Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saturday Review April 25: Hunter Black

Roll Up, Roll Up Folks!

           Ready For Some Action?

Then Be Sure To See The One, The ONLY

Another day, another dollar. The good, the bad, and....naaah, skip the good. This story is straight up the arcane, the bad and the ugly; deliciously bad and hilariously ugly.
There's no hero in this d'n'd based romp with a definite Clint Eastwood flavor, but the main character is Hunter Black, killer for hire and all around badass. With him is a cast of ner'-do-wells, thieves, snitches, mountebanks and mugs sure to make you grin.
This comic is based around some fairly dark themes; revenge, unlawful death, betrayal and cruelty. And yet you spend most of your time smirking, grinning, or outright laughing at the sheer black humor.
The creation of the working team comprising Justin Peniston, William Orr and Jacob  Bascle, Hunter Black can be found here.

The Rating

A cynical and sly romp through the world of cut-throats, roughs and toughs that's sure to make you smirk.

The Raves

First off, I have to tip my hat to this creative team's ability to take old, tired tropes and make them amusing again with a touch of creativity and a LOT of snarky humor. There's not a lot new in this storyline, but the way it's presented will regularly make you snicker and occasionally spit out your drink laughing. There are some interesting and even thought-provoking insights on trust, revenge, the concepts of morality, magic and betrayal, deftly deployed to give you a moment's thought without slowing the story down in the slightest.  Even better, the team has managed to make d'n'd jokes eminently accessible via snappy one liners, interesting character designs and clever plot (and gag) setup.

In a vectored grayscale occasionally punctuated by swatches of color, the art very well fits the philosophy of the main character and the writing. Expressions, in particular. are really well done, and the backgrounds are quite clever. If you're watching, you'll spot quite a few geeky easter eggs.
The storylines feel very much like
d'n'd campaigns in a good way, with definite goals, macguffins to be found, enemies to be scragged and so forth. That keeps the story jogging happily along, regularly spiced with the main character's need to get back at those who've hurt him and, occasionally, a stop to treat his medical feeding his magical sword the blood of a traitor. I did mention this was a bit dark, didn't I? Mwahaha.

The Razzes

So, I'm merrily reading along, I click on the page....and instead of going to the next strip, the image pops out on a separate URL page. EEEERRRrrrk go my mental gears. Please, creators, fix this. Most comics have we readers trained to click on the comic page and/or the nav button to go forward. My reading enjoyment regularly got held up as I fussed with the back button to get back to the Hunter Black website. It's a small issue, yes, but small issues, like flies, get ANNOYING.
Secondly, could I suggest slightly stronger contrasts in the art? In the image above showing the witch, things are nicely delineated and crystal clear. But in the strip you see here, the featured character's face is almost lost in the background. Often, the eye has to work quite hard to pick out and separate details, especially when the artist is portraying a white building under a daylight sky. In the latest comic, shown below, I spent a good few seconds squinting at the building before I could sort out its profile. A little outlining? Please? Take pity on your readers with less-than-archery-level eyesight?

My last suggestion concerning the art involves the speech bubbles, which are small. And by small I mean 'where's my reading glasses?' small. When the comic began, the font choices and sizes were beautifully legible, but as the art has improved the speech bubbles have gotten smaller and smaller, until I'm squinting at every page to read it. This is a story I'd really like to keep reading; have mercy?
A little more contrast value or use of outline in the line work and a little more readable font, and I'll be a happy reviewer.

The Revue

Grab your mountain dew, a bag of chips, and give this a read.

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