Thursday, October 8, 2009

Zuda Week: Celadore

All this week we're taking a look at the webcomics offered up through the competition at Zuda Comics. We've already reviewed the ten entries that are competing this month (part one is here, part two is here) but you're probably wondering what happens when one of these comics actually wins. Coming up with a compelling eight page intro is one thing (and a very important thing, which I will discuss at length later this week) but turning that into an ongoing series is something else. With that in mind, here's the first full length title we'll be reviewing this week: Celadore.


by Caanan Grall

First off, let me offer my sincere hope that "Caanan Grall" is an actual name and not a pseudonym, because it is fantastic. I'm pretty sure Caanan Grall fought Kull the Conqueror in a Savage Sword of Conan backup at some point. Somewhere, Roy Thomas is rubbing his hands together at the thought.

Having said that, I started Celadore with just a bit of skepticism. The first three pages, while showing some signs of life, seemed a bit cliched: Celadore is a lady with a sword, she's hunting vampires with holy water... something about candles or daylight or something... eh. Whatevs.

Then I turned the cyber page and was in for a surprise. Celadore, it turns out, isn't the story of a lady vampire hunter; it's the story of a lady vampire hunter who's soul becomes trapped in an eleven-year-old girl's body. And that raises some questions, like: what happened to Evelyn, the girl who previously was using said body? And how do you go about hunting vampires when everyone treats you like a little kid?

The answers, as it turns out are a) she's now a ghost, haunting her own body and providing running commentary on Celadore's efforts and mishaps and b) you do it the old fashioned way -- with help from other kids, namely Evelyn's best friend Sam. Sam, for his part, is perfectly willing to believe in ghost, vampires and ninjas, because, as he says, "I am only eleven." He's also both the comedic and dramatic heart of the story, adding heartfelt if often ridiculous commentary and jumping into every possible adventure with unrestrained enthusiasm.

It's that enthusiasm which also captures the reader's imagination, exemplified expertly through Grall's art. While those first three pages are a bit choppy, when the kids come onto the scene the story and the art both spring to life. His style is cartoony without being overly simple or childish, allowing him to play action sequences as easily as comic sequences, which is important because in Celadore the two usually go hand in hand.

And the writing deftly keeps pace with the art. Despite a number of humorous sequences bordering on slapstick, Grall manages to maintain balance, anchoring the moments of humor in character. And while you may find yourself smiling at most individual scenes, somehow they have a way of adding up while you're not looking into an action epic that reveals and explores a unique mythology.

In sum: perhaps it's a good thing that Caanan Grall isn't a Conan villain. Because after reading this, I have a feeling that Conan would end up on the losing side.

My Grade: A+

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