Comic Critique Saturday: Destress!

I haven’t posted one of these here in awhile phew!

This week a long promised one, DeStress.

First Impression:

Well I thought the style was neat right from the get-go. I remember doing a half-assed reading of it the first time through. In that reading I found myself disliking Razmarus a lot because on that cursory read I assumed each action he did to a soul was something negative on the re-read I discovered he doesn’t do NOTHING but bad things. I also found the world very complicated but on a re-read I was thinking, “What the fuck it wasn’t THAT complicated did I NOT READ half the dialog or something?”

Art:

Pretty dang good for the most part. The style and use of color is appropriate to the story. The comic uses a lot of neat eye-catching effects. Texty, and the alternate forms, and familiars are all damn cool. The anatomy is pretty dang good, it has some interesting variety yet consistency in the clothing, the backgrounds are consistent and solid as well. The art also seems to improve as the story goes on. Lots of lovely brick chins. The only thing I can think to complain about is that sometimes the Magician’s face feels off. I think something about it’s length compared to all other characters makes his face stick out for the wrong reasons? I’m sure an art expert would know what was off with it, but I can’t really pinpoint what it is exactly.

Story:

It’s got a few layers but it is chock full of great hooks that dig you deeper and deeper into the world, characters, and the events.

The story is about the Chiranobles who rule over the half-damned and the Bezzafrayl who rule over the half-blessed. The main layer focuses on the Chiranoble Razmarus who acts as a brash preacher, and an unmarked Magician (neither damned or blessed) who watches out for him.

Another layer we see is the Bezzafrayl as they struggle against some of the antagonizing and sometimes cruel behavior from the Chiranobles, and each other.

The last layer in the story is the Flashbacks we get from the magician. While not outright stating it, it appears to be him as a child having trouble taking on new responsibilities such as magic use, as he gets older. A mysterious wounded man also enters the kid’s life. It is implied this older man was the previous incarnation of Razmarus, but that is yet to be confirmed or denied.

Sometimes the information from the story can be a bit much. Yet I don’t believe it’s the layers or the ACTUAL story that is the problem. I think it’s the pace when facing the world’s complexity that make it a bit of the brain scratcher at times.

One big positive is that there is no cheesy exposition dump. You find out about the world as the characters find out about the world. However that positive also leads into the comic’s big negative. With how complex the world is, all the information shown in little bite sized bits can be overwhelming cause you don’t know when they’re coming or if they’re important.

I think the root of the issue is that each turn of a scene, there seems to be a hint of a new important aspect of the world/story brought up. Something in diaolg, or internal monolog, or something in the background you know.  Yet you can’t be sure if it’s REALLY important or just another tid-bit about the world/story.

I believe if all these facts were planted in a planned explanation or a bit more sparsely things would click together a bit easier.  It is possible to have a character explain an aspect of the world and for it not to be an eyeroll worthy forced dump of information. Like somebody going, “I’ve never seen that animal before!” and then the other character explains that species. 

At the moment it feels as if new page you have to stop and think about what THAT means for the world and try to remember it, rather then letting the story flow. Another way to make it a bit more of an easy read would be a bit more humor, or more light-heated scenes that aren’t “plot heavy.” To be honest it’s kinda a shame there isn’t more humor in the actual comic of Destress, I think BlankD has an excellent sense of humor.

What else would make this story more manageable? Well another way is to cut down on characters or better pace character introductions. I felt the scene where quite a few Bezzlefry were introduced was a bit overwhelming. Trying to take all those personalities and interrelationships in at once was too much.

Characters:

Mags – A mute magician who has a complex relationship with Raz, and tries his best to curtail some of his more extreme behavior. A lot about him is very mysterious the most we get out of him are the flashbacks we see of him as a somewhat bratty youth. His quiet and noble nature is a good balance to his ~perhaps~ lover Raz. I have to admit that it was quite a bold move making such a prominent character mute. It makes story-telling much more difficult cause you MUST depend on show rather then tell. I’m not sure where the story is going but it might have been a good move, for it seems that Mags holds a lot of plot-important secrets that will be revealed in due time.

 

Raz – In all honesty I’m not a big fan or Raz. Not that he’s poorly characterized, but rather I don’t like characters LIKE him. He does some good throughout the story, and when he does evil it is seemingly for a reason. The thing is though we don’t usually get to fully understand the reason he does this evil. He’ll spout out how he knows the past of people he harms. Yet we never see these people do wrong, and his spouting can be vague at times. I typically find it hard to sympathize with a know-it-all morality ends with me character. Such as Light from deathnote. He’s punishing bad people but really he’s making up his own rules about it and is so arrogant he refuses to acknowledge his own trespasses. It’s an understandable character, yet he’s the type of character I’m hoping gets his just desserts.


