I started reading Yirmumah again.
I had stopped reading it, some ages past, after D.J. did something arbitrary and assholish, and I figured it wasn’t worth my time to read something put together by someone with so little class.
But… well, he doesn’t seem quite so bad these days. Few in the community do – flame wars still flare up, but generally die down in apologies and little more.
So I decided to give another go at his strip – and discovered it has changed quite a bit. Still filled with a dark humor, but going for a much more serious, story-driven tone.
In fact, quite a few strips this season seem to be going through that sort of transition. It is always a risky move, and more often than not, turns me off. It is hard – damn hard – to take characters that exist in one context, and shift them to another, without completely losing the audience.
Which is why I found it surprising that Yirmumah’s attempt – a comic that I only sorta tolerated liking, at the best of times – worked well for me.
I think it helps, tremendously, that we are dealing with an entirely new cast of characters. They are connected to the previous stars of the strip – but only loosely. Enough to see the similarities, but for the different style not to feel jarring and over-the-top.
Others have learned that lesson – Poe tried to turn Exploitation Now into a serious strip, but eventually decided it was best to switch gears entirely. And it worked. If you want a serious, story-driven comic… well, you need to build the story up properly. You can’t just suddenly insert drama and expect story to follow.
Well, not usually. I don’t like to speak in absolutes, and I’m sure some geniuses have managed just that – but nine times out of ten, it isn’t going to cut it.
So far, the new Yirmumah… well, it stands on its own. It’s a good start. I’m not entirely sure where he is going with it, and how it will end up tying back in to the classis strips. But he’s taken the risk of moving into a new direction, and he’s actually done a pretty damn good job of it – and that deserves more than a bit of respect.