Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Penny and Aggie

You know that series that catches you completely off guard? One that you are only warm towards in the beginning, but slowly works its way up to favorite status? That series for me was Penny and Aggie; a story about two girls who hate each other in high school (original, I know) but slowly become important parts of each other's lives. Their relationship slowly grows over the years, becoming something neither one of them expected. Sadly, it ended far too quickly when it was just getting to the part I truly adored about it-- and didn't end too well, in my opinion. But at any rate, let's get started on my first webcomic review. (aw yeah, awesoooome)

Famous last words.
Well, last straight words.
The plot of this story varies between high school drama and slice of life. What's nice is that the comic matures and grows up along with its writer and artist, so the one-shot comic to comic episodes are short lived. And at the same time, the characters do too. Where Penny and Aggie start out as one-dimensional archetypes, they slowly become molded into complex women tangled in each other's lives. They don't want to start caring about each other, they never planned it, but slowly they do.

Until finally Aggie truly starts questioning her sexuality. There have been hints here and there about the possibility of her being gay, and other characters mused about it as well, but it was all foreshadowing until halfway through the series that she realizes that she's not all into men. And slowly, the two girls realize there might be something more to their friendship than, well, friendship.

okay in some areas it's not so subtle but you get the idea
Eventually, the two do finally admit their feelings for each other... or at least admit they want to explore the relationship between them. Considering they only get together in the last part of the series, I won't go into too many details about their relationship. However, it does allow them to look at what they really want out of life, and what they want out of themselves. I was rather surprised when there relationship never hit the typical cliches but ran into actual problems and concerns I myself ran into when I finally realized my own sexuality. Many of the concerns Aggie had were the concerns I had, so it was nice to finally have a gay character to relate to.

That being said, the story wasn't entirely revolved around their sexuality. One of the most moving chapters to me was one dealing with Aggie's conflicting emotions regarding her mother's death and her own blossoming adulthood. Then there's that mind-blowing chapter where all the possible futures Penny has gathers together to make a decision that will affect her for the rest of her life... For a high school drama, there's a decent amount of depth and thought.

And surprisingly, there's a lot of metaphor and symbolism throughout the series, something you don't find a whole lot in the "non-artsy" stories. Take this defining moment for Aggie:

Wait for it...

Uh oh indeed.

Grade: B
Not a fan of how gimmicky the beginning is, and the ending is a let down, but everything else is truly wonderful.

Since this story has seen two different artists and has been around seven years, PaA has understandably seen a dynamic art style. Where this comic is fortunate, however, is that even the initial art isn't hard to look at, which is more than you can say for many other fledgling comics. However, my preference lies with the initial artist, Gisele, rather than the artist the series ended with, Jason. Gisele grew into an expressive, more human style, whereas Jason's style has a doll-like feeling, and tends too rely on only a few expressions. In some cases, Jason still needs to work on his anatomy (something I need to work on too in the comic world, bawhahahabaw). Unfortunately, with the exception of a few comics, the entire series is in black and white. This is a shame, because they seem to have access to people who can color-- which suggests they're sacrificing quality for quantity. This theory is backed up by the rush job they did with the ending, which is terrible.

For the most part at least, the art progresses rather nicely and is good. It's not great, but it's better than most of its counterparts.

Grade: B

Bottom line, Penny and Aggie is by no means perfect. It grew through out its entire life, and ended with more room to grow. Most of its flaws could be overlooked if not for the rushed ending-- T, the writer had planned for it to end this September, and when it was obvious that the story was going to run a little long, most of the story was cut out in favor for a "time skip" ending. You know, one of those endings where they flash forward to the future and explain everything we missed? Yeah, that kind of ending. Much of what they talked about were things I would have liked to seen. They were things I cared to find out about and seen fleshed out. And considering the next project T and Jason were going to work on was a spin-off of two of the characters going to college together, it makes me wonder if they just got bored of the Penny/Aggie romance. If that was the case, why all the build up? Why not implement it sooner? Why would you build up their romance to leave it so... lack luster?

The ending is what you remember most, and this ending has tainted the rest of the story for me. It's the reason why I can't give it an A despite how far it came from the beginning. It was like they learned absolutely nothing... and it was very disappointing.

Overall Grade: B

You be the judge. Visit Penny and Aggie at:
(The default page leads to the spin-off. I could care less for that noise.)

1 comment:

  1. I started to read Penny and Aggie and I didn't get too far. I suppose I should get around to reading further into it. A grade B is worth of a read!