Welcome to the second installment of Webcomic Trek. Today I’d like to talk about the webcomic Dan the Snowman written by Ben Montgomery, who most often goes by Benvincible, and illustrated by his brother Jacob (who goes by Monty? I guess). You can also follow Ben on Twitter though I don’t see any trace of Jacob on twitter, though he is on Instagram. The comic updates on Wednesdays. So what is Dan the Snowman? The comic follows the titular snowman and his robot buddy Joebot the Robot as they get involved in some wacky stuff while seeking out ties for Dan to land a job and pay the rent… and this is the very laconic explanation of a very strange but fun comic.
The art is loose in a very fun way. There is a sort of thrift to the lines used in the comic as the line art is wiggly and a bit rough. Often you can see lines intersect that were part of the drawing process and are not cleaned up, but you know what? That’s fine. It gives the comic a certain amount of hyperactive energy that I appreciate, especially combined with the bright, large blocks of color and minimal shading. I know what I am describing doesn’t sound great, but that is more a failure on my part to articulate what I am seeing.
Additionally, the character designs are very fun and expressive and are complemented by the art. Everything just sort of clicks into place in a fun way. The assortment of weirdos in the comic beyond the core cast turns any crowd shot into a bit of a game where you can pick out different figures and marvel and the oddity of the setting. The city itself feels like an average city, but the citizens give it the oddity that in itself turns the city into its own character, a sort of lidded pot that keeps the insanity of the populace from boiling over.
The story is a sort of slice-of-life adventure interspersed with weirdness and is well suited by the artwork. What starts as a trip to a thrift-store erupts into gunfire in a truly funny way. The story feels random in a way that many stories struggle to execute, and I think Dan succeeds in this by a smart combination of laying out the weirdness right away, even in the first few pages of mundane slice-of-life stuff. The more serious (relatively, given the oddity of the situations) narratives do not really feel out of place because so much good groundwork was laid out right away. Basically, I am getting at the idea that any strange turns this narrative may take feels par for the course given the setting (barring a turn to the dramatic).
What Concerns Me
So I have talked a lot about what I like regarding the art, but I do have a concern. With the art being so minimal, with such saturated colors, and being so loose, the comic benefits from the best image quality possible. Unfortunately, most if not all of the pages are made muddy by being low quality JPGs, on top of antialiasing on all the lines. I’d personally aim for a PNG format and swap from an antialiased brush in the image editing program to a hard edge brush, maybe even a pencil tool. It would give the comic a more MSPaint-esque appearance, but it would ultimately appear a heck of a lot cleaner and not muddy up the visuals at all.
What Dan the Snowman gives me is heavy Rob and Elliot-vibes (now Hamlet’s Danish). Rob and Elliot was a favorite comic of mine that featured a very similar sense of humor that I see in Dan the Snowman, though Dan the Snowman has an ongoing narrative. If you are a bit of a scanner (one who scans through pages for gags) this is a particularly good comic for that because there are a variety of fun gags (“face hat”) and odd characters peppered into each page. The comic also scratches just enough of an itch for an ongoing story to keep you reading. Basically, this is what I am looking for in a webcomic most of the time, so if you’re anything like me (having elevated taste helps) then Dan the Snowman is well worth your time.
Thanks for taking the time to read this quick little dive into Dan the Snowman. I hope you’ll join me next week as we look at another webcomic. If you would like your webcomic to be included on the ever-expanding Webcomic Trek I am taking, please register at the Comicadia Forums and post your comic in the Share Your Webcomic thread. We’ll be sure to tweet it on the official Comicadia Twitter account as well. See you next time!