Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday Revue March 11: Hominids

For A Swingin' Good Time, Look No Further Than

Imagine Avatar re-written in an intelligent, soul searching manner. Imagine Tarzan with a brain. That, dear readers, is Hominids. Created by Jordan Kotzebue, this is the adventure tale you always wanted and never got. All the adventure, all the beauty, all the raw living power of the jungle is here, but this time there's a heart and mind to match. This story will steal your heart and entrance your eyes. Prepare yourself for a trek into a tale.

The Rating

A True Tale Spinning Feat.

The Raves

This rave must begin with the art. Gods, the ART! Lush, rich, vibrant and viridian, the artwork of Hominids is stunning. The creator is truly a master of their craft, capturing body language, expression, lighting and atmosphere with a breathtakingly deft hand. The color of a flower, the light on a leaf, the gleam on a blade all draw the reader eyes-first into a living breathing ecosystem. You can almost smell the loam and leaves, breathe the humid fragrances of strange flowers and sweat and feel the grass between your toes. This art is exemplary.

But beautiful artwork is only the first strand of the web. Onto the storytelling, which is more than a match for the art!

Hominids is aptly named, for it is, in effect, a story about people: their loves, their hopes, their dreams, their motivations, and what circumstances and culture can make them into. Angel or monster, heathen or heretic or high priest, it has nothing to do with who you are and everything to do with who your culture THINKS you are. The best people can be twisted into beasts by a culture with a domineering mentality. And the angriest people can be eased by a culture that focuses on peace and cooperation. Hominids is a parable about interacting cultures on one level: what has in other places been called 'the dance of the givers and the takers' is portrayed here. Cultural interaction between cultures with entirely different priorities can very quickly get problematic.

On a creative level, you can't help but be impressed by the creative worldbuilding and scientific dedication that went into this work. For instance, the ecosystem is based on and in some cases drawn directly from anthropological research on what various branches of the human family tree might have been like, and exploring a time when we coexisted is FASCINATING. The subtle attention to plant and animal species appropriate to the setting really impressed me (being a horticulturist in my professional life, people who get plants right make me happy!) and there are many deft and subtle bits of ecological and evolutionary design: for instance, the tree dwellers are perfectly designed for their forest home. They even have dappled patterns on their skin that aids them in concealment. THAT impressed me. This creator did their homework!

 On another level, this is a story about the interaction between individuals and the moral code of their culture. In Hominids, people ask eternal questions: do I believe what I was taught? Was I brought up with the right beliefs? What if there's another way? As the characters ask themselves, we're all encouraged to ask these questions along with them, and we all grow stronger for it.

But wait, there are still more layers! There is a spicing of sci-fi hidden under the fantasy of this tale, a hint of an older and far more technological civilization hidden under the vines and creepers, metal under the jungle loam. Now what happened here, the reader must ask. What indeed...

But that hint will remain, for now, just a hint. This vibrant ecosystem of story works holistically: none of these elements jar or push out the others. It's part of what makes such a complex story work.
 Another key element is extremely strong writing. The dialogue is crisp, clean and believable, the story moves along at a perfect pace, and there's just the right amount of pleasant, sweet and amusing banter mixed in to keep the story upbeat in the face of deep, difficult and complex themes.

In a true master stroke, every single character is well-rounded, strong and believable in their motivations: serious homework having been done is evident again in the careful use of psychological motivators, but this story reads as a STORY, not as a text book, and that's what takes it from good to great. You can understand and sympathize with every single character, even the ones you despise. And that is true greatness in storytelling.

The Razzes

There's not a lot to be said against this comic: it's stunning. But a few little areas could use some polishing up.
First off, dearest creator, when you've made something as AMAZING as this it doesn't deserve the rookie mistake of missing a page favicon. I'd add one as soon as possible. As a reader I noticed this little detail when, flipping through the tabs on my taskbar, I couldn't find the one for Hominids at first. Because it had a blank favicon that looks like any other neglected waif of a page. Let's fix that!
Simply put this code into the header of your site's HTML: 

<head profile="">
<link rel="icon" 

and replace 'example' with the url where you store your image. Done and dusted. Your icon should be 160 by 160 and say something about your page....for Hominids, might I suggest a leaf?
The only other thing I might suggest is a little work on tangent lines and dialogue layout. Occasionally the reader's eye is confused about the direction of speech in a conversation. The creator has color coded the speech, which helps enormously, but careful attention to word bubble placement is still essential.
Always remember that English readers read up to down, left to right. Throw that off even a little and you have confused eyeballs.

The Revue

A wonderous and enchanting MUST READ. Fern Gulley for adults, Avatar for intellectuals. Enjoy!

No comments :

Post a Comment

Drop us a line!