Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dumbing of Age

In the last several days I've become fixated on a web comic called Dumbing of Age. This was a surprise as the main premise of the comic is of little to no interest for me. It follows a large cast of young students in a liberal arts college in Indiana.

The writer and artist is David Willis

The art is quite unique if rather conservative or modest. It is not manga. This is a point in the comic's favor. There are too many web comics that are of manga style. While maybe Willis' style is influenced by manga and anime, it definitely has it's own look. Which is not manga. There is no gratuitous nudity. There is a lot of sex, but almost all of that is 'off screen'. Tastefully done. One issue I had was some of the characters might be too similar in appearance, but this is overcome as you become familiar with them. And, this problem is not mine, alone. It's actually part of some of the story arcs!

Willis' take on the bigger topics is honest and respectful. I absolutely loved the plot-line of the fundamental Christian vs the homosexual guy. Without giving away anything- Bravo, Bravo! Handled with magnificently gentle care. In the FAQ he says something about the autobiographical nature of the Joyce character (the fundamental Christian character). This confirmed what I felt was evident in the writing. While almost none of her friends agree with her beliefs, almost all of them love her and they all feel a noble need to protect this one. The few students she encounters that do openly share her belief contrast her Christ-like ability to accept those who have quite different life styles. However, she still does judge to a fault. But bless her heart, she's working on it.
In this way, I connected to the comic and found it quite realistic. Other big topics are portrayed in ways that I haven't seen before- like alcoholism, homosexuality, etc. It's not preachy, nor does the comic condone these things. They simply are, and here are the characters dealing with the issues. Often helping each other out when they can. It's good stuff. In a Miyazaki sort-of-way, there are no villains in this comic. Almost everyone is likable, somehow.

One thought about this comic was the cast is about the size and variety of the Peanuts comic. The art is similar, as well. This is almost like the Peanuts go to College!

Book One is available on the website [here] - which collects the first year of storylines. From Sept. 2010 through Oct 2011.

Book Two just finished a successful Kickstarter days ago (at the time of this writing) and should be available sometime fall 2013, I think.

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