|Do the happy dance!|
The last time that we looked at The World of Vicki Fox, I expressed my adoration for the characters and the stories over the years, but lamented over its seemingly indefinite hiatus since 2013. Well, the lamentations are over! I was holding off on saying anything about this until I was sure it would stick, but I’m now very happy to say that Vicki Fox is back for our reading pleasure!
One of the biggest problems that I feel Vicki Fox had over the years was getting a consistent artist to help bring the stories to life. That problem now seems to be solved with a new artist on the team that goes by the name of Jan.
Who is Jan, you may ask? Well, he just so happens to be the artist and author of several other anthropomorphic comic strips of his own creation! I had only barely learned of him before I saw the announcement of him drawing Vicki and her friends so, in the interests of curiosity, I thought that I might investigate this artist and see where they’re coming from and share my findings with you all.
Jan’s primary comic hosting website is www.tigerknight.com and, from there, we have three different comics to choose from. Only one of the strips has had a full run, so I thought it best to look at that one to get a general idea of Jan’s talents. The webcomic in question is titled College Catastrophe, and it’s actually a pretty good fit for those who are fans of the style of comics presented in The World of Vicki Fox.
|This is clearly a realistic reenactment of the creative team hard at work!|
College Catastrophe is a ‘slice of life’ comic that primarily follows the misadventures of a lion named Jan, his roommate Wolf (a wolf), and the various friends they have and make while living on their college campus. The comic is heavily focused on humor and slapstick silliness, with characters routinely blowing things up, getting beaten up through various school hazards, and getting themselves into some truly ridiculous situations (Wolf is frequently the cause of these with his various hare-brained schemes and skill with turning whatever he touches into some kind of explosive).
Although the drama of the comic is relatively low, it does have moments of romance and loving friendship, especially between Jan and his girlfriend, Amber. The comic is also openly a parallel to the author’s own college experiences and observations, and a fun time capsule of technology and American society around the early 2000’s, so there are a lot of jokes that are clearly centered on the reader having knowledge of college dorms, as well as computer and tech jokes that may go over the heads of younger readers. This unfortunately dates the comic a little, but the comic never gets so deep into cultural references or jokes that it can’t get its point across.
|I think what I like best about this is that the mummy isn't just dead, but his eyes are also covered... |
and he's still flying the plane.
As for the art of the comic, that is another relatively high point. Although the character designs are pretty simple, they’re appealing and expressive. Jan and Wolf especially get some great expressions going and you can always tell when Wolf is up to no good from his smile. The strip is only in black and white, however, and it rarely deviates from the daily newspaper comic design. There also is not much visual spectacle, as few of the panels, if any, focus on scenery or anything beyond character art. It’s clear that the focus with these comics is on the dialogue and writing.
All in all, College Catastrophe is an appealing and enjoyable webcomic that harkens back to the daily pages of newspaper comics in the 90’s, and I’m very happy to have read it!
With that in mind, after reading the comic from start to finish, I think I can safely say that Jan’s style will probably be an excellent fit for The World of Vicki Fox. It can really hit all of those light-hearted notes and fun characterizations. Plus, Jan himself has grown as an artist since College Catastrophe and it can be seen in his full color work now that does not shy away from background details.
|There's clearly a style difference compared to previous Vicki Fox artists, |
but the essence of the characters still comes through loud and clear!
I will say, however, that some of the characters don’t quite look like themselves in Jan’s style. Craig Wolf, for example, doesn’t look quite as lanky or charmingly awkward as Laura Howell or Shelley Pleger drew him, and there’s a bit of the ‘Looney Tunes’ edge that seems to be missing from the cast that we’ve grown so familiar with. However, the writing is still familiar, and Jan has only been working on the comic for a couple of months now, so there are going to be growing pains as the cast grows into his style and vice versa. If reading comics lately has taught me anything, it’s that new artists take time to get used to and there will always be an adjustment period!
With all of that being said, I’m happy to see The World of Vicki Fox back and running again and I wish Jan and Michael Russell the best of luck with the comic! I hope that you all check it out too! The comic updates on the first and third Sunday of every month, so keep an eye on your calendars to catch the new pages right here.
|What can I say? I always enjoy seeing a good artist at work!|
To see more of Jan’s work and read his own entertaining comics like College Catastrophe, head on over to his website! (Some comics are intended for mature audiences, and are clearly marked) https://www.tigerknight.com/
Until next time, happy reading, all!
Mouseheart by Lisa Fiedler