The Pretentious History of Everything

What Did I Learn?

weekly webcomic reviews by Delos

(this is a repost.)

The Pretentious History of Everything by Otto Germain is amusing and entertaining. The art style is graphic greys, with clean lines and high contrast. The cartoon exaggeration really plays up the humor side and matches the tone well. I usually don’t discuss the art in any further detail but this art really struck me.

The art is pretty dazzling and pops right off the page. Upon looking it over, I realized that there was more I was expecting out of my own work. Of course, I have some definite time constraints and a pretty solid update schedule to keep, so I might not be able to do as much reworking as I’d sometimes like to. There are definitely some techniques to dig out and experiment with. I won’t discuss all the specific ones here – sometimes artists don’t like to share their art techniques that let them have that signature look.

I will talk about one technique, though. Those word boxes are pretty spiffy and they really impress me. The outside white boxes give it a nice frame that makes it stand out from the image. But then there’s a couple of pixels of blank space and a light grey background that hook the text right back into the image behind it. This allows for a pretty complex process of ‘taking in’ the comic.

At first, I find myself scanning the image and ducking around the text. Once I’ve gotten a good impression of what’s visually going on (this only takes a couple of seconds in real time,) I then go back and read the text. The text, in turn, gives extra meaning to the image and then I reexamine the image. After that, I find myself mentally wandering about the cool details in the background or about the consequences of the particular events. It’s sort of like experiencing the comic.

It’s a seamless transition from image to words – there’s no jarring lurches back and forth or disconnects between what has been shown and what has been said. Of course, this style of presentation is not suited for all comics but it is well suited for this pseduo-historical history of the world.

The writing is handled in an ironic tone by someone who is describing what happened in history. It’s almost as if the speaker is looking back and shaking his head the whole time. It definitely adds much more to the tone rather than have to explain it all with dialogue.

What did I learn?

Make your art as visually rich as the tone allows and make sure the text and presentation is in line with that same tone. Think about how your audience will experience your comic. Is it in line with what you want? There are quite a few things that are worth emulating in The Pretentious History of Everything.

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