Flight of the Binturong

URL: www.flightofthebinturong.com
Creator/s: Sal Crivelli, Nicolás R. Giacondino, Pedro Figue
Run: 8/13-current
Schedule: Tuesdays

Website: The grayish-brown, purple, and yellow color scheme is very unique and reflects a metallic, sci-fi feel. It's simple, but at the same time, it's pleasant to look at, especially since the yellows are kept to a minimum.

My favorite part of the site's the Javascript Cast page, and I had fun scrolling through the profiles and clicking on each one. It's a simple feature, but I like that the creators went the extra mile to make their Cast page appealing. The worst part's the blog, which hasn't been updated since seven months before the comic launched, and hasn't been updated in more than a year. What's up with that? In general, the site's decent in terms of extra content, but it's still a little basic, and some material about the setting or technology would be a nice addition.

Also, the About page is a little disorganized in Firefox, although it displays correctly in Chrome. I suspect that the inconsistent placement of the span tags is to blame.

Lastly, readers with a slower Internet connection may have some trouble using the site, as the pages are 1 to 2 MB in size, which is much larger than normal. The pages appear to be scaled-down versions of larger files, so the bloated file sizes shouldn't affect the quality anyways.

Writing: Compared to the webcomic I reviewed last week, Masadjra, this webcomic's quickly paced, with a lot of stuff already happening within the first 22 pages. In about one-third of the amount of pages, Flight of the Binturong's characters, plot, and setting are much more developed than Masadjra's. However, the impatient manner in which the story progresses makes it somewhat tedious, as not enough space is allocated for details and style.

Updating a webcomic only once a week is a really slow way to tell a story, and the creator's clearly cognizant of this problem. It's kind of like the scene in The Two Towers with Treebeard and the hobbits, where Treebeard (the storyteller) is speaking reeeeeaaaaaaallllllyyyyyyy ssssslllllooooowwwwwlllllyyyyyy, and the hobbits (the audience) are about half-asleep waiting for Treebeard to eventually finish his sentence. That's just how it is for an amateur creator trying to fit a time-consuming hobby into their busy schedule. So, the creator (who's worked on a couple other projects in the past) deals with this by being very economical with the pages, making sure that every single page accomplishes some goal necessary to moving the story forward. A lot of webcomics just sort of meander around aimlessly for long periods of time, so I'm impressed that Flight of the Binturong manages to introduce its ensemble cast and establish their objective by Page 9.

On the other hand, though, there's an overemphasis on page economy to the point that the story often feels cookie-cutter or generic. I'm somewhat interested in the fate of the characters and the missing ship they're searching for, but I'm also somewhat bored in the sense that, in some ways, the comic's just another sci-fi story with a quirky ensemble cast on a ship. What's missing are the stylistic nuances that reflect the creator's personality and give the writing style a sense of individualistic flair. Some ways this flavor could be added are dialogue-light pages, lighter backstory and character interaction, or more in-depth world-building, all of which require a slower pace than how the story's been delivered so far. The writing isn't bad by any means, but the creator still needs to find the ideal pace for the story if it's going to live up to its full potential.

Art: I'm a big fan of what the artistic duo's come up with, and the abundant stylishness makes up for the writing's plainness. The measured sloppiness and quiet confidence give the comic a charmingly unprofessional look that I haven't seen before. The creators seem to be striving for simplicity, reserving the blocky coloring and thick lines for the minimum amount of details necessary, and the characters somehow seem full of intensity and motion because of it.

The backgrounds -- a constant peeve of mine in fantasy and science-fiction stories -- are rendered excellently, with every page full of technology or outer space stuff. In contrast with the characters, the backgrounds are colored in gradients, are more detailed, and have straight lines, making the ship seem cold and impersonal when juxtaposed with the vivacious protagonists. Ships are so important in sci-fi stories that it's ideal for creators to put some T.L.C. into presenting them, as it's almost like the ship is one of the main characters. I mean, think of how integral the Enterprise is to Star Trek, or the Millennium Falcon is to Star Wars. Anyone doing a sci-fi webcomic set in space really just has to accept that they'll be putting a lot of energy and time into drawing the interiors and exteriors of spaceships.

Overall: Flight of the Binturong's a fun and visually appealing space adventure that's somewhat bland and unoriginal. Like with fantasy webcomics, science fiction's been done a lot, and I'd prefer to see someone take the genre in a fresh, new direction rather than iterating what's been established to work well. Still, it's an unsually high-quality comic by a team of competent creators, and their project's probably one of the best new sci-fi webcomics around.



  1. Nice review! I also enjoy the FotB, so it's good to see it's the credit it deserves.

  2. It certainly puts limits on a webcomic creator when you have a full time job and family and kids trying to do frequent update. I also enjoy reading FotB, and look forward to its updates every week.