Questionable Content review

Questionable Content

Vols 1 & 2

Available online at http://www.questionablecontent.net/ (online individually or for purchase)

$18 each

I am a relative newcomer to the world of QC, and most other web comics.  I did not start reading any on a regular basis until about 3 years ago.  Most of what I was reading then I have lost interest in, but a few core series have held my interest.  Girls with Slingshots, Wondermark, Gutters and a few others have stayed consistently good for so long, that I cannot see myself falling out with them for a while.

At C2E2 last week I finally had a chance to meet Jeph Jaques of QC.  I have met Danielle Corsetto of GWS and David Malki of Wondermark as well as the Gutters team over the last few conventions, but had not yet had a chance to speak with Jeph.  He is pretty much exactly as I expected, tattooed and pierced and a bit disaffected, I doubt that he is someone I would have a lot to say to in a social setting (my failing, not his), but he was an interesting person to speak to nonetheless.  We spoke briefly about the books and how they are now a much more significant portion of his income than the T-shirts and other merchandise ever were and he did a quick doodle of Pintsize in my books.

From the second volume

I have been reluctant to spend too heavily on collected web comics as they are all available for free online, but sometimes I want a lighter read and do not want to sit in front of a screen, even if it is just the iPad.  I like to unplug at times and go old school analog.  I got the 2 collected volumes of QC at the show and have not been disappointed.  The books are fairly hefty at 160 pages and 300 strips each, and contain a limited commentary for each strip.  A few of the strips have been redrawn to replace lost hi-res files, and even the replaced strips are still here for comparison, albeit in a low-res form.  The amazing thing about these, apart for the stories of the characters is the chance to watch the progression of the quality and style of the art.  All artists grow and evolve to varying degrees, but I have never seen it so prominently on display before.  It is true that you can see it one strip at a time online, but the effect is lessened by the delay, even a brief one, in going from view to view.  In a book where you see 4 strips at a time, the effect is really dramatic.  The quality of the art is weak at the beginning, as Jeph freely admits.  At this stage it is more an exercise in persistence and the willingness to make mistakes in order to learn. Very quickly the art improves and really shows some fun and stylish touches.  The story is silly and fun, with brief hints of some more series future storylines.  My favorite character, Hannelore is not there yet, but Pintsize is very much present.  Watching the growth of the characters, and of the artist, is really a fun treat that I had not expected to enjoy quite this much. 

For the unfamiliar, QC is a story of life and relationships and little talking robots that like to eat cake batter.  The main characters are Martin Reed (described in the books as a cute, skinny indie boy), his roommate Faye and his “anthro-PC Pintsize.  The cast grows quickly and becomes a full ensemble that has a great deal of life to it.  Some of the strips are laugh out loud funny, even though I have read them all prior to having this book.  It is fun to revisit these older strips, and much more satisfying that going back and looking at old comic strips from   the newspapers of my youth.  Why that is, I cannot say, but these strips are as fresh at multiple reads as they were when I first discovered them. There is periodic mention of indie rock and I tend to skip over those few strips when they come up, as I have no interest in that sort of thing, but as the series continues, those references become less frequent and character stays in the forefront.

Anyone looking for something light, fun and entertaining, with a cast of characters that you will quickly come to care about will enjoy this series.  There is a lot of talent and creativity on display here, and watching it grow and mature really adds to this package.

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