September 28, 2011
An evil wizard, a half-fiend, a ghost, and a vampire walk into a storyline…
anti-HEROES (Yes, that is the rather annoying spelling) is an interesting case for Remember for a couple of reasons. The first and perhaps most prominent being that it spawned from the same “webcomic boom” as Remember did, on the Giant in the Playground forums before moving to its own site back in 2008.
The second important reason is that anti-HEROES is quite unusual as a webcomic in that it has fully changed hands from its original creator (Jordan “Zara” Quigley) to a new author team (Chris “Dyluth” Hudzieczko and Alexander “LeakingPen” Hollins, team dypen for short). Consequently, it’s a little hard to really judge the comic across two different eras without really seeming unfairly critical or favourful of one or the other.
Artistically, anti-HEROES (aH for short) has its roots in the same soil Remember does: Rich “The Giant” Burlew, of Order of the Stick fame. Unlike Remember however, aH has stuck very closely to those roots, using a little added flair and colour shift to distinguish itself more readily from its parent. Colours are however quite a lot more vibrant in the dypen era than the Zara era. Zara was already an accomplished and well-practiced artist before he began making anti-HEROES, but comparatively dypen are folk I’m unfamiliar with, they managed to snatch the job of creating aH pages based on a big audition when Zara decided to step down.
As a consequence of Zara’s practised talent, the comic starts on pretty good ground with art. Bearing in mind the inevitable Order of the Stick comparisons, Zara has managed to establish a lot of unique elements to aH that distinguish it. For example, the cast of characters is perhaps the evil fantasy equivalent of being racially, gender, and sexuality aware in modern television. You’ve got Aldran the constantly-hooded wizard, Kaal the ghost, Keriss the half-fiend, and Lana the vampire, in addition to the “villains” (considering that the main cast are ostensibly the evil-doers here, antagonists is perhaps more accurate) being a series of paladins serving a pseudo-deity that sort of resembles Zordon from the old Power Rangers series. Artistically, aH is pretty varied, with a low-to-mid level of detail involved with characters, each with a very unique silhouette and wardrobe.
In the dypen era, things are a bit different. Limbs tend to be a bit too “spaghetti”, mouths tend to be slightly misplaced (and given that the human brain is strongly wired to recognise facial expression, a slight misplacement throws things off quite a bit), and the average level of detail has upped significantly, not often to great effect. The comic still retains a lot of the original elements that made it great, but they’re sort of slightly twisted from the original implementation, a mildly different take on things if you will.
Team dypen has been running the comic since May of this year with sixteen comics under their belt thus far (beginning here), so consequently writing is little hard to judge in separation from that of Zara’s reign, but the characters are pretty much the same, albeit sometimes almost stereotyping themselves which is almost expected when fans take over a project. Zara managed to keep the characters very distinct with their own motives, goals, and personalities, whereas the dypen staff are sort of a photocopy of them, if I must offer up a bizarre office-related metaphor. Comedy and drama are still kept pretty clear of one another, pulled off reasonably well by both teams.
As I said, it’s sort of difficult to judge a webcomic in two eras without seeming to trash one side or praise the other, anti-Heroes essentially has two points where it hits “webcomic starting point zero” where each of the teams starts off. Zara knew everything about the characters and how to write them and had a lot of drawing experience in the same style before he started, whereas team dypen has gained access to Zara’s notes and his comic archive and started trying to duplicate his style and work with the mild variations sort of showing their inexperience in the matter.
It’s not that that team dypen is bad, just that their arrival on the scene has set anti-Heroes back a few steps and they need to catch up quickly. Certainly I couldn’t criticise them for taking a little while to adjust and get up to speed, having taken literal years to seriously and noticeably improve my own artistic work, hypocrisy is a joke one makes of oneself after all.
Anyways, anti-Heroes is running a pretty long-haul storyline, with epic prophecies, deep schemings, and a world that’s only just begun to be explored and, despite the slight setback of changing hands, it looks like it’s going to do pretty well. I’d recommend it.