, under Review

“Attention Deficit Disorder” gets bandied about rather carelessly these days, with the original medical diagnosis being tossed out the window in favor of general distractability. This fails to take into account the rest of the disorder—the mood swings, the frustration of always losing your train of thought, the way it can take hours to write up an essay that should be dashed off in no time at all because something else happens to




You’re still here? Oh, shoot, the whole review thing. Anyway, attention span can be a crucial thing for cartoonists, especially if they’re trying to write up something with a cohesive plot (much less a coherent one). And that’s where Nicky510, a comic produced by a guy called “Crow,” runs into a bit of a snag.

In some ways, Nicky510 seems to be trying very hard to set itself up as a successor to Calvin & Hobbes:

Nicky510 briefly visits the idea of a Suzie Derkins analogue as well, although she hasn’t been seen since. Unlike Calvin, however, Nicky has an older brother named Lex, who generally serves as a nerdy, sour-pussed foil to Nicky’s wide-eyed antics. As a cranky and rule-bound nerd myself, I almost feel miffed.

The art follows a simple style that spares a little detail for foreground figures and usually leaves the background as an assumption—it would translate well to a newspaper format, although it does occasionally color in one detail or two to aid the punch line. Following again in Calvin & Hobbes‘s footsteps, kids are depicted as being about a foot and a half tall, although Nicky is a lot more smiley than Calvin tended to be.

I mentioned attention span as a potential hang-up for Nicky510, and I suppose I should get around to mentioning what I mean. Starting in October 2008, Crow began to post single-panel gag comics in the middle of the story. By July or so, he’d promoted the single-panel gags to a weekly feature . . . but they’re still plunked down in the middle of the story comics. I personally get a bit of a snicker from a lot of them (even if they show an odd squid fixation), but they’d probably be better served as a separate comic series in their own directory, rather than tossed pell-mell into the middle of Nicky’s storyline.

Those issues aside, Nicky510 is entertaining, and while it plays up the homage enough to border on discomfort, it’s still worth a good chuckle or two.

Comic Rating: 10 mg of Adderall per day.

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Review: Institute of Metaphysics

by on Nov.23, 2009, under Review

One of the troubles that writers often face is figuring out who, exactly, they want to be the protagonist. Most good writing will single out one or two characters to carry the plot to a proper resolution; the other characters, while still well-rounded, will play a more ancillary role. While complex tales with a handful of people all affecting each other’s actions is sometimes the mark of great literature, it can also be the mark of a colossal traffic jam if the author isn’t sufficiently careful.

One comic attempting to walk this tightrope is Institute of Metaphysics, by K. Lin. The setting and plot (the lives of supernatural students living at the premier U.S. college for supernatural students) lends itself well to an ensemble set-up, and Lin takes advantage of this. The current cast includes nine characters whose backstories are hinted at so far, with more and more joining the fray with each storyline. And since half of the characters on the cast page have yet to so much as show up . . . well, if all goes well, we’re looking at the potential for an ensemble epic; if not, we’re looking at the potential for a twenty-plot pile-up.

The character art is pleasing (though the constant apologies for no background grow rather tiring), and the writing is pretty tight, with the caveat that a lot of F-bombs get dropped and the fourth wall is pretty darn flimsy. Lin also has a tendency to follow various asides and other distractions, making an already convoluted bundle of plots just a little more perilous to navigate.

My comments here and the shortness of the review may make it sound like Institute of Metaphysics is a terrible comic, but that’s really not the case. (It’s more a side-effect of a weekend emergency that still has my blood boiling. My apologies.) If anything, it’s a pleasant comic that just needs to work out a few kinks and figure out its priorities.

Comic Rating: Three bishounen roommates.

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