Hello, I’m a unicorn. Scott Markley is one of the few creators I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in real life. Unfortunately, at the time that I’d met him, I hadn’t heard of his Web Comic, but I wish that I did, because it is fantastic. I’m not an expert on Web comics, and probably wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t gotten my start by reading the trade paperbacks. That being said, I’ll break down the trades to the Good, the Bad, and the Itchy. Because that’s the name of the first trade volume. Get it? Get it?
Wow, that was lame, even for you.
I know. I’m ashamed. Anyway, here’s the Good: The writing and characters are fantastic. Even when the art was at its weakest, the humor made up for it in spades. You can have it many different ways, the dry sarcasm of the protagonist, Uncy, the insanity of Itchy, or just gape at the wackiness of the world itself. The premise is that there is a magical realm not visible by humans, and Grims are the enforcers. They are the physical representations of death, dream, and itchiness. There are other Grims, but those three are the main characters. They take out the rule-breakers such as people who try to stay up too late or cheat death. It’s a world of hundred year old bears, Italian leprechauns, foolish angels, cowboy dragons, goat men from Venus, and a hero who dryly comments on the insanity of it all. All of this wackiness is meant to disarm you though, because, out of nowhere you’ll be hit right in the pathos. For example, the first trade volume ends with a very important death that had me running to the second volume as soon as possible. Right now, I’m still mourning the death of another major character. It helps that all of the characters are well rounded and interesting. I especially love the brother dynamic between the three leads, with the Cain and Abel like relationship between Death and Uncy and the big brother/little brother dynamic between Uncy an Itchy. Markley described the dynamic as being like Pinky and the Brain, which I agree with, but would also add that Uncy also suffers from severe middle child syndrome in the first volume. Speaking as a middle child with couple of Itchys of her own, I can identify.
Aww, I love you too.
The Bad: The artwork isn’t the best. Maybe it’s just the web comic format, but for such a sophisticated story, it suffers in the art department. I think that the main protagonists look fine, but the humanoid characters look a little off. The art does improve a lot over time, which is why I suggest reading from the start. It’s interesting to watch him evolve as an artist. There is truly a stark difference between his most recent story arc and the first arc. I really like the artwork when the Markley experiments with different styles such as the stories told from Itchy’s perspective and the dreams of the Necromancer and the goblin. The artwork is a minor complaint though, I’ve certainly seen and drawn much worse, and it doesn’t distract from the great storytelling.
The Itchy: I love this character so much. He’s crazy, a bit of a woobie, and just plain adorable. Out of all the wacky characters, he’s my favorite for being so innocent and optimistic. If he didn’t set himself on fire so often and if his touch didn’t make people break out in a rash, I’d definitely want to give him a hug. In the wrong hands, this character could have been very irritating, but his randomness, love of pancakes, and hidden depths make him my and my favorite character.
Overall, this web comic is definitely worth checking out. While the artwork might not be the greatest, the humor and story makes up for it in spades. The world is creative and funny, stories are interesting, and I really care about the characters. It even appeals to non-comic readers. I also suggest getting a trades because each page has Markley’s commentary on the creative process, plus more Itchy comics and I cannot get enough of Itchy. So what are you waiting for, either go to Timeforhugs.com or buy the trade paperbacks, and read it now!