One problem with gaming comics lies with tremendous number of comics of this genre, all struggling to gain the attention of readers. In an effort to stand out, gamer comics often utilize some sort of hook to draw readers in. In this, Sodium Eyes is no different from its peers, using a coterie of attracting young attractively-drawn ladies who are into computers and gaming. Or in other words, good-looking female geeks, drawn in the manga art-style (complete with one girl with light green hair). In fact, in the 36 updates to date, we’ve not had a single guy appear in the comic. Fortunately, while cute, the ladies of SE aren’t drawn provocatively and appear to be more intellectual than sexual, keeping the comic from being too exploitive.
Unfortunately, for all that the ladies of SE are drawn nicely (and surprisingly avoiding that often-abused hook, fanservice), there are some artistic issues with the comic. The primary problem I have is excessive and unnecessary use of Copy-and-Paste. It’s obvious that Alfred Lam can draw. When he puts his mind to it, we can have multiple panels of the cast done simply and elegantly enough. Unfortunately, CaP is frequently used as a time-saving measure with little attempt to hide its use through shifts in viewing perspective or the like. As a result, legitimate uses of CaP (such as “frozen time” instances) feel unnecessary, like Lam is copping out rather than taking the time to draw the characters and story.
Much like most comics, SE also suffers from a lack of backgrounds early on (though SE utilizes color gradients to try and disguise this fact). Surprisingly enough, backgrounds (and foregrounds) start making an appearance fairly early on. Rather than rely solely on hand-drawn backgrounds, Lam uses featureless clip art to show such things as tables and the like. While this use of CaP is actually fairly inventive, it does unfortunately result in this world feeling rather empty; outside of the four heroines of the comic, and an overheard conversation on a commuter train, the comic is quite empty of other inhabitants. Much as with the adults in Peanuts, the rest of the world remains unseen and often unheard.
This results in a lot of focus being drawn on our four heroines. And while I might find tremendous amusement in Miya owning a coelacanth named Secant, we haven’t really learned much about these girls. Lumina is the child-like member of the cast, attracting birds and butterflies, and being unable to insult others, while Miya seems to delight in taking others down a peg. Neiko is more of a loner and technogeek (with enough spare components to build a new computer for Miya), and Kaela… well, she’s dependable and cares for the others but I honestly can’t say much about her. And that’s really the problem. The comic is character-centric, and the characters don’t have much personality.
The comic starts out as a series of shorts, and hasn’t really developed an actual storyline per say. While the wordplay between Miya and Neiko (and the results of Miya “winning” a verbal insult contest against the other girl) lasted for a couple of months, there’s no real sense of any plot or reason. And that’s a shame; rather than use the female gamer geek concept as the foundation for an imaginative and unique plot, SE relies on the old bag of tricks used by so many other Penny Arcade clones. If it weren’t for the fact the cast is comprised solely of women, there’d be nothing to differentiate it from so many of its peers. Hopefully, Sodium Eyes will outgrow its flaws. Until it does, I can only recommend it to those gaming geeks who like to fantasize about attractive gamer girls who haven’t already been snagged by their more assertive brethren.