Sid –
Seemingly the only character with a decent moral compass. He’s advocates for the half-damed, and therefore he has to see the “good” in even the most worthless scum. So his (occasionally) grating boy-scout kind of character suits his occupation. He gets shit on often and comes off as a bit of a wimp which can be quite frustrating. THE ONLY NICE CHARACTER GETS A FACE FULL OF “FUCK YOUS” AND WHILE HE TRIES TO STAND UP HE GETS SHOVED DOWN JUST AS EASY? Come oonnnnnnn. Though these complaints are just personal tastes. I don’t think he’s poorly written, but it just feels a bit of a moral “cock/clit tease” that his attempts to do good are snuffed out so easily.


Cheres - Oh Cheres, you’re my favorite. A sharp-tongued brash child-like character, and one of the few who can hold Raz accountable. She teases him insistently and I enjoy that very much, since I think Raz is a dick. She has an intriguing, affectionate, and protective bond with Alau, her little Lark. It’s rare to see a genuinely affectionate relationship in this comic so its a nice change of pace. (Her alternate form is badass looking too.)

Conclusion:

It is a solid comic. It’s an original story, with a wonderfully unique and intriguing world. However it accidentally muddles itself up with the pacing of the world explanation. It that information was paced better, and there was more humor/light-hearted scenes to space stuff out it would flow smoother. Some of the characters get on my tits, but that’s no reason to condemn it.

This entry was posted in Comic Critique Saturdays. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Comic Critique Saturday: Destress!

  1. wanderingaddict says:

    I always appreciate your critiques! I’d never have stumbled on this comic myself and it was a very interesting read, especially after I’d read how you reacted to the characters because it’s so different my own understanding/reactions to them. well, not so different, but it is really interesting (to me at least) how you don’t care for Raz at all, while to me he’s extremely thought-provoking and a character I could spend hours pondering about. like, I get why you don’t like him, and he definitely does some super douchebag shit. the latest stint where he sleeps with the soul before torturing her was especially grouty to me (personally I mean, just kind of an off-switch for me), but a character like Sid or even Mags bores the bananas out of me because they feel kind of “arbitrarily” helpful, or otherwise compelled by some moral code that I’ve never understood or appreciated. if there were some backstory to either of them that made it clear what compels them to act the way they do, I’d be more understanding. with Raz, in my read through I felt that was the case! granted I have no idea about the specifics and this could just be me giving his character/the writer way too much credit, but from the “hints” they’ve dropped it seems like he’s one of the oldest/the oldest chiranoble, and perhaps one of the ones that’s died the least (and in effect has the “biggest section” of the Archives/most memories preserved). he very much feels like someone who’s spent so long in Moinfaear (or whatever it’s called), doing the exact same thing over and over to the point that he’s lost all sense of self and is desperately searching for something that might make him feel anything again. I can’t say that I “like” him, but I am intensely curious about his story and want to know more. in comparison, Sid just kind of seems willfully blind; in a world where it seems generally accepted that these are the souls of the damned and there’s a strict, unbreakable hierarchy, Raz’s destabilization just seems to make him feel more “real” to me while Sid seems more like he was born yesterday.

    Not to disagree or refute you or defend the comic or anything, I just really liked reading how the story came across to you. it would never have occurred to me to question whether or not the souls they meet are actually guilty or not, for example (it’s just something I’d take much more at face value). the idea that this is basically a purgatory where they’re given a chance to reform or repent (with great prodding on the part of the chiranobles it seems) wasn’t really something I’d have questioned. hell, I’d never have even assumed or wondered if the wounded man Mags meets as a kid was the previous incarnation of Razmarus!

    • I think I may be the opposite to you. That I can better accept somebody being a boy scout, with no explained background, then somebody swinging a judgement stick, with no explained background.

      I had never considered that Raz acts bonkers because of the memory build up from his possible immortality! That is fascinating insight! I kinda speculated that something happened during Raz’s “re-birthing” that caused him to go bonkers. That the reason Mags watches out for him is because he was responsible for the “re-birthing” going wrong and thus tries to curtail what he thinks he essentially created. (Perhaps that’s where his voice and eye went missing.) Though Raz doesn’t seem to act negatively toward Mags, so maybe he doesn’t know things went south and Mags can’t tell him? Phew! You’re certainly right in saying Raz’s past seems more interesting then’s Sid’s.

      Sid sometimes feels like the pointless idealist that just non stop chirps, “Can’t we all just GET ALONG?” Only for him to end up having 0 impact on anything. So I understand where you’re coming from with your YAWNS toward Sid.

