Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mob Ties

Just in time for Halloween, I present to you Mob Ties! Mind you, I originally felt that line was going to be a complete farce. After all, there isn't anything terribly terrifying about most Manga and with only a passing knowledge of the comic before I sat down to read through the archives I had no reason to believe this one would be any different. There's plenty of tension here though, and now I'm hooked on the damn thing. Yeesh.

Mob Ties starts off a bit slowly, but once the main plot is established it takes off at an engaging pace. A large part of the story is tied up in the reveal of various twists and turns so I'm not going to say much about it - no point in spoiling it for the sake of a review. I will say that the writing is a balanced blend of light and darkness that keeps you clicking on the next link. It seems awfully tempting for Manga writers to bog their plots down with so much overly emotional trauma that the entire story sinks in a mire of angst; happily, this is a temptation the creator avoids by utilizing a zany sense of humor to meter the punch of more dramatic moments. Another temptation that was happily avoided - displaying the comic in traditional Japanese Manga format. Writing a comic in English assumes the comic will be read by a primarily English speaking audience. As such, it should be written left to right and top to bottom. Yes, it may seem authentic to write it right to left and bottom to top - but you're far more likely to confuse your intended audience than intrigue them. No such confusion here - saving the creator a tongue lashing. Oooo... scary.

The artwork is mostly in simple black and white with the occasional use of full color panels or effect colors. Chapter titles are also done in color and serve to give the comic more of a print feel. Emotions are displayed in both facial expressions and in perspective and character size in classic Manga fashion and I admire the artist's ability to use those visual effects without relying on them for pacing. Each comic page has an easy flow, excepting, of course, those that are specifically created to give the feel of either confusion or jumbled memory. There's been a steady progression in artistic skill and staging; a clear indication that there are even better things to come.

Mob Ties is hosted on Drunk Duck... which means I would have critical things to say about the website if I actually knew what was in the creator's power to change. Though you do have the option to email individual comics to your friends and pin it to various services like Digg and Reddit, I'd love to see those elements I so love in self hosted comics. The author does do a decent job of communicating with the comic's audience in the blog beneath the comic, allowing the readers a peek into motivations and news. The archive exists as a drop down menu which lists issue and page - certainly not enough to go on if you're looking for a specific comic, but helpful if you're reading it issue by issue.

Personally, I suggest you start with issue number one. Now. Go.