Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now #1: a non-review

After some agonizing at the comics store yesterday, I decided not to buy the first issue of this miniseries of adaptations of Cory Doctorow's stories (sorry, Dara!), mostly because I was already spending about $40 on other comics. I did flip through it, and it looked nice enough, but the art just didn't grab me. It seemed like a decent adaptation of the source material, but "Anda's Game" has never been one of my favorite Doctorow stories (not that it's bad or anything). In what seemed to be a stab at real-world relevance, the story presented an interesting concept: sweatshops contained within massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Cory was ahead of the curve on this one; such operations have been found to exist in games like World of Warcraft, with shady businessmen running virtual labor operations in Mexico or China.

I think the thing that bugged me about the story was the description of the game's action like it was virtual reality, with the players engaging in acrobatic battles that are too "realistic" to actually happen in computer games, while they are described as sitting in a chair, looking at a computer screen, and operating a mouse. This works okay in prose, since you can mentally picture a possible future in which game graphics have progressed to the point described. But the comic doesn't have the luxury of imagination; it has to show the reader the game's action. My flip-through revealed that writer Dara Naraghi chose to cut between Anda watching her computer screen and a representation of the game's action, with the game looking like a fantasy comic filled with orcs and magic and whatnot. That's probably the only choice you can make when doing the comic, but it just doesn't work like it does in prose. So I decided not to get it.

Hopefully, future issues won't have this problem; next up is "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth", followed by "Craphound". The former is another story that I thought was so-so, so I'll have to decide whether I want it after a look at the art. But the latter, judging by the art samples I've seen, is a lock. I'm all over that one.

So, yeah, I just felt like getting that out there. I might have a review up tonight, depending on whether I can get my damn scanner working. Later.