- Posted by Johanna on August 6, 2007 at 6:59 am
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
At Heroes earlier this summer, I ran into James Hatton, author of In His Likeness. It’s a simple webcomic using icons to make jokes with its cast of gods and devils; I recommended it a year and a half ago.
Since then, though, I’d forgotten about it. Thankfully, great conversation with James reminded me how much I’d enjoyed it, and this time I picked up some of his print collections.
First was the simple Primer, which isn’t described on his site, although it serves the same purpose as the cast page. Like the webcomic, it’s mostly text, although color backgrounds dress it up a bit.
That was just an amuse-bouche. The main book is The Centurion, a collection of the first 100 comic strips. At $20, it’s a tad pricey for its slim digest size, but it’s in glossy full color, which the jokes sometimes depend on. (Note: price will soon be reduced to $15.)
It begins with God’s introduction. Now, I could wax symbolic about the genius of representing the supreme being with a black dot — its infinite depth, the universality of the circle — but that would likely drive all the humor out of it. And it’s goofy fun, especially once the Devil (a red circle with horns) shows up for some conflict.
He’s the star of the show, really, and he’s the only one with an entourage. The Devilettes (aka demons) are three little horned dots who run around causing trouble. (They first appear in strip 34.) He’s also the most iconic of all the gang, best recognizable as representative of the concept and Hatton’s treatment of it in most any context.
The strip really gets rolling once Hatton is comfortable with the personalities. They get more individual voices and begin interacting more frequently with each other, resulting in running gags.
A few caveats (aren’t there always when dealing with the supernatural?): The book is digitally printed. The early strips are a little fuzzy and pixellated. (Perhaps he only had low-res originals at that point? It clears up after the first 20 or so.) And someday, Hatton will learn how to properly use “its”.
Don’t think it’s all fun and games, by the way. Like the best humor, there can be significant philosophical observations hidden behind the jokes, as when God answers the question of why there is pain and suffering in the world.
I find this comic inspiring. Not in the usual way (when you’re talking about spiritual beings), but in Hatton’s creation of a technique that’s true to the medium (blending words and images to create something more than mere combination) even though he can’t draw.
There are two additional minicomics that take more of a departure from the classic four-panel comic strip structure.
Meph: The Case of the Big Holes & Our Nature is a 24-hour black-and-white comic in which one of the Devilettes becomes a private eye. His case involves a firegod whose village of worshippers burns up. The solution might seem obvious, but the easy explanation isn’t the right one. The tale incorporates elements of Indiana Jones and Buffy the Vampire Hunter into a single story that makes more sense than most of these kinds of sleep-deprived creations.
Viva Las Vegas is an all-new 32-page color minicomic that works in an extended format based around a 16-panel grid. The whole cast gets bits that are like the strip, only longer.
God and Poseidon are building a giant robot, while the Devil is working on summoning a demon. I’m not sure why the Devil needs to go through a ritual to summon a demon, but it has something to do with the Devilettes not getting along with the Four Horsemen. (Professional jealousy, don’t you know.) It’s wacky fun, like all of Hatton’s work.