Webcomic Book Club Full Reviews
of Gravedigger: The Scavengers by Christopher Mills & Rick Burchett

"You ignorant old fart – There weren't no cavemen back in dinosaur times." – Red

"Are you sayin' the movies lied?" – Digger

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Review of "Gravedigger: The Scavengers"

A gripping, gritty, tight little film noir-inspired tale featuring a Lee Marvin look-alike who delivers hardboiled narration that rivals the best Bogart films. A classic "one last heist" yarn where everyone is secretly scheming against everyone else and, of course, everything goes wrong. (I actually just saw two of these tales at the movie theater: "The Hard Word" and "The Italian Job", both quite entertaining, but I digress)

Every panel is a joy to behold. This is some of the best art I've seen yet in a webcomic. It is really, really high quality stuff. I mean we are talking Jack Davis/Wally Wood level here. Like those EC Comics greats, "Gravedigger" has that same rich detail combined with spot-on caricature and fun, humorous stylizations. I disagree with an earlier reviewer who said that the quality of the art varies at times. The degree of exaggeration may vary but it all looks extremely well-intentioned to me.

The characters are essentially archetypes of the genre, but well-rendered archetypes. You aren't going to have the kind of nuances of personality of a dramatic character study, but the writer achieves exactly what he intends with his intentionally limited palette.

This strip was one of the (now-defunct) AdventureStrips.com titles and perhaps my personal favorite of that group. The 28-page length is the perfect amount for a weekly read, but one strip per week was perhaps just too tiny of a morsel to attract paying customers. It's a shame, because if there were a series of stand-alone comics of this length and quality available each week, I think it would be very habit-forming. I'm all for reading more "Gravedigger" episodes!
Review by The Phantom Critic Fri Jul 04 2003 10:39 PM

Art: The art was very well done, and reflected the mood of the comic well. The cover proclaimed that this was pulp, and the style fits in nicely with that.

Nine out of ten Artistic Apples.

Story: The story was short, but to the point, with no loose ends. It's not necessarily my sort of story, but it's very well done, with no nagging questions left at it's conclusion. An excellent short story.

Nine out of ten Scintillating Scones

Characters: The characters were as about as complex as the length of the story, and you don't get the sensation that they skimped on the personalities at all. They may seem a bit calloused, but that also fits in with the tone of the story.

Eight out of ten Colliding Colloids

Overall: An excellent piece, especially considering it's length. This isn't the type of webcomic I tend to like, preferring fantasy and sci-fi most of the time, but I have to admit that it's well-done in almost every aspect.

Nine out of ten Oozing Ovals
Review by Luthorne Tue Jul 01 2003 05:52 PM


The art was very well done, good use of colour and shading in all the panals, each charactor was given individual faces and expressions, which sometimes is hard to do in a webcomic. the background, foregrounds, chars and actions were all well drawn and inked, the use of shadows and lines are very well intergrated.

Very good charectors, they fit the story perfectly you can understand each one, and there are no inconstinces in their actions, the minor chars do there job, and depart the majors follow through on the story. Digger being the main char has the most exposition, his running monolouge helps inflate his char and allows us to know why he does the things that he does.

A short but well developed story, dark gritty, filled with crime and other nastiness, well done! written well and portraied superbly by the chars, i but cut and dry, boy meets girl, boy wins girl, girl shoots boy, etc. you know how it goes. descriptive and explicit a good job all around

Page design:
Not bad, a plain white background, two arrows back and forward, the comic was uniformly the same size and usually had a dark look which stood out well on the white, so there was no reason to change anything.

8.5/10 A very well done short comic, good chars, well drawn and a fun read.
Review by Jordin The Learned Mon Jun 30 2003 04:04 PM

Gravedigger was a gritty pulp comic, through and through. Quite good, too.

Art: The art was quite good. It fit the story well, and showed the characters as scarred-but not unusually so. While you could pick out most of them from a line-up, none of them screamed "I am a criminal!" There were a few places where it seemed to decrease in quality, but not drastically.

Characters: Digger, Angel and Red were the only characters with any real development, unfortunately. Digger had the most, naturally, since was the narrator-and that was a real treat. He's not a good guy by any means, and doesn't try to deny it. But he's also unflinchingly honest, both about himself and everyone else. Red was interesting-at first. However, as Digger himself noted, Red wasn't much beyond fierce. And I liked Angel as the antagonist of the story-of sorts.

Plot: The plot was rather standard fare, to start with. But most stories would probably have ended with either Angel or Digger outwitting the other and taking the money. Gravedigger went beyond that point, to what seemed a logical conclusion. And the very end was a lovely twist.

Writing: The writing for Gravedigger was almost entirely filtered through Digger-which limited what it could explore. I like that Digger didn't act as an unbiased narrator-that wouldn't have fit with his character. But on the other hand, I'm curious as to what happened with the lesser characters in this case-a question that Digger dismisses, thus closing it to the reader as well.

Overall: Gravedigger was a good read, with a clear beginning, middle and end. I give it 8 out of 10, for its dark characters and bleak story-something that was often reflected in the landscape.
Review by Benor Mon Jun 30 2003 02:06 PM

Well now, with a name like Gravedigger, I was actually expecting some kind of gag-comic about well, you know, gravediggers not a well thought-out story with fascinating characters.

