Interesting Ideas But Stilted Structure Sink Runner's Paradox
Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on January 7, 2008 - 21:13
So I got a few comics in the mail over the holidays. I have a PO Box address listed on the site you can send comics to for us to review. Although our primary focus is always going to be on digital media, well comics is comics, so I'm happy to take a look at whatever comes in over the transom. I can't promise a full-blown review of everything but I'll write something about whatever comes in.
So one of the things I got in was Runner's Paradox by Steve Peters. (Peters is decidedly not really webcomics at all, but he does have a website for his label Awakening Comics). Peters sent me both the comic book (a 28 page color floppy) and a soundtrack to the comic called Paradox.
My take - the CD grew on me after a listen. Peters voice is a little unexpressive, but worked well enough with the slightly trippy prog rock-lite (I'm not a music critic so I may be misusing my musical genre terms. Still that's what came to mind while listening it. "I'm Not Sorry" is one of the better tracks on the CD). I read Runner's Paradox first before listening to the CD but went back to it after putting it on - it's not a unified experience where you can really process both together but the music does reinforce the gist of what Peters is going for in the comic and Peters has included the lyrics of the songs in-between the panels of the comic book.
So the comic itself. Peters explains that much of Runner's Paradox was drawn for a 24 Hour Comic Day event and it reads like it was plotted during the same 24 hour period. Peters explains that this story is an autobiographical tale filtered through a character taken from his earlier comic Everwinds. What it reads as is a bunch of short anecdotes about a talking boy fox in the desert pining for a talking girl dog but instead of doing anything about this bit of unrequited relationship the talking boy fox talks to lizards, makes music, kills ghosts, argues with robots and both joins up with and gets booted off an alien spaceship crew. There's both too much in it (all of these different scenes with the fox don't feel like an organic whole or build to a satisfying climax) and too little (if the central thread of the tale is dealing with the relationship, or lack of one, between the fox and the dog, well there's ultimately not much there in the comic) to really work on the level this kind of introspective, emotion-laded tale needs to hit to really succeed.
The art is okay. The framing and perspective choices are a little flat though and the format of including three layers of lyrics in-between panels severely restricts the artistic choices of Peters in this regards.
I wanted to like this more. I thought combining a CD with a comic was a decent idea and as I said the CD grew on me. I just wish Peters had viewed his 24 Hour Comic Day effort as a first draft and then gone back and really pulled together a narrative that worked to build the emotional journey of the fox.
To end on a more positive note - Peters' does set up (although doesn't quite flesh out) an interesting "world" around this character and throws out a lot of potentially interesting characters. This isn't a bad comic; just not one that really worked for me like I wanted it to while reading it. (You can make up a bit of your own mind by checking out samples from it at Peters' ComicSpace page here.) And just to tie this back into webcomics -- this story could certainly work on the web where Peters could more easily present comics built around the songs without the constraints of length and the page format itself; not to mention taking the opportunity to continue the story.
Note: The creator provided a free copy to ComixTalk for review purposes.