Saturday, January 2, 2016

Saturday Revue January 2nd: Auster

Hurry Hurry Hurry!

Today, Today, See The Amazing 

A boy goes looking for who he is, friends help, things are revealed. The premise of Auster is as old as time, but it explores the very contemporary issue of what it is to be functional in society, and, on a deeper level, what it is to be human.
The story centers around the character of Dasch. He's your basic boy about town...except for the psychosis and intense social phobia that landed him in a mental institute of course. But hey, you can't have everything, right? And it only gets weirder from there.
Created by a mysterious figure by the code name Ex-Agent Ra, Auster can be found here.

The Rating

It's got a way to go, but the road sure won't be boring.

The Raves

'Auster' tackles some difficult issues of humanity, stability and social acceptability through their characters and their afflictions. Both protagonists and antagonists have superhuman abilities, but at a terrible price; psychologically, the carriers of these abilities are deranged. Some have fallen so far from the norm that violence really is all they understand, and some suffer crippling mental issues. Add that to the social stigma they suffer, and you've got material for a whole year on the shrink's couch. As a reader, I enjoy seeing powers having a cost and NOT being used as a cool prop or get-out-of-jail card as so often is the case. (speaking of get out of jail cards, as a side note, I applaud the creator's in your face stand against censorship. From page one, they're NOT HAVING IT. Way to go! )The creator has also gone in a novel direction with these abilities, preferring an almost Jungian  meta-spiritual explanation of such abilities as anomalies in the very fabric of the shared dream we call reality rather than the usual 'hey they mutated' approach for such characters. Quite intriguing! 
This world of difficult choices and unpleasant side effects is emphasized with a gritty monochromatic art style that tells you there will definitely be no puppies, kittens or rainbows. period. The noir theme comes into its own over the comic's lifetime, and I found the atmosphere pretty effective, with a good choice of pose and body language. 

The Razzes

Unfortunately, it's pretty hard to get into the deep and nuanced story when the first pages of the comic are difficult to follow. This issue is a threefold trouble: the pages are laid out oddly, uploaded too small to be easily readable, and are WAY too busy. Between odd layout, the creator's favoring of unexpected white space and backgrounds difficult to parse at a glance, the eye gets a overwhelmed. I spent at least half of the first chapter unsure what was going on, and it's an ongoing issue throughout the comic. The Western world reads left-right up-down, and comic artists have to remember this. Breaking the rule once in a while with, say, an odd layout or a fourth wall break, creates a dissonance that can shock and interest. Breaking it constantly just causes confusion.
My other main complaint was the language. Not the cursing, the cursing's just fine. I mean the LANGUAGE; spelling and grammar and all that jazz. Reading a comic with numerous spelling and grammar errors is a bit like getting a fly inside your braincase; it just keeps irritating. To be fair, the creator isn't a native English speaker and they've already got one up on me; I certainly couldn't write a comic in either of the other languages I speak. But while I respect their work on it, they most definitely need to use a spellcheck a bit more.Please. For the sake of the reader's sanity.

The Revue

Worth a look, but be ready to do some head scratching....

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