It’s fair enough to say that the webcomics community and the mainstream comics industry are every constantly amalgamating into one entity. If it’s not clear enough with names like Noelle Stevenson and Ryan North being printed on books from the big two, Dynamite is coming out this week with an issue of the long running webcomic Looking for Group.
The series follows Cale’anon, a naïve but well-meaning elf, who finds himself in the wrong crowd: a psychopathic and insanely powerful warlock named Richard, a disgruntled Orcish cleric called Gid, and a shockingly nuanced Minotaur by the name of Krunch. Together, they find themselves constantly on the wrong side of the law and swept up in the petty conflicts of kings and warlords. The story has a particular brand of snarky dark comedy that makes the contrast with the art’s cartoon like aesthetic all the more brutal, most of it being dished out by Richard. However, this series does suffer from being a direct printing of the original comic. In only one issue, the plot rushes through about three story and character arcs. Granted, plenty of mainstream books like decompressing every single possible issue to fit better in a six part trade paperback which this entry thankfully doesn’t do, but the story starts to drag. Not to forget the other problems that make the transition a bit rough includes one note joke pages such as a notable riff on Lord of the Rings, which don’t fit.
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The issue in question is a literal reprinting of the series, each page from online equates to a physical page. That’s one of the greatest flaws of Looking for Group #1. Each page was laid out to be read in regular instalments instead of one go with four to five rows of panels, resulting in the pages to be overcrowded. Similar, the book follows many other web comic series it that it features a lot of text bubbles. Being wordy is no real sin, but it ends up cluttering the pages and blocking out the art work. Speaking of, this issue also suffers from amateur artwork. Plenty of webcomics start out with less than stellar pencils and inks and evolve to a higher caliber and Looking for Group is no exception. Still that means the first issue looks slapdash compared to the other series coming out of Dynamite. Though don’t let it be said that the book isn’t the full package as it comes with two backup comics also done by the Looking for Group crew, Non-Playable Character which gives some extra context to incidental side characters and Tiny Dick Adventures, a non-canonical joke comic following a chibi version of Richard.
Looking for Group makes an awkward change from a webpage to the printed one as its writing and artwork aren’t properly suited for an ongoing title. That being said, it has some mean beyond believe humor, even if the series expects the reader to find Richard, the series’ mascot, less of a monster than an enjoyable jokester. The issue is a tough sell which is best determined by how much one laughs at the jokes, as with any comedy series.