By Patrick Wolf
Not too long ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the popular webcomic series: Unsounded. What immediately struck me about the franchise was not just its gorgeous art, but also the incredible realization that it was illustrated, colored, lettered, and written by the same person. It was like watching a sailor be a captain, first-mate, oarsman, and engineer all at the same time. How could someone be so talented? Unfortunately, when I read the book, this question was answered all-too-quickly: nobody’s that talented. I believe Girrion suffers from a similar fate.
Like Unsounded, Girrion takes place within the mystical world of a lost technological culture: there are abandoned spaceships, supernatural monsters, and advanced weaponry. Girrion differs, however, it that its world is much more dark. The story’s set within a decrepit floating-fortress, and follows a young Gunflin named Jarra. When the city’s attacked by a hoard of evil Elkrin (creepy-looking cyborgs), Jarra must reawaken his true form to discover the mysteries of the past before it’s too late.
I want to begin by saying when I first saw this series I was blown away. It was everything I ever wanted in a comic. The art was amazing, the characters were cool, and the world was spectacular. The comic covers alone were to die for. They were like Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings meets Akira. From a purely character design and artistic point of view, Tom Lintern is an absolute master.
Unfortunately, I eventually had to stop staring at the covers and crack the book open, and that’s when my awe turned into dismay. Girrion is just way, way too slow. To give you an idea of how slow it is, consider this: most stories possess a three-act structure. Within this structure, each act has its own sections. The first act usually covers the background, catalyst, and big event (i.e. the characters normal life, the thing that sets the story off, and the first turning point). Usually, all three of these elements are covered within the first issue of a comic series—sometimes, the second. Girrion takes three issues before we see the catalyst, and six before we see the big event.
Because Lintern takes so long in unfolding the story to us, we often feel lost and confused (and not in a good way). What’s going on? Why are we here? Why do we care? To add to this general sense of indifference, Lintern doesn’t do a good job in giving his characters a clear goal to help point us in the right direction. Jarra and his friends just sort of meander about, randomly running into information that the reader will probably need to know later on, but don’t really care for right now. I get it that it’s important to show a character in his familiar environment before transporting him into a new situation, but all this background information needs to be dispersed in a timely fashion. If you take too long, you’ll lose your audience.
Lintern tries to deal with this problem by throwing in random bits of action to keep us interested, but the problem is a lot of this action feels forced and gratuitous. At several points in the series, Jarra and his friends randomly run into a monster, some soldiers, and some other guys with guns. At no point did any of these encounters move the story forward. They were just there to keep us entertained. Now, normally I’m cool with that, but the action scenes have to be good. In these cases, however, the action was jarred, confusing, and suspenseless. The scenes were very difficult to follow and I didn’t feel as if the characters were in any real danger.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot about this series that’s awesome. In many ways, I really had a rough time critiquing it because I earnestly wanted it to be as wicked as it looked. But, I guess that’s what happens when you try to do it all. While Tom Lintern is a very talented artist, his writing skills just don’t measure up. That’s not to say he's bad. He’s very good. His writing’s just not at the same level as his art. This brings me to my first point: you can’t be a captain, first-mate, oarsman, and engineer all at the same time. Yes, you might be skilled in all of these areas, but you’ll never master them. Girrion is a prime example of this fallacy. If Lintern had just kept himself to the story and art, and delegated the writing to a pro, this could’ve been the greatest series ever created. Instead, it’s doomed to the category of ‘good, but not great.’
Writer/Artist/Colorist/Letterer: Tom Lintern
Publisher: Scout Comics