Saturday, 19 March 2016
Awkwood by Jase Harper Review
While trying to kick a drink and drugs habit on island retreat Awkwood Rehab, wannabe-pro-musician Liam unwittingly releases his “Inner Bad” (angry, resentful memories of being bullied as a teen) which manifests itself in his reality as a giant angry kid that smashes stuff! Shy Liam must stand up to his fears once and for all to defeat the Inner Bad.
Jase Harper’s Awkwood is a decent but flawed comic. His art style is very polished and looks great if a little cartoonish, ie. appealing to a younger audience. Which is fine and the style suits some of the comic’s lighter scenes but it’s at odds with its more serious themes of substance addiction and deep-seated emotional pain.
Basically Harper has half a great book. Liam is an interesting character, working jobs he doesn’t care about to get by but also not actively pursuing his real passion: music. Seeing him work through his psychological and procrastination issues could’ve been good if done in a more grounded way - except Harper goes for the shallower approach.
Liam’s problems are turned into a giant monster child who stomps around his town like Godzilla and the story really lost me once it became this crap action/monster movie complete with car chases and quipping sidekicks. The “face your fears” theme becomes Liam literally facing a monster down – it’s a bit disappointing that this is as far as Harper is willing to explore his themes.
Confront your fears and believe in yourself may not be the most original messages and do come off as a bit mawkish but they’re still laudable sentiments. I liked the slice-of-life moments of the comic while the magical realist/fantastical parts didn’t really click with me. I’d still say Awkwood’s worth a look for indie comics fans.