3.03.2011

Pretty Ladies Fighting Robots


Pretty Ladies Fighting Robots is a 10 page jpg sampler I received featuring the web-comic stylings of Chris Schneider. While there’s no active URL yet, no ordering information, or even the faint glimmer of a print version on the horizon, it’s really frickin’ good! The most captivating visual component of Schneider’s work is the lush watercolor effect he uses. It’s extremely pleasing to the eye and it actually reminds me of a fledgling version of the work of French comics artist Joann Sfar. Schneider’s got a deadpan sense of humor, visible in some of the throwaway names used in the background details. His facial expressions are very emotive and warm, there’s a nice sense of depth and perspective to the environments, and he’s careful to vary the shots when he’s staging panels. The story revolves around some charmingly flawed characters and runs them through several funny break-up clichés, culminating with the requisite drunk drowning of sorrows and an attempted drunken visit that goes awry. Along the way, Schneider continues his graphic design sensibility, such as the bottom of page 2 and its use of black background that isolates the character and tonally suggests a sense of loneliness. It’s clear that Schneider has an ear for witty dialogue, evidenced by the introduction or Robo-Friend, the two protagonists, and heck, the speech patterns of just about everyone we meet in the cast. Visual cues like “insta-sobriety” or direct statements like “…this is EXACTLY what it looks like” are not yuck-yuck guffaws, but work with an intelligence that doesn’t insult the reader. There’s robot sex talk full of “hard drives” and “motherboards” that lands soundly on the laugh-o-meter. Page 6 is probably my favorite page in terms of the craft of “comics-making.” It’s full of humor, sexuality, and betrayal, delivering a twist I never saw coming. It does so completely silently, sucking all the oxygen out of the room as it levels a character emotionally. It’s a great example of profoundly successful panel to panel storytelling. Deep into the story, I started asking myself “Where are the ‘Pretty Ladies Fighting Robots’ exactly?” It’s clear that this sampler functions as a prequel of sorts, that introduces the characters, the world, and the premise of what is hopefully much more to come. It’s a good teaser and drops off with a great cliffhanger. Overall, I’d say that there is a subtle Joss Whedon vibe that harkens back to classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer territory, where extraordinary things are simply accepted in a self-aware fashion by the characters. It doesn’t matter if it’s young women fighting vampires or robots, they’re ready to rock and it pulls the audience effortlessly into the world that’s been created and allows the suspension of disbelief. Pretty Ladies Fighting Robots is one of the more accomplished art projects I’ve seen at the student level, and my only concern is its readiness to function at the commercial level. If Schneider were to up his game in terms of self-promotion and consumer viability, I know that there is a market for PLFR. Taking that leap and establishing a web presence for the work to function as a web-comic or even diving into the waters of self-publishing with an actual print version would earn this work an even higher mark than what it gets now, Grade A.

UPDATE:
Chris has posted up his work here: http://scoogle.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d3aj55l

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