‘The Pilfered #1:’ Digital Comic Book Review

Published by Level 21 Boss Publishing, The Pilfered is a digital comic book series three years in the making. The four-issue mini series is only available as an app on iOS devices and features “motion FX, cinematic music, dynamic transitions” according to the comic website. The comic was created by Alan I. Djivré and developed by Philippe Blais. Djivré, posting under the moniker “MonkeyTalks” on a DAZ forum, explained his process, “I used the DAZ renders with a toon shader and then imported it to [P]hotoshop and worked on it a lot until I got the style I was looking for.” The resulting product presents an engaging, unique reading experience.

The first issue lays the foundation of the main protagonists, Officer Pete Thurston and reporter Lucy “Lucky” Devonshire, as they separately investigate a series of mysterious murders while the town's citizens are at odds over becoming the site for a corporation's radioactive waste. The premise of the murders provides a fascinating hook, especially the shriveled bodies of the three youth at the second crime scene. Quickly and efficiently, Djivré conveys a lot of clues to Pete's backstory as well as insight into his personality, in order to build the reader's interest into the character. Lucky's character development is more reliant on stereotypical tropes reminiscent of characters subjugated to the role of sidekick; however, it would have been more interesting if she had been developed more fully as Pete had been – more of an equal to Pete. While she seems to fill the role as rather flighty, she does provide an opportunity for witty banter between the her and Pete on the steps of the plaza before they descend into the sewer tunnel.

The renderings are not the typical comic book style that one would find in the physical format or on ComiXology. The renderings look different via the process of using DAZ which appears to be based on photographs. As a result, the faces and bodies look a little skewed and the background slightly flat; however, it is only minimally distracting. The format and panel work is nicely done. In fact, the unfolding panels as Pete and Lucky try to escape juxtaposed as the bomber's hand reaches ever closer to the button which will detonate the bomb is visually effective at building the tension of the situation. The text and speech bubbles are easy to read, and there is good differentiation between people conversing verse radio transmission dialogues. The blue/black combination of the latter dialogue boxes match up with the police colors, as the originators of the transmissions.

There are two other aspects that are integral to the reading experience: the motion FX and the inclusion of music. While too often a “cool” tool is overused, Djivré and Blais have shown restraint and used it in subtle ways to complement the story. Single animated items can be found throughout the first issue: flickering florescent lights, smoke from a cigar, flickering candle flames, sparks, and a number of other small items accentuate various moments in the story. The music, however, is a mix bag. The music transitions are abrupt and part of the time do not seem to fit the mood of the scene. For instance, the music at the Midlake City Plaza doesn't really fit; however, in the subsequent scene in the tunnel, the dramatic ambiance/noise music blends quite well with the tension as Pete and Lucky face the unknown.

The story is engrossing and paced well. Although the visuals – specifically the faces – are slightly awkward, they can be overlooked as a minor weakness, especially given the progressive and experimental nature of the project. With the motion FX, transitions, and music accompaniment, it is obvious that Djivré has dedicated a lot of time and labor to The Pilfered. He has succeeded in creating a distinctive comic book reading experience. The app and first issue are free and well worth checking out. The subsequent three issues are $1.99 each.

Last modified on Sunday, 11 March 2018 01:49

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