URL: http://www.smackjeeves.com/comicprofile.php?id=132281
Author: Kiqo7
Genre: Drama, Sci-fi
Schedule: Completed

There's a lot of appeal to short one-shot webcomics, both from a creator's standpoint and a reader's standpoint. For a creator, it gives them a chance to get a story out quickly without dwelling on minor details of the plot, characters, and universe that would be expected in a longer work. They also serve as a way to dip a toe in the water before committing to doing a long running series. For readers, one-shots take very little time to read and are easy to get into compared to comics with complicated mythos' that require either binging through the archives or reading recaps to understand current arcs. It also works to introduce readers to the author's work and possibly follow their other comics. However, they are also harder to pull off, since everything has to be condensed into a small number of pages yet still complete a satisfying narrative. That's not a problem for Flurry though, which takes the old post-apocalyptic man and his dog story and keep it interesting with a twist on the story and gorgeous visuals.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting. A man and his robot dog named Flurry are searching through the rubble when the robot spots a young child and identifies him as needing medical assistance. The man takes the boy back to his house and goes back out on patrol with Flurry. Later, the boy hears Flurry outside the door calling for medical assistance and discovers the man is dead with a gunshot wound to the head. Flurry keeps calling for medical assistance over and over despite the fact that its owner is dead and the boy is unable to silence him.

Given the comic's short length, there's not a lot of room to characterize the full but incredibly sparse cast, instead choosing to place most of the emphasis on Flurry. This is likely intentional, as the comic is named after him and he's the only character to have a name in the whole comic. And it's to the comic's advantage. One particular page in the comic does a lot of work in setting up the ambiguous nature of the ending. In the second and third tiers of the page, Flurry is shown wagging its tail and approaching the boy to be petted, but the dialogue in the page suggests that Flurry's owner doesn't anthropomorphize him the way the boy does, referring to it with genderless pronouns and insisting that it's a robot, not a dog. The page also sets up that Flurry is “Broken,” but doesn't establish how.

Looking at that page, the ending takes on at least two different meanings. Flurry has come home dragging its dead owner with it and the boy is unable to make it stop calling for medical assistance. The boy is hugging the dog and begging with Flurry to “Please stop!...He's dead,” suggesting that he is anthropomorphizing the robot, and interpreting its looped plea for assistance as grieving its owner and in denial of his death. But looking back on the earlier page with the man saying that the robot is “Broken somehow,” the repeated message could be a technical default of the robot, either the audio is stuck in a loop or the robot's ability to detect medical problems could be defective, suggesting that the robot is just that. A tool merely doing what it was built to do, albeit incorrectly. Maybe I'm just reading into it too much, but the comic appears to do a lot with the space it was given.

I'm struggling to find anything really wrong with the writing. Maybe it could be a little bit longer and give us more information about the generic post-apocalyptic world the comic is set in, or give more characterization to the man and the boy, or possibly add more hints to the nature of Flurry's reaction at the end. But given what it is, a character study of a robot dog who may or may not be capable of the traditional ideals of loyalty and companionship of a dog and its owner, it accomplishes what it needs to do at just the right length.

The comic is a grayscale comic, and judging by the visible overlap of the black ink, is likely inked by hand with brush pens. The other colors show some grain in them, and could either be done with markers or digitally with a textured overlay. Whether it was drawn traditionally or made to look like it was drawn traditionally, the texture on the page gives it more of a grit and natural look that fits the bleaker setting of the comic. The author also is fairly confident in their ability to let the art speak for itself, considering the use of pages with little to no dialogue.

Another thing I like about the comic is the creative uses of paneling and drawings from different angles and distances. For example, the first three panels here are set off from the rest of the page, and when the page loads, these three panels are the only ones visible. Rather than being arranged in neat rows and columns, the panels are askew and twisted in various angles, almost as if they were falling apart, setting up when things go crazy at the end when Flurry drags its owner back. This page shows closeups being used effectively to add emphasis and intensity to an already shocking image, and the last page does both creative paneling and well-chosen shots to not just tell the story, but add to the ambiguity of the ending. The emphasis on Flurry's eye looking off-panel in panel two gives the same sort of intensity of the previous linked page, and seeing that Flurry won't stop staring at its dead owner could be seen as loyalty or the standard programming of identifying a sick person until care is delivered. And the final two panels show Flurry's words gradually drowning in empty space, driving home the futility of its demands in a desolate world.

The art's not entirely perfect though. Some of the coloring goes outside of the lines sometimes, the hand-drawn panel borders aren't entirely straight and look wobbly in a way that doesn't look intentional, likely being drawn freehand. The last panel of the final page looks like it was drawn, then the empty space was filled in with the paint bucket in an art program, with the borders of the bubble still visible which diminishes its impact. Finally, an old pet peeve of mine, word balloon tails that don't point towards the speaker's mouths. Especially in the last example, where the second balloon in the second panel looks like it could be pointing to the man instead of Flurry, though it's clear that the man is dead. These are minor nitpicks in an otherwise well drawn comic though.

The comic is short, but takes advantage of the limited space to act as a character piece about a robotic dog in a desolate post-apocalyptic setting, leaving the reader wondering if the dog is a loyal companion or just another machine in an uncaring world. The art is equally impressive, choosing shots and paneling that tells the story and set the tone of the story. Though there are some minor flaws in the art. If this were expanded out into a longer story or was part of some larger series, I wouldn't hesitate to read it.


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