Continuing with looking at some lesser recognized webcomics, today seemed like a good day to talk about Errant Story.
But wait. Wait just one moment, you say. Errant Story is pretty well known! It's by Michael Poe, who did Exploitation Now. It's been around for almost four years now. It has two print collections out!
Well, ok. Fair enough.
But while I know of plenty of people who read the comic... it isn't something I see discussed all that often.
So here I am, discussing it. Ta-da!
Errant Story, like Girly, is a comic that I discovered due to reading a previous work of the author. And as such, as a comic that I can remember starting, I am sometimes startled by the fact that it is now several years later, and chock-full of plot, and happenings, and all manner of assorted hijinks.
Now, there are good and bad things about Errant Story. It is a well-crafted story set in a complicated fantasy world, and generally follows more than one plot arc at a time. We have elves, we have assassins, we have time monks.
It is fortunate that the strip has it's own Wiki, because otherwise I wouldn't have the slightest idea what was going on. I mean, a few things are obvious - the little girl and the cat are annoying. The dude in black is a bad-ass. The elves are mysterious. But beyond that? Well, it's a lot about mysterious conspiracies manipulating things behind the scenes, and various factions plotting and planning against each other.
Being confusing is downright mandatory.
But, you know, being lost doesn't bother me all that much. Because while the story is a good one (and don't get me wrong, it is), it is the more personal aspects that are best put together. The characters. Their interaction. Their development. (Even of the scary little devil girls.)
And, beyond that, the sense of humor in the story. I know a lot of people were put off by Poe switching from the sensationalist fanservice of Exploitation Now to the detailed drama of Errant Story - but it is not, by any means, a strip lacking in a sense of humor. I don't think Poe could write something totally serious if his life depended on it. The man has a gift, and it makes itself known more often than not.
Today's strip is a good one.
... I'll have you know I just spent quite a while writing it about it, before realizing that the character at hand in the strip wasn't who I thought it was.
So I'll save myself the embarassment of giving you my most assuredly brilliant thoughts on a plot development that isn't actually there.
Instead, I'll emphasize the point I would be getting at anyway - this strip, like much of Errant Story, is filled with layers. Yes, layers, like unto an onion.
As mentioned before, the comic is a complex one. The day to day strips aren't much different - namely due to the fact that they are usually hitting up both the story and the funny at the same time.
Take a look at today's strip. We have serious, intense moments for the first three panels, and then a character hilariously starting to plummet to his death. We also have the unexpected reunion of two of the more interesting characters in the strip - and we get to see that, for all the harshness of her entrance, Sarine might care about Jon more than she wants to let on.
That is a good deal to pack into a strip with barely more than a handful of words. Now, admittedly that is also a rarity - one of Errant Story's biggest weaknesses is the tendency to use quite a bit of text.
But I couldn't really claim the high ground to complain about that too much, now can I?
In any case, the intricacies of the story are far too complex for me to do them justice here (read: I've get myself lost in about five minutes.) But for all the uproar raised when Poe left Exploitation Now behind to start this, I think it is the superior strip by far. It suffers from the common ailments of any heavily plot-driven story: sometimes it engages in over-exposition, and sometimes the story takes a while to get off the ground.
But it is well done, with incredible art, a clean layout, and engaging characters. It has a guide to help the readers that do get lost. It has an archive page that... ok, the archive page isn't actually all that functional. Ah well, one mark against it - don't let that deter you from checking it out if you haven't already.
We aren't in the business of giving out biscuits around these here parts - but today's strip made me simultaneously laugh out loud, shout with glee, and shudder in anticipation. That sure as hell has to earn something, so as soon as I can figure out what we do give out around here, Mr. Poe has damn well earned one.