Monday, August 29, 2005

Now That It's Finished: Mixed Myth

(All pictures from Mixed Myth by Robin Meyer. Click on the pictures to see them within the context of the website.)

I'm usually very slow to make decisions, so comics will rarely put out something to win me over near the beginning. Mixed Myth is one of the few exceptions to that rule. I was completely involved five comics in, when I read the comic to the right. It's only gotten better since then. My biggest problem with the comic as a whole was the update schedule. Sometimes it would update many days in a row, other times it would be off for a few weeks. That made it very hard to know when to check. Now that it's finished, that's not a problem anymore.

The Concept

Mixed Myth has a very interesting way of approaching metahumor without actually breaking the fourth wall. For the most part, these characters live within their own world, although this comic does have the funniest breaking of the fourth wall I've ever seen. Mixed Myth takes place in a world that is run by the laws of Cynamatiks. The more you primp and show off and basically make a fool of yourself, the more magic you have and the stronger you are. The comic does a good job of explaining it here. All people follow these laws and accept them as truth. This allows the comic to make fun of certain movie and fantasy conventions, and adds an extra level of humor to the proceedings.

There are other movie ideas and terms that show up within the comic. The next significant one is the Plot Point. Plot Points are shrines or locations usually with stained glass windows in the middle of nowhere where things tend to happen. The characters of Mixed Myth come across several Plot Points on their journey and grow to hate them. Plot Points are usually found in caves with puzzles in between the point and the entrance.

Other place where terms show up are varied. Some standard story terms have become part of the vernacular. Others are spells. Still others are shown through the actions of the characters. The great thing about this is the terms actually play a signigicance on the story and meld seamlessly with the actions of the characters. Since these kind of things are just part of the world they live in, they don't seem out of place. Some of my favorite sections of the comic are when a term appears out of nowhere in a way that makes sense with the term used.
One other thing that comes out of these ideas is the way the author makes fun of cliches. There are many conventions an audience gets tired of seeing, whether because it's unrealistic, it requires the characters to act stupid, or it's used way too often. Even in this world where movie conventions are everyday, cliches are looked down upon. The main characters especially abhor the use of cliches and will often act out against anyone who tries to use one. Cliches are equated with lost Cynamatiks and should be avoided at all costs.

The concept is what I like most about Mixed Myth. It's very clever and it's used in a very interesting and expert way. It's definitely one of the main reasons I decided to keep on reading Mixed Myth, and to keep checking it after I stopped reading. Most of the humor comes from this one concept. However, it is backed by a good story and fun characters, which makes for an all round enjoyable experience.

The Story


The story starts off rather simple, then once things start happening, quickly gets complex. Keeva and Puck are traveling together. It's not really explained why they are doing so. They meet Tamit, who's a sphinx, and after Keeva impresses her with her creative answer to a classic riddle, Tamit decides to join the group. Soon they are attacked by elves. After that, the story starts becoming a little more complex.

The big problem with complex stories, especially in a webcomics format, where a little bit is told at a time, is that it's hard to follow. When every little detail might be important, sometimes there are too many details to remember or too much time between the details. Some of them will get lost with time, and the reader will be lost as well. That's not to say I don't like complex stories, it's just sometimes they are too complex and there's too much to remember, but that's what archives are for, and that's why some comics are a lot better once they are completely done.

One of the nice things the story does is it reveals things gradually. The audience isn't really told a lot about the characters near the beginning. They all have their little quirks so that they are different enough to provide variety, but not much is revealed. Some things the characters don't even know themselves. They keep secrets. They have traits that they don't want to reveal. It seems weird but the reader gets to know almost everything abou the world long before they know anything about the people that inhabit it. That's not to say that they explain the world in detail, but they do say everything you need to know.

I'm not going to go much farther into the story because it's kind of fun to read for yourself, and a lot of the elements will be discussed in the character section. I will say that I think the ending was kind of a downer compared to the rest of the story. It was nice and everything, it just didn't have the right feel to me. Also it was much more serious than anything that happened before it, but most of what happens before then is worth reading through.


