The Seekers

Creator/s: ?
Run: ?
Schedule: ?
Section/s: Ch. 3, "Earthly Encounter"

Website: Oddly, this is the first comic I've reviewed where no credit's given to the creator. I'm unsure how relevant this is in terms of ownership, but the creator should probably at least provide an e-mail address so that readers can contact him or her directly.

The site's obviously very basic, and I encourage the creator to develop it more. The Noob has an excellent MMO-themed site, and while I don't expect webcomics to have sites that elaborate, it serves as a nice ideal.

Writing: The Seekers is yet another webcomic based on the extremely popular World of Warcraft franchise; however, instead of parodying WoW as some popular webcomics like Looking For Group, Dark Legacy Comics, and TEH GLADIATORS do, The Seekers offers a refreshing take on WoW by portraying it straight up. Webcomic history suggests that humorous gaming comics have a wider audience -- for example, serious Dungeons & Dragons-based webcomics like Darken and Tales of the Traveling Gnome are easily eclipsed in popularity by the goofy Order of the Stick -- but I think there's definitely a demand on the web for more high-quality fantasy comics.

The story's also unconventional in the sense that it covers the exploits of a newbie troll in Durotar, meaning it follows a member of the least popular player race through WoW's ugliest-looking starting zone. This creative decision offers a different sort of fantasy setting, one eschewing the Alliance's familiarity and glamour in favor of the Horde's rough, unattractive aesthetic. Far from the idyllic farms and lakes of Elwynn Forest, Durotar's presented as a barren wasteland. Even the Horde lumber camp's barely portrayed, offering only a minimal sense of civilization and refuge. This concept's also very ubiquitous in the sense that all WoW players must go through this starting-area phase, and even many non-WoW players will likely be familiar with the "It's dangerous to go alone!" mentality of the early stages of role-playing games.

The dialogue and characterizations are fairly strong, with the shaman having a mysterious aura and a heavy troll accent, and the peons having the dopey-but-diligent personality fans of the Warcraft series will recognize (e.g., Warcraft III's "No time for play! Me not that kind of orc!"). The skeptical female orc and the wise shaman teacher have a degree of depth as well. However, while the lack of information about the newbie shaman succeeds in making him seem strange and interesting, he currently comes across as too generic and indistinct for a protagonist. I'd like to see more of his personality, background, and motivations come into play.

Art: The creator's done an excellent job of capturing Sam Didier's distinctive art style, and I was able to pick up immediately that this is a WoW-based webcomic. Fans of the game will notice that the creator's put some significant effort into portraying Durotar accurately, and that goes beyond just the orcs and trolls -- minor aspects, like the flora and weaponry, are taken straight from the game. The shaman's quest to visit the elemental stone's also from WoW, and I believe the third panel here's a view of the bay surrounding the goblin town of Ratchet, of which an in-game version can be seen in the screenshot here. These recreations should be very appealing to the WoW players who are familiar with them. Some readers might consider the oversized hands and feet to look a little too silly, but the races in WoW, including humans, have wonky anatomy, so it seems fitting to me.

I was concerned at first about the monochrome nature of the comic, as the first six pages of the chapter show the backgrounds and characters in a washed-out orange. Most of the chapter's like this, but, fortunately, the creator mixes in a blue night scene, and then later, a colorful acid trip scene. These diversions from the normal style help a lot, as they allow the comic to have a unique look without being overly monotonous. The creator should continue to pay attention to this color balance in future chapters and be careful not to get carried away with any one particular aesthetic.

The comic's wide shots do a great job of conveying Durotar's inhospitable environment, but I think the civilized part's relevant as well, and the chapter doesn't really portray that aspect. As I mentioned above, the reader's only treated to vague glimpses of the buildings in the lumber camp, and I see this as a missed opportunity, partly in terms of skimming over the Horde's interesting architecture, but moreso in that it downplays the Horde's essential characteristics of industry and optimism. There are also a ton of shots of the rocky terrain in general, so at the very least, focusing more on the people and structures would be a nice change of pace.

Lastly, the line widths in the beginning of the chapter are very homogeneous, but the creator seems to have improved at inking quite a bit over the course of the 24 pages. The more recent pages do a much better job in terms of line variation.

Overall: The Seekers is an attractive and engaging fantasy comic that WoW players should be eager to read -- and, fortunately, there are a lot of those around. It offers a grittier and more realistic setting than usual, which is an interesting alternative to the more typical "A human, an elf, and a dwarf walk into a bar..." kind of setup. However, I expect the comic to also find readers outside of its main audience, as its quality and creativity reach beyond the boundaries of genre. I think this is a webcomic to watch, and I can see it becoming one of the more prominent MMO-based comics once it gets more exposure.


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