Wednesday, May 23, 2007


This isn't something I'm going to do regularly. It makes a little piece of me sad... no, not sad... just less happy. Today's comic requires a tiny investment in order to read the entire archive. Stop where you are, no running away, no clicky. Clicky bad. Hear me out...

First of all, Gypsy! is a great comic that I'll be rambling about endlessly as soon as we clear the subscription hump. Secondly, you're getting full access to all the Girlamatic comics for a measly $2.95 a month. Less than three bucks, and as the current comic of every series is available for free, it would seem that subscription fee is only really necessary to get you through the archives. Personally, I think the price is well worth it.

Now, on with the comic.

Gypsy! is a black and white story based comic created by the prolific John Peters who "once delved into the deepest, darkest recesses of his own soul only to discover a half-used roll of paper towels and dozens of empty, rusted Dr. Pepper cans." If you're hip to the indie world, you may know John as the illustrator of Forty Winks, Pixie, or dozens of other things. I mean, damn.

Other works aside, Gypsy makes me uneasy. Or rather, the people that "care" for her make me uneasy. The plot is compelling enough to have hooked me for good within the first few pages, and it may very well have been the sense of unease that did the hooking. These people aren't right. They're not evil, they're just so pointedly apathetic toward Gypsy you ought to feel sorry for her, but they're so casual in their indifference that you don't. It's like indigenous nudity on TV - just a slight change in setting and you'd have a whole different set of feelings. I don't want to go into the plot too much here for two reasons: One, the story isn't over yet. Summarizing a few chapters is pointless. Two, The plot sounds ridiculous shoved into a brief paragraph. This one is meant to unfold slowly, pulling the reader from event to event along a winding path. As the story opens, Gypsy is presented in a catatonic state. Seven chapters in, she hasn't shifted from that state. I don't get the feeling she'll be doing so soon. Oddly enough, that hasn't stopped her from engaging in an adventure.

The writing here is as absolutely solid as the artwork. The dialogue supports the characters as well as advancing the plot without overpowering the artwork, allowing for multifaceted character expression. Quirky remarks and minor sidelines are presented and allowed to fade away without distracting from the plot. The artwork is clean, but certainly not without detail, and the shading defines both light and perspective quite well. John clearly has no difficulty with body postures and movement, and the overall character design fits the story perfectly. Though it's not something that's often mentioned in reviews - the panel work here is brilliant. While there is never any difficulty following the progression, they're rarely staged in a typical format. Frequently, bordered panels appear over top a single borderless panel; a technique that actually seems to inject a sense of drama, environment, and even time. Another aspect seldom discussed bears witness to it's importance here - the text style itself assists the flow and emotion of the dialogue, often granting the characters tone that could not be portrayed otherwise.

Currently in the midst of the seventh chapter, Gypsy! updates Sundays and will most assuredly be available in book form once complete. Website wise, I find the current page background distracting and I wish there were small directional buttons at the top of each comic to compliment those at the bottom. Certainly not deal breakers by any means. He makes up for it with a really charming Cast page. Consider yourself warned, however, there are spoilers in them thair descriptions.

I suggest this - go to the site. Read the freebies. If you're even mildly interested, cough up the three bucks and read the rest. You'd be supporting deserving artists, and you'd be well rewarded for it.