The death of the American traditionally animated film industry is a loss to be mourned by anyone that loves art. Too expensive to be allowed to compete with their financially successful CGI brethren, the hand-animated film was abandoned, treated as if it were an archaic production method rather than a rich separate art form. In his new comic 'RoboChuck', writer and artist Chris Callahan attempts to take that feeling and make it a fantasy landscape, creating a world where traditionally animated characters are the disenfranchised minority under the thumb of CGI characters. Comparisons to 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' are inevitable as the comic is set in a city populated by parodies of cartoon characters, a noir murder and 'Chinatown' esque power struggle at the center of the story, as well as shared themes of the slow decline of a golden past. Despite this however, 'RoboChuck' doesn't suffer much in comparison, forging its own path and confident that it will stand as unique. While reliant on cliché, Chris Callahan writes the story well, with narration and flashbacks that shows the personal care he put into constructing his world, as well as some appreciated creative details.
The weakest element by far is the art. On a positive note, Callahan uses two-dimensional digital drawing as well as 3-D modeling to create his characters, using his tools to imaginatively depict the two animation worlds. Unfortunately, Callahan is not a strong enough cartoonist to render his animated characters in ways that distinctly speak to the tradition he pays tribute to, making it somewhat reliant on the reader's imagination to fill in the gaps. The comic shows it's origins as a low-budgeted animated film, sometimes looking and feeling like a digitally composed storyboard, cluttered and featuring pre-rendered effects. However it's not unreadable like some digitally composited comics I've read, and the use of the technology is admittedly creative.
'RoboChuck' is a likeable comic and seems to have a strong idea of where it is going. While it could have really benefited from a different artist (not to mention a more accurate title), the art isn't a dealbreaker, with a script that is among the better ones I've read recently in a self-published book. If you like supporting independent creators you might want to think about picking up a copy for yourself.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Chris Callahan Publisher: TurtleBunny Productions Price: $2.99 (Digital) Website