What Did I Learn?
Today I show you the M.I.M.E.S. comic by Harold Jennet and Wayne Cordova. I don’t know about you but when I see mimes on tv, they hold my interest for about thirty seconds. The few times I have encountered mimes in the wild left me feeling disturbed with their half smiles, painted faces and that they made no sound – at least make sound effects while you’re making calls on your imaginary phone – beep bip beep bep bep boop. Something.
But don’t fear. These M.I.M.E.S. aren’t the creepily grinning clowns I expected but instead they are true silent heroes.
Yep. Silent as in no talking. The four main characters do not ever speak, though they still somehow seem to have a french accent, as befitting expected mime standards. They are part of a team which is code named Mobile Initiatives for Muting Evil Syndicates, or M.I.M.E.S. for short. Their origin (not yet shown in the comic but described below) is a fun blend of things that fans of the eighties comics and cartoon shows will enjoy.
“Members of the travelling ‘Cirque De Circus,’ a freak accident involving a radioactive barrel caused them to develop powers beyond their imagination. Er… well, actually powers that reacted to their imagination! Together these mimes band together to fight the evil forces of… EVIL! They are the greatest superteam the world has never heard.”
Your stunned silence is very reassuring. I’m sure you’re asking yourself: “How could the main characters not speak? Imagine if Charlie Brown…” but let me stop you there. Snoopy was a main character and Schultz managed it just fine. M.I.M.E.S. does it by using narration boxes for expository information and secondary characters which serve up the dialog when needed.
It’s good dialog, too. The secondary and bystander characters never overstate anything nor do they say things that sound unnatural for them to be saying. A nice touch is that the villains that our heroes face are, true to classic villainhood, prone to talking a little too much which is just about perfect.
The character designs are very well done with every single character having their own proportions and looks. The black ink lines are only found in the foreground and the background is done in a storyboard shorthand style. There are shadows and highlights along with high contrast colors and the lines have this spontaneous quality but they are too consistent for it to be happenstance. That takes a bit of skill to do. There are also what I’ll call color hints where some contour lines are colored and others have extra zing put on them – like the legs of the M.I.M.E.S. having the blue shine added. This technique is also applied to other things like word balloons and other special effects.
The storylines are short and self contained and humor is sprinkled throughout the panels in a given page. Each usually ends on just enough of a cliffhanger that you want to turn the page without hesitation.
One thing I have puposely declined to get into in this review are the M.I.M.E.S. themselves and what their powers are. You really deserve to discover them for yourself – it will be much better that way. I really, really like them all but one – but even that one is still okay and could still impress me if more is done with them. As I write this, I don’t have any better ideas for that character to suggest but I still thought it worth mentioning.(Admittedly, it is a little nitpicky on my part but hopefully I kept it vague enough that I won’t infect you with my nitpickiness.) Overall, the powers mesh well with the characters and their no talk and all action style.
What Did I Learn?
This can’t always happen, but we too can make our comics in such a way that words are not required to understand the action and reactions. And once we add dialog, can it be in way that is not obviously for the benefit of the reader alone? When we make comics, we often have to walk multiple tightropes between what techniques and how much of them we choose to use. M.I.M.E.S. will soon have a new story for us to enjoy, so read it over and bookmark it to come back later.