My Favorite Comics Where I Don’t Actually Know What’s Going On: The Templar, Arizona Edition!

I laughed at Ben's pain and confusion, and for this, I have been punished.I really, really like Templar, Arizona. Of this, I am pretty sure.

It’s hard to be certain, though. The art is wonderfully dynamic, I don’t think anyone can deny that. The setting seems wild and alive and full of surprises. The story… well, I’m not sure if we’ve really gotten to one yet, but hey – walking around, seeing characters interact, that’s all well and good!

I just wish I knew who these people were.

Ok. This might be a bit of an exaggeration. Of the characters in the current scene, I certainly recognize Ben, the main protagonist of the strip. Reagan and Scipio – we’ve seen them a bunch, so hey, no problem.

We’ve got the members of Borndown, a band. I know this, cause they told me, for which I am grateful. One of them, Gene, we met early on – I remember that much, at least. And then we’ve got someone named Curio, and her friend, who does Freeform Naturalist Eurythmy, and who I guess we are supposed to recognize from earlier?

And I think there were some people playing ice hockey, or something, only now they are gone and everyone is just hanging around and talking and why is there a dog in that man’s armpit???

So I’m lost. Which is pretty much par for the course with this strip – it is basically all about this slightly skewed vision of a world similar, but not quite like ours, and the people that live in it. And that’s cool, and I like it, and the characters are really awesome and individual and unique… only I’m getting sensory overload.

I mean, this comic has, hands-down, some of the most absolutely brilliant character design out there. Every single person looks distinct visually – and the art and writing is able to convey a similarly distinct personality in a handful of pages. I like Ben, who we’ve gotten a chance to know, and I like these crazy members of Gene’s band, who we’ve only just had thrown at us.

But it feels like it is spiraling out of control. I know some comics suffer from the artist forgetting that the audience doesn’t have access to all the knowledge they have, but I suspect that isn’t the reason here. My guess is that it is intentional – much like Ben himself, we’ve been thrown into this strange place with these strange people and we have to make sense of it on the go. Which, at heart, can work, confusion can be good and fun – up to a limit. It just feels like it’s going overboard, when there is barely room in a panel for half the characters present, when characters pop from one location to the next without any sign or reason, when the scene is simply descending from agreeable chaos into raw white noise, and…

Well. You know. It’s a shame.

I’m not going to say the comic needs to change, because it may well be my own flaws that are leaving me bewildered. I suspect if I went back and read through the archives at least one in three of my questions would find an answer. But I really wish the discord was turned back just a notch, just the tiniest sliver… because I shoudn’t have to do research to understand every update. I shouldn’t need to make a diagram just to track what’s going on.

And I could just stop reading, sure – but I don’t want to. Because this is a fantastic comic with fantastic characters, and I’d really hate to be unable to interpret it as nothing more than random pictures and sound.

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2 responses

  1. I feel the same way – I can never quite decide if Templar’s chaotic, 80mph conversations are genius or just confused. I always lean slightly towards the former, but the latest arc has been dense even by the standards of the comic.

  2. I feel very much as you do. My current plan is to take a break, let a backlog of new Templar strips build up, and read them in bulk, hoping that it is easier to follow in rapid succession than all spread out.

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