I first caught Alpha Shade when it was wrapping up the first chapter. In it, Laura was the general of an army, using biplanes and artillery to try and take a city that was causing some trouble. Further, her own side seemed to be a problem as well. There were saboteurs in her midst, the other generals resisted sending her aid, and the enemy even managed to attack the middle of her encampment. We had an interesting mixture of tech and magic, with magical sentient cats, huge sentient crow-serpents, and more. Further, we had no real background on this, outside of one page talking about empires and a buffer state, and of Laura herself, who seemed to rule this small land.
So I was rather surprised when Chapter 2 started with a mundane parking lot, an auditorium that looks quite at home on Earth, and Laura waiting impatiently for someone. Not General Laura, leading her people… but a young lady in a jacket gazing impatiently at her watch (which also featured prominently in the first chapter – sort of a link letting us know that this is the same girl).
I’ve read the “test comic” and have a little bit of an idea of what’s going on here. As a writer I know of the practice of starting partway into the novel and then jumping into the past. Let the action hook the reader. And it’s worked, quite well. I’m curious as to how Laura goes from what looks to be a gymnast to the leader of a country on another world. I want to know who Nick is, and what he’s doing that is resulting in this lateness. I’d love to know how Laura goes from an ordinary enough girl on Earth to the leader of a small nation in a fantasy world. I’m even curious as to how much bearing the “test comic” will have to the actual storyline… though I suspect that story will never figure into the current run of Alpha-Shade.
The story promises to be interesting. And the URL information I’d given when I first tangented Alpha-Shade is now running properly again, so go check it out! There is plenty at the Alpha-Shade site to keep you interested… and even a panel showing just how far along Christopher and Joseph Brudlos are in getting to the next update (the comic just updated this Friday, and they’re storyboarding the next page). Hey, a progress bar is always useful for impatient fans.
Side note: The primary Alpha-Shade site seems to use Flash animation to load the pages and the like. If you have a problem with Flash animation, then you can access the latest stuff through their mirror site.
Addendum note: The Brudos brothers rewrote the site so that the primary image is a jpeg. By clicking the image, readers can activate the Flash graphics and zoom in on specific details and the like. Unfortunately, the comic is on long-term hiatus at the moment, but still has a considerable amount of story present.