April 21, 2010

Brave Play comic strip debuts

New comic strip by A. David Lewis!

By Greg BurgasA. David Lewis, the writer of last year's best graphic novel, Some New Kind of Slaughter, has a nifty new webcomic strip running in The Boston Phoenix. It's called Brave Play, and it's drawn by Matt Roscetti. It takes place over the course of the 1948 baseball season (it began running just when the season began) and is about certain teams manipulating Native American spirits to benefit their clubs. So far we've seen a few spooky things, the introduction of the main characters, and some machinations of the plot.And:Twenty-four strips have been published as of this afternoon, but each are 3-4 panels and you can get caught up fairly quickly. Lewis is a fine writer, and there's already a lot going on in the strip, both plot-wise and metaphysical-wise (baseball always seems to bring out the romantic nature of writers). Roscetti's art is rough but works pretty well for the rough-and-tumble days of the late 1940s. I encourage you to go check it out!Comment:  The series is up to 27 strips now.

I agree you should check it out, but I'll give you my take on the series. "A lot going on in the strip" means too much going on in the strip. There are too many characters and plotlines for us to follow easily. "Roscetti's art is rough" means Roscetti's art is too rough. I don't find this scratchy, scribbled style at all attractive.

I'm also uneasy about the whole "manipulating Native American spirits" theme. I'm not sure where Burgas got this from; it's only vaguely implied in the strips themselves. But assuming it's true, is that a good idea? Will each team have a "shaman" who calls up spirits buried under the stadium to help the home team and harass the opponents? Because that could really be stereotypical.

I guess the story takes place in New York City. The Indians use a few Native words I don't recognize, but they appear to be out west somewhere. Will we learn what culture they're from? Will spirits from different tribes appear at different stadiums? Or will these Indians and their spirits just be generic?

A. David Lewis is an acquaintance who has an interest in multicultural and Native issues. He was an early supporter of PEACE PARTY years ago. I'm sorry to have to criticize his work, and I hope it gets better.

For more on the subject, see Native Comic Books vs. Comic Strips.


dmarks said...

The previous post asks a bunch of questions. It even has "For those unwilling or unable to answer the questions"

But with comments disabled, no one CAN answer the questions.

Greg said...

Rob: The fact that they're manipulating Native spirits comes from Lewis himself, when he was describing the series to me. I assume it's coming, but I should have mentioned that, because it's not evident yet in the story. Sorry!

I agree that the strip hasn't hit its stride yet (if it will), but I trust Lewis to get it together. If he doesn't, I'll be disappointed. I'll be interested to see your take on it as it goes forward.