Sunday, February 5, 2012

Retro Comic Book Reviews

A.K.A. Comics you might have missed but really shouldn't have.

For the inaugural RCBR we have Matthew Loux's 2006 OGN (that's Original Graphic Novel) for those who don't speak comic book abbreviations) SideScrollers.

"Side-Scrolling" usually refers to a video game in which the characters move from left to right across the screen encountering various enemies and obstacles which must be defeated in order for the player to move on to the next level and eventually win the game.

Side-scrolling games are among the favorite video games of recent high school graduates Matt, Brian and Brad. They are prepared to while away their summer playing games, discussing pop culture, eating junk food, and pursuing new shipments of action figures at the local big box store.

Their planned routine, however, is interrupted by a day of adventure as Matt learns that the girl he secretly has a crush on, Amber, is planning to go to the big rock music show with Dick the school bully and football jock. More to the point, Matt, Brian and Brad discover that the bully intends to seduce Amber to make her just another notch on his belt. Matt, Brian and Brad's attempts at stopping Dick's plans put them on the run from Dick and his football buddies.

Along the way the three friends must deal with a troop of angry "Girlie Scouts", a Satanic cat, an escaped scorpion, and various elements of mischief and mayhem. Will Matt be able to defend Amber's reputation? Will Brad escape the Satanic cat with his soul intact? Will all three ever get to the big rock show? Tune in to find out!

SideScrollers has some swearing and sexual innuendo so this is not a comic for the little kiddies. But for anyone who remembers the early films of Kevin Smith this graphic novel will touch a chord. Action moves from satire to the ridiculous and absurdly impossible but always with a genuine sense of humor and a deft touch. No matter how silly the action gets (like a talking South American Bark Scorpion) the characters remain oddly grounded in their emotions and motivations.

Also, the pop culture references fly fast and furious -- mostly movies and video games -- so those unfamiliar with the culture may be a bit lost but for those of us who are denizens of that world the conversations are familiar... and funny. Writer and artist Loux also never misses a chance to throw in a good-natured little jab at those bits of pop-culture. Sometimes the jabs come in the form of dialogue but sometimes they are hidden in the background artwork.

And that does lead us to a discussion of the artwork. The comic is in black and white and Loux has a style that is... well... highly stylized. His figures look and move like exaggerated cartoon characters -- which also ramps up the hilarity throughout the comic. The whole thing looks like it's built for animation -- in a good way.

If you're a gamer geek, sci-fi geek, comic book geek or any combination thereof then check this graphic novel out. SideScrollers is guaranteed to get a laugh out of you -- or at the very least a grin.

You can order SideScrollers from publisher Oni Press.

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