Skin Horse

Filed in Webcomic reviewTags: ,

I once felt that good comics didn’t need to come to an end. Indeed, I didn’t want to consider certain comics ending, such as Clan of the Cats or Girl Genius. Thus when Narbonic, one of my all-time favorite webcomics, ended in December of 2006, it almost felt like an old friend had moved on. It didn’t help that Shaenon Garrity went on sabbatical through most of 2007 (and I don’t count the “Directors Commentary” strips to be anything more than a gimmick meant to keep readers interested in her work). That changed on December 31st of 2007 when Skin Horse emerged with a growl, a genetically-augmented African lion, and a cross-dressing psychologist.

With Skin Horse, Garrity debarks on a journey in the familiar waters of setting-specific sequels. Considering she spent years fleshing out this world with Dave, Helen, and the rest of the Narbonic crew, this should come as no real surprise. But rather than focus on another mad scientist, Garrity shifts focus to a government agency that handles nonhuman sapients that are the byproduct of mad science. Of course, this is only conjecture at this point, as SH has only been running for a month (during which time we’ve watched Tip, the above-mentioned cross-dressing psychologist, talk down the genetically-augmented lion) and to be honest it has meandered a bit rather than concisely sticking to the story.

Much like its sister comic, SH seems to be an amalgam of humor and story. Oddly, considering the experience Garrity gained in five years of writing Narbonic, the mixture of humor and story isn’t as solid as had been shown in the last few stories of her previous comic. This might be attributed to several factors: her year-long sabbatical, merging her style with that of co-writer Jeffrey Wells, or even the difficulty that is inherent in creating a new series. Despite the occasional hiccup, SH shows a bit of promise. Garrity’s artwork retains the charming style she mastered in Narbonic while her characters remain quirky and amusing. The foundation has been laid for what promises to be another superlative work by Garrity, once it outgrows its gawky adolescent stage.