In the interest of full disclosure, creator Neal Bailey is a former contributor of Cinema Crazed, and a long time close friend, but we’re reviewing his comic anyway because it’s entertaining.
Web comics are a tough sell. I know for a fact. There are thousands of them out there by many talented artists and writers (I’ve read more in my time than I could hope to list), all of whom have something unique or hilarious to give readers and sadly most of them are a dime a dozen in terms of entertainment. Sometime you’ll come across something original like Penny Arcade, Nedroid, or Movie Comics, and then sometimes… there’s stuff obviously drawn on MS Paint. In the same vein, if they’re stand alone comics that have a different story every day, audiences attention spans can waver and they tend to move on and wait for better comics.
And if a web comic has a flowing narrative that’s complex that can be read within one page at a time, it’s tough to really get in to and difficult to feel where the pacing is going. Single pages of “Cura Te Ipsum,” a new webcomic that stormed the next mid-2010 are awkward since the story is so tightly composed that if you stumble on to it you’ll be lost and absolutely confused. After visiting CharlieEverett.com I hit a page mid-comic and was clueless. Reading them in one sitting from the beginning works much better with story atmosphere and characterization. Especially since writer and creator Neal Bailey really does know how to build on the suspense and grit from page one providing us with a story that’s out of the norm and goes out of its way to convince readers that this isn’t a garden variety web comic you can dump and then come back to when you feel like wasting some time online.
One caveat is that the exposition for main character Charlie Everett is hasty and rather breakneck as writer Bailey only really tells us what is most important with this protagonist before introducing the hook of the story after eleven pages. Charlie Everett is a guidance counselor in a low paying job at a school where he has to do nothing but toil endlessly and deal with the misguided students and uneducated miscreants that trot in and out of his office everyday. After dealing with violent outbursts, and angry confrontations, he is told by the principal that he is being fired.
Always wanting an excuse to commit suicide, this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and he heads home after a long drink to die. Parting with his loyal dog Pavlov in a bittersweet farewell involving a celebration with dog food, he attempts suicide. Repeatedly. And is stopped by himself. He opens his eyes to discover he’s been saved from death by his double. Or a being that has taken on his appearance. After dealing with the requisite shock, Everett learns that he’s not so insignificant after all and may be able to save the universe and many realities around him. Who is this man who claims to be Charlie in the flesh? Why has he arrived? What does saving Charlie mean to him and the reality around him?
Artist Dexter Wee is quite an incredible artist painting a very vivid and bleak world around Charlie where every bit of scenery is so meticulously sketched, it’s quite breathtaking. Everett himself is also a very interesting character who is trying for suicide not solely out of selfishness but out of guilt that in all of his life he’s made no difference in anyone’s life. Sixteen pages in, Cura Te Ipsum promises to be a mind blowing little ride in to existentialism, alternate realities, and a potentially huge revelation for Charlie all the while the devices introduced including the handheld transporter, and riffs on parallel worlds makes for engrossing entertainment for folks who enjoy thought provoking fantasy fare like “Inception” or “The Matrix.” I intend to follow along with it as it’s right up my alley, and if you’re interested in going along for the ride, head on over to Charlie Everett and get in on the complex science fiction adventure.