The Kea's Nest

The Kea is a well known, cheeky, mountain parrot from New Zealand. What better name to take for myself to comment on the funny drawings I find online?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Mallory Celery *snerk*

There was something wonderful about the little sketches my friends and I used to draw in our school books at college (that's New Zealand College which equals High School. Not to be confused with University). They were quick and there were silly and sometimes they incorporated the day's subject matter in ways that seemed much more high brow than one might expect from a classroom doodle.

When I was first reading The Mulberry Gallows Project, that same sense came through. Now, that was about 6 months ago if not more and so there has been a shift. As I go back through the archives right now, looking to remind myself what I'd like to say about it, the memories of the comic that was seem brighter.

Maybe its that the artist has improved on his visuals. The addition of a Russian (?) marionette with an amazingly familiar open personality must take up a lot of time to make the wobbling flailing limbs seem suitably complex. And many of the other simpler characters (Angry Chef, Abacus the Gnome) are showing a little more movement than earlier days. While this is good for the reader in that it looks much nicer, could it detract from the immediacy that those college sketches acheived? That line that smeared the truly absurd with the fiendishly clever? There are still moments that make me double over like when my friend in school did a small funny scene that had a tree in the background and he wrote "Look! A Tree!" next to it for no reason. In fact, that example is remarkably like that.

In his book Planet Simpson, Chris Turner talks long and in detail about his idea of Pop culture. He shows the clash between high culture and lowest common denominator through specific examples found in the show, often involving Lisa, Sideshow Bob or some ancient anachronism that no-one knows about invovling Mrt Burns. But his point is that these two extremes are not really seperate cultures but are both elements of Pop, as represented by the show.

I think that something webcomics have thrived on is the culture of the internet that grew up in that same cultural space as the Simpsons. The humour doesn't have to be 'clever' but it might be. It doesn't have to be crude, but it can if it likes. The examples of this abound and would be as simple as asking you to open up your favourite comic and look for something crass and then a flash of high minded intelligence.

And that was something I remembered from my earlier reading of Mulberry Gallows. Single strips such as this. Storylines like the one where the gang decide to dig up and revitalise the corpse of Duke Ellington in order to discover what his opinion on downloading music is. A blurring of the simple and gag-riffic with the thoughts and ponderations of someone with a mind they enjoy using. This is very much a good thing, all my favourite comics manage to ride this mixture with verve and style.

For awhile it seems Marien got bogged down with the mysterious story behind Anastasia and Angry Chef, and as I read over the archives I began to think that this is an area he might be pushing to work on for himself. A longer, more involved story than a series of related jokes. If so, then I wish him well because I have certainly noticed his learning curve and admired it since I first read the comic. I would be interested to see what Fleen's opinion is now also.

What gives me ongoing hope and expectations for Mulberry Gallows is this latest strip. Mallory has drunken a beaker of logic and begun to devolve to binary. Let's see what xkcd do with that!


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