I found this collection enjoyable to read; I’ve dipped into ‘The Underfold’ online but never gone all the way back to the beginning, so most of this was new to me. One of the things I enjoy about webcomics is that you see artistic progression – the learning process – and as a creator I find this very inspiring because it shows even the greatest Artists come from humble beginnings. It’s unusual for a published book to show this, but in this case it does. In the beginning the art you see are sketches almost anyone could do and by the end it has progressed into a confident and unique style.
So ‘Best Apocalypse Ever’ is a book as much about the creative process as it is humour. In addition to the cartoons there is commentary by the author about his thought processes going forward. This is likewise very amusing and in my opinion ought to be read in tandem; the insight grants the reader perspective and a sense of context. It also explains some of the references which science-fiction obsessives might not understand.
Fortunately for Brian Russell most of the comic-reading populous, like me, are also major geeks. The Underfold is deeply rooted in geek culture and I’d best describe the experience of reading it as like having a conversation with a group of people and dropping an obscure quote that only a section of the group understands. As you and your kindred chuckle somehow the bewilderment of everyone else adds to your enjoyment. Likewise there will be many people who do not “get” The Underfold, but for those that do there is an extra bit of smug pleasure to be had.
The ‘story’ is incredibly peculiar and chaotic. That’s not a criticism – that’s just how Brian rolls! I use story in it’s loosest sense because this is a gag comic and the narrative is only there to serve up more delicious helpings of humour. It’s quick-fire – the climax (or anticlimax*) delivered it quickly moves on. It’s ever-changing and energy literally pours from the page. There is NO WAY you will know what to expect next. Aliens? Zombies? Tentacles? Killer Robots? Well… yes actually.
If I had one complaint it’s that the, erm, ‘authenticity’ of the early pages sacrifices readability. In other words I couldn’t read some of squashed-up, pixelated text. Disappointing as this is it only occurs in a small portion of the book, and there are over 100 pages of comics to enjoy. Totally worth it.
*The Underfold frequently delivers anticlimactic endings, which are funny in the sense of someone lighting a fuse which always fizzles out. The more times they light the fuse the funnier it gets.