What Did I Learn?
“Lunar Boy is the story of a six-year-old kid trying to save the world of Vincego from an evil goblin-prince named King Ballii. Using his ability to communicate with the Moon to help him along the way, Lunar Boy just may get the job done…. or die trying.
Throw in some power-ups, level-ups, and enemies galore and this 16-bit adventure is about as retro as they come!”
Lunar Boy by Jarrett Williams is done in black and white with some fairly heavy line and plenty of spot blacks. It’s manga-esque or at least it uses a good number of those techniques. There are little drawings in the margins, emotions described in text and the requisite speed lines, among other things you might expect. I’m not a big fan of seeing too much of any of those storytelling conventions but Lunar Boy keeps it on the down low.
There are a few techniques that we may find especially useful to try, assuming that there are ways to work them into our comics. Here is an example of a word balloon panel and here’s another with a sound track ’embedded’ into the panel almost as a visual gag. These sorts of things are not easy to work into a comic simply because we overlook the possibility or think they are only useful for certain kinds of comics. More often, I am concerned with basic things and forget to include visual gags and unusual panels.
On my screen, the panel bounding lines sometimes get cut off at the top or bottom and I am assuming that is intentional – there were a few comics in 2007 that made me wonder about it due to how they were ‘cropped.’ Interestingly, in January 2008 the panel designs went from vertical to horizontal until April 2008. The way it reads differently between the two layouts is truly remarkable. The vertical version seemed to take a third less time to read and showed more of the art than the horizontal allowed for.
Perhaps more importantly, the layouts are not contained in a nice rectangular white box of negative space. Take a quick look at these and you’ll see wider and narrower sections of panels along with sections which jut out to the side. More often than not, it kept my interest due to the visual variety on panel shapes and placement
Rarely do we see just a straight on head shot in Lunar Boy. In this series from the archive, for instance, we see over the shoulder shots, birds eye and worms eye views, switches between left and right views, full page scenes and more.
Perhaps I am overlooking something, but the stories in Lunar Boy are exactly as the description promises. It’s a retro video game sort of world as experienced by a six year old so there are no somber depths to plumb or extreme tragedy to wallow in. Lunar Boy, his storekeeper love interest Tessa and their matchmaking friend Pim hold the non-action part of the storyline down while the mission level parts of the storyline mimic the early video games of yesteryear. It’s light reading that does not restrict itself to kids. It is fast paced and a quick read with very little fluff. The art and some of the cultural subject matter does add a little touch of something special but does not overwhelm. Sometimes I read manga and I know I’m getting lost because I can sense that I’m missing out on some social cues and references.
What Did I Learn?
Some might hold back from trying a wide variety of angles and shots for their talking heads comics because we all realize that an overhead point of view means one thing and an upshot adds something else to the story. I can see that there is great possible effect to be had just by rotating a few degrees off the standard vertical and horizontal center of a shot. At the same time, slightly off balance panel layouts can draw reader attention, too. If you have a few minutes, give Lunar Boy a look see and maybe you’ll enjoy it.