Trinary – A Comic About Art Robots

Trinary is a mini-comic done by my good comics friend (and often table buddy at conventions) Ben Wright-Heuman. That said, I’m going to be as objective as I can for this review.

This is one of those comics that you can only get directly from the artist, either at a convention or through his website. So is it worth getting this rare gem?

Let’s do a review.

Trinary is the story of an art robot – a robot specifically designed to make art. However, all the art is rather…same-y. This is largely due to their programming, which shows the robots’ world as black and white.

But one day, there’s a glitch in the scheduled night-time upgrade. The art robot gets a download of a new program that allows him to see 0s, 1s, and 2s.

And that’s when he starts seeing color.

Not expansive color: the only color used in this comic is orange. But it’s with this color that the art robot starts to see and paint the world differently. With this new ability, though, he’s pursued by the regulators of the art factory, who want to get him back to standard programming as quickly as possible.

The Reviewer’s Thoughts

After thinking about Trinary for a while, what struck me as an apt comparison to this comic is Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. Both comics have points-of-view shift, and they show this by using monochrome colors. Asterios Polyp gets really wild in comparison to Trinary, though, because Asterios also shows points-of-view with some views getting grids, some views getting bold lines seen in graphic design, and some views colored in one tone with hatching techniques.

Trinary, by comparison, doesn’t go as wacky as Asterios, but that’s only because Trinary’s scope is more limited. It’s a mini-comic about an art robot seeing the world differently. Asterios is a thick book more comparable to The Odyssey in its subject matter.

That said, Trinary does fall somewhat into the “confusing” category for me mid-way through the story. About mid-way through, we the reader see the robot fleeing the regulators…and then, on the next page, we see the robot painting a canvas. Did the robot run into the warehouse to hide and just start painting? There’s no clear transition for that scene.

“But wait!” you might argue. “What if all the robots look the same?! It could have been a different robot running away!” Well the robots are numbered. And we know which robot got the upgrade. So that doesn’t apply here.

That was the only moment of confusion for me regarding this comic. After that moment, the plot gets back on track and things make sense.

Without spoiling anything, I will say… the vendetta ending was a nice touch.

There are two more details about this comic that I feel are worth mentioning, if only from the angle of a craftsman:

  1. The entire comic is wordless.
  2. The physical copy of this minicomic has orange wire binding.

Final thoughts

If you appreciate the finer details of a comic and how they can bundle together into one package, give Trinary a go. I say it’s worth a shot.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Review Day Tuesday – The Electric Team

Ah yes, another find from Cleveland’s very own Genghis Con (yes, that’s its name). This is another book I found in 2017, much like Multi- from last week. And much like last week’s pick, this comic is another selection of intriguing writing and lackluster art. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The story opens, weirdly enough, with an older explorer explaining how he and his team – or what’s left of his team – got to where they are. They’re explaining themselves so that the older explorer can ask whoever he’s talking to, to please take in his infant daughter and raise her in safety. And you turn the page and…

Unicorns.

The main character in this adventure is a little girl abandoned by her father to be raised by unicorns.

…Ok let me talk about the authors of this book: Abigail Connor and Leighton Connor. When this comic was written, Abigail was six. Leighton is Abigail’s dad.

Now, I haven’t read Axe Cop – but that comic came to mind after I wrote that sentence. A younger child relaying the story to an older adult and the adult writing and drawing the story down? I feel like this should be a subgenre within comics.

Knowing, though, that the co-writer of this story is a six-year-old girl makes The Electric Team make a LOT more sense.

I mean – the Electric Team is a superhero squad led by a young woman raised by unicorns. And The Electric Team is introduced as they fight a squad of humanized vegetables. Led by Commander McCarrot.

And in order to save the world, the Electric Team has to fight 1000 bad guys.

This. Is. A. Kid’s. Comic.

Knowing this makes the art make a lot more sense, as well. The art is not drawn by Abigail – the depth of field within any particular panel is too deep for a six-year-old to draw.

The art is done by Samantha Albert – and Samantha has done better art since this book came out. I remember Sam mentioning that this book was one of her first comics put to print. I’m happy to say that after reading this first issue, then looking at the webcomic site, Samantha’s art has VASTLY improved over time.

This first issue’s art isn’t…awful. But it’s unskilled – which is fitting for a story aimed at children, co-written by a six-year-old. On the plus side, as Leighton put it in his afterward in the comic, Samantha can “choreograph a fight scene and draw unicorns unironically.” And both of those skills are very important in a concept as whacky as a woman raised by unicorns and her team of superheroes who must fight 1000 bad guys to save the world.

So if a child in your life is looking for the next epic superhero adventure, encourage them to try The Electric Team.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Review Day Tuesday: BARTEZ

This review has waited long enough to happen, so here it is. Today we’re talking about Bartez by Ryan H. Peraro and Gale Williams.

I first found this book at Intervention Con in 2014 (may that convention rest in peace, because it’s no longer a thing). Ryan was there, selling copies of this book, as well as other swag for the Bartez name. I got this book, numbered 56 out of 500 copies, and… I think I got a pen, too? I can’t remember – it’s been a little over 5 years since I got this book. Bear with me.

I remember reading this once, liking it, and then setting it on the shelf again. Well, recently I re-read this beauty and now, I want to talk about it.

