Monday, July 20, 2009

Zuda review Children's Games/ It's like Rugrats meets the Gnostic gospels

Children's Games is a contestant this month done by Erik Valdez y Alanis. It's yet another example of the originality to be found on Zuda, with a surprising very dark story -and a fav from me. Here is the synopsis: One day, while in the spare room, Paola and her cat Machiavello, open an old tin can and find a piece of God that has been forgotten there a long time ago. Taking it unto themselves, they find that they are imbued with the essence and power of creation. Which is great fun, when you are a six-year-old girl with a great imagination and the company of her best friend and fellow bath-hater. From their fertile minds, beings mythical and marvelous, monstrous and beautiful are given life. Worlds and lives and entire histories are created in the blink of an eye. The laws and rules of the universe are twisted and pushed to the breaking point. It’s all like a game and it all seems too wonderful to be true. It is. Nothing in life is free. And Paola and Machiavello learn this the hard way, when they receive a surprise visit from one of the premiere powers of the universe: Evil herself, the Devil. She wants the piece of God and the Creation Spark it contains. Assuming they survive the Devil (who is obviously not above the dirtiest, meanest tricks to get what she wants), there are still other interested. Amongst them: Death, The Anti-Creation and Ancient Black Cat Gods. And that’s just for starters. The little girl and her cat are going to need all the wit, strength and cleverness they can muster just to get through the day. They will learn that games can be fun - they can also be very, very deadly.

The darkest story in Zuda's short history?

The art here seems to fill just about everyone with a little trepidation, until they read it and give it a chance. I went into this comic wondering if I'd like it, and it turned out to be a very impressive read. I thought 'I Rule The Night' was a stark storyline (and it is), but if anything CG is a even darker story. There is a point it could reach crossing over from entertaining and thoughtful, to preachy and nihilistic with no rootable characters. At the same time Alanis not playing it safe with this story is a big part of the draw, and he definitely pulled off the tightrope act in these 8 screens. It had a second coming of the Rugrats start, but I was really impressed by good narration that didn't go on too long. I don't like text boxes, but : "It was a beautiful sacred moment and as such -it did not last long." was perfect. It got the point across without beating you over the head with it. I also liked the rainbow effect on the 'piece of God' and how once Paola realized she could split it without losing anything, she decided to share with her cat Mack. I enjoy comics that let readers draw their own conclusions about characters actions. With the early scenes of CG you can take them literal, or read in to them as you want. After both take their piece of God the dialogue between Mack and Paola is fabulous. "even if it did lack the adrenaline rush of a good mouse hunt." was a great line by Mack and screen 3 provided a lot of characterization for these two characters in their back and forth conversation.

Cartoony art with dramatic impact

The 'cute' moments (such as Mack loving hats) help to set up the strips more serious turn. Screen 5 is where things start to take a darker turn. The parents of Paola taking about "it's never too early to start dieting sweetie" brings up all kinds of issues dealing with body image/prick parents. The parents get turned into multi-colored butterfly's where they had been in black, white, and gray. After that Mack eats them in the background as Paola starts to use her powers. On screen we see the two main leads creating life, and squishing it out to start all over again. These screens struck me as being subversive and disturbing, but it only increased my wanting to see what happens next. Screen 7 is the best screen in this comic. The way the art aiding the narration was very impressive. The surprised appearance of realistic looking people on panel 3, and their fate being destroyed in blood and fire. I don't know how much (if any) commentary on religion was intended by the creator, but that is going to hurt the comic with some readers. For me Alanis managed to avoid crossing over into 'preachy' territory, but that want be the case with all readers. The comic ends with the devil (a babe) showing up on the last screen which made for a great cliff hanger. I do worry this story could get too dark, which would kill my interest, on the other hand if that line is never crossed it is just a fantastic 60 screen read. their are some stories that stay on the razors edge of being 'too much' and push that fabled envelope with every new page. The final fate of these types of stories (which Children Games is), depends on the ending. It's either a unforgettable finish, or a absolute train wreck. I do hope Children's Games lives on to see not just the fates of the characters, but if Alanis can pull the story off. One thing Erik Valdez y Alanis didn't do was play it safe, he challenged his readers and himself -I respect that a great deal.


  1. Hey, thanks for letting me know of your review. I enjoyed it very much, and I appreciate that you delved into the themes and possibilities of this story. I knew it was a risk to go forward with such a strange little tale coupled with the cartoony art, but the response (if not the votes) have been overwhelmingly positive and gratifying as a creator. I'm glad all the little details of theme and nuance can be found by the careful reader. Whenever I continue this story, I'll be sure to let you know.

  2. I must have issues, cause I didn't think it was that dark of a story.

  3. I could be the one with issues cause it creeped me out.:)
    In a good way, but still creeped out.