Myre: The Chronicles of Yria volume 1, by Alectorfencer – review by Roz Gibson

by Dogpatch Press Staff

Welcome to Roz Gibson, furry artist and animator in Southern California. Roz was guest of honor at Confurence and created the Jack Salem comic character that first appeared in Rowrbrazzle in 1987. This is Roz’s furry graphic novel review part 1 of 6 on the way. Read in order as they post: 1) Myre 2) Angelic Book 1  3) Marney the Fox 4) Shanda the Panda  5) Cinderfrost 6) Tim’rous Beastie. See Roz’s tag for the rest. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers.

Myre: The Chronicles of Yria volume 1 

Art and story by Claudya (Alectorfencer) Schmidt
Story and Dialogue by Matt (2 the Ranting Griffin) Davis

One of the most popular artists working in the furry genre, German Alectorfencer ran a very successful crowd funding campaign to produce her graphic novel magnum opus: Myre: the Chronicles of Yria #1. It was published in January 2017 as a hardcover and trade paperback. Sometime this year a spin-off graphic novel called Haunter of Dreams will be released, and in the autumn of 2019 production will begin on chapter 2 of Myre. 

Now I’ve pointed out many times that the fandom is littered with carcasses of epic multi-part graphic novels that fizzled out after 1 volume, when the artists realized what a huge amount of work it is for basically no money. (I will give props to Heathen City for actually lasting 3 issues before dying, which is 2 better than most of them). Even if Alectorfencer manages to get #2 done, I’m not sure how much momentum she or the public will be able to maintain if it takes 4 or 5 years between volumes. 

So how is Myre? The production values are great—rich color printing on heavy stock. Unfortunately it suffers from a very common problem with digital printing—everything is too dark. Art that looks good on the screen often prints dark. I’ve seen this in other color comics, particularly ones that use the fully painted technique. I assume there’s ways to avoid that issue, since most of the pro published books look OK, but that’s not my area of expertise. 

The story is a western with fantasy trappings. After a brief world-creation and downfall myth involving dragons at the beginning, the rest of Volume 1 is the protagonist Myre (dressed in a poncho, hat and perpetually dangling cigarette like Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name) wandering around a desolate landscape with her faithful dragon steed. When she runs out of ‘fuel’ for her cigarette lighter (I guess they don’t have matches here…) she ends up getting injured by some thugs while trying to buy more, taken to a wise old man for healing, sent on an errand to a distant city, runs into more trouble there, and that’s basically volume 1. 

Which brings us to another problem with these multi-volume epics—the stories move at a glacial pace. Other than the wise old man talking about some vaguely hinted great destiny for the protagonist (“She was the one. The stranger from the desert who would spark life into the journey of so many.”) by the end of the book I still have no clue about what she’s supposed to do or where the story is going.  Myre is also not a very sympathetic protagonist. She is shown to be bitchy, stubborn, and supposedly experienced in the way of the world, but still does some catastrophically stupid things. Following a stranger alone into the dark to buy some illegal fuel doesn’t seem like something a street-smart drifter would do. Later she allows an annoying street urchin to accompany her, only to risk her life and her faithful steed’s life to get him out of trouble after he going on a stealing binge. I guess that is supposed to show she really has a heart of gold, rather than her enabling the urchin’s poor life choices, but it still comes off as something out of character. 

On the other hand, the artwork in the book is really, really pretty. Every page and panel is fully painted. A large chunk of the book is taken up with travel through intricate cities rendered in painstaking detail. When not traveling through cities she’s traveling through equally detailed (and very desolate) landscapes. (The lack of any greenery or water does make me wonder where these people grow their food.) The overall impression is that you’re looking at a fancy portfolio for a gaming or movie concept artist. So yes, Alectorfencer is an excellent illustrator, and the book is worth getting just as a piece of art. 

However, being a great illustrator doesn’t always translate into being a great cartoonist. It’s easy to tell which artists aren’t comic book fans, and are unfamiliar with the language of comics. Now I’ll admit I approach comics with an old school eye. When I look at a page, I want to instantly be able to tell what’s going on. I want a visually pleasing layout that flows naturally from one panel to the next, taking the reader with it. That type of mastery takes years of practice — years of reading comics and becoming familiar with what works and what doesn’t. I don’t want to have to stare at a page, trying to figure out what’s going on, or be faced with so much clutter I feel like I’ve accidentally grabbed Where’s Waldo. And I see this over and over in graphic novels done by people unfamiliar with comics. 

Myre works best with landscapes and settings, but falls apart trying to show any action. The fight scene where she’s attacked by the thugs is particularly confusing. The sequence where she’s lost in some kind of bramble tangle under the city is as impenetrable as the vegetation, with everything so dark it’s almost impossible to figure out what’s happening. The fact that the entire comic uses black panel gutters makes a bad situation worse, adding another level of difficulty in deciphering the action. There’s a reason white gutters are the standard. 

That aside, Myre is still an impressive achievement. It’s a good book to haul out when you want to show family and friends a furry comic that isn’t pornographic, or to anyone who claims that people who do work in the furry genre aren’t good artists. 

– Roz Gibson

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