      I do think what the half damned are accused of is probably spot on. Yet I just wonder with the kind of person Raz if he doesn’t exaggerate the severity or harmlessness of their crimes based on his own moral set, which could be quite skewed since we hardly get confirmation of these crimes. Haha I kinda keyed into the wounded man being Raz because they’re chins are similar intially. Though I think it makes a lot of sense. Especially considering that one guy talked about how Raz used to be older and much more stable.

      I love hearing your thoughts too, never feel afraid to share!

  2. wanderingaddict says:

    well it also made me really reflect, especially because my mind went straight to the Fritz comment and how you liked fritz while I couldn’t stand him, and then you like Sids here and I (well I don’t DISlike him, I’m just ambivalent). anyways, it made me think about why what’s different here, because it really is kind of a surprise considering that the characters have a lot of parallels (Raz and Fritz are both destructive and randomly kind and cruel as the mood takes them, they both have “goody” characters that are in love with them, etc) and yet we’re opposite in our reactions to each character. it made me realize that I think what got me so made at Fritz was that I viewed his self-destruction as more… kind of like “oh boo hoo, you and your first world problems” so to speak. I just don’t have much sympathy or ability to feel anything for characters that seem “weak (and I use that word only because I’m not really sure how to articulate this) of character”. I like life and have always liked it, so it’s just not a relatable topic for me, and then when the character doesn’t do anything that seems redeeming or that they possess some sort of strength (of any sort) I get very turned off. with Razmaarus though, I guess it feels more like he’s a victim of whatever wacky rules bind their world. it doesn’t really matter so much what his original character was like when one could make the argument that anyone in the world would be worn down if they had to face an eternity of being able to peer into and know the darkest, vilest secrets of everyone they meet, and then, even worse, 99% of the people they meet HAVE horrible secrets. even though the situation is significantly more outlandish, it’s (a little ironically) more relatable.

    this is just speculation of course, I could be wrong. from what they seemed to hint at, it just seemed like Razmaarus is one of the only Chiranoble to have lived to the point that he died of old age? or something, at least, that involves him having significantly more knowledge and memory than the other chiranoble, and as a result the weight of his unchanging eternity is that much heavier. the other chiranobles die more often or else don’t seem to care as much about passing souls through, so don’t experience the same problem (though I could see the Cheron side-comic about her unmarked used as an argument that they suffer too), while the Bezz…a … whatever, the “good” angel-types guys like Sid and the other ones are (perhaps also ironically) content in the role (if not the rules) as they deal with the half-saved and/or the souls that are sent to ascend to paradise AND don’t have the ability to peer into human minds (and thus know the actual horrors that the chiranobles are constantly exposed to and see in every soul that enters Moinfar). they’re free to view the chiranobles as demonic taskmasters, while the chiranobles are free to feel nothing but disgust and hatred for the humans that come through, neither side realizing that the other simply does not know what it’s like to have lived with/without that ability.

    but that’s neither here nor there and for all I know I’m trodding over a million disconfirmations because I go to great lengths to make a story better in my head (lol like rewriting Rory’s incestuous fantasy as NOT his sister when I saw it and then of course having my hopes dashed so what does that do me). it WAS a lot of fun to really reflect and analyze why we could each have such a different reaction to the characters between the two comics and so I learned something about myself with this critique! they are of course two radically different settings though so it does also beg the question of “well do I also just like it because I have to give it more thought and the world’s more rules are clearly outlined/defined than say, a pseudo-realistic world like Fritz’s where things are much more nebulous” but that’s kind… out there for now. I also hadn’t considered that Mags might have had something to do with the rebirthing/missing Raz for a year, thanks for that bit to ponder! I’m so bad with faces that you could switch hair color alone and I would just accept that it was a new character.

  3. blankd says:

    Both your comments were very fascinating to read.

    I will say that the Chiranobles do not forget things when they die, Cheres snidely comments that Raz’s missing year makes him ~special~ and tells him to forget about it.

    I will note that your comment about Sid being “born yesterday” is somewhat accurate in a sense given how naive and idealistic he is- however he still has important backstory, the difference between his and Raz’s should give more insight on the setting and setup.

    I’ll also say Mags has a fairly good reason for why he behaves in such a way, but obviously it’s spoilers. 8)

    Regardless, these characters should go in interesting directions over time, so I hope you guys stick around.

    Other things of note is that some of your observations are accurate, others are a little different and, with any luck, hopefully better than your mind is in the meantime rewriting/interpreting, if you’re still reading it, I hope not to disappoint you.

    And thanks again for comments and discussion, I always find them so interesting to read!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>