Apr 24, 2017
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 789: Killer Instinct Nintendo Power Exclusive #1, 1996
I'm always a bit thrilled when I find a comic that's not listed in the GCD. I feel like it's a special little part of the comics world that only I have access to.
It's just a pity when it turns out to not be actually the greatest part.
I don't know the Killer Instinct game franchise at all. I've never been a fan of fighting games. This one looks pretty typical. What I've often wondered about such franchises, though, is why introduce any kind of story element to the series. It's literally two sprites punching the crap out of one another - why muddle things with story. It's a bit like when a terrible porn film attempts to insert narrative. You just sit there wondering why that's something that needed to happen. But here's the thing: I tell my students that we narrativize everything - our lives, from the moment we get up to the moment we fall asleep, are narrativized. We can't help but tell stories, even if it's only to ourselves. So perhaps it's natural to put narrative into something that doesn't seem to benefit from narrative. In the case of Killer Instinct, the narrative provides reason and impetus for the fighting game - it's not just two sprites punching each other, it's a hero moving through a journey, even if that journey is basically virtual boxing with shiny sticks.
And it's becoming clear that I don't like fighting games, right?
Paul Gulacy's name is familiar to me, and a quick look through my database reveals a few other comics featuring his art. I found his work in today's comic okay, but occasionally a bit difficult to follow. What you need to know is that the whole comic is basically a fight between B. Orchid and Jago, the two "heroic" characters from the franchise. Choreographing a fight sequence in comics must be very difficult. You have to capture the speed and movement of a very rapid sequence of events in static images. To do this for an entire comic must be exhausting. There are some moments in today's comic where I'm not entirely certain what's just happened, but one character looks like they've moved, and one looks like they're falling over. And there's a fine line to be straddled in such depictions, in that you occasionally want this confusion to be there - fights can happen so quickly that it's sometimes difficult to figure out what just happened. But you don't want this too much, especially in a medium that relies on its visuals to tell a story, rather than just depict one.
More tomorrow. To be continued.