One Punch Reviews #21: “Pup”
Scott McCloud popularized the term “infinite canvas.” In a nutshell, the very nature of internet browsers means that comics aren’t limited dimensionally like they are on the printed page. Very few webcomic artists take Scott up on that challenge. Most still look like they’re in a conventional format, perhaps because the artist is think ahead as to when the strips will be collected in book form.
Plus, if you go by McCloud’s examples, it can get pretty disorienting.
That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some successful experiments. One of the best examples of the “infinite canvas” I’ve had the pleasure to run into is Drew Weing’s incredibly attractive “Pup.”
I’ve read two of Mr. Weing’s comics in their entirety — “Pup” and Set to Sea. Hot damn are they excellent. The art echoes the old school cartoons. Characters have round bodies and spindly arms, like the ones you’d find in Thimble Theater or early Disney toons. The humor, too — which lean on physical gags and Charlie Brown-like contemplations — feels like a pleasant throwback. Weing does nothing to hide his love for Krazy Kat.
At the same time, Weing also updates and refines the classic character designs. With “Pup,” the colors just pop off the page. Despite drawing some highly detailed backgrounds (seriously, look at the work put on the bark of this tree), Drew uses a lot of negative space in his page layouts. As a result, his comics feel clean, crisp, and introspective… the latter of which befits the zen-like philosophical demeanor of the title character.
Drew really shines, though, when he plays around with the infinite canvas. Check out “Heat Death”. “Pup” starts to think about the end of the universe. As a result, he imagines himself floating farther and farther from Earth. Weing plays with the size of the panels, and Earth, the Sun, and the universe look absolutely massive. When the heat death finally occurs, its scale hits us in all its gargantuan significance, then sucks us into its lonely emptiness.
Another effect happens in the less metaphysical and more standard visual gag in “Call of the Mild”. We follow “Pup”‘s eager-to-please feline friend, Kitzer, through a grueling trek in the winter snow. The comic has us scrolling from the upper left to the lower right, then to the lower left, then to the middle left … yet it all feels as natural as following someone around in real life. No arrows or Family Circus dotted lines are needed.
With only 13 strips thus far and only 15 planned total, “Pup” is a very short comic. Yet, in that span, Drew Weing proves that the “infinite canvas” can be more than just a smug-sounding idea. He makes the whole concept of comics without borders feel real and comfortable.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)