Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-fi, Fantasy
Guardian Ghost is a great example of world building in a comic. We get a feeling that the universe of the comic has a history that could exist before the characters come into play and would hypothetically exist long after the characters are gone. This is no easy task, and can be chalked up with proper forethought when sitting down to come up with the premise and the plot. However, the art and technical problems of the comic itself really hold the comic back from being great.
Guardian Ghost is a fantasy realism comic about ghosts who become bound to a living human after preventing them from dying by pushing the escaped spirit back into the body. In the case of Max, he gets bound to Dave, a random spirit, on accident. This starts out as a mere annoyance, but later turns out to be far more dangerous than presumed. Max and Dave meet other ghost/human partners, including Clarence and Clara, who bring them up to speed and introduce them to a whole online community of Guardian Ghosts. Despite being new, Max turns out to be quite powerful, and malevolent spirits begin to take notice. But the stress of fighting evil spirits just to stay alive and his own cowardice start to weigh heavily on him, leaving him to either tap his potential or crumple under the pressure.
Like I said, the strongest point is in the world building, and part of what sells the world so well is that the author doesn't show their hand early. Max and Dave know little about the rules and workings of Guardian Ghosts, and much of the first few chapters are them piecing what little they know together. While Clarence and Clara do some infodumping, it's spread out between the third, fourth, and fifth chapters and comes on a need to know basis. The introduction of the website proves handy, as Max can easily learn something off-page and bring it up, reducing the number of scenes of Max and Dave talk to Clarence and Clara about some random rule or detail. Even then, none of the protagonists know much about the Wraith, and the one character who does disappears without fully explaining it, which makes it much more threatening when it actually does show up.
The characters all have their own distinct personalities, albeit their personalities are somewhat shallow. Max is neurotic, Dave is kind of a frat boy, Clarence is a paranoid, seasoned pro, Clara is bubbly, George is evil, Frank isn't. Hopefully, we'll get some more fleshed out characterization now that the characters and the setting have been properly established, as based on the dialogue, the author does a pretty good job giving all the characters their own distinct voices.
One strong point in the art is the character design. Frank has pointy alligator teeth, his eyes are concealed, and the amulet binding him to George is cracked and looks sinister. Dave's slicked back hair and sleeveless shirt imply casualness. Max looks somewhat bland, but his facial expressions and his role as the put-upon normal person thrust into a situation make up for it. Clara's pigtails imply immaturity or childishness, and Clarence's darker clothes, glasses, and half-opened eyelids make him look jaded and somewhat guarded, in contrast to Clara's bright colors. Speaking of which, spirit colors come in handy,as they indicate who's talking off-panel and in a later instance when Dave gets into Max's body.
Despite the good character design, the comic suffers from problems in the art. The backgrounds are scribbly and the colors go outside the lines, not to mention that the background lineart looks scribbly. And because the lines in the background are around the same size as the ones in the foreground, the author tries to compensate for the perceived lack of depth by blurring it for an out of focus look. This could work in theory, in practice it makes the lines look worse and the blurred segments look out of place. The result looks messy, and not in an intentional, stylistic way.
Not only is the background blurry and haphazard, the author has issues with shading. The shading looks like it was either done with a soft round brush or a hard flat brush ran through a blur filter. Either way, you can see the individual scribbly lines. To the author's credit, she does show some signs at understanding lighting, such as with the glow of the ghosts and pendants on people.
Finally, there are some issues with lettering and balloons. Originally, the comic was hand-lettered, which was crooked and would run up against the bubbles. In the second chapter, the author decides to use a font, which resolves some of the problem. However, there were still problems with words running up against the bubble and the text kerning causes words to run together. Also, the later word bubbles have bits of line that aren't properly erased or have gaps where they shouldn't, which looks sloppy.
Guardian Ghosts shows promise with a strong storyline and hard-set rules of the universe that are elegantly presented little by little, creating an aura of mystery. Sadly, the art is sloppy, the result of shortcuts or oversights that could have easily have been corrected before being posted. If the amount of attentiveness put in the story was put in the art, this comic could have the potential to be a great comic.