The Characters

The characters of Mixed Myth are kind of a mixed bag. Diversity comes not so much from the way they speak and what they do, but more from what they are. In fact, each of the characters seems to have a similar knowledge of the way the world works (except for Tamit, but she's kind of an unique case). They don't really act much differently except for a few quirks. However, there are many times where one of them does something that only they could possibly do, and the characters are al important in some way or another, as will be seen when I do analyses for some of the more important characters.

Keeva

Keeva is the definite main character of the strip. She's one of the first characters to appear in the comic and is also the de facto leader of the group, and everyone seems to have some connection with her. There are also other things about her that make her one of the more important characters in the strip.

Keeva is a half-elf, half-goblin. Her father (the elf) left her at a very young age, so she was mostly raised by her mother. This means that she has more goblin tendecies than elf tendencies, although she looks like a green elf. (Her appetite, it seems, is not completely goblin, though). One unique characteristic of the character is her love for explosives and guns of any kind. She has a very strong affection for things that go boom.

Indeed, most of Keeva's personality is rather childish and happy-go-lucky. She tends to take many situations in stride and cares more about having fun than personal responsibility. Her relationship with her family is also that of a child rather than an adult, especially how she interacts with her mother. She also seems to focus more on what she wants than on the people around her. She likes immediate satisfaction, and will often play with things she doesn't understand, sometimes with disatrous results.

That's not to say she's unfazeable. If she couldn't be fazed, she wouldn't be a strong character at all, no no. There are many things that happen in the comic which are too much for even Keeva's optimistic personality. There are many forces conspiring against her and the group, and being the main character, most of the bad stuff happens to her. There's also the dark secret about her ancestry (doesn't every character need one of those. She has it doubly so being a half breed.) As she goes through the strip, self doubt starts to sneak in, and puts a damper on the celebration. In some ways, I guess it can be seen as a growing up strip for a character that doesn't want to grow up, who wants to remain a child. One more notable trait of Keeva is the fact that she will sometimes transform into another being. After this happens, she has no knowledge of what she does, but it makes for some amazing imagery. This of course is explained later in the comic.

Puck


Ah Puck. Not exactly loyal, not exactly useful, with a chemical dependency that would knock out a horse.. er. He follows Keeva around for whatever reason. It's never entirely explained. There's a quick explanation about how he gave her a ride, and made a deal with her so that she would get off, but that doesn't quite explain why he's still there, considering he's a free spirit and doesn't seem to take orders from Keeva if he doesn't want to. I guess he just grew to like Keeva enough to stay around.

Puck is very quick to show off his uselessness. He seems to have three interests: self preservation, beer, and women, not necessarily in that order. He'll often lose sight of everything else when there's a chance one of these needs will be fulfilled.

That's not to say he's completely useless, just mostly useless. Enough that near the beginning I was starting to think he was only there for comic relief. However, he has some uses. He proves rather early that he can fight. He's a horse, so he can carry things the others can't (although he'll complain about having to do so). He's also a Pooka, and apparently Pooka are good at tinkering, so with the machines the group encounters, he can usually intuitively figure out how to work them.

Puck has other uses which show up later in the comic, and which take advantage of his main personality. If Puck weren't around, then it's pretty possible the group wouldn't have finished their task.

Tamit


Tamit is an odd character. She alternates between knowing nothing and knowing certain details that she just shouldn't know considering what she knows, if that makes sense. Tamit is a sphinx and the oldest of the four main characters. So old, in fact, that she has to purge her memories every once in a while so she doesn't explode or something. At least that's what she says.

That's right. Tamit is our character with amnesia. I bet you were waiting for that one weren't you? This actually doesn't bother me as much as it should. Actually amnesia in general doesn't bother me as much as it should. I guess it's me, but this is handled in a slightly different way, although it is also used to provide dues ex machinae and the such.

