Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thirty Days of CCS #17: Allison Bannister

Allison Bannister takes an avid interest in revisionist fantasy, but unlike many other CCS grads, her take is a lighthearted one. Her recent Kickstarter-powered project, Wits End, is a book that sees her essentially getting her real comics education in public. It follows an astute young man who begins the story taking his new job as Royal Scribe to young Francis, a whimsical and silly young woman who is nonetheless quite sharp when it comes to actually ruling the kingdom. In a world where magic is quite real, the scribe, immediately dubbed "Scribbulous" by the queen and her wacky court, does his best to do the queen's bidding while trying to figure out what's causing the weird goings-on in the castle. There's a knight/wizard who's in love with the queen, the absent king who's left the kingdom to his daughter so he can play golf, the queen's best friend who is an endless supply of bad jokes, and the servant who's related to the queen and resents her openly.

Characters get turned invisible, love potions cause chaos, a cursed book almost causes disaster, and there are lovelorn characters all around. This book reminds me less of a standard fairy tale and more like a Shakespeare comedy of errors, where mistaken identities and silliness abound. The pacing is leisurely, as Bannister makes sure that the reader really gets to know each of the characters in detail before drawing together plot points. What sets the story apart is that the characters are deeper than they initially appear, as Bannister uses that initial silliness and confusion to mask their real emotional complexity. It's not at all heavy-handed, but that emotional depth is what makes the story's ending especially satisfying.

In terms of the visuals, Bannister's draftsmanship skills are basic and rudimentary. Her character design is not especially distinct, but she makes up for that with her use of color and easy-to-differentiate items like clothing and hairstyles. That use of color helped to differentiate characters and even aided with visual effects that related to specific plot points, like magical potions or magical glimmers. That color at times oversaturates the page and detracts from the more dramatic use of color, which is one danger of computer coloring. On the other hand, it's obvious that Bannister clearly understood her own limitations and stuck within them, not trying to overcompensate by drawing too much. Instead, she focused on clarity of page design, panel-to-panel transitions and the ways in which bodies in space interact. There's still quite a bit of awkward negative space, but the color at least drew the eye away from that. The end result is a charming, amusing fantasy caper.

No comments:

Post a Comment