Greetings, reader(s) and welcome back to Bedlam Reviews! This month we’re going to celebrate the “monsters” of webcomics. Be they social outcasts, unsung heroes, or simply unique, this month is all about those individuals who bring their own colorful – though sometimes dark – perspective to the world.
And as this month is about looking past first appearances, we’ll begin by revisiting…
Monsterkind, by Taylor C.
some a couple of you might remember, I recommended Monsterkind in one of my Fledgling Friday posts all the way back in October 2013. Pretty much everything I said then is still true. Only now the comic’s passed the 100 page mark, so we get to take a more in-depth (but still mostly spoiler free) look at the story…
Alright, alright so there aren’t any real spoilers yet. We’re still not that far into the story. Give it time. There’s no telling where the comic might end up going.
Wallace “Wally” Foster, a human social worker formerly from Fairway City’s District A. Although he’s never even met a monster in his whole life, the perpetually nervous Wally now finds himself having to live in the mostly monster-inhabited District C. He doesn’t take well to his new situation at first, but nevertheless approaches it with resigned acceptance, some high hopes… and a generous dose of naivete.
Kip Kaiser, a monster blogger and locally well known social figure. Despite his support of human-monster equality, he’s uneasy about the fact that a human has moved into the same apartment complex as him and his friends, perhaps due to an unrevealed traumatic even from his past. Young, politically driven, and inadvertently attractive (to several genders), Kip does not find it amusing when people call him a hipster.
Roy G. Biv, the tallest and most colorful of the cast. Roy’s political activism and socially outgoing personality make him a familiar face around town. Despite his tendency to start riots, Biv actually doesn’t like conflict and tries his best to help everyone get along… he just happens to get carried away sometimes.
Molly Monday, the female face of the cast. She’s friendly and artistic and has just as much fun as the guys. She’s more sensitive to people’s feelings than Kip and Biv and doesn’t hesitate to help them when they need it… whether that help means a pep talk or a bop on the head depends on the situation.
I really, really, really like the art. The linework is smooth and fluid, but still well defined. The character designs are diverse and creative and the characters have such delightfully expressive faces and bodies. The comic makes great use of creative paneling, splash backgrounds, and an entire rainbow of vivid colors (*cough-Biv-cough*). The art also has a fuzzy, cloth-like texture like the kind you get from the vellum side of good quality Bristol board. This serves the purpose of softening the artwork while at the same time making it feel more tactile, rich, and pleasing to the eye.
As I said in my earlier post, the choice to make some of the monster characters virtually indistinguishable from humans is actually very inspired – the implication that segregation is driven more by societal preconceptions than physical differences is one of the most profound themes I’ve ever read in a comic and it’s done so subtly that it manages to avoid the usual triteness of the “We’re really all the same” truism… well, most of the time.
Unfortunately, unlike the art, the writing does get a teensy bit heavy-handed when it comes to some of the dramatic dialogue. Thankfully, when the drama does appear, it’s mercifully quick, managing to convey the necessary gravitas and then gracefully allowing itself to be followed by tenderness or comedy, as required.
Aside from the occasional mood whiplash, the writing is great. Characters speak clearly, but distinctly, and – for the most part – naturally. What’s great about the comic is how much it manages to communicate simply through art and pacing. For example, aside from a single “sigh” and some sound effects, the last six pages of the prologue have absolutely no text in them. While this is technically a strength of the art, the reader understands the scenes because the earlier writing has set up the characters and context so well that we can follow the story even without the words.
- Charming, vibrantly colored art reminiscent of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends or Sesame Street and oh my god, I just realized Wally’s last name is actually Foster.
- Intriguing, uniquely designed characters.
- Themes of social activism and prejudice add a certain depth to the writing.
All in all, Monsterkind is fantastic series, full of greatly enjoyable characters, sensational artwork, and surprising profundity and I can think of no better way to start off another theme month.
Monsterkind is written by Taylor C. This comic, including all images used here, belongs to her. Updates are a tad irregular, but well worth the wait.
Next week – Shadoweyes