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Eric: I once found a cockroach in my expensive hot cocoa mix. I did not love it.

Finally (I think) on this oh-so-webcomicish day... there is Five Ways to Love a Cockroach, with words by Alexander Danner and images by Neal Von Flue.

I have said before that Danner's projects tend to be those rarities where Flash works well as a tool to improve the whole of the comic. Further, I have mentioned before that the union of Flash and Infinite Canvas -- both of which I have trouble with separately -- can form a whole that works beautifully. Well, here we have some proof of that. A "straight" expanded canvas work, with the trailing path of a cockroach tying the imagery together, and the navigation tools simple and smooth and staying out of your way, has built a beautiful piece where Neal Von Flue's illustration blends with the almost poetic imagery of Danner's words. The whole combines into something greater than its parts.

I've often felt that way about Danner's words, before. His sense of usage and image -- like I said, poetic -- is what the work rests upon, and he knows better than most how to pull it off. But Neal Von Flue's art is a perfect blend here. That doesn't surprise me -- Von Flue is... well, very very good, particularly in works that mix media, and we see that here.

This is almost a straight review. For those of you who read these snarks for insight on how to do these things right, then look carefully at each frame of the Flash. Look how they piece together. Look how the static imagery is tied together. (This is not ersatz animation. This honestly is a new way to look at static, sequential art.) Look how quickly the whole loads and the pleasure of actually viewing the resulting file.

And then, reread, focusing on the content, and discover how creeped out you feel at the end. I mean, brr.

Danner and Von Flue did it right. They collectively get a biscuit. A tasty, tasty biscuit.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at September 6, 2005 4:03 PM


Comment from: Robotech_Master posted at September 6, 2005 4:45 PM

Would that be a biscuit with a cockroach secreted in it? :)

Comment from: miyaa posted at September 6, 2005 5:57 PM

Other than Mozilla crashing on me because of the flash (Maybe it's an older model of Mozilla?), I found the flash animation and artwork montage (and I've never liked montages) very, very snazzy to the point where I'm pretty much droolling.

That being said, I'm pretty sure the narrator is equating one's significant other to a cockroach.

And cockroaches survive darn near everything. Dinosaurs, meteors, the Powerpuff Girls couldn't stop 'em. I'm not sure about the rumor that they could survive a nuclear missle, though.

Comment from: SeanH posted at September 6, 2005 6:51 PM

Well, probably not a direct hit.

Comment from: Kate Sith posted at September 6, 2005 8:00 PM

....duuuuude. That's pretty awesome.

Comment from: Aerin posted at September 6, 2005 8:26 PM

Very shiny indeed. Alexander Danner continues to impress me.

Comment from: John Lynch posted at September 6, 2005 8:32 PM

He's.... certainly different, that's for sure.

I can't say I like his work, but I can say that I'm happy I've seen both his work (the Spoon and the Cockroach) and that I do look forward to viweing his next comic.

There's something about his work that leaves me confused as to how I feel about it. It's certainly not your typical webcomic ;)

Comment from: Shelby Reiches posted at September 7, 2005 4:03 AM

I'm not particularly hard to please when it comes to characterization. Getting me to fall in love with a character or character(s) in a webcomic, to care about their actions, trials, and motivations, is not a Herculean task.

To, with written words and (virtually) still pictures, evoke in me strong revulsion, or at least discontent, at my own feelings takes, I believe, something far more.

I learned something about myself, when I viewed this comic. It's not something I like, but the fact remains that it hit me in such a way as to make me feel uncomfortable, but resigned to a sort of truth.

I'd like to see more of Danner's projects, but I'm almost afraid of what I'll find.

Comment from: Alexander Danner posted at September 7, 2005 9:59 AM

Eric -- thanks so much for the review! I always enjoy reading what you have to say about my work. That you found the end so chilling makes me very happy. Incidentally, as with Spoons, this story is adapted from a poem. It was first published in the online lit journal Samsara Quarterly, and the un-illustrated poem can be found on the Extras page at TwentySevenLetters.com.

John -- That you feel compelled to read my work despite not quite liking really intrigues me, and is itself a huge compliment. Thank you!

Shelby -- It's amazing to me that my work could have such a profound effect on someone. Thank you for sharing this. At the same time, I hope that what you've learned is something you will find a way to use. It's certainly not my hope to leave people less happy with themselves.

To all the other folks with nice things to say -- thank you!

It's perhaps worth mentioning that my next story is going to be quite a departure from these last two. I'm working with William George on a darkly comedic story about a trio of space-farers who return to Earth two thousand years in our future.

Comment from: Neal Von Flue posted at September 7, 2005 11:50 AM

I'm working with William George on a darkly comedic story about a trio of space-farers who return to Earth two thousand years in our future.

...And find nothing but cockroaches??

(And, thanks for the good words Eric!)

Comment from: quiller posted at September 7, 2005 4:36 PM

Definitely had to reread it. The first time through I was reading and looking, but it was disjointed. The second time through I let it wash over me and actually saw what was there. The words themselves seemed quite literal, it was the combination with the images that seem to make them mean more. (Or is that make them seem to mean more?) The story itself is all in background. It kind of reminds me of some of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's collaborations, actually. Quite good.

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