What Did I Learn?
Today’s review is on a short comic called Strange Quark by Dallin Durfee. It’s a gag a day comic revolving around the nerdy humor of college physics professors and their students.
For context, this review is coming from a comics blog that talks about making comics to be published online, which would typically be considered a somewhat nerdy pursuit to start with. Nerds unite! Form of a wordy webcomic review.
So anyway, I happen to also like science humor (no surprise there, eh?) and like most gag comics, some of the jokes amused me more than others. I found no storylines or arcs which tend to keep my focus as I archive crawl. So why was it that I felt like there was something familiar – almost comforting – about this comic that kept me turning pages. What was keeping me on this ride?
After awhile, it popped into my head that it was the art more than the writing; though I found that strange since I prefer hand drawn comics as a rule. You might viscerally feel the difference between, say, this comic and this one. While they are both rendered, the shading of the first imperceptibly reminds me of the colors and textures of the Muppets. You might even see the difference between the sample comics.
The comic’s vibe is not Muppety, of course. Stealing Bob Ross’s line, I would say that’s a happy accident. It’s most likely a visual coincidence of process as the shading is rendered differently by the program based on how far away the ‘camera’ is from the comic characters.
As you can see, Strange Quark’s tone can be pretty nerdy and it plainly revels in its nerdness. The book actually has even more nerdy goodness – according to the description, some of the comics in the book were too nerdy to post online, which you have to admit they must be pretty nerdy. There’s also an offshoot comic series that takes the nerdiness to Tolkien. In some ways, the tone is ridden hard and put away wet. It’s almost raw.
Adding to the theme, the website has a lot of tinkery features built in. It tells you, down to the second, how long until the next comic posts and there are videos and so on. The author also has a most-recent-comic embed feature, which is supposed to show the most recent comic… let’s see if it works.
What Did I Learn?
You may enjoy Strange Quark for its humor or obsessions or its’ visuals or you may not. Then you might dislike the next comic you see. We’re all on our own artistic journeys but as an artist, I wonder why audiences are having the reactions they are to different work. It’s not worth the angsty, greedily curious time I could spend overthinking this.
Sometimes a comic works because of commonalities with the audience, fancy art or writing or sometimes happenstance process choices. In the end, the typical reader doesn’t care what processes were used and what the intent was when making the comic. All the reader cares about was whether it entertained them or not. So if a comic is nerdily entertaining, then that’s great. Or cutesy or visually striking or whatever. If it works, ride it out.