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Evan Dahm's Overside: Rice Boy and Order of Tales

Here's a fairly short review: Rice Boy is a good comic and you should read it.  I actually think the book version might be preferrable to the webcomic as it's a hefty story that lends itself to sitting down for a long stretch with it.

Rice Boy by Evan Dahn

I bought the print version of the completed Rice Boy back at last year's SPX and it was great to go back to this comic and read the whole story in one package. Evan Dahm has created a quirky, darker Dr. Seuss-like world for his story of Rice Boy, The One Electronic (T.O.E) and the quest to restore the Reign of the Mind to Overside and Underside, two sides to a disc-shaped world (whether that little concept was borrowed from Terry Pratchett or not, Dahm has put some interesting spins on it that I've never encountered in one of Pratchett's Discworld novels).  It's a fairly simple story of an unassuming innocent completing the great quest necessary save the world (although with a nice twist on that well-worn premise at the end). 

It's in the world building around that simple story that Dahm shines.  And it's the reason why I'm spotlighting a comic started back in 2006 and finished in 2008.  Dahm has a knack for creating visually interesting characters with distinct voices and mannerisms.  He has also put a lot into creating a huge backstory for the world of Overside with different ages of history, maps, and languages.  It's a world he decided to revisit after finishing Rice Boy, first in two short comics set in the same world and than in Order of Tales, a comic "set in the third century of the Red Age of Overside". 

Dahm is over 500 pages into Order of Tales and his progress as an artist is fully apparent. Whereas Rice Boy had more simplistic linework and flat coloring, Order of Tales features much more detailed, black and white artwork.  The main character, Koark, is again a bit of a naive, innocent character set by events on a great quest.  He is a much more fleshed out character than the more symbolic Rice Boy, however, and Dahm sets out a more complicated and rich mythology to drop him into as he quests for the lost story of the "Ascent of the Bone Ziggurat" and defeat the evil Rog.  The return of T.O.E. and Calabash is a welcome addition to the story but the new characters introduced work very well. The mysterious Bottle Woman and Æthirus are both great new characters (I am going to avoid giving away any spoilers) to the world of Overside.

Dahm recently commented that even though he isn't sure of the final page count that he planned to finish up Order of Tales this year.  Time to jump into the archives now or buy the first two volumes in print and follow the rest of it through 2010.