What? Is it time for another review? And it’s for… My Friends in Distantland by Jen Linman! Well, I just came back from the bar and obviously forgot about it, so this has gotta be a…
It’s a good thing I’m a happy drunk, so I can be fair and balanced when reviewing this comic. Ha! Fooled you! I’m an awful drunk most of the time, and the only thing (or two) that’s saving My Friends in Distantland from being destroyed is that I really enjoyed its art. I’ll get this out of the way: I’ve seen millions of comics trying this style only to fail miserably. Portraying sweet monsters in a cute or not excessively threatening way often ends up in a bland mass of creatures with about three facial expressions: stupid, cretin and idiotic. Not to mention drawing bad monsters with scary traits (like pointed chins and tiny eyes), but without pushing it too far, ’cause kiddos may be reading or whatever: I can’t count how many grotesque or just plain ridiculous results I’ve seen. But not with this comic!
Jen is able to walk the fine line between cute and cool, strange and silly, slightly scary and fun. Not even once her characters look like bland imbeciles: watch them sigh or laugh or get into any strong emotion, and you will see how balanced, effective and never over-the-top their expressions are. And the bold, gorgeous colors! Truly well done.
Now, the story. So far, so okay. A vampire called Van is chased by a group of numbered guys (they literally call each other by numbers) and hides in the house of the protagonist of the story, a human girl named Cathryn. Since she’s been taught to hate vampires (see image above), we can imagine her reaction to the sight of Van, although we can’t see it, yet, as that’s as far as the comic goes at the time of this drunk writing. What more can I say? The story contains clear references to Alice in Wonderland, is supported by a frisky dialog, and has a potentially engaging basic story line and characters. But it suffers from the infamous germ that’s been infecting countless comics before (and it never seems to stop): it drags on infinitely. Take the beginning, as an example: the chase is way, way too long, without anything substantial happening. Several bits could have easily been combined into a single page or even just a couple of panels. Why, oh why, is this bad infection so spread across the web? I always wonder if authors who suffer from it are too enamored with their own art (or maybe long scenes?) or simply don’t have much of a story to tell. Which one will it be for this comic? That remains to be seen, but I do hope My Friends in the Distantland will promptly recover from it, because it’s a promising story.
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