Circles #1 Review
An impressive start to a new comic for the gay anthropomorphic fans. Being a writer, I'm probably a bit biased towards this comic but I have to say I am very impressed.
The inevitable comparison: Might as well get it out of the way. ASB versus Circles. They are very different things. Both are enjoyable for different reasons. ASB might be a little more fun to look at and might have a little more of pure FUN in it's stories, but Circles has characters I could truly care about, believe exist, and in situations that I like to see addressed. Both books are set in different times with different situations and if the characters in Circles are a little more mature, well thats because they have a little more milage under the tires. Thats as it should be. If nothing else its wonderfull to see Circles filling the niche that ASB did at one point in time.
The Plot: Its a typical slice-of-life sort of comic revolving around a household of gay guys in a fictional Boston. The presentation is interesting, seen through the eyes and diary of Paullie, a mature gay canine (German Shepherd?) suffering from HIV. What An STD in a furry comic? Yep, this story is a lot more mature and deals with issues that ASB chose not too. A new tenant (Marty: a skunk) applies for a room in the household giving the mechanism to introduce most of the main characters: Doug, an otter and husband of Paullie. Arthur, a bear, and long time friend of Paullie, Taye, a kangaroo, and Ken, a cheetah (or leopard. I never can tell my spots apart). All of the characters have jobs or school that give a nice feeling of heft to the world they inhabit.
The Writing: The dialogue is pretty dense for a comic but in my book thats a good thing, not a detriment. The writing is mature as are the situations and it requires you to actually read the durn thing as well as enjoy the art to get to know the characters. Some may well disagree but its a trend I hope to see continue. The characters are well balanced with a mix of seriousness, romance, humor and fun to them.
The Characters: An interesting mix that is a bit more realistic than you may have seen before. Part of that is simply because the characters interacting cover a much wider age range than in ASB. Most of the players have real jobs and real lives and cover a lot of emotional ground. Taye and Ken come across as the more flamboyant members of the household but all together, the cast gives a nice breath of the differences between various gay persons.
The Art: Scott "K-9" Fabianek's artwork is distinctive and impressive. The only thing I have to critique on this is that as things go along, I hope to see a little more attention given to the backgrounds of the panels. With dialogue as dense as it is (at least in this first story). It makes it a little difficult, but still I'd like to see it tried.
Summary: A fine first issue with good writing. I think that folks who liked ASB will like this comic and those that were hoping for a little more depth than ASB offerred will like this too. I will say that for me, Circles has the potential to be more what I had originally hoped ASB would be, a non-sterotypical portrayal of gay anthropomorphic characters. For all of the folks associated with the book, best of luck!