Of all the characters, Tamit should have the most knowledge of the world around her, and in some cases she does, but because she keeps forgetting, she's also rather innocent. It is rather odd what she knows how to work and what she doesn't, whether she just figures it out through logic or she actually knows varies according to situation. Of course, like every other character this is explained later in the comic.


Aidan

Aidan rounds out the group of four adventurers. Of the four, he is the one that follows the laws of Cynamatiks the most. He is also the one with the most secrets that he knows about.

Aidan is a half selkie, half werewolf. Both species are shapeshifters, but they shift in slightly different ways. He needs to use his wolf skin to transform into a wolf. He is an able fighter in both forms, and seems to choose which form to use based on the situation.

He also is the one who is most aware of how their world works. He is able to make educated guesses about what's going on based on the Cynamatiks of the situation and solves many problems based off what he sees, although he doesn't often choose the best way to solve these problems.

Since Aidan is in many ways the most mature, of the group, he is also the character with the least development. Aidan himself doesn't really change that much. What changes is how much the reader knows about him at any given time. This makes him one of the less interesting characters in the strip.

Snookums

Snookums is the main villian of the strip, as villians go. He's more of an antagonist, really. Not many people in the strip do things for truly evil reasons. Most of the time it's just a misunderstanding or conflicting goals. Snookums (he doesn't like to be called by that name, but I think it fits him well) is really just afraid to die. He wants to go on living.

Snookums is in many ways a Romantic. He enjoys living life to the fullest and will often get distracted from more pressing goals in order to do something more sensual. This also means that for the most part, Snookums loves what he's doing. Just looking at his face, you can tell he's having fun. Life is a game to him, and he enjoys playing it.

That is not to say he doesn't have his more sinister aspects. He is quite powerful, and he knows how to manipulate people to do things which would be to his advantage. He is also, like most villians, very good at making escapes.

There's also this piddly little thing called world domination, which most people don't take kindly to. Yes, Snookums wants to control the world. He likes being in control of situations and owning the world would be the ultimate control. However, this is just because he himself feels controlled. All in all, when it's over, Snookums comes off as one of the most sympathetic and likable villians out there.

Suord


No, that's not a typo. That's how it's spelled. I've said before that a lot of the webcomics I read have mascots. Suord, I believe, is the mascot for Mixed Myth.

Everything about Suord, from his first entrance onward is a mix of cuteness and humor that works really well. I admit, I grew to love the Suord character, and spent quite a bit of time reading this comic wondering when he was going to make his next appearance.

Suord is, well, a sword, who acts like a dog, and decided to follow Keeva around and be one of her weapons. Suord is rather protective of Keeva and also has a deep connection to her. He also seems to be able to move of his own will, but has limitted mobility in some respects.

Suord does make a rather good weapon, but mostly he's around just to be cute. Oh, and he has a mysterious past that is revealed later in the strip, but I guess you figured that, right?

Wrap up

Mixed Myth was fun while I read it, and even better now that it's finished. There is a light-hearted quality that permeates the work and makes it very much worth reading.

Reasons to read.

-funny concept that's well used.

-interesting characters

-good sense of humor

Negative aspects

-some story elements seem to jump out of nowhere

-filler strips at inoportune times interupt the flow of the strip

By the the power vested in me I hereby induct Mixed Myth into the Now That It's Finished Archive. Congratulations on reaching the ultimate landmark, and good luck in all your future endevours.

P. S. As you can tell, I like long posts. This is just a personal preference, and only Now That It's finished posts will be this long. It's because of the character analysis. I'd like feedback, though.

3 Comments:

Blogger Queen Goddess Arcadia said...

Wow. That's a great review. The creator of Mixed Myth found it, and posted it in the CG Forums. That's how I found it now.

http://forums.comicgenesis.com/viewtopic.php?t=68166

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Conan said...

Robin's really cool and really far more talented than I think she gets credit for. Knowing her, I feel guilty I learned about her comic so late.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Andrew Araki said...

That's so great that the author liked it.

I thought since I was reviewing mostly finished comics the writers wouldn't see them as much, but it still is nice that I was noticed. I'm starstruck right now.

1:25 PM  

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