Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Revue February 22nd: Oi! Tales of Bardic Fury


Heads Up Laddies! 

Here's A Performance You Won't Want To Miss!

How did they do it, I hear you gasp? Well gather round, and I'll tell you the secret....

The creation of Daniel De Sosa, OI! can be found here

So, how do you tell a powerful, well made historical story?
First, do amazing research. Know your craft. In this case, Bronze-Age Ireland, Age of Tara.
Then make it your own with wit, humor, amazing understanding of interpersonal relations. Mix in deep, realistic pathos.  Add in strong, realistic social dynamics, issues, and politics. Oh, and then throw a protagonist or two into the mix.
Then draw their story with clarity, charm, snarky wit and  stunning creativity to set the mood.

And viola, instant perfect historical comic!

This story centers around the lives of a small Bronze Age village on Ireland's northernmost tip, where the nights are long and the stories are longer. There's a new bard in town, but if he thinks it's going to be all feasting and bedding the local lovelies, he's in for a BIG surprise.

The Rating

A perfect performance!

The Raves

When I begin to tell you about Oi, it's hard to tell you what I love best. So let me begin with this: I'm half Irish by birth. I speak the Irish language and have been hearing the tales of Lugh, the Tuatha De Dannan, the Selkie, the Salmon of Wisdom and the Age of Tara since I was old enough to listen. I then graduated to reading them myself and telling them to my younger cousins. That should mean I love anything remotely historical or based in Irish mythos, right?
WRONG. In fact, I generally avoid historical stories in order to avert the need to cover my face with one hand and mutter everything from 'do you seriously think that's how it was pronounced?!' to 'Oh are you #@$#! KIDDING me?!' Generally, people writing 'historicals' get things wrong, and what they don't get wrong they do badly.
Now, that's not to say that De Sosa is a slave to historical accuracy. In fact, he's done a truly wonderful thing instead; he's subtly and deftly overlaid the culture of Erin Og with another. Guess which other culture awarded musicians the highest honors, treated them almost as gods and paid them handsomely for their services?
You got it! The world of ROCK AND ROLL!!!
The jokes are subtle, gracefully inserted, which is part of what makes them perfect. While still maintaining period dress, De Sosa has managed to give his characters the look of 60's, 70's and 80's stars. One character's tunic and hose are subtly altered to give a 60's peacing out look, and Bryan the Bard wears a torqe that looks like headphones if you squint. It's perfection. And nothing makes me laugh harder than a rock'n'roll joke I wasn't expecting thrown into the middle of a hurling game or an ancient tale. For me there was also a special treat in seeing so much Irish slang and language used so adeptly.
Oi's use of situational humor is also gorgeously well crafted. 

But gimmicks aside, this story has a wonderful grasp of interpersonal relations, human pathos and motivation. Several intense, emotionally real storylines interweave in these panels, and each one of them has a surprisingly poignant urgency. De Sosa has managed to create emotional and social issues that are perfectly true to their age and still relevant to us. The art catches your eye, but it's the story that keeps you coming back.

And speaking of the art! 

Oi's art is a gorgeously crafted stylistic treat, mixing well-drawn characters with a rich palette of azures interspersed with gorgeously illustrated legends and tales. There's just a hint of clumsiness to the anatomy in some areas and and the linework of occasional panels, but overall it's barely discernible, and gets less and less so the further into the comic you go. The artist's learning curve was a pleasure to see.
Redolent of Erin Og (old Ireland) and kin to the gorgeous art in the movies Song of The Sea and the Secret of Kells, the art in Oi is multileveled and graceful. There's a deft, witty deployment of color, background pattern and texture, as well as a wonderful use of true and faux knotwork (cough celtic knots and designs that kind of look like Celtic knots, sorry my inner professor got out there, don't worry he's back in his office now) to emphasize the comic's atmosphere. That sense of ruggedness is further accentuated by the choice of a heavy, gritty watercolor-paper look to backgrounds Truly lovely stuff!
As a last note, this story has some of the best use of exposition I've ever seen in a comic. It manages to convey entire convoluted legends without EVER making you feel like there's too much text on a page.

The Razzes

I have only three comments on work that needs doing:

 One, a little more focus on the drawing of anatomy and poses that involve foreshortening.

 Two,  the artist needs to slow down. By the end of the story I could tell which panels had been rushed. I know that's a harsh thing to say, I draw a comic myself and boy don't I know the time crunch. But it's hurting the work, making a great piece look clumsy in areas.

 Three, a little more site work might be nice when there's time; there are several buttons a little out of place. But all in all, it's nothing that's not easily fixed.

The Revue

A must read. To you, De Sosa, caed mil maith agat! Agus ERIN GO BRAGH!

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