The Glamoured Disenchanted

Yesterday, Disenchanted, the Si Spurrier written, German Erramouspe drawn, Avatar published, weekly digital serial about a city for the English fay, premiered online. You can find it here. Unsurprisingly, given Spurrier's recent successes, it's pretty good.

Not perfect, mind you; for one, Erramouspe's art is what you expect from Avatar, heavy on the exploitation blood and guts, serviceable if not stunning. This has its benefits, of course, pure visceral thrill, for one, but it also facilitates storytelling; this sequence, for example, or this one, reveals the scope of what Erramouspe and Spurrier are up to and it does so without demanding that the reader stop reading for too long to admire the art. This focus, though, shows some further cracks, most notably that this first episode suffers from a debilitating case of what you might call world building syndrome. Rather develop a single narrative as a way in, Spurrier gives us several concurrent stories: Tibitha, the elder who teaches the young the old ways, a pair of cops, some disaffected, alienated, and recently arrived, day laborers. Still, although he doesn't develop any of the stories, save maybe the last one, enough for this initial installment to be satisfying, this approach, agains, opens up the world of Disenchanted in a way that gives a larger sense of what it is that the story is after. It's enough to pique curiosity, but not enough to pull you through; if you think you'd like a cross between Spenser, Dickens, and The Wire, then it's certainly enough to bring you back next week. 

Of course, one of the intriguing things about this project is the way it integrates digital and physical distribution; unlike traditional single issues, which, I think, are still primarily physical objects that some people read on their iPads, or webcomics, which are digital first and released into the physical world at intermittent intervals, if it all, or, even, what you might call digital first floppies, like the stuff Monkey Brain puts out, which are slowly being released in physical form by partnerships between that publisher and more traditional comics companies, Disenchanted's episodes are published online first and then, every six months or so, will be collected into trade paperbacks. If you don't want to come back next week, you can come back in six months and read a much more developed story at a much faster pace. Following it either way, you get a significant number of pages at a relatively short interval. The two squarish pages available online are likely going to be stitched together to make a single page for the book release (which, I think, will make the sequence I linked to above interesting in a different way; you can see where it's going to be pushed together into a splash page, it could evoke wonder, rather than being a formally unusual sequence), you're getting 12 pages an episode, 48+ pages a month, over a six month period. That's twice what you get from a monthly releasing Big Two comic book, on a pay if you want scheme. It's a pretty good deal, one that Avatar knows works from Freakangels and Crossed, and its nice to see them keeping at it. 

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