Monday, December 04, 2017

Web Comics Gone Print

To Catch a Tooth (self-published, 2013, $2.99)
This 16-page minicomic was written, drawn, and published by Dylan Campbell, whom I met at Pulp Fiction in early December. He started making comics after taking a class several years ago and now publishes a Web comic, Scared by the Bell. This is his first mini.

Drawn in a slightly cartoony style that reminds me a little of Ariel Schrag by way of Mark Crilley, this brief comic tells the tale of a boy who conspires to rob the tooth fairy. it is a gently clever family comic that reads at the pace of a cartoon or TV sitcom. At the end, it's a story about love and looking out for the ones you love.

Campbell's artwork is friendly and his writing conversational, which works well for the story. The lettering is uneven, using a computer typeface and inexplicably switching from uppercase to lowercase on page 4. Lastly, Campbell's panel and page design offer room for improvement. The structure of the pages don't always serve the narrative, and the panel arrangement and composition occasionally feel arbitrary. A stronger sense of unity and direction will serve his work well. That said, this is a great first effort. All first minis should be this good, and the formal issues are small in light of the art and ideas.

Scared by the Bell (self-published, 2015, $4.99)
This self-published comic reprints material that appeared on Dylan Campbell's weekly Web comic. Subtitled "Middle school is full of monsters," the comic is a story about a human boy who transfers to a school where all the students are monsters: a young Frankenstein's monster, medusa, vampire, frog prince, Cthulhu-like creature, werewolf, and Grim Reaper.

The young Frankenstein's monster and vampire—Frank and Vlad—tell the class about their summer vacations, and the human Peter is bullied in the halls. This first issue largely establishes the environment and characters but doesn't progress the plot much.

Inspired by Bill Watterson and Carl Barks, Campbell's art and writing have improved a little since To Catch a Tooth above. While the comic is neither Monster High nor Afterlife with Archie, the idea behind the comic has a lot of potential. If you read Web comics, check it out!

One can tell this is a Web comic gone print. There is no issue number, which suggests a one shot rather than an ongoing series. And there's no editorial front or back matter, despite two blank and empty inside covers. Regardless, it's a nice introduction to his Web comic. It'd be worth considering a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign for another issue or a graphic novel as the Web comic continues.

Availability: You can buy both issues online.

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