The Webcomic Watchman

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Review #40: I Know You're Out There, Somewhere Out There

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If only the bank took "ambition" instead of
"money," things would be awesome.

Title: Out There
Artist: R.C. Monroe
Genre: Romance/Comedy (or just take your pick)
Updates: Daily (minus Sundays)

It may seem daunting at first, to review a webcomic that has updated almost daily since June 2006, but some of that fear is alleviated when you notice how incredibly minimalist it is. The comic uses simple black-and-white drawings with little in the way of background as opposed to the lush colorization and backgrounds from comics like Purgatory Tower or Dresden Codak. As a result, this comic relies more on the script to tell the story instead of the artwork.

Allow me to explain: Out There has no magic powers, no guns, no swords, no blunt political or religious messages, no angsty anti-heroes, no unlikely heroes banding together to defeat a powerful evil, and nothing in the way of internet memes or "dead baby comedy" for cheap laughs. It's just a snapshot of the life of a bartender named Miriam and the various characters she either knows or meets over the course of the story. This does make the comic a bit of an acquired taste.

The comic starts out with Miriam driving across the country from not-San Diego to a port town in not-New England, planning on both taking a bartending job and hooking up with an online boyfriend. In the first few strips, she decides to pick up a bald, mild-mannered drifter named John pretty much on impulse. The story seems to flow from that one decision, as Miriam tilts between her slight attraction to the mild-mannered John and her promise to her online boyfriend, Chuck.

The comic switches back and forth between scenes of the Miriam traveling eastward with John to not-Portsmouth, the setting of their destination. While they drive cross-country, the aforementioned Chuck and the bar owner Sherry are trying to keep their trust in Miriam, while their hangers-on (James and Clayton, respectively) are thinking the opposite.

You think the story would be all about the journey, right? No, that's only a small part of it, but things continue even after Miriam (with John in tow) reach their destination. The comic segues into the adjustments Miriam has to make upon finally taking her new job at Sherry's bar and physically hooking up with Chuck. At the same time, John decides to stick around with his mild-mannered ways, James is forced to deal with his roommate now having a girlfriend, and still an alcoholic.

The story may not be a great fit for everyone, and the artwork is pretty damn minimalist. Hell, the strip itself looks like it could fit in a newspaper. However, if you are in the mood for something along the lines of Doonesbury with alcoholism instead of politics (hey, Clayton looks a bit like Zonker from the olden days), then chances are you'll like Out There as well.


  • I appreciate the review, Doc. I was, however, surprised there was no "thumbs up" or "thumbs down;" it was almost as if you were completely ambivalent about the strip, or just didn't want to commit yourself one way or the other. In any event, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read and review it.

    By Anonymous R. C. Monroe, at 2:32 PM  

  • I'm vaguely surprised about the brevity of this review. It feels like there's an introduction, a plot summary, and... naught else. No mention of the traveling theme, no closer look at the unusually realistic character relations (a subject many readers find very attractive, particularly with the lack of genuine-feeling relationships in webcomics as a whole), not even a mention of the rapidity of the art progression. As stated in the review, Out There has only been around since June 06, and the rapidity of the updates hides the dramatic increase in comic quality. Mr Monroe deserves a great deal of credit for making the progress he has in the past year and a half, progress that few webcomics ever achieve in such a short span of time.

    By Blogger tentus, at 9:18 PM  

  • Well, if you browse through the other entries Dr. Haus'll notice that that's generally how he does things. Whether or not that's a good thing is another issue...but, assuming you requested the review and he's not just doing this on a whim, you can't really expect otherwise in these reviews.

    By Anonymous Jason, at 7:07 PM  

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