From what I have gathered, this is Ryan’s first foray into writing for comics and graphic novels. And I must say, for a first time comics writer, he did a DANG good job of writing.

I’ve worked for a small collection of comics writers before. And one thing I noticed with first-time comics writers is this: they can get WORDY. As in, stuffing in as much dialogue as possible instead of letting the action and art help to carry the story. Aka, lots of “tell, don’t show,” when it should be “show, don’t tell.”

That said, Ryan does not have that issue. Which is remarkable, considering this is his first book. And to that, I say: kudos and major props, my dude.

The artist Gale Williams has made comics before; notably her semi-autobiographical webcomic, Patbird & Galesaur. Which, I will get to one day – PATIENCE, my buddy.

On her art in this book, I’ll be blunt: you can tell she went to school at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I’ve noticed that there’s a particular kind of quality to the art that you can spot in the grad students of SCAD if you’re looking for it. You can see it in this book, in Check, Please!, in Distillum, and in a few other books. It’s the big, emotional eyes with the bold line quality, and the dang-near perfect use of blacks to delineate background details that make the foreground pop easily.

I’m not saying that the art quality of SCAD students of this grade are bad. What I AM saying is that it’s almost a house-style, and you can spot it if you know what to look for. I’m still sorting out my opinions on this house-style effect and whether it’s good or bad.

Anyway, let’s talk about the story. What’s it about?

Bartez follows Jimmy Barton, a guy who works in IT. He is, to be honest, kind of a quitter. He tries his hand at a lot of different hobbies and quits as soon as those hobbies get difficult. This is a habit he’s had since high school, and surprise-surprise, the 10-year anniversary of his graduating class is coming up.

Of course, he’s trying to hype himself up by making a website celebrating all his accomplishments in high school. Because he’s not just a quitter – he’s a massive dork.

To be honest, I sometimes had difficulty relating to Jimmy as a character. However, that’s because my personality is very different from his. Which reminds me to make this very important point that a lot of people forget about when reading fiction, and analyzing fiction for reviews:

The characters don’t have to be likable for you to empathize with them. It doesn’t matter that you can’t stand the character. What matters is if the writer can write a compelling character despite that character’s lack of similarity to yourself, the reader.

To that end, Ryan writes Jimmy VERY well. Yes, Jimmy and I are not alike, but his struggles are written in such a way that I could still empathize with this guy… even if, on a logical level, I couldn’t stand him.

It helps, too, that Gale’s art has a simplified vibe to it. When I first read the book, I wanted to compare it to Bryan Lee O’Malley. And considering the bold lines, the large and expressive eyes, and the exaggerated posing of the characters in a lot of these pages, the comparison could be apt.

The key words being “could be.”

Obviously, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is O’Malley’s most popular and widely-known work. Scott Pilgrim also drew its reality as a video game. As in, a love interest’s ex-boyfriends were boss-fights and their defeats resulted in item drops.

Bartez re-imagines reality as, strangely enough, more like an espionage story.

This may surprise you, but the book doesn’t open with Jimmy Barton. It opens with one spy murdering another one. And you find out later through some exposition that the spy who died was one of Jimmy’s high school friends.

A high school friend who took his crush, but still a friend.

And believe it or not, the spies tie back to Jimmy Barton’s high school. But that’s getting into spoiler territory.

In short, you should read this book. Now, I only have volume 1, but this is part of a 3-volume series. You can find out more about it (and purchase the books) at projectbartez.com.

Give the book a try! I know I’ll be getting volume 2 soon.

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Review Day Tuesday: Stoner Knight 2

My buddy Suzie (editor of The Magnolia Press) sent me a care package full of indie comics recently. One of those comics was Stoner Knight 2. And…well, I HAD to bring back the Review Day Tuesday video series for this book.

It’s WILD, man.

Demon Street

When I stumbled upon Demon Street completely by chance, I proceeded to read the entire thing (300+ pages at the time) within 2 days. It is utterly addictive and fantastic!

Years ago, the Demon Street appeared from nowhere. The old street was lost, and the new one bridged the gap between our world, and theirs.
Most folks block the entrance with trash and try to ignore it. But not Sep Maeda. What possessed him to cross that threshold into a world of danger and uncertainty?

Sep’s not the only human on the other side; but the kids that survive here didn’t come by choice. Some have made lives for themselves, some fight to find the way out – Safety in numbers; alliances are formed and families are made.
The cultures and creature designs are really well done, this as a Netflix series could easily be the new Stranger Things.

All of this is before discussing the gorgous artwork – dark & fantasy stories can often get drowned in greyscale, but Demon Street is saturated with these bright and bold colours that help emphasise (and colour code) some of it’s larger-than-life allies & enemies. Combined with the expertly thinned & thickened inks, this fantasy has a wonderful dreamlike feel to it.

The world, cast & tension builds very gently and very well. New elements of magic & mythos came into play without overwhelming me, my thoughts were as follows:

  • 100 Pages; Oh cool, it’s a fantasy comic, Kids in Peril is a great genre, I wonder where it’s gonna go?
  • 200 Pages; WHOA! This mythos is expanding and exciting, this world’s got some serious legs to it!
  • 300 Pages; HO. LEE. SWEARWORDS. This story is totally engrossing, the characters are all really intersectional, but it doesn’t define them so it’s a lovely slow burn, and I NEED MORE! NOW!!!

DemonStreet.co
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