Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday Revue August 15: True Colors

Curtain Up! 

Time To Go Back To School With 'True Colors!'

Remember all those crazy days in the dorms? 3am pizza, weird RA's, weirder friends? If you don't remember, maybe you overdid the beer?Yeeeah....
College is a transformative time for most people, and the comic 'True Colors' explores all the excitement, irritation, and new opportunities that college life provides. The creation of Tripp Gustin, True Colors can be found here. Here you'll meet a zany crew;
Iro, proudly gender fluid star of the show, 
Kit, his ass-kicking best friend who's been known to kick down doors,
 Ben, the most dedicated nerd you've seen outside the engineering hall,
 and Sonia, sweet and gentle as a poem. Together, these four friends are setting out into the life on campus, and we readers are invited to come along.

The Rating

A story very much like the campus breakfast food; sweet, comforting, but without a lot of substance.

The Raves

'True Colors' is a nice read for those days when you're feeling nostalgic. The art is crisp, clean and done in a vibrant palette, and a lot of work has been done to keep scenes dynamic, with interesting cinematic angles and some nice tricks in the emotional intensifier department borrowed from the Asian comic world. Since the main character is half-Japanese, this is particularly apropos, keeping the character's background and all the social and emotional ramifications of it in mind without beating you over the head with it.
Color has also been used to great effect, from the palette for each character giving a visual cue about their personalities to the use of color-coding in word balloons, which makes for really easy reading, especially in any group conversation. It's an innovation that I really enjoyed. 

The characters are each amusing in their own way, and for the brief scope of the comic's run ( under 40 comics as of yet) their backgrounds and personalities have been nicely introduced and explored. I particularly enjoy the creator's flare for introducing each of their characters in amusing ways...amusing for us that is. I imagine the situation in the comic below wouldn't be too amusing to live through....

      All the fun and ALL the awkwardness
 of the first few days of college are explored in 'True Colors', with plenty of chuckle-worthy or sympathetic wince-inducing moments that should make readers snicker.
The most powerful part of the story is, in fact, the interlude between chapters one and two, which brought prickles of tears to my eyes. 

The Razzes

But for all my general enjoyment, I found myself disinterested as I read through 'True Colors' archives. It took me a little time to articulate my sense of boredom. At first I thought the art might be too static, but on closer inspection, I realized that the art is quite dynamic, in fact very well done. 
The problem, I realized, is the story. There's just nothing in it that absorbed me.
Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad story. It's a sweet story. But it's got very little substance. Many readers have already lived through the awkward 'getting to know you' moments of college orientation days....we don't particularly need to read about it, and watching somebody else go through it didn't give any emotional satisfaction. I wish the rest of the story had the emotional catharsis of the interlude between chapters one and two, which had some extremely powerful scenes. But unfortunately, the interlude went too far in the other direction and came off as a heavy handed morality lesson, which diminished the enjoyment.
 There were some interesting explorations of social and societal norms and their entrapping nature, but it was done in such an off-hand manner that it became just another part of a pretty boring orientation day spent with a few nervous Freshman. Something important needs to happen to make readers CARE. Otherwise, it's a college experience I as a reader can skip going through again.

The Revue

I'd recommend 'True Colors' as a perfect comic for introducing 11-15 year olds to both college and web comics, with its messages about individual acceptance, diversity, and not eating in the campus cafeteria. But if you've lived through the experience before, there's nothing much here you haven't seen before.

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