On Dandy & Company

July 11, 2008 at 8:30 am (Reads) ()

For those who don’t know, Dandy & Company is an online comic by Derrick Fish.  It’s a pretty good strip, with a joke-a-day format, but his primary mode is storytelling.  He writes some very involved plots, with some good characters, and his artwork, though a bit cartoony, is very fitting for the style.  I enjoy reading it, and I recommend folks at least trying the strip.

The thing is, I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that he includes commentary with each strip he writes.  This isn’t all that uncommon with online comics (a lot of Penny Arcade! strips are hard to get without the writers’ commentary), but what Fish describes each day is how he constructs the story.  Sometimes he’ll make a reference to explain who some obscure character is (which is helpful; there are a lot of secondary characters that new readers won’t know), but other times … well, let me give an example.

Here is Wednesday’s strip:

And here is Wednesday’s commentary:

Side characters getting captured is part and parcel of these kinds of stories. Heck, it’s given Bernard his fair share of rope burn, and now it’s Chuck Rage’s turn. Ultimately, it’s important to take any ancillary pieces off of the chess board so that your main characters have a chance to shine… and let’s face it, the strip isn’t called “Chuck Rage & Company”.

This is common-sense stuff when it comes to the art of storytelling.  Even those of us who read a lot know this, even if we’ve never put it into those particular words before.  It’s a redundant commentary, and worse, it drags the reader outside of the story.  It’s like a magician explaining his tricks; once you know how it works, it’s less impressive.

For whatever reason, I still read the commentary.  I’m not sure why.  Morbid curiosity, maybe?  It’s just interesting to me that he goes to great lengths to make sure his readers get every last detail of the story.  It’s an interesting parallel to those books that rely too much on the reader getting some obscure reference (Penny Arcade, again), but even with that, the strip is interesting, and compelling.  The writer uses the daily format well to build up suspense, and the suspense is maintained when you read the strips from an entire storyline back-to-back, so he knows what he’s doing.  I just don’t understand why he feels compelled to explain what he’s doing every day.

So, I guess that’s my backhanded recommendation for the day.  The strip has good stories, good artwork, and some funny jokes.  It just has some odd commentary, too.


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