January 30, 2014

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Ninja Girl

Written and Illustrated by Bonesteel
Self-Published

A young woman risks everything against a horde of zombies just to have a date with a real human being in a story with some quiet humor but whose strength lies in its layouts and use of the medium.

On his site, Bonesteel mentions that the comic was based on the idea of a side-scrolling video game, and he captures that effect perfectly. Each page moves the story forward, without panels, as we watch our protagonist take care of all the obstacles in front of her. Sometimes that will happen quickly while at other moments, she has to fight off the same zombie for a few scenes. It's a bit like having a static flipbook in front of you, looking at the changes in movement from action to action, frozen in time.

As you can see from the examples, the art itself is not featured in great detail. The titular Ninja Girl is a set of lines with a ponytail and occasionally some clothing accessories to prep for the date. Her foes, shown all in black so we know they're her opponents, are similarly designed, with a few changes here and there. The main artistic focus is on the ability to preserve the side-scroller conceit. That means there are times when a set of pages will have more white space than you might normally expect, because later on a building will need to occupy that part of the page as she moves through and past it.

That's the draw of this one for me--the idea of comic as video game. You can tell Bonesteel is familiar with side-scrolling games, as he takes the reader into various locations, from a dead mall to a an underground sewer to a school (complete with a shoutout to You Can't Do That on Television). While none of these scenes are depicted in great detail, there are plenty of little touches that make them stand out and give the reader reason to linger.

A good example of this is when Bonesteel includes a pair of escalators forming an X that the girl must get past or when you can see the different types of classrooms in the school by the objects inside them. It doesn't take a lot to make this work, and those elements add a lot to this one.

In the end, Ninja Girl kills a lot of zombies, gets a nice outfit, and teaches a boy to never, ever, gilt a determined woman. It's a cute comic that does a lot without being flashy. If you enjoy comics that try to do something unique visually, like artistic Easter eggs, and have a thing for slow-motion mass murder of the undead, this one is well worth grabbing.

You can buy a copy of Ninja Girl here.