Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Revue February 16: Tea Dragon Society


Good Gentles And Redoubtable Rapscallions of the Public,
the Doors of the Strip Show Are Hereby Open Once More!
On With The Show!



Today, on stage we have the beloved, the delightful, the darling







The creation of Katie O'Neill, the Tea Dragon Society can be read at this link.


After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives -- and eventually her own.
The Rating

Put the kettle on to boil and curl up with me for a lovely read. You'll be so very glad you did.


The Raves

On Tea Dragons, I'll have to begin with the visual aspect. This work. This work is just plain BEAUTY.




Echoing the award-winning cartoon Hilda in style, Tea Dragons is a visual delight. Done in soft curves and pastel lines, its style is gentle and comforting, giving a soft 'it's going to be okay' message to your mind even when it showcases some tragedies.




It's the perfect support for this story. Oh this story. Oh, my friends, this story. To grossly oversimplify it, imagine if Pokemon was more about the work and love of being an animal caretaker than it was about Team Rocket and battles. Gentle, supportive and inclusive, Tea Dragons reminds us that there is more than one kind of strength. With compassionate determination, it shows us how to rear and care for the magical Tea Dragons, hybrid flora-fauna crosses who grow the finest tea leaves on their antlers. It goes into quite a lot of detail on a charming side page. And it follows through on its central tenant in every page. The valor of battle is a strength, true. But the patience and diligence needed to nurture life is also a strength.


The dedication it takes to perfect a craft is a strength. The ingenuity to find an answer to a problem that doesn't involve violence is a strength.




And the compassion to understand another is a strength.






The inclusion in this story is effortless, showing at least two LGBT characters in a wonderful committed relationship while keeping it kid friendly. The elder figures of Erik and Hesekiel remind me a lot of Lark and Rosethorn in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series, and I ate it up with a spoon.


And all I can say is THANK YOU for a story that shows the dedication and care it takes to be a craftsperson in a positive light. Thank you. So much. This is a story I want all young kids and tweens to see; it's the perfect thing to show them (and remind us adults) that all ways of being strong are needed. And sometimes, the great work of figuring out who you need to be in this life is all the adventure you need.





The Razzes




Does 'I want more, sniff, sniff, it's too short, whimper' count? ;) Probably not.

The Revue





Pour your tea. Curl up. Read. Let the story ease in around you. Steep your soul in the story today. It will ease the aches and soften the hard edges.
I can give no higher praise.



Thursday, September 5, 2019

Announcement Of Renovation!



Between life events and the work at hand, we've decided to take a few months off updating Parmeshen and its attached comic review blog, The Strip Show.

First, the important thing: When will we be back to regular updates?

February 2 of Roaring 2020!

Now, what will we be doing until then?

*Cleaning up and re-lettering old pages in order to make them more readable

*Improving both websites

*Building a buffer of new pages on Parmeshen

*Building a buffer of reviews on the Strip Show

*Finishing a couple big life events, including moving Olivia's grandma into a better long-term living situation and getting Nonir's business, Wandering Jotun Crafts, off the ground

In the meantime, we'll still be putting up lots of interesting little things we see on social media.

Hold your head high, and keep walking tall!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunday Revue June 9: Rocket Girl


Set Your Engines For


A teenage cop from a hightech future is sent back in time to 1986 New York City. Dayoung Johansson is investigating the Quintum Mechanics megacorporation for crimes against time. As she pieces together the clues, she discovers the “future” she calls home—an alternate reality version of 2014—shouldn’t exist at all!
Rocket Girl is the creation of  Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder. Copies are available at this link. 


The Rating

This sweet treat of a retro-noir NY ice cream cone is the perfect thing for a Saturday morning in your PJs.

The Raves


 


Born in a future where only teenagers are believed to be unbiased enough to be public servants and all adults work for the big Corporation, DaYoung has decided to make sure her world doesn't end up this way. She decides to go back in time and fix whatever rotted the Big Apple in the first place, way back in the 1980s. Cue shenanigans, wild rocket rides, retro jokes and a great time.
This wacky cast of characters is perfect for their setting.The Commissioner is a boy who looks like he stole his dad's trench coat. Annie and her crew from the lab where time travel and the Quintum Mechanic's great discoveries were made are the perfect geeks-with-a-grip gang, and they've got all the 80s style you could want. The bad guy is perfectly comic book, and DaYoung's troupe has the perfect resolve only available to teens. Add in a couple slightly tropey NPCs for comic relief, and you have a great cast.

