What Did I Learn?
weekly webcomic reviews by Delos
(this is a slightly edited repost.)
Dead Days was described by its creator, John Rios, in this way: “Dead Days began with no set cast of characters. It was supposed to be about the college experience in general with ambiguous characters representing the common college student. Over the years, our 2 heroes somehow clawed their way into becoming the main characters and took over the comic. I never named them because, what�s in a name really?” This is on the FAQ page as a response to a question about the names of the two main characters. The characters are still in college, but the humor is not all university stuff.
There’s plenty of funny material to be found, including storylines on shopping with your girlfriend and being a tortured artist. The storylines are short and you can easily catch up on them wherever you jump in. The artist has a good grasp on what funny is and what kind of funny he is aiming for here.
The art has linework with exaggerated forms, expressions and these angular sort of turns. There are these abrupt, sharp little jumps in spots even though the line is well rendered. You see it much more obviously in the first comics and it is much more refined in later episodes, of course. You can still see it in those square elbows and chunky fingers. I like it. Dead Days is all in black and white, with tones. There is something special about the contrast you find in pure b&w works – it just has a weight that color can’t match.
I also like the backgrounds. One of my favorites has just the light from a four panel window vaguely in the background. Other backgrounds consist of silhouettes of trees and the occasional door frame, among other things. These simple, suggestive backgrounds help you focus on the foreground. You get a solid sense of where things are taking place without all any distracting details.
The word balloons are very stylized, matching the art. The latest episodes have a super thick dark line around each balloon which is very rare, if not unique to Dead Days. It forces you to read the text first and then it releases you to look at the art. You’ve been warned, so expect it. Seriously, the art is very stylized and is used to good effect.
What did I learn?
Dead Days has main characters with no names and it works just fine. Make sure you know what kind of funny you want to use. Stylized art sells itself if you handle it right and you can make things work that you might not find immediately viable. Dead Days updates on Sundays, so stop by and check it out.
I’ve also expanded on this review a bit more on Comic Fencing, if you’d like a more typical review. There are also a couple of other perspectives from my illustrious fellow reviewers.