One of the first webcomics with a storyline that I began reading with any kind of consistency was a little comic called Post-Nuke. As the title implies its one of the many post-apocalyptic stories about a man and his dog fighting a losing battle against the final destruction of civilization. It’s a very grim comic done in pencil and pen. The storyline is presented in issues like a traditional paperback, and author and artist Andreas Duller did originally plan to publish each issue individually. Now the plan is to publish the first 10 issues in a single book.
Duller has said that the online edition of Post-Nuke is more of a first draft for this final book than an actual publication, and it shows. Duller is not a native English speaker, which honestly doesn’t affect the comic a whole lot, but it’s something to keep in mind when the dialogue begins to degrade. And believe me, it will degrade. The fact is the whole comic begins a vicious tale spin in issue 7, but we’ll come to that later.
First and foremost, the comic starts off with intricately detailed artwork mixed with plenty of explosions and action. You really have to hand it to Duller, the man knows how to draw an explosion. Also, he has a real problem with people displaying his work off of his site, so we’ll be linking today.
The guy must take eons to pencil and ink each of these pages. The close-ups of the main character, whose name you don’t learn until like issue 7 or 8, are spectacular. The small-scale explosions are blurred slightly in Photoshop in an attempt to achieve that “journalist at the scene” look. What is accomplished through this method is up for the debate. It is not pulled off to the extent that the reader is given a sense of reality, but it does give a sense of movement that is appealing.
Before the forums came down about two years ago, maybe longer, there was some discussion as to why Duller chose not to do the comic in color. This is really a moot point. One look at the comic and the answer should be there in neon, except it’s in black and white. In a post nuclear wasteland, black and white paints a perfectly bleak picture. The perfectly bleak picture one wants painted when one wants to dwell on the horrors of a nuclear winter.
The storyline progresses nicely for the first six comics and sets up the main character’s back story as well as the unconventional talents he possess. He meets a few interesting if not typical enemies along the way until we get to issue seven.
In issue seven the main character rescues a little girl who at first doesn’t speak, and that seems all well and good. When she does open her mouth she fails to speak in any coherent way with a lot of manga huuuh?s and waaaah!s thrown in. She is a very annoying character and in the three issues in which we have been cursed by her presence and she has contributed little to the comic. Although when last we saw her the little brat was discovering some vicious secret. But the worst is yet to come. As the cover of Issue seven implies, the main character takes off his protection against the wasteland. His face and name are revealed as is Duller’s difficulty in drawing faces.
Judging by his deviantART page, Duller does well with cartoony Japanime and Marvel staples but when it comes to the gritty realism of Post-Nuke, his facial structures come up short. The facial expressions are hilarious at times and really detract from the mood. Especially the surprise and alarm looks. You mean Ooooh! Yes. Oooooh!
As I was saying, the eyes don’t sit well on the faces and the heads are a little misshapen. I much preferred the wrapped head and gas mask. It just looked a lot better.
The plot line also fills up with clichés pretty quickly. I mean the evil empire trying to restore a large-scale government is even called the Evil Empire. The jokes degrade from dark humor to punch-in-the-crotch humor. The story is still driven by the “mysterious ability and encounter” plot line but it’s getting bogged down in the snows of a nuclear winter and it’s in danger of losing its wheels all together.
I quit reading the comic on about page two or three of issue 10 about three years ago when I grew weary of the dialogue and apparently I wasn’t the only one. Shortly after I left, about seven pages or so, Duller went on a sabbatical. He said he would be returning to the project with new vim and vigor, however that was back in January or so. A new page was finished in March but he’s been awol since.
As I said before this is a rough draft and it is unclear how rough. Obviously spicing up the dialogue and changing a few names would be a simple task before the comic goes to print. Changing the faces would be more time-consuming, though I would love to see that happen. I’m sure Duller’s skills have progressed in his time off. Anyone who has read a comic that is 10 years in the running, ie. sluggy, knows that the artist slowly hones his craft over time.
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