Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Revue July 10th: 164 Days

Ladies and Gentlemen...
Do you seek adventure?
With Magic and Science abound?
Then look no further!

164 Days is created by Kirsty Mordaunt and tells the story of Wil Andersen who is looking for his brother Jakob after he disappears late one evening. From there we meet Ysendra the Weather Witch, a bodyguard named Varik, and a young girl with no past named Sophia. They travel around on an airship and adventure ensues. It's a venerable start to a good ole fashioned jRPG.


Adventure, mystery, and science boys await.


I like how 164 Days reveals its fantasy world to us a piece at a time.

The story roots us first in a world that could be our own, but maybe set 50-60 years ago. Wil Andersen is looking for his brother Jakob who has been missing for a month. A young lady looking for an adventure offers to help him search for his brother, but as they have conversations it's revealed that she doesn't know much of the modern world. She's never been to a cafe, drank coffee, or even used a train.

We're introduced formally later on, her name is Ysendra. She's from a mountain village and she's a weather witch. From there we learn she can control the winds and pilot an airship using a staff. Further along we learn Jakob and his father build robots and study ancient artifacts. Ysendra reveals her other magical abilities through fights. Each page takes us a step further into this fantasy world. Never once did it feel like Kirsty was infodumping for the sake of getting the reader up to speed on her creation. The details are presented to flesh out the world and drive the story. As readers we're left to sort the details and accept them as apart of this world.

I like the characterization as well, because it's done through other character's points-of-view and visually through the artwork. When we first meet Wil, he tells us that his brother Jakob is a genius with a great deal of talent and many scientific degrees. Visually we get this when we visit Jakob's room (Ysendra wants to search for clues there as to where he could have gone). Jakob's room is a mess.

The room of a man with a busy mind.
There are books everywhere, loose papers with diagrams and notes all over. It's enough to sell me on the idea that he's got better things on his mind then keeping his room tidy. He's a man engaged in his research and compelled by his work. It never feels like the author is inflating this character's persona, but rather her character, Wil, is because he lives in Jakob's shadow and idolizes him, and through this, we get a bit of Wil's personality as well.

None of the characters in 164 Days comes off as "evil" in a traditional fantasy sense. Jakob and his father have their hidden agendas, and although Wil and Jakob are pitted against one another, they love each other as brothers. Jakob is willing to keep a life-threatening secret because he knows that if Wil ever learned about it, it would break him. Wil and Jakob's father comes off as the most antagonistic, but even he has his own agenda (as convoluted as it is).

Ysendra, despite acting as a foil for the reader, is the most mysterious. Through the four chapters we haven't learned anything about her past -- she doesn't like to talk about it. The current chapter seems to elude that we will finally learn something, but Kirsty has unfortunately put the comic on hiatus.

Artistically, the earlier pages of 164 Days seems fairly rough. The backgrounds are flat and very sketchy looking, but over time Kirsty's improved. For the comic so far, the art is consistent looking from first page to the present one.


If there's any negative quality, it's that things seem to move really slowly. A lot of that is due to the lengthy and witty banter between the characters. Kirsty seems to favor having the characters talk and throw barbs at one another, which is fun to read, but it means that every chapter is 60 pages and the plot moves along slowly. The comic's been going since 2011 and as we learn more of the world through this story it seems like it'll be a long time until it's concluded.

As a comic creator myself, as much as I like the presentation, this is the downside of webcomics. A manga author can produce 40 pages a month, but a webcomic might have 4-8 pages a month meaning it moves slower. The issue here is how long can Kirsty (or anyone really) with a long comic continue to produce content for it?

The characters are great looking, but the backgrounds could use a little work. Over the years they have gotten better. My one issue is in Chapter 2, there's no frame establishing where Wil's airship is. It's over another airship's wreckage that they're trying to search through, but we're never shown it. Instead we see a silhouette and fire.

Pull the camera back and up so we can see the wreckage too.

As the chapters progress we have gotten better backgrounds -- a little more detail and a sense of the grand scale of things, but there's still a vagueness to it all. It's just enough for a setting. As much as I like how the world is presented to us, at times I wish Kirsty would pull the camera back (and she has a few times) and show us more of it in frame.

Show us more of this!


If you like old school Final Fantasy with mages and airships, then definitely check out 164 Days. It's got fun characters and intrigue to keep you coming back. Also, if you want to know why it's called 164 Days, you'll just have to read the comic... it's worth it.

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