Sunday, July 3, 2016

Independence Weekend Review #2: Greenshift

Shift Yourselves! It's Time For

The world isn't going to hell in a handbasket. It's arrived. Now, what are you going to do about it?
That's the question Greenshift, the creation of Andrew Rodriguez, poses . When you're handed a choice of evils, what do you do?
You become something of a devil yourself.

Buckle in and hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

The Rating

Sassy, stroppy and smart. Okay, you got my attention.

The Raves

The feel of 'Greenshift' can best be explained like this: remember Hey Arnold? 
Okay, great. Now imagine that something very, very, VERY nasty happened to Arnold's city. Wait a hundred years, and what you might get is Green Shift.

Sure it's a mess, but it's home!
The story revolves around Max, a scrounger who lives on his wits and thinks on his feet. Max is all show, and so is Greenshift. This is the quintessential 'show, don't tell' story. We get no boring backstories, no lengthy expositions. Instead we get a world that speaks for itself and a character who we don't need a backstory for. Every action Max makes expands and enhances his personality, and every detail shown fleshes out the world around him. It's a masterfully realized tale, without an inch of wasted page space.
That isn't to say there isn't room in Greenshift for fun. It's the sassy humor that made me think of this as an adult and apocalyptic 'Hey Arnold'. The snarkiness is the perfect response to the heavy handed authoritarian forces who control Max's world, and a nice showcase of humanity coping even in the most dire of circumstances.
It's easy to despair in Dystopia. When your choices are what will kill you outside the wall (on the left) and what will crush you inside the wall (on the right) it'd be tempting to just lie down and give up.

but Rodriguez's creation is diametrically opposed to despair. It's a scrappy, feverishly energetic world full of characters who WANT TO LIVE, whatever that takes. No matter what the world throws at them, Max and his friends are not giving up and not backing down. They trick, they taunt, they write on the walls and they keep bouncing back every day. They dig through trash to find things to sell and sing on street corners. They flip the bird to the authorities and they push the envelope. And they keep trying to find something better. No matter what the world thinks, they know they're alive, and they're fighting to be free.

The color pallette is a perfect choice for the world portrayed, its hues at once intense and slightly skewed. The facial expressions and fluid body language of the main characters are delightful. Those eyebrows! And the backgrounds are wonderfully detailed, fully realized and organic, sometimes pretty intensely. There's a tactile sense to the drawing style of Greenshift, in the most disturbing of ways: seriously, you can almost smell the trash and the exhaust. Some interesting experiments were done with photomanipulation, and it was done well enough that I had to look twice to realize what media was employed. That's harder than it looks; I was impressed.
 And as a last note, the easter eggs all through the scenes are truly snicker worthy.

The Razzes

One thing I'd like to see worked on: while the body language of the main characters is well realized, a lot of background characters end up with stiff cylindrical torsos and rather wooden poses that detract from the appeal of large scenes. Often the faces will be perfectly rendered, but the body will have a rigidness that the clothing doesn't hide. Every character needs to be fully realized, or the discrepancy shows.

The Revue

Carry on my wayward son, I can't wait to see where this is going next.

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