I liked the idea of the main character being a hardened criminal - especially the way the whole thing was pulled off by showing the main character's thoughts throughout. The way in which the story was written was reminiscent of those old dectective shows ("The dame was loaded" etc..) The characters were so real that I could practically hear them speaking to each other.

I was quite disappointed to find that there weren't any real characters beyond Angel and the main-character whose name eludes me at the moment. The rest seem to be like cardboard figurines - just there to add to the atmosphere and scenery. I would deeply have loved to see them in action somehow.

The artwork is quite stylised and it's obvious that the artist is trying to follow the old Elfwood/Marvel/DC style. It's quite well drawn for such a short comic and only proves to be a work of heart for the artist.

I also liked the used of framing technique which brings the whole story together, the beginning ties in with the end. I do wish the story had a happier ending, but I guess it only goes to prove the harsh realities of the ex-convict's life.

I give this comic a 9 outta 10 for great artwork, a solid storyline and no spelling mistakes beyond accents.

Selphie Trabia/Catty Dewclaw
Review by Catty Dewclaw Sun Jun 29 2003 03:32 PM

Here's a place I haven't been recently... ^^;;


The drawing style is very very nice looking. It looks professional. The coloring looks a bit flat, but that doesn't seem to degrade it at all.

The panels were very well done and were not confusing at all -- something that seems to be a trend in many webcomics >.>;;


I liked a lot how the squares were done up for Digger's thoughts. Though I did find it annoying after about two bubbles the word emphasises. There had to be one *every* sentence. I can see how stressing one word over another can be important, but you have to be careful to not overdo it so much.


Both seemed a bit... cliched... It seems like a mob-gangster thing. Though, I wouldn't necessarily expect to see one of them smiling, laughing, and eating candy in a tutu. Angel is the average "I'm a woman, thus I get my way" person. They always tend to annoy me. Digger and his thoughts were intriguing throughout the story, though.

The plot, though, was pretty predictable. The typical girl sleeps with guy, has guy kill off her husband, kills the guy, steals his money. Though, there were some surprise twists. I didn't see, at the end, how Angel tried tricking Goodis like she did Red and Digger coming at all.

I also enjoyed the little jokes that were put in it. =D Though, the overall-ness was given a quite serious nature. The ending also amused me thoroughly.

I give Gravedigger a 7 out of 10.
Review by Cave Sun Jun 29 2003 03:25 PM

A review of Gravedigger
by Kajamir the Giant

Gravedigger is a short story that features a not too common center. Your average yarn usually deals with a conflict centered around a struggling hero ending in a fortuitous conclusion. Gravedigger is about an utterly amoral and aging ex-con who is not seeking redemption, but the final big score so he may retire and live the life of Riley. There is no decency or even a nod towards real kindness. In that world, he lives amongst others with similar sentiments as the final big score takes a violent end. While the end of the plot might be predictable, it's fascinating to read in a mere thirty pages of crime drama. The consistency and cleverness of the 'protagonist' adds a lot of flavor to a short meal.

Starting with the art, there's a gritty pulp fiction/Grand Theft Auto resemblance. I think it suits things rather nicely. The characters are realistically noir detailed and not necessarily very pretty or handsome looking. It makes them suitably more villainous without going so far as to have a Snidley Whiplash style of evil appearance. Rather, they bear a hard visage but could look like anyone else in real life. Gritty would describe them.

I really liked the story here. Often, you don't get to see an evil natured individual run through his paces as the main character. When there is, he's almost comical or unbelievable. The ex-con, while skilled, is entirely a normal man with a personal code of conduct. He bears enormous amounts of pride but doesn't let it slip to others. We are privy to hear his thoughts and musings about situations and of himself, allowing us to see how the machine works. While effective, he's not entirely perfect either, but interestingly enough he seems to acknowledge this of himself. He's a sinner and very open to himself about it.

If there's problems with the story, I'll say the extra characters introduced as his associates, several have no real bearing on anything. Why they're given characterization, I can only guess is to keep us in the dark about the conclusion. Still, it feels a little off in an otherwise good story run. Second, how the ex-con begins to meet his end seemed oddly out of character for him. He goes around planning and suspecting things correctly, but a very obvious opportunity he passes up, and winds up with a mortal penalty as a result. It's not clear to me why he didn't make use of said time to finish the job. I would also say he could use a bit more characterization, but he works as who he is in the limited room.

All the same, I thought the story in the context of 30 pages was very enjoyable, and would have liked to have read more. It's a pity how things turned out, even if he is a villain, but I think that a story that can make one care for the criminal has done well.

I'm giving Gravedigger an 8 out of 10 stars. It's short, but sophisticated and engaging. I'd recommend it if anything mentioned above sounds interesting, but it's not really appropriate for a young audience due to brief nudity, visual violence, and the amoral behavior.
Review by Kajamir the Giant Sun Jun 29 2003 12:54 PM

Offsite Review Summaries

"The plot is full of violent double- and triple-crosses, but McCrae somehow manages to foil every attempt to put him away. He’s got his eye on the prize and nothing will stop him from reaching it. As morally bankrupt as McCrae is, there’s a kind of nobility to him that causes us to root for him anyway." more...
Read Full Review by Michael May at Comic World News Wed Mar 19 2003

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