Fast paced and full of energy, the writing forms a perfect symbiosis with the art. The artistic style complements the story, echoing the leather, color and lace of the best 80s comics.
With elements of justice and a clean expository style, the story gets you all the information you need without holding you up too long on details. You get the gist, but not the fine print. There's no time for that when there are villains to catch and rockets to ride!
The style is quick and direct, but ultimately satisfying. The energy is phenomenal.

The Razzes

I don't have much for you here. A little more depth would have been nice, but it might have been like that extra scoop of ice cream that makes the whole sundae tip over. Nope, I'll take it as is.

The Revue

A sweet retro roller coaster of a read. Grab ahold and hang on!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Backstage Pass April 2019: Suzana Harcum-White and Owen White of Tripping Over You





Today, Today Dear Readers, Backstage We Have For You
The Redoutable Suzana Harcum-White and Owen White!




Sometime ago I reviewed the lovely comic Tripping Over You, and today, I'll sit down with the creators to hear all about the work. Come on backstage!

Main Project:





Tripping Over You (www.trippingoveryou.com), The Death of Caleb Perkins (www.deathofcaleb.com)

Other Hobbies, Guilty Pleasures and Obsessions:

Video games, music, coding, drawing and writing outside of comics, cooking

So, tell me about your early experience. How did you fall in love with telling stories in pictures?

Suzana and I had feelings for each other a long time before we starting making the comic; we made countless characters who also had feelings for each other, and I feel like we were always hoping that the other person would take the hint about it! Milo and Liam were some of those characters we made for each other— I would draw her character, and she would draw mine, we'd send writing snippets back and forth, and we fell in love with the chance to gift each other little things from the heart that way. When we did eventually start dating and moved in together, we realized how much we missed that aspect of our relationship— we wanted to find a new hobby that we could enjoy together that also gave our characters a place to continue existing, that we could write and draw for each other through. Comics ended up being what we dove into full-time and eventually became something we could (very, very fortunately) build a career out of, but we really love the process in quite a few mediums.

What media and programs do you work in to produce your project?

We've switched full-time to Clip Studio Paint for our current chapter, and so far it's been an absolute pleasure to work with. Huge, huge relief— infinitely easier to create in. Prior to that we were using SAI and Photoshop, which we enjoyed until Clip blew everything out of the water.

Can you tell me about your typical day or strip-creation session? How does your work process flow from idea to finished page?

Ideas usually start with Suzana and I talking about things we'd love to include in the comic - sometimes out loud in conversation, sometimes as sketches in our sketchbooks. The overall plot points have already been mapped out in outline, but we'll occasionally discuss minor jokes or secondary plot ideas as we go. I'll sit down and write the entirety of a chapter at once, over the course of several days— first in script, then in thumbnails. I bring the thumbnails to Suzana, and she drafts sketched pages from the thumbnails - shifting things as necessary, re-ordering scenes, changing the visualization, etc. I then put word bubbles on so she knows where her art needs to move to for readability, and she then inks the sketch. I flat and do some shading, Suzana puts finishing touches on, and that's a typical day for us. Each page takes anywhere from 6-12 hours depending on a lot of factors.


What’s the most difficult part of your work?

It's very time consuming to finish, and takes up most of our free-time. Each page takes a long time, and each chapter then takes exponentially longer, so the story never quite moves as quickly as we'd like! The frustration of always wishing we could work faster/have infinite more time to work with is I'd say the most difficult part for us.





Can you tell me about your storytelling process? Do you prefer to script your stories, fly by the seat of your pants, or somewhere in between?

We prefer to script. Sometimes we'll improv-slide a joke or two in here or there, but planning stuff out is the most fun part of the process, so we do a lot of it just for fun! (You can always plan so much faster than you can make!)





How much of a buffer do you like to keep?

We like to keep way more of a buffer than we actually do lmao. If we don't have a buffer we stream the page live the day before it goes up, though, which is also really fun.


What’s a question you’d like to answer once and for all about your art and/or that question you’re sick of getting asked?

I have no idea! We don't mind questions at all, even repeat questions we just understand come from that person never having seen us answer it before. The internet is so cool for how easily you can find stuff on it, but it's also true that there's SO much stuff on it that it's just impossible for anyone to have read everything you've ever said or that someone has said about you, so I don't think there'll ever be a "once and for all" when you really enjoy interacting with others online— and we're totally cool with that! It's fun!


If you could send a note back to yourself when you began working on your skillset, what would you say?

Look into Clip Studio literally the second it's made, don't put off switching to it. Also don't lift anything heavy over your tablet.


I know it's the dread question, but how many of the issues you explore on family dynamics and acceptance were drawn from personal experience and/or what you watched friends go through? Any of it?

