Justine Tyme Chapter One: Dreamgirls and Lazer Cannons
by Jake Harold
I read Jake’s debut comic Tards (superheroing meets mental and physical disability) and just didn’t like it at all; childish, unfunny, deliberately gross and badly written. But I was pleased to see a while ago that Jake’s moved on – in fact, he now hates his debut as much as I did at the time. That’s sometimes the problem with getting your stuff out there so early on – maybe it’s just better to labour in isolation for a few years, getting all the dumb, stupid, immature stuff out of your system first.
Which brings us to Justine Tyme. His first work since Tards and as far as both Jake and I are concerned, his first real work period. I’d seen various parts online as a webcomic but hadn’t investigated further – putting it in the list of various webcomics to look back in on when there’s more to judge them by. Then I received the first print issue, which is far more likely to get me reading than any webcomic ever will.
The comic looks really good, with it’s slightly unusual size in landscape format that made it stand out amongst a pile of regular A5 small press offerings. It’s lovingly printed in full colour and in a style you may just about get away with calling cartoon animation and is all about 15 year old Justine Tyme:
One day you’re with your friends at school, going about your normal life, then the next you wake up in a strange forest being chased by dinosaurs. Oh and you have a robot arm for some reason. Isn’t that the lifestyle of every 15 year old girl? No? Justine didn‘t think so either, until one day that stuff I just mentioned happened to her. How did those things happen? What will happen now after those thing happened?? How will you find out what will happen and why what happened did happen??? I know the answers, and so wil you if you read the comic…
(Justine’s life part one – the normal bit. Before the swamp and the robot arm. From Jake Harold’s Justine Tyme.)
This first chapter’s rather well done, part flashback to 15 year old schoolgirl Justine, mostly race through the swamp trying not to be dino-lunch and showing us what the robo-arm can do. It was certainly intriguing enough for me to head over to Jake’s site to catch up with the rest of the story (at the time of writing he’s about halfway through chapter 2 where an older and wiser Justine has appeared in the forest, much to 15 year old Justine’s bemusement and our amusement). And anything that can convince me to read the strips online, one page at a time, can’t be that bad at all.
(And then Justine Tyme a month later – swamp forests, dinosaurs and robot arm blaster thing. She definitely prefers the first version of her life.)
It’s by no means perfect, but it’s such an improvement on Tards as to be almost the work of a completely different artist. The writing’s better, the dialogue’s better and the art is almost unrecognisable from the Jake Harold I’d seen before. This isn’t to say there’s not a long way to go for Jake, he’s still finding his way and there are moments in Justine Tyme where it just stalls slightly, with dialogue mistakes, pacing errors and problems with his storytelling. But these are minor things and there’s even a noticeable improvement between volume 1 and the first half of volume 2, which really does indicate that Justine Tyme is a very promising start to Jake Harold’s comic career.