By N Gingerboom
The very first print comic from N, produced whilst he’s still at University is a fantasy adventure series with lush, manga(ish) artwork and the promise of an interesting story for the future.
It’s a very short first issue though, with it’s 32 pages seeming much shorter down to N’s open, fast-paced storytelling. There are a fair few panels on each page, but in its pacing, it owes a lot to Manga, so each panel, each page rather flies past.
So in terms of story, there’s not that much more than is summarised on the back cover:
“Lord Khern, emissary of the capital city of Lyndfall, travels to the southern reaches of the continent to investigate a breach of airspace by the Federation. Exploring within the Gulch he finds a great disaster has takenn place leaving only one survivor; a human boy.”
Which brings up a problem of the idea of a self published saga like this – anyone with ambitions of telling a longer story finds it hard to deliver more than an issue every year. Jobs and real life take over the comic and it staggers out, too slowly for a reader to enjoy.
In many ways, I’d far rather these things are simply serialised as webcomics and then released either as collections or on a regular print schedule once the story is done. But I understand both the temptation and the necessity of getting your work out.
However, even though it’s a quick, slight read, there’s enough here to interest me, enough to make me wonder where it’s all going to go. The storytelling is fairly strong, although there is a sense of being dropped into the middle of the tale here – lots of questions about the boy Fay and what he’s doing in the gulch, about Lord Khern, who he represents, what the “Alliance” is – these are all understandably left open, important things that will be revealed as the series develops.
But other questions should possibly have been resolved in the issue itself – for example, what is a Tudor village doing at the bottom of the gulch, what happened to the occupants, and what the hell are those monsters that are skulking in the shadows? The manner in which this first episode ends leads me to believe we’ll not be revisiting the gulch. Of course, I may be wrong, it has been known before.
This is very much the setup issue, and N does a good job of introducing Khern and Fay, establishes their relationship towards the end and keeps everything moving along, but I really think slowing it down just a little, filling in a little more would have given the whole thing a better reading experience, especially as we’re going to have to wait quite a while for the second issue (that troublesome real life getting in the way thing).
One thing that needs pointing out is something I’ve seen a couple of times now with print versions of webcomics – it’s dark, very dark, and there’s just not enough contrast in the artwork to make out certain things going on.
Looking at N’s work online (and the examples here are all from the online version), it’s not really an art issue, more a printing thing. But it does affect the reading experience – in a comic where most of the action happens at the bottom of a gulch – the added darkness from poor printing really makes a difference.
Aside from those printing issues, Those Of No Class is a really impressively put together comic and the artwork is (without wishing to offend) very pretty, reminiscent of Colleen Doran’s A Distant Soil – and that’s high praise indeed. On top of that, there’s a pretty good storytelling sense, so I’m genuinely interested in seeing the next issue. Sure, there are problems with the pacing of the comic, and there are moments when you can see what N wants to accomplish and what gets on paper don’t quite match up. But as a first print work, it’s a genuinely impressive comic.
Her other strip “What Is Katy?” is well worth your time, and her speculative fiction work “Mrs McKenzie“, although in the very early stages, looks very interesting and promising indeed.