The webcomics blog about webcomics

It’s About Police Brutality…And Sometimes Rhymes.

After one gentle nudge a while back (with mention of fixing some text?) and one bold comment on last week’s column, I thought I’d finally turn some attention to Thine Appellation, a recent entrant in the Bomb Shelter Comics Webcomic Idol competition that Gary, one of the new judges, mentioned in an earlier post. Hailing from somewhere in the United Kingdom, Thine Appellation (funny punny title, by the way) is a webcomic about four cops (mostly bald), police brutality (kind of), some gender stuff (sort of, but not really), and bombs filled with icing? Or yogurt? I think. I’m not totally sure.

Weirdly, it kinda works for what it is. I know that sounds a little lukewarm, but the things that I found most captivating and quirky about this webcomic aren’t what you’d expect and weren’t much to do with the storyline (obviously). It took me a minute to figure out how to navigate (Paperwork? Questions?) and the episodes aren’t titled or dated in an easy-to-follow manner, but I really love the handwritten title and navigation bars. It’s a distinctive detail in a webcomic with a number of quirky details.

The webcomic itself seems to be fairly new, and I’m still trying to figure out who creates it (S. Autsa? S. Clarke? Help me out here.), though it also sounds like the webcomic went through a recent retooling, particularly of the archives, where something like 30-plus episodes were deleted. From a subjective standpoint, the artwork didn’t really grab me until the creator started fiddling around with it. Even though the coloring works and there’s some interesting shading in a number of the early episodes (Episodes? I’m just going to call them episodes from here on in for ease of reference), I didn’t really pay close attention until I clicked between episode 44 (in vibrant color) and 45 (not in color, which actually works). It reminded me a little of some of those moments in Watchmen, when color was used to indicate time shifts. The black, white, and gray episodes look almost icy in comparison.

Then, color is re-introduced in some subsequent episodes. It’s a trick that should seem familiar: “I think the whole ‘black, grey and white with sometimes horrible added colours’ scheme rocks. I think another comic does this already, but hey!! It’s a webcomic! Everything I do by definition is old hat already.” This quotation’s from the notes underneath the episode, and the heart of it is true. This webcomic does borrow some of its tricks from other webcomics. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing, and the links page does more or less catalogue most of these influences.

I have a few quibbles, which mostly get ironed out by the end of the archives. (Yes, I did actually start at #1 and read all the way through.) While some of the perspectives are at times a little skewed or out of balance, that’s not news to the creator. The short notes under each episode are as much critical commentary about the process of creating this work–which is cool to read–as chatty banter much like you see on a number of major webcomics. There are actually two archive pages. There’s the funny, short one, and then there’s the actual archives page, which is hugely funny. (Each time you click on the link it comes up with different handwritten titles including “my handwriting sucks” and “I hate all of these comics.” And there’s a special one just for you folks who will refresh and refresh and refresh yet again to see all of them.) It’s also taking a playbook right from many other webcomics, though I thought particularly of Diesel Sweeties what with all those snappy titles all lined up.

Ultimately, it is a work in progress. For example, the second panel in episode #30 is a little tricky to follow with the word balloons since sometimes there isn’t a clear enough visual flow. (Still, there are others, such as episode #35, which do have well-done and easy to follow flow; I think maybe this one panel just got away from him.) It happens to the best of us; that’s something you learn as you go…which is something that you can actually follow in this webcomic. I like the experimenting, how in some places it’s just…putting up the comic, even though there’s an ear missing or the shading is off, or is unsatisfying somehow in its composition. Episode #33 starts a short-lived experiment with fonts. It’s true that the lettering can be difficult to read at times, but it’s also one of the distinctive features of the strip and something which my caught my eye the first time I clicked on the link. It’s also something the creator’s taken some care to address.

In sum, that’s what makes Thine Appellation an interesting read, in my opinion. It’s a work in progress where there’s experimentation with different styles. We saw this same idea in Mike Luce’s lovely Fite! a few weeks back. I’m not as convinced on the storyline, even though there’s nothing per se wrong with it; it’s just, from a holistic point of view there are a number of different points working in concert that moves this webcomic forward. I’m interested to see where it goes in the future.

Speaking of, keep the recommendations coming. I’m particularly interested in any oddball webcomics or new finds, especially if there are any good birthday jokes in them: mine is next week and it’s my official excuse to make with the Halloween t-shirt buying…

Thanks! You’ve pretty much nailed it on the head, especially about the comic being a work in progress. I only started last year in December, and all criticism or advice is received happily by me, which I’ll apply to future comics with relish.

I like how you call me the Creator; I sound like some kind of Dr. Who bad guy! I’ll go with S. Autsa, by the way.

It’s not really about police brutality. Or cops. It’s just…I’m not sure. At first it was TOTALLY going to be about cop humour and cop show parodies, but now I’m striving more towards just general humour and silliness. They may be cops, but that’s not a gimmick or something you need to know to get the jokes. You hopefully liked the jokes, yes? Then I am happy.

I think that’s what you meant by your storyline quibble, unless I misread? Tell me if I did misread!

Also, any missing ears or shading is because I’m an idiot and forgot to put it in. I shall find that missing ear and put it in now, making you look foolish. Ha!

Thank you for reading and for your criticism! It’s nice to get a perspective of the comic that isn’t mine, and it’ll help drive me forward. I’ll be sticking with it for a while for sure! (sorry for the long reply!)

Also, as far as oddball comics go, try Cardoons. It’s weird.

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