The Sprawl volume 1-3 — graphic novel review by Roz Gibson

by Dogpatch Press Staff

The Sprawl was reviewed with a creator interview a year ago: “my favorite furry webcomic and certainly ranks among my favorite webcomics of all time” — so enjoy a fresh take. 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. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers. See Roz’s tag for more reviews.

The Sprawl volume 1-3 
Written and Illustrated by Snowdon
Published by Ringtail Café productions

I picked these three volumes up at AnthroCon last year. There are not a whole lot of new furry comics coming out, particularly if you’re looking for something other than porn, slice-of-life or gay interest, so I decided to give this series a try.

The back blurb describes this as “Sci-Fi/Horror meets Dark Fantasy on a dead world. It’s only inhabitants are  the descendants of an ill-fated colonization mission, now huddled together in an ever-growing mega-city known as The Sprawl.” But the story turns out to be closer to Bladerunner meets The Thing, with something from the original Heavy Metal movie thrown in for good measure.

Volume 1 is pretty simple: a survey team is sent to a distant part of the dead planet (referred to as the “South Pole”) to look for another survey team that vanished. You see boobs early on, as the female characters are either topless or wearing really skimpy clothing. The two female surveyors are apparently along solely to hump the guys, which they get to doing as soon as they leave on the mission. When there’s an explosion on the ship and they have to evacuate, the guys are all fully dressed, but the bunny girl bails out wearing nothing but bikini panties. When they arrive on the frozen, snowy surface of the South Pole, someone gives her a jacket that she never bothers to zip up, so she’s wandering around Antarctic cold in panties and an open jacket with her boobs hanging out. I think this is known as ‘pandering to the audience,’ which might have worked if the bunny girl was attractive, but all the characters are squishy lumpy with big Bugs Bunny-type feet.

While I waited for the bunny girl to either die of hypothermia or her bare feet to turn into frozen blocks, the team reaches the prerequisite spooky mysterious abandoned ruins with dead bodies. The previous survey team is dead and one of the characters– without even touching or examining the bodies–declares that they killed each other.

Then they find a mysterious evil glowing orb (a call-back to the original Heavy Metal movie) that is so evil it compels anyone around it to immediately kill each other.  The lone survivor takes the orb back to The Sprawl and sells it to a brilliant but eccentric scientist with a hot daughter (who is, unsurprisingly, more than she seems!)

Now the genre switches to Blade Runner, with a hard-boiled PI investigating the murder of the scientist, the orb and the getting involved with the hot daughter. She’s wearing skimpy clothes, and yes, we do get to see her boobs when she gets out of the shower and walks around naked. The rest of the comic involves a lot of chases and fights in a rainy, depressing city.

Like many other digital comics turned into print, the art is dark and muddy, so it’s often impossible to tell what’s going on. That is compounded (particularly in volume 2) with the action taking place in dark tunnels. And all the pages are on black or dark backgrounds without traditional panel gutters, which makes it even harder to follow the action.  The (male) characters wear so much baggy clothing you can’t tell what species they are, so if you’re looking for visually interesting character design, this is not it. To further complicate matters, most of volume 3 is dreams within dreams, or hallucinations, so by the end of it I honestly had no clue what was going on.

Online the comic is up to volume 5, but this review only covers the 3 printed volumes I purchased last summer. 

If you wanted to read it online it might look better, without the dark printing. The comic isn’t horrible, if you want a story along with the boobies, but it lost me early on with the naked bunny girl wandering around the South Pole.

– Roz Gibson

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