September 24, 2010

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Girl Ninja and Girl Ninja Presents Corporate Ninja Saga

Written by Rebecca Simms (with Patrick Lewis)
Illustrated by Rebecca Simms
Self-Published

Before there were zombies, before there were pirates, there were ninjas. I have a funny feeling that ninjas will outlast both of those other fads, not the least of which is that they are cool to draw.

That's especially true in the case of Girl Ninja, because she's not only stealthy and deadly, she's also a shopaholic that spends most of her time in a mall, dueling with others for fashion rights. Sometimes she's tricked into other locations, such as in the Corporate Ninja Saga, but for the most part, our heroine is looking for a great deal on an expensive purse, and yes, she'll cut you if you get in her way.

The premise of Girl Ninja, which is also a webcomic, should produce a lot of laughs. After all, what good are your ninja skills if you can't get out of the upscale mall? Simms finds ways to keep her character battling, but sometimes they're a bit contrived. I was also a bit disappointed that the jokes reinforce negative female stereotypes about clothes. I think it would have been funnier if the ninja stopped other women from falling into the traps of corporate consumerism.

But hey, it's not my comic, and I can't draw with a darn. That's not true of Simms, who uses an eastern-influenced style in her character design within a more traditionally western layout. Girl Ninja and her cast are sleekly presented, if a bit stiff at times. The visuals are often a big part of the gags, such as when the ninja reacts to a hairdresser's scissors.

I thought the first book was okay, if not spectacular. The strips felt a bit forced to end at 4 panels, because of the webcomic trappings, which is a bit unfortunate. (If you are doing a continuing story, there's no need to cut off the joke or hasten the punchline.) Some of the jokes were pretty good, and I liked the setting. Unfortunately, the Corporate Ninja Saga bogs down pretty badly early on, and took some of the luster off this series for me. The commentary on office life is pretty standard and that means that the payoff needed to be bigger. Sadly, it just sort of peters out, feeling kind of like the storytellers boxed themselves in and needed to find a way out but weren't able to do it cleanly.

Overall, Girl Ninja isn't bad, and those more likely to be okay with typical girl-boy humor definitely should check this out, as I think they'll find a lot to like about the series. I may check in on the webcomic version to see how things have progressed. Ms. Simms's art works well for this premise, and I'd be curious to see how time has changed the pacing and story.

These mini-comics may be not be the best way to approach the material. If you're curious to see what Girl Ninja is about, head over to the webcomic version. After all, it won't cost you anything to look. You may find a new favorite, or you may just find it okay, as I did.