|- Review of 'The Jerk', by Re.
The Jerk is certainly not a comic to look through in 30 seconds, shrug, and give up. If you want easy reading and a quick laugh go visit You Damn Kid, which is a great comic to itself. There is a deeper meaning to The Jerk that I only caught upon the 4th or 5th read through it. You really have to ponder the undercurrents at work and how they interact, like a riddle or koan. That said, it is probably best to discover on your own, as the reward is rich, but at the end of the review I'll explain what I saw for those looking.
The art for The Jerk is simplistic. You have your basic geometrically shaped man with simple pencil shading walking around in what are very basic, mostly white environments. This seems very low-key and 'artsy' at first, but really comes into its own as appropriate as things tie together. Various sections and panels can be clicked for additional frames of smooth animation, key to the story of The Jerk. Even the panels, lines and out-of-frame additions all add a rich subtle blend to the mood of the story; the lines linking panels jarring, changing color, thickening, and swirling at appropriate emotional junctures. None of it is complicated, but it is all very clean.
What is this?
Spoilers ahead, stop reading if you want to 'get it' yourself. This is just my impression, mind you. To start, look at the text that links into the comic.
A hypercomics experiment that uses Flash and image-maps in a long-form environment to tell a three-dimensional expanded narrative regarding the current state of online comics...(ooh, sounds arty...)
That in thought, you should read the comic as a whole. Do it twice, click on all the required parts. Now, read the story you find in the gallery in detail. Notice that it explains this man's life to 2005, a year from now. Keep the story open and look at the parallels between it and the comic. There are many links between the two, telling the story of this avatar and his dream.
Now it all starts to come together, why it's so cliché artsy, why there is a comparison between art in the hand and no hand in web comics, the period of introspection, the crude cartoon drawings compared to his 'keen' comment, the two wings appearing and taking his newfound heart away, and the dream ending in a panel unconnected to the others, in the future.
I found the Jerk a rewarding experience, time certainly not wasted. Deceptively simple, good for light expansive thought and something to say about web comics as a whole. I give it 8/10.