Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Zuda Week: High Moon

(Note: It's still Tuesday somewhere. I underestimated the impact of this historic Election Night, so the Two-Fer will, instead, become a TGIF doubling)

Let me get one thing out in the open before I actually review HIGH MOON: I really dislike the interface that Zuda uses to display the webcomics for readers.

This doesn't change my opinion of HIGH MOON considerably. I do imagine that a less frustrating interface would have made me more comfortable and able to just absorb the work, but I tried to keep it from being held against the work.

HIGH MOON is one of the many Zuda offerings to have received high praise all over the internet in the past. After having read it from start to finish, I can see why and really regret letting the interface keep me away for this long.

David Gallaher and Steve Ellis put together two rarely fused genres: horror & westerns (or, as Zuda classifies it, a "historical period" piece). Think "The Good, The Bad & The Monsters". The first protagonist, MacGregor, definitely draws comparisons to "The Man With No Name", just mutton chops & supernatural ties.

MacGregor claims to be a former lawman, but it is made quite obvious from the start that very little going on in this story is as it seems or as the characters want us to think. We can be fairly certain, however, that MacGregor doesn't bother to track your average fugitive.

I'm struck by the artwork here, especially upon further review. As mentioned, I believe the interface has drawbacks. I was readying to speak of how moody much of the artwork was. When going back to check and zooming in more, whether the text required it or not, I noticed that the artwork is much more often sharply detailed. Sure, there are appropriately employed moments of harsh lines or sketchier images to get a feeling across, but when it isn't required to be so, the artist delivers really crisp and sometimes intricate panels and pages.

HIGH NOON has a decent size cast that it manages to familiarize the readers with naturally, not via clunky exposition. You get a sense of the personalities, motivations and histories for these characters more from their interaction with others and their body language than anything else. I think it really establishes the trust between writer and artist and is the mark of an excellent collaborative work.

The pacing helps to establish tension and suspense at the right moments in the story. The writer's execution sets up several very good twists in the first chapter alone. Without giving detail about the second chapter, there is definitely a sense of a connected story here. Each chapter can stand on its own, while it seems that they're building a much farther reaching story.

At this point, anything and everything is on the table for the creative team. I can honestly say I don't know what to expect next and I wouldn't be surprised if they wound up taking a turn that wasn't in the long list of possibilities that I could imagine.

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