Armstrong has really blown me away.
First of all, It is beautiful; it contains great line work and a broad palette of vibrant colors – you get the sense that Mr. Halvorson spends an inordinate amount of time lovingly crafting the panels in this comic.
Right, did I mention that this Mr. Halvorson does everything himself? Writing, drawing, coloring, all of it; a true auteur it seems. That may seem like a slightly hyperbolic compliment, and perhaps it might be if Mr. Halvorson weren’t so damned talented. It isn’t just that he’s “doing it all”, but that he’s doing it all so well.
Halvorson knows how to compose a scene; he’s adept at conveying movement, weight and subtle facial intricacies that really help add personality to the characters. He utilizes negative space well with stylistic flourish and manages to do so without it coming off as superfluous; it actually manages to help tell the story.
The story itself is fantastic; involving a “superhero” who faces off against Zombies, Pirates and… well, girls and bullies. It may all sound somewhat mundane, yet it is all done with such a diligent sincerity and is so expertly crafted that you’re sold on the old standbys almost immediately. The writing is absolutely great: clever plotting, razor-sharp, witty dialog and a fantastic sense of place which takes the banality of ordinary settings and very convincingly makes them extraordinary. The layouts are clever as well, containing some very nice, unique paneling while still retaining a cohesive flow.
The highest compliment I can pay to Armstrong in my mind – and a comparison which continually ran through my head as I read the story – is that I’m very suspicious that David Halvorson is an alias for Bill Watterson. Seriously, Armstrong feels so much like Calvin and Hobbes to me that it is uncanny. Allow me to temper that statement with some elaboration though, so as not to come off as a lazy cynic…
You see, Armstrong manages to capture the sheer joy and boisterous spirit of that legendary comic without feeling derivative of it in the least; it evokes the bombastic world of young Calvin without it seeming like a forced and trifling cash-in rip-off. It has the heart and the fucking soul of Calvin and Hobbes. It tells its stories with such a disarmingly candid, childlike charm while still being intellectually fulfilling on an adult level, that I’m still eager to go back and re-read the first three ‘books’ all over again. It adroitly captures the wry, almost anarchistic (yet innocent), creative and boundless spirit of childhood in every panel. This is a real treat and I am absolutely gobsmacked that this is simply a webcomic.
I’m not sure if Mr. Halvorson has pitched this to outside publishers or not (or even if he wants to – pssst: don’t give up the property rights to this!) but if anyone is passing on a pitch for this series they are idiots, plain and simple. I’d buy this in a heartbeat and keep it on my pull list indefinitely if the quality was on par with what has been created thus far.
This is a treat for me as an adult, and for my nostalgic heart of hearts where I still remember running around in masks and playing pretend myself.
It’s rare that you see work of this quality being created so unassumingly, so sincerely. Do not miss this. I’m convinced that very soon, Armstrong will get the huge recognition that it deserves, so discover it now, support it now and be witness to its evolution. I just cannot recommend Armstong enough.
Brilliant stuff with a heart – rare indeed.