Hello, everyone! I’m Aaron, and I’m back again to bring you your next favorite webcomic (hopefully)! Please, if you have any feedback, leave it here in the comments or contact me on Twitter (@Sully_Writes). And as always, if you have or know of a webcomic that you’d like to see reviewed, reach out and let me know!
Summary: Bird Boy (completely unrelated to week-before-last’s “Rice Boy” review) is an Eisner Nominated webcomic written and illustrated by Anne Szabla. Bird Boy tells the story of Bali, a diminutive boy who wants nothing more than to prove his bravery and become a hunter for his tribe. To this end, he ventures into the woods forbidden to his people, comes face to face with terrifying entities, and finds the last glimmering shard of hope for his people.
Story: Adventure and Fantasy are often genres that are done well. They lend themselves to a compelling narrative. They create room for all the necessary elements to fall into place. Make your own rules, your own world; and explore it. Embark on an epic quest, traversing the land and generating a constant and refreshing stream of scenery and new elements to draw the reader in. These genres are indeed often done well but they are also done often. Because of this abundance of stories, it is rare to find an adventure fantasy tale that feels fresh.
Bird Boy is a comic that truly feels new.
The story is composed of classic, unsurprising fantasy elements. However, it isn’t the individual pieces, but their presentation that makes this comic so enjoyable. The Rook, for example (an ethereal, dark-robed cadre who seek a powerful artifact), are pulled straight from the pages of The Lord of the Rings. However, they’re done so well, that it’s difficult to care about where their inspirations might have come from. They are compelling villains, and Bird Boy is not the Lord of the Rings.
The difference is truly in the protagonist. The exploration of this world and the creatures of the wood through the hapless and kind Bali is endearing and unique. I have yet to read a comic where the hero felt as clumsy and as powerless as this.
The one negative thing that I will say about the storytelling is that, while the comic’s silent beats and flowing panels give it a very unique character, they occasionally slow down the pacing too much. There are pages of only small motions, one after another, and moments like that should really be saved for massive impact, not common occurrences.
Art: The storytelling in Bird Boy is solid. Make no mistake. But it is the art that makes Bird Boy what it is. Anne Szabla is an amazing designer, creating new and eye-capturing shapes and feelings in every page. The characters are memorable and easily recognizable in any orientation. The creatures are thought-provoking. The world is ornate. The balance of colors is gorgeous. I honestly don’t have anything bad that I can say about the art. It reminds me (in its tribal qualities and its patterns and its depth) of Mignola’s take on Disney’s Atlantis.
The balance between details and minimalism is impressive. The images are always bold, never muddled feeling. There is a deft hand in the creation of Bird Boy.
Conclusion: Bird Boy is a fantastic comic and its creator is worthy of the praise that they are getting. If you get the time, please check this one out. You won’t be sorry that you did.