Gold Digger/Ninja High School: A Science Affair #1-2 (1994)
Story and art by Fred Perry
Okay, so you've got a mildly successful hit (by your standards) on your hand, what can you do that will push sales to the next level? Why, crossing it over with your flagship title, of course! And that's exactly what A Science Affair does, teaming Gina and Cheetah with all your favorite NHS characters, like Phrank. Minerva. Jesibell. And, um, Super Science Ninja Team Treatman. Against the menace of Leiola and Dertoza. And, um, Spellvis, the sorcerous Elvis impersonator.
You were expecting Tolstoy, maybe? This is just a simple crossover between two comics, where some goofy characters meet and team up to fight some equally goofy villains. It's about 90% fight scene and 10% groan-inducing jokes (which isn't to say that the fight scenes aren't filled with groan-inducing jokes either). Everyone's in character, nothing momentous hangs in the balance, and the jokes are still pretty funny fourteen years later. What more did you want?
A Science Affair marks sort of a turning point for Fred's art — he's over the stylistic ups and downs of the series first two years and is settling into a consistent, pleasantly cartoony style that will define the rest of the second volume.
Then again, I've been saying a lot of positive things about Fred's art lately, so let's take a look at something I don't like, such as this page from issue #2...
Okay. I like the idea of a big fight scene with bodies flying everywhere, but the composition here is just a mess. There's no direction to the fight scene — characters are just dropped wherever. There's no serious attempt made to spot blacks, and as a result the the Deartho drones grab your eye and pull it every which way. Furthermore, the light line weight can't compete with those big blobs of black, which makes it harder to focus on they key actions, and when it's used as hatching, the hatching overwhelms the nearby linework. The negative space is parceled out in such tiny dollops that it doesn't really give your eye a break or define the contours of the battle.
The figures are nicely cartooned, but I don't really get a sense that they're existing in the same space as each other. They're just floating there, and the half-assed shadowing doesn't do as much to ground them as some varied line weight would.
I'm also a bit confused by the ragged panel border and the border-less panel in the bottom tier. These are typically techniques used for emphasizing a particular action, or slowing down the perception of time. Neither one is called for here.
Print Run: 6000
Makes perfect sense, actually — you're probably going to get most of the Gold Digger audience and a good chunk of the Ninja High School audience as well, so might as well bump up the print run. I'm still a bit disturbed by the AP editorial box touting early issues of the regular series as "blue chip investments" though.
Your Gratuitous Butt Shot for Today
- I am mildly embarassed to admit that I have the "gold" edition of this comic, which you had to clip-and-send coupons from three different Gold Digger to receive. But hey, I was buying all of the comics involved anyway, and that gold foil is so shiny....