July 18, 2011

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Digging into Digital: Three Digital Short Comics from Ryan Estrada

Z
Sci-Fi Drive By
The Kind You Don't Take Home to Mother
All Written and Illustrated by Ryan Estrada
Self-Published (and some Zuda tries)

After basically not knowing who Ryan Estrada even was, though I'd apparently encountered him in one of the Flight anthologies, it seems like he's everywhere in my comics reading these days. And that's definitely a good thing.

All of this started at Heroes, when I grabbed some Gray Gunter comics and thought Ryan Estrada did some great work on some of them. Then I noticed he had a new comic out that he offered for free online, and then the whole Google Plus thing happened and now I've been exposed to a man who is both versatile and talented. With a style that's both freewheeling and yet nicely detailed within character designs, Estrada has a lot to offer the comics world, even if he is having some trouble getting a publisher due to the variety of projects he likes to work on.

The three comics I'm reviewing here are just a small sample of works available either on Google+ or on Ryan's website. I picked them because I think they show off his talents and give new readers a good idea of whether or not they'd like to read more of his stuff. My guess is on yes, by the way, but I'll let you be the judge.

Most cartoonists work on an autobiographical story or two over their careers, and Estrada is no different. In Z, we learn how a casual dismissal of a fast food contest is not always such a good idea. I'm not entirely sure how true Z is, but it tells the tale quickly, efficiently, and humorously. Who hasn't gone nuts trying to find that last piece to win big? I think my favorite panel is when he's declining the free refills. Truly, that's the last act of a desperate man.

Sci-Fi Drive By is a silly little story that, according to Estrada, has seen a few different incarnations. (If he has them, it would be cool to see for comparison.) An alien race is about ready to conquer the earth, using about the dumbest infiltration process possible. The jokes here are a bit on heavy-handed side, which Estrada readily admits in the alt text, but it's fun to see him draw a squiggly alien who is definitely a hu-man because he wears a hat. I love the punchline towards the end, speaking as a person who likes to write in public places. This is not Estrada's best work, but it's colorful and fun.

The Kind You Don't Take Home To Mother almost won a Zuda, and it's a real shame it didn't, because I love the comedic premise. A young man has found the love of his life--a werewolf. Naturally, his parents aren't pleased, leading to fun, sitcom-like situational comedy that has the twist of the supernatural. Alas, despite plenty of plans, it doesn't look like we'll ever get more of this, as Estrada thinks its too similar to Twilight. It's totally not--this story I actually liked! Assuming there are no rights issues, this might make for a good Kickstarter--see if there's interest, then draw the comic if the demand is there. I know I'd chip in!

As you can see, Estrada's range is quite varied, so there is a bit out there for anyone. I really hope he continues to work in comics, because I'd love to be reading his work for a long time to come. After you get a chance to read his stuff, I think you'll agree!