What Did I Learn?
weekly webcomic reviews by Delos
(this is a slightly updated repost)
This review is on Zip and Li’l Bit by Trade Loeffler. It’s the little things that sometimes make a big difference. If you look closely, you’ll see details like basement windows meticulously drawn in by proper perspective, books tipped upside down and different sorts of lampshades. All these sort of thing combine to really give you a sense of place, which it turns out is a house with active kids.
The story arc covered in this review is ‘the Upside Down Me‘ and I won’t spoil it here. Don’t worry. However, it was not until nearly the end that I realized what theme was repeating itself and how the title perfectly fits. It’s that theme that makes you relish in that childlike sense of discovery you get as you follow the tale. One nice thing about longer works is how you can stick to a few important bits and how that helps tie things together.
Something else that brings this comic together is the very regular layouts. They are not all the same, of course, but the ones that are different are different for very specific storytelling purposes. For example, a panel showing Zip floating in the night sky has no solid outline, giving it a real sense of openness. You’re probably saying to me that this non-outline is just an old trick that folks like Scott McCloud and Eisner have talked about. Yes, it’s obvious once it has been pointed out. Above and beyond that, it is very very powerful because the rest of the comic has those strong outlines. Proof that you can lead audience expectation with just a line, as Alex Toth and other veterans will tell us.
I also really enjoy how Li’l Bit doesn’t speak. Those moments where she expresses herself despite not talking are endearing and nicely done. It’s quite a thing to be able to pull it off well. It adds an awful lot of charm for such a small detail. That’s why I say it is the little things that can make all the difference.
What did I learn?
Details, details, details.Themes are very important to a longer work to hold it together. What themes do those of us with daily gags use in our shorter works? Do the layouts do their part to advance the stories we are creating? If you took the dialogue away, would the story still work? Would it be enhanced if you tried to create your next comic in a wordless style? It certainly would be an interesting experiment. You’ll have to read all 63 episodes of Zip and Li’l Bit for yourself to see more of these little but important things. I’m also going to enjoy the next arc entitled the Sky Kayak. From those previews, you can see that it’ll be great fun when it starts up in September (2007.)