Make Belief Studios ~

July 18, 2008

Gerard Lee’s the New Sons of Thunder

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — Saturday @ 10:40 pm

An apology to all my regular readers for the recent update drought. Yes I know, “regular readers” was always an impossibility with this website. I’m not going to make any empty promises about more updates. After all, I’ve been too lazy to even submit an entry or two about what’s going (or not going) on and what I have planned for Make Belief Studios. Things are always changing over here! And with addition to being blog-lazy, I’ve also been genuinely busy, but I’ll keep that to a separate entry… probably that entry which I was just talking about not doing…

Anyway! This is about Gerard Lee’s “the New Sons of Thunder”! Now I will say that Gerry Lee is officially my favorite comic producer of the entire Christian scene… or at least the Christian manga scene… probably the whole scene, though. Now, this isn’t just fanboy gush, I’ve been a fan of Gerry’s for a while now, but I didn’t decide he was my favorite until I got his latest, and to my understanding: initial, published work in the mail today.

The New Sons of Thunder (I’m not writing that title out anymore this article), written by Gerard Lee with art by Blake Larry… Larry Blake! Either way these really sound like comic book names, way to go guys! You’ve passed stage one! I’m sure Strong Bad would agree. Anyway, I’ve got to get this out of the way before I go any farther:

Why is the art NOT manga?!? In my opinion Gerry’s writing captures the very heart of what makes manga! His own scribble comics (I believe they can now officially be called “storyboards”) are manga! The characters and jokes and plot devices all scream “Takashi Rumiko” and “Kanzaka Hajime”! But where is the manga in this book?!?

Oh…. There it is. The inside cover. XD;;; Joking. *gloat gloat* Okay, now that was fanboy esque. It’s out of my system now. On to the real review.

Larry Blake, according to google, is a legendary underground artist. You probably have heard of him. I find his name super familiar, but then again, maybe it’s just one of those names. I did have to look through 3 pages of search results to find a description which likely belonged to this specific Mr. Blake. And by the way Mr. Blake, if you really are as famous as I get the sinking feeling you might be. I’m sorry for this treatment, I just don’t move along well in underground scenes. Especially ones involving western comics.

Kay, now for a bit of schizophrenia: Larry’s artwork is fabulous. Super detailed with rich textures, deep backgrounds and expressive characters! Not to mention his excellent story telling through paneling! He must do a lot of caricatures because I’d say his weakest area would be in proportions (isn’t that true with all of us?) and digital finalization. That last area I mentioned is probably a side effect of the artwork being 100% traditional! How sweet is that? Every line from tone to frame to shadow was done with a real pen! I hate to say it, but his western style has met Gerry’s eastern writing pretty darn well. However, if I see one more character represented as “asian” solely by their ridiculously squinty eyes and straggly hair, I’m gonna….~.~*

Sorry, sorry, getting too picky there.

On to the story itself! Heck, I don’t need to tell you what I think! You can figure it out for yourself! All of tNSoT adventures are available for free reading over at Cyberlight Comics, in scribble comic (*cough* *cough* storyboard *cough*) form:
http://cyberlightcomics.com/scribble/index.htm
There’s even a bunch of other equally amusing comics done by Gerry, free to read.

Now that you know about that… I’m still gonna tell you what I think about Gerry’s writing! It’s brilliant! I’m sure you expected me to say something like that, but it really is good! Sure the story’s nothing brand new, you can put names to his inspirations, but the fact that it’s so transparent I think is one of the best things about Gerry’s works. His heart is in it and you can see it clearly. And on a technical level it’s a good story. His characters are rich and not only develop, but stay true to their roots.

This is one of the differences I think are between American style comics and manga. In American comics you’ll rarely see a character that “develops” without changing into a completely different character by the end of the story. Gerry’s characters grow yet still stay true to their personalities and I think this gives testament to what a strong manga writer Gerry is. I’ll admit the story is not always very coherent but it is easy to understand and above all amusing. It sucks you in and gets you involved like a good manga should! Not to mention it’s often hilarious. I know tons of artists, indie and professional, who can’t get their point across or tell a decent joke but Gerry accomplishes both of those without wasting an effort.

To give you a taste of some of what makes Gerry’s writing so great: a quote from Gerry’s latest scribble comic:
“Hello there, wretched sinner! Good news!”
“We want to share the love of the Lord Jesus Christ with you! So what kind of sinner are you? Murderer? Thief? Harlot?”
“Whatever your past, God loves you! We love you!”
“I’m a catholic!”

Those are a couple of my favorite lines from Gerry’s yet unpublished scribble comic “Little Miss Martyr”. It was sent to me with his tNSoT comic. Though I’m pretty sure he’s not sending copies of this scribble comic out with every order of tNSoT. I’m quite sure he just sent it to me because I’m obviously super elite in this scene. Regardless, I’ll donate a short review so you’ll know what to expect when this comic finally does hit stands. or internet sites, where ever.

Little Miss Martyr is the latest installment of the tNsoT series, and I’m quite certain the greatest so far. Gerry doesn’t hold back with the comedy or the Christian values. If you’re not a fan of Christian values, don’t worry, he balances them well and the story and characters are enjoyable regardless. Speaking of characters, the new “Little Miss Martyr” is an enjoyable addition to the cast. I’m surprised that Gerry can keep popping out these unique persona’s and have them work well together without jumbling their personalities up! However, if I exclude Father Dominic, I notice that the group now has more females than males… I’m sorry, but I can’t help but wonder how Mr. Lee would handle a harem genre story ^.^

Sorry, that’s my fanboy coming out again.

It’s a scribble comic, so there’s nothing I really can judge too harshly. However I will say that the fonts can often be really hard to read. This is sadly true in all of Gerry’s scribble comics so far. Is it too much to ask for all the letters to have a small space between them? Not as big as the space between the words, mind you. Specific to this issue, however, the story does tend to drag a little in the second half when the characters are doing various “godly works”. It kinda sends you a mixed signal of “I get the point” and “what was the story about again?”. A couple of those scenes taken out would make the story a much nicer read. However, deciding which scenes the story could do without, I’m not going to attempt.

As I said, Gerry is my current favorite producer in the Christian comic scene. I say “producer” because writer or artist, I always end up loving Gerry’s work! For the same reasons I’ve already written, he’s transparent and talented, more so than even he knows. Not to mention he’s one of the kindest guys you would ever get the privilege to talk to.

Larry Blake’s art is a treat and good for variety, however, a Gerry Lee story with Gerry Lee artwork (scribble or otherwise) is just an all around win! I have a certain admiration for Gerry’s works, likely because it seems that he’s accomplished exactly what I hope for my own manga. He has a goal and a message and even though his skills might not be well polished, his feelings are more than enough when they come barreling out. Everything he has to offer comes out on that page clear and honest for everyone to see and make what they will of it.

Thank you for all the hard work Gerry. Please keep it up. I know you’ve got a lot more dying to come out!

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1 Comment »

  1. Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

    Comment by Tom Humes — July 18, 2008 @ 11:06 pm


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