Dead Comics: Anne Frank Conquers The Moon Nazis
One of the things that I love about webcomics is the amazing breadth of form that can be found in one basic setup. I have seen plenty of blog/real life comics and yet the boundaries are huge. Then comics with a story and characters in a set location can be interrupted by these self same 'real' interludes and sometimes even single gags with no relation, also a whole extra catagory of comic.
But we'll talk about some of those another time. What I'd like to take the oppourtunity to discuss with this Dead Comic post is high concept comics.
I don't know if I've been looking in the wrong places or if my temperment attracts me to the simpler sketchier gag type strips, but I haven't seen many original complex stories on the web. Goats has certainly sprung into that realm. Girl Genius could count but from what I've seen I could lazily claim there were plenty of steampunk stories out there. Family Man (which unfortunately fell away from my check up schedule) likewise, though well executed, could be tempting to place into a niche somewhere.
Which is why I was delighted to run across Anne Frank Conquers The Moon Nazis. When some one says High Concept or Original, I have to assume this is the sort of thing they mean. A comic wherein a janitor becomes friends with a replication of Anne Frank given exceptional powers and they both set off to destroy the Nazis hideaway on the moon. It's hard to say you've heard that one somewhere else isn't it?
With such a brilliant concept under its belt I would not have been surprised to begin reading Anne only to discover that the art was incompetant and let down the story or that the story was an incoherent mess that didn't live up to the concept or a meld of the two. But, thankfully, my fears stayed unrealised.
The very first strip introduces a pencil shaded lumpy bulgy cartoony style that one recognises from older animations. That loops stretchy sort of reality where Goofy might reach across a ten metre gap to grab his hat or something. We know this is going to be a fluid universe we are entering. But then the punchline for the strip is good too. How can one recognise the fact that Nazis and Jews are two subjects that will just automatically inspire powerful feelings that aren't humour when you want to make something funny? By making it up front. The camps finished, see that bulldozer? But still, they are trying to pretend it didn't happen in the most unsubtle heavyhanded way, simply putting a new sign over the old one. It might be a tight smile, but its bringing that conflict straight out before it can laugh at anything else going on.
The strip is poignant and crude, beautifully presented and the text beneath the panels is almost like watching a subtiled movie. I love this comic and its one fo the few story based comics that pulls hard enough to make me want to come back and find out where the artist is taking me. I'd don't have enough time to be hooked by story but I can easily be hooked by gags that don't need plot to understand. For Anne, I'd make the effort.
The strip ends just as Anne and Fleisch have met and mutually been shocked and angry and then gotten themselves sorted. We haven't seen the resturant seen with Anne as just a head that is on the cover and we've seen no sign of them venturing forth to stop the return of the Nazi's, under Walt Disney's command. And, dammit, I want to know why and if we ever will!
I'm not sure why the flashes of some other comic (Firefly fanfic?) keep showing up though...