Thursday, May 7, 2009

Zuda review Lily of the Valley/ What if Rob Zombie did a remake of Romeo and Juliet?

John Waters this one's for you

Lily of the Valley is a May 09 Zuda comic done by Adam Atherton AKA oysterboy and HarleyQuinn. 5/5 stars, a fav, and my vote. [My little sis isn't a member, but if she could vote it would be here too for the strawberry lip-gloss mention/ it's all the rage with tweens these days] Here is the synopsis: In the small Eastern Canadian town of Elmwood, a teenage girl who commits murders to cope with her mental instability, falls for the elusive night roaming boy who has been taking all of the blame. Lily is seemingly normal, but has chosen a dangerous method of controlling her mental struggles. As the community becomes consumed by paranoia resulting from the wave of unexplained deaths, Lily falls for an odd boy named Thomas, also known as the White Ghost of Elmwood. The pale white Thomas roams the outskirts of town at night and his existence is frequently debated. The “White Ghost” is accused by many to be the town's killer, while others prefer more paranoid explanations. Panic and paranoia are at an all-time high in Elmwood and even Thomas, who knows its secrets and fears like no other, is unable to explain the rapidly rising death toll. Lily and Thomas must conduct their romance away from the suspicious eyes of the community and unlock the magic of Elmwood’s rich history to provide themselves with a chance at renewal and redemption. High school exams, mental disorders, strawberry lip-gloss, and bloody homicides.

May's 'birth flower' is the Lily of the Valley, It's in the May contest, I was born in May, maybe it was fate I would vote for this comic? ;)

We get color mixed in with a steel brown monotone on the first screen and throughout the comic the color scheme's effect on the art truly stands out. The hint's/traces of pink and the color transition done on screen 1 panels 1-6 -just awesome. Color is used as a visual aid to help you follow along in the story -way better than the old school silver age pointer arrows. Adam is a fantastic artist (reminds me some of Josh Howard) , who likes to write stories for Zuda involving serial killings. Which my go to genre's are the horror/crime genres so the art/writing here is like peanut butter and jelly to me. I do hate text box thought balloons with a God awful passion, but it helps if their well written and not overdone. In this comic Adam pulls off the writing just as well as the art. The panel layout/ screen composition is also impressive no where is this more obvious than the (not demonically possessed) rat sequence on screen 2. Showing the characters at a tilted angle instead of dead-on also increase interest. You see a sewer ossuary that is remarkable well done, followed by a forest of pink lawn flamingos on the next screen. It looks like their could be a motif/ symbolic connection between Lily and pink flamingos, and Thomas with white rats. If you haven't already grasped the fact this girl is off her medication screen 5 removes all doubts. Panel 2 screen 5 the art is a little unclear it looks like Lily just stabbed herself in the leg. The next two panels of a blood drenched flamingo bring a sense of dread, and damn what a way to die! The inner thoughts pay off on screen 6, a long with the title card is a perfect fit to a perfectly paced Zuda comic. The shades of blood and the use of identifying colors on this screen is a soft touch, but gets the job done. The use of color here is kind of like what M. Night Shyamalan has done for his movies. Screen 7 shows us Thomas who is wrapped up like a mummy, and we finally get to see some dialogue balloons. Smaller letters were used for a softer worried tone, well done job by the creators on the lettering too. If your a gorehound a Chris Matthews style tingle may run up your leg upon viewing Screen 8 panel 1. Mrs. Bellows does her best impersonation of John the Baptist at a Templar meeting. If your not a gorehound the last screen of Lilly in the Valley will still bring the payoff shock value most 8th screen's on Zuda don't.
The last panel is pure chaos, cop cars with their lights and sirens, all those pink flamingos, a huge trail of blood, and leaves blowing up towards the sky -also the reader since it's a over head P.O.V. shot. SPOILER ALERT --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mrs. Bellows is the sheriff's wife (I believe) thus setting us up for some possible devil's rejects style action. I'm guessing this is some of the Info Zuda wanted redacted from the synopsis?---------------- I said it for The Crooked Man and I'll say it here, why no instant win??? I also want to personally thank Adam and HQ for not putting the word 'the' in front of the title.

Why It's better than Bleed

Adam's last comic Bleed ended up with 3/5 stars from me, Lily got the whole works -so why the difference? I mentioned the lack of color on bleed more than once, Lily comes into the contest, makes pink lawn flamingos an object of terror, and I'm awed. When it's mystery vs. suspense in comics format suspense is going to win most every time. It's a question of what's more engaging to me as a reader? Instead of playing fanboy detective I enjoy the story more if I can follow along with the killer in question. Generally speaking the payoff of who the killer is isn't that much of a payoff. If it's some major twist fine, but comics don't have all the options of film or books. In a theater you can't rewind to check to see if you just heard /saw what you think you heard/saw, you can't cheat in a clue hunt you have to pay attention and remember. In a comic you can flip back or click back to go over the details panel by panel looking for clues, not an option the in-story protagonists have. Which adds to a creators difficulty in paying off the reader during the denouncement. With books vs. comics in the mystery genre you have the opposite problem. Books can go on forever and some seem to when it comes to page count. Plenty of room to expand characterization, and offer up red herrings with clues hid throughout the work. Comics in general and web comics on Zuda have a limited page count. You might get a season II you might not, the only thing you can be sure of is 52 more screens. Is that really enough room to work the whodunit angle? The longer a plot question lingers in a story the bigger and better the payoff is expected to be. If it's the equivalent of the butler did it why bother keeping the murder's identity a secret? I'd rather dispense with that and follow the killer along to see if they get caught, and what their reasons (if any) were for murder fully explored. With Lily of the Valley you have the added option of the anti-hero angle with possible shades of natural born killers. The difference in the depth of characterization found between Bleed and Lily of the Valley in the first 8 is profound. Hence me voting early (but not often) for Lily of the Valley.

So much for this not being an epic length post drat, drat, and double dang it!

Their isn't another Zuda comic that looks quit like this and that's what wowed me right off. You follow that up with a very interesting narrative and your grabbed as a reader. The letters are well done, and the pace fits Zuda perfectly. It's always nice to see creators who improve on what they have done before. Seeing the difference between Bleed and this comic shows me by the time we get to screen 60 of Lily it's just going to be unbelievable. Theirs always an element of promise/hope about what to expect from 52 more screens of a Zuda comic. Adam's and HQ's track record speaks for itself, so no worries. Lily of the Valley more than earned my vote.


  1. I gotta say I'm very flattered by the praise in this review.
    I always respect your views on the Zuda entries so I was pleased to see you enjoyed LILY. Thanks for really exploring these eight pages in depth too. You really caught every detail that I invested into this thing so far.

    Oh and about the competing in the month of May, I was really hoping to get in this month for the same reason. lol
    In the quotes thread on the Zuda forum I also dropped a subtle hint by offering the quote "April showers bring May flowers". I don't think anyone's caught that yet. lol

    If you don't mind I posted this over to my blog as well, with a link provided back here and credit given.


  2. I wouldn't have known about the May flower thing myself, but my sister was looking up my birthday to see if anything interesting happened in history -then eureka it's Lily of the Valley!
    I don't mind at all Adam thanks for the kind words about my blog, and of course best of luck!