Graphic Novel review White Ash part 2 of 2

This is something of an extension.

I so wanted to love White Ash. And yet it fell short. I know exactly what kind of audience White Ash caters to, and judged in that context it succeeds exceptionally. Like I mentioned in the previous review, White Ash raised a huge amount of funding on Kickstarter, and is well on its way to bolstering Scout Comics as an indie comic book publisher for years to come.

While White Ash may have not fulfilled my expectations as such, let me shine light on where it excelled:

5 things that made White Ash great.

  1. Its pacing and length. White Ash got its start as a serialized comic, and I'm reading the trade edition. It doesn't feel like it. The story locks together as a larger whole extremely well. It doesn't feel crammed.

  2. Attention to color. White Ash smoothly flows from a color palette governing scene after scene. Never does this effect seem jarring. Night time is cool colors. A serious dour funeral scene is colored in dark reds and grays. The forest is green. What's more, there's plenty of instances where I was pleasantly surprised by juxtapositions of color that I wouldn't have thought of.

  3. Anatomy. Yes, I said certain portions of White Ash seemed too slap dash. In reality that's not the case for almost all the book. There is an assuredness of how each body's pose is rendered that feels just 'right.' When Aleck and Lillian -and company- interact on the page they have a real sense of 'solidity' and clarity.

  4. Line weight/line clarity. This one's hard to master. Conor Hughes describes his technique in the back his approach to digitally working with line. He's had lots of experience in hand inking as well, so he's aware of the purpose of the line (to tell the story) and when to make them thin, when to widen them up.

  5. Overall feel. Patches of color that connect together to show mass or expressions in faces. When to stretch out the panel size. When to get intimate. All of White Ash has this great feel of a cognizant, steady fully functional classic comic book story. There's no 'speed bumps' of problematic or clunky decisions art wise or textual that one has to forgive to keep reading on. That's saying something.

3 things that keep me from re-opening the book again down the road.

  1. Elves, Dwarves, Vampires Oh my! I've come to the selfish conclusion that I know better than Charles Stickney, and he's a good enough writer to have made White Ash a great comic book without the supernatural element. Guy is ready to go off to college, leaving harsh seedy working class town behind. Plans get forestalled by mining accident, injuring his father. Richest man in town who owns the mine has a daughter: forbidden fruit. The guys potential love interest. Why did this need the Norse Mythology stuff added into it?

  2. First Impressions. The first four pages promised a way better story than I got. A sense of mystery, a sense of danger. Even perhaps laying out the stakes of what could be lost or gained by the key players. All that evaporated quickly by the end of the first chapter. As it was, White Ash quickly dropped the mystery element and just went ahead and seated you on the Disney Ride that is going to be the rest of the tale. What started out scary and organic morphed into a Dungeons and Dragons role playing game. (See Happy Hill on how to keep the mystery going).

  3. Can't relate to the hero. Aleck Zwerg should have been a captivating character. He should've transformed in his journey from page one to the end. He pretty much stays the same. Had there been some form of unexpected 'oh Jesus' moment where I'm challenged to relate to Aleck and his plight or run away in revulsion, maybe all the other shortcomings would have been forgotten. Remember Jack Nicholson in China Town? Remember how that movie had his nose almost cut off? Forever until the last reel he's got this big wad on his face, which gets smaller, until there's a discrete line over his nostril.

I'll keep looking.

Every week new Kickstarters for comics pop into my feed, calling to my imagination. Every single one has the potential to change my life. That's the dream that keeps spurring on my urge to hit the 'fund' button!

Next Tuesday:

Forgotten Hymns book three

At last! Andrew Guilde's creepy X-files like story continues with a part three!

Tim's Notebook

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Felton CA 95018