Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saturday Revue February 7th: Consolers

Consolers: the Gaming Buff's Comic

Ladies and gentlemen, new to the stage, a budding talent!

Last week set the bar rather high with two truly stupendous acts, but here at the Strip Show, every talent gets their time in the spotlight. So without further ado, I present to you, 


Are you a true gamer? Not just a player but one who follows every release with avid eyes and knows all the dirty little corporate secrets, the feuds, infighting and industry arguments that make Game of Thrones look tame? Then you might want to take a look at Consolers.

In this comic, the greats of videogame creation are each represented as young avatars, with all their corporate intrigues and infight competition portrayed as highschool-esque shenanigans. Here you can see Nintendo, portrayed as a cheerful tomboy.

The creation of Silke "Zanreo" Erland, Consolers can be found here.
There's a certain charm to this idea, and the style is somewhat of a cross between Manga and political cartoons, amusing if you know games. It's quite a catchy concept if you need to get a gaming gentile like me interested in a very industry specific subject. The strip shows a lot of promise, if it can overcome several rather off-putting writing flaws.

The Rating

Consolers racks up 4 points out of 10. It's got good points, and room for improvement.

The Raves

I love the idea of taking the strange, technical and overly complicated world of game design, the game industry in general in fact, and re-imagining it in the form of interpersonal interactions. If Consolers had gone just a little further in that direction, it would have been a really great comic.
The style is a nice minimalist one, and with a little practice it'll be charming. As a budding artist, Zanero is on the right track. And her imaging of each game company is amusing in its own right; Nintendo as a cheerful, wisecracking tomboy who dabbles in everything, Sony as a  beatnik slacker, and Microsoft as an uptight know-it-all who talks a game much bigger than he plays. That aspect made me grin.

The Razzes

Unfortunately, Consolers seems to expect a lot from its audience in the way of prior knowledge of the intricacies of the gaming world. It does supplement this with author notes quite well, but if I have to read the author notes of every page in order to get the jokes, I feel the author hasn't managed to do their job.
But what's that I hear you say? You'd get the jokes if you were a gamer? Ah, but my friends, this isn't about the subject matter, it's about the delivery. I repeat, this isn't about the media involved. I'm not an expert in Lebanese  politics, but many of their cartoonists can make me smirk at the ridiculous situation politics happening in Lebanon with a few well placed images and words. I know little about the Higgs-Bosun particle, but the redoubtable XKCD strip can still make me laugh about it. If this comic is to gain a wider audience, it needs to follow in the footsteps of comics such as XKCD and Nasereden Hodja, and make these inside jokes more accessible to a wider audience. This may sound lazy, but as a reader, I really don't want to have to read up on your subject to get the jokes. If an occasional comic makes me say 'huh, I should google that' all well and good, you've challenged me and made me think. But I shouldn't as a reader spend the whole time with a sense of slightly annoyed bafflement.
If the caricatures become more concrete and less like vehicles for the joke, I'll be happier. Conversely, if this comic picks up the cleaner, sharper style of a short-panel political cartoon, it'll be great. As it stands, it's got some work to do.
There's also some work to be done on the art. There are moments where it shines, and its cute, slightly cynical wit makes you smile, enhanced by the minimalist anime style. 

But sometimes it misses the mark and simply comes off as sloppy. Some serious study of a site like Posemaniacs and a book on drawing anatomy (in anime style or otherwise) would be really helpful here. The facial expressions are quite nice, but the bodies are blocky, somewhat out of proportion, and drawn in very stiff poses. Basically, the art needs work.

Don't get me wrong, though. The style the comic reaches for is a good one, and hints of that are beginning to show. With a bit more practice, Consolers may just grasp the style it reaches for. But for now, it's not a bad beginning.

The Revue

If you're a gamer, you'll get a few laughs. The rest of us will probably be scratching our heads. But I look forward to seeing what this starting point becomes if the creator keeps at it and keeps improving their style, working on their anatomy and trying to get all their readers in on the joke.

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