If you’re a fan of video games and web comics then the name Penny Arcade will probably be probably be very familiar to you – for those who aren’t well check out their site for some of the funniest online cartoons going. Poking fun at the world of games and the internet since the late 90s, writer Jerry Holkins and artist Mike Karahulik have carved themselves quite the niche as one of the few self-sufficient web comics online. Never ones to rest on their laurels though, Jerry and Mike have decided to dip their toes in the choppy waters of digital comics with their first release Lookouts, published in association with Cryptozoic Entertainment. It’s all part of their new Kickstarter project too, which is aiming for them to be able to finance the website (and Lookouts) without having to rely on advertising, so let’s hope they succeed as on this first offering has the potential to be something well worth developing.
The story follows the group of eponymous Lookouts who are young kids training to be guardians of their village but are more like the boy scouts of Middle Earth. As a sphinx terrorises the local road to Yarrow, killing travellers on their way, so the Lookouts‘ master Samson decides it is time to send them out on a little quest in order to earn another badge. Although the story is a little light in this first issue, writer Ben McCool, alongside Jerry and Mike themselves, does a great job of building this world of sphinxes, trolls and magical forest creatures. As well as a well thought out opening chapter, in order to get a more detailed insight into the world they inhabit, there’s a detailed guide to the Lookouts‘ honor badge system at the back of the book which is a really nice touch and goes to show the level of detail we could well come to expect from this book over the coming months.
However the real stars of the book are artists Robb Mommaerts and Mike Norton ably aided by colorist Rainer Petter. The style is both comic-like and cartoony, mixing manga style sharpness and European style humour, which reminded me of Asterisk in places. This helps create a fascinating tone and feel for the characters, which is made even more vibrant thanks to some superb watercolour effects and natural brush strokes from Petter which gives the book a really lush organic feel. Along with the quirky humour and well thought out story makes this a real book to watch going forward.