Graphic novels are awesome, and so are webcomics. The first problem with The Zurvan Club is that it tries to be both, and fails twice.The comic is illustrated using 3D computer graphics, which is unusual for both mediums. “Unusual” is not the problem, though. The authors, Adolf Navarro and Izara Masie, admit on their biography page that neither is an artist–instead both come from heavy computer backgrounds so it’s unsurprising that they’ve chosen to animate their epic storyline using computer graphics.
The problem I referenced earlier, however, is the pictures aren’t used enough to tell the story. The first chapter of The Zurvan Clubalone is 425 pages long, largely because there are too many frames for the storyline. The exposition unfolds through dialogue over dinners and at computer screens, and opportunities to use different settings and characters are missed in favor of detailed offices and textured backgrounds.
The result is a webcomic that looks like stills from Reboot.
The story is a little hard to grasp in the webcomic format, too. It relies heavily on myth and legend, and discovering truths behind them. The myths are obscure, and the connections drawn between are far-fetched. There is not enough attention given to character development–perhaps the discoveries are exciting and important, but I want to know why THESE characters care so much. Perhaps something is lost in translation, as The Zurvan Club was originally written in Spanish. The translation is why I’ll forgive some of clunky phraseology, and strangely poetic narration, but it doesn’t make up for the imbalance between character and plot development. If I didn’t understand the story, it’s not because the information wasn’t available, but quite the opposite.
There was too much info too quickly. The Zurvan Club site even has lengthy biographies for each character in the series, and the main characters Alex and Julia have their own pages where they explain the ancient history and physics that you need to understand in order to grasp the storyline. I think this seperation of information reveals the greatest weakness in the story–if this info were imparted within the plot of the comic itself, maybe it would easier to follow; but there’s so much backpedaling to do before the story can get off its feet that it’s hard to keep up.
By the second chapter, the pacing has gotten a little better. The trouble again is that the second chapter comes almost 500 pages in. I hope that the pacing continues to pick up, and that the authors embrace rather than push against the graphic novel format.