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Fleen Book Corner: WS2-2

I like Wapsi Square a lot. I like how it transformed itself from a slice-of-life strip to something with mysterious, supernatural overtones so smoothly, you almost didn’t notice it happening. And with Paul Taylor’s new omnibus collection, Wapsi Square 2001 — 2004, we can watch that transformation all over again.

Into the life of ordinary 20-something Monica is thrown a single magical (if goofball) element, almost a throwaway, early in the life of the strip. Things settled back down to lighthearted fun, and even the return of the supernatural was played more for laughs than anything else. Ah, but since then — our goofball seems to have quite a history, and Our Heroine’s personal experience is tied up in prophecy and dangerous responsibility.

A key thing, easily noticed in the collected strips, is the emphasis that Taylor puts on what’s often an invisible art: lettering. When the script face changes, big, important things are happening. Whether it’s the fractured components of an ancient chimera reincarnated as drunken college girls named Brandi, Bud, and Jin (heh, I just got that), or a neighborhood barrista who appears to be a font of insight and wisdom (with a focus on what’s important), you know that Taylor has plans and ideas for all of these characters.

The planning brought to the characters is notable even in one-shots. For instance, this lady, seen in exactly one strip so far. The story tells us she’s an industrial designer of custom brassieres, but her word balloons are all scratchy, meaning that she may be supernatural. Looking at that scarf around her neck, I can almost imagine Taylor deciding, One day she stretched a polymer cable too far; it snapped and cut her throat, leaving her voicebox damaged and her neck scarred.

Beats me if that’s her actual backstory, but rest assured, Taylor has one for her, and everybody else in the strip. He’s just doling out the details one at a time. And that’s the essence of good storytelling — show, don’t tell. Taylor mentioned in San Diego having ideas for the next five years running around his head, and looking at the stories told in just the first three, I believe him. If you haven’t read Wapsi Square before, WS2-2 is the perfect introduction.

[…] Gary Getting back to the Wapsi Square book review (down there somewheres), there’s some new reveals on Tina over at Wapsi Square this week. Note the different text color? Hmmmm. Very hmmmm. […]

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