Oh, nearly all of it. Most of it is exaggerated for comedy, and very occasionally it's stuff that friends of ours have gone through, but for sure like 95% of it is anecdotal. None of the characters are meant to be a 1:1 for us, though, or for our family members, but it's pretty impossible to leave yourself entirely out of anything you make, and there are very many snippets of things that have been said to us (or at us) embedded in this particular story.


What message do you hope readers take away from your work?

Sometimes you're just gonna suck at something, whether it's a career, a hobby, or even just expressing yourself clearly to someone you love. It's okay, as long as it's not the end of you trying.


What keeps you devoted to telling the story you’re telling?

Pure, unadulterated self-indulgence. ♥ We are addicts.



Thanks ladies, and keep up the gorgeous work!




Saturday, April 20, 2019

Saturday Review April 20: Tripping Over You, Revised And Updated

Today

Fall Head Over Heels 



For 

Love isn't easy. Neither is college. It's hard to go through, and it's staggeringly hard to portray well. But the comic 'Tripping Over You' pulls it off with an A+ and with charm.
I have to admit, I'm biased. This is one of my favorite romance tales of all time. So apologies if I gush.
The creation of Suzana Harcum and Owen White, Tripping Over You can be found here.
The story centers around two young men as they navigate the complex steps of this dance we know as love. Milo Dunstan is a gorgeous, outgoing, witty and warmly outrageous class clown; impulsive is his middle name. The only thing he's ever been slow to act on is his love for Liam Shwartz, the quietly sardonic law student he's loved for years. And when he finally admits it, it involves alcohol, misunderstandings, and a black eye.
oooooops.....and it gets better from there.

The Rating

One of the best romance stories on the web. A must read.

The Raves

I still haven't pinned down how they do it, but this is the only 'school romance' tale I've ever read that works. And by works, I mean you're grinning as you read and archive bingeing so heavily that time loses all meaning.
I think one of the things that makes 'Tripping Over You' work so well is the tight, well-scripted writing style. A lot of the extraneous 'talking about our feelings' stuff that shows up in other school romances  is cut out here. There's no self-absorbed angstiness, though there's plenty of emotional conflict. There's no contrived struggle put in the way of the lovers to test them as you so often see in romance stories. Only their own perceptions, misunderstandings and emotions get in their way, but that's what makes this story all the more real, and all the more powerful.
 The social interactions are some of the most natural and funny I've ever read. 'Natural' is the keynote of the written dialogue as well; it reads so smoothly that you can hear it in your head. And every character is totally believable as a human being.

   Humor also plays a strong part in making this story strong.
The humor is wry, clever and 
at times verging on the sarcastic or the black,
but it's used to bring out the characters' 
humanity and breaks up scenes that could so easily
descend into painfully maudlin prose. In 'Tripping' 
humor leavens the emotional recipe and gives the reader
the breaks they need at exactly the right times. The dry wit of it also makes this one of the few romances that doesn't make you feel your IQ might be dropping as you read. It's nice to find a romance you don't start guiltily over when someone catches you reading it. Paired with wonderful writing and wit is lovely artwork that evolves along with the characters. There's a great sense of movement and pose in this piece, and a really wonderful use of lettering. And when the comic begins to use color, a whole new level of enjoyment comes in.
The great grasp of comic craft, reminiscent of  Craig Thomson in 


grasp and clarity and of Daniel Corsetto in style and skill, allows 'Tripping' to skillfully handle a wealth of really wrenching issues: self worth, social norms, sexisim, homophobia, family issues and expectations verses personal identity, to name a few. And because it's a tale told with intelligence, compassion and humor, the moments when it does deal with these subjects WORK. They come off in the creators' skillful hands as powerful rather than preachy. In fact, some of them are strong enough to leave you with tears shamelessly standing in your eyes and a lump in your throat. Under the humor, the sass and the fun, these characters are sincere: honest human beings going through real life events and overcoming real obstacles, some of the most challenging that a person can deal with. And as they deal with their problems, we, the readers, are helped to work through some of our own through them. Some of the scenes in this comic will move you, may even change you. And that's the highest praise I can give any piece of art.

The Razzes

I really made a blunder when I originally wrote this review. There are supplemental pages at the end of each chapter, detailing cute scenes which are supplemental but not integral to the plot. I'd assumed that TOY, like a few other comics, knocked these out quickly to keep a good buffer.
How wrong I was. These sweet little pages are actually the artwork of Owen. Knowing that I'm getting the stylistic work of two different artists in one chapter completely changed my outlook on the pieces!
This time it's the reviewer who's made the mistake, and not the comic. It all goes to show that really trying to get to know others and their lives is always worth the work.




The Revue

Among the best romances in the field. A definite must read.