MK'S The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
I admit I was particularly intrigued by this one. I've seen the creator post it a lot both here and on Comicfury, which seems like such a lifeless place compared to here. Smaller, for sure, but they have a special grit, those comicfuriers.
I am conflicted about your stated hopes of imparting a particular message--it may be surprising to you to hear that my conflict is exclusively about the message itself rather than the goal of passing a message. I don't think every story needs to have a message or explicit moral, but I absolutely think that any story with any value has a moral argument to make about the experience of living. A good story says something about it. I applaud your having the explicit goal of passing along something you think is important. I even applaud the sentiment at the heart of the message. What I do NOT applaud is how I think it may illustrate just one flaw in your approach to the Jekyll and Hyde story.
My problem with your message is that it is not, as you state, a contradiction of the original Jekyll/Hyde moral. I contend that Jekyll/Hyde was not trying to illustrate an absolutist morality--I contend it was the contrary. It told the story of an ostensibly good man, who did righteous things and had righteous thoughts and lived a righteous life, who, beneath all of that goodness, STILL felt compelled to indulge in depravity, indulgence, and excess. Jekyll is not the absolute good--he is an Everyman. There is a comparatively small part of the population who are out and out Hydes--a Hyde being someone who lives a life doing whatever they want without regard for morality, law, or etiquette--but there are billions of Jekylls--a Jekyll being the person who lives as he is expected to live, but is hiding a far more perverse nature than anyone would like to admit.
Jekyll cannot have been as good as he claimed to be, for he succumbed to the temptation of what appeared at first to be unaccountable indulgence. He thought he could sin and revel in vice without having to be responsible--and he suffered the ultimate price, in the end. Archetypally, sinfulness ALWAYS comes back to you. Therefore, I would object to your interpretation of the original Jekyll and Hyde story.
That is my issue. It's a unique problem I had with your comic. Regardless of whether your message is correct or not, which I will not argue one way or another, I would not say it is a contradiction. Rather, I think your interpretation is simply a more accessible--and far less bleak--take on this, one of the most deservedly famous stories in Western literature. it's a worthy successor. I simply object to the judgement of the original.
I'll put aside the technical journey, as always. Let it be forever implied, unless explicitly stated, that all of us need to improve our technical skills. I will only point out those points that directly interfere with the enjoyment of the work. For the third time in a row, I will call out your character's stiffness. Your shockingly brutal expressiveness pulls tremendous weight, but it can't prop up every scene, particularly ones that are high tension. As compellingly harsh and sometimes frightening as your character expression is (I am a big fan), it is simply not enough to make up for the stiffness of their poses and the mechanical composition of your models.
Hyde is far and away the biggest offender. He is meant to be a great ape, full of power and bestial grace, yet every pose he strikes is statuesque and clunky. It's the rigid limbs and perpetually perfect posture of every character that lie at the heart of the problem. From Hyde to Carew, everyone is standing up straight with machine like arms, never bending, twisting, swerving, or looming. This wooden positioning exacerbates other technical flaws, as well, since there is no sense of motion or fluidity to gloss over detail.
I'll give the same advice I gave the others: be even bolder than you are now. Exaggerate your poses, stretch and twist your characters, and embrace your inner caricaturist AND impressionist. I praised your expressions, but I'd go even further. Right now, your character's often look like they're in a different style when they are particularly angry or perturbed. It is a little bit frightening, which might be a great thing. I'd consider making them look slightly less "correct" (meaning the lines of the face, the teeth detail, the furrowed brow) but still maintaining that toon-like nature. I'll say it again--as it stands now, when your characters are at their most expressive, they look just different enough to be jarring. Perhaps that's a good thing. That's for you to decide.
Other than those comments, I have to say that I really like your style. I can't remember the names, but it is reminiscent of several old children book illustrators who also used generous line texture and a limited but bold color wheel. Your style really grew on me, particularly your character design. I was dubious about Jekyll's hairdo, but after reading through it all, I wouldn't have it any other way. I will say that Jekyll's body confuses and disturbs me greatly. I can't tell if he's skeletal or lean and muscular. Either way, it clashes hard with his head. Hyde looks fantastic, even if his fingers are goofy and, as I mentioned, he moves more like a fridge than a monstrous humanoid.
I'm really excited to see you improve artistically. The backgrounds are indeed a huge step. It's fantastic. You have a long way to go, like the rest of us, but your innate approach is just delightful to begin with.
It's interesting trying to gauge this section, because we are working with a premade cast and premise, to a great extent. I decided that I would simply hunker down on what these reviews are really about--the reading experience. When I made that distinction, it was easy to conclude that I was enthralled. Perhaps that stems from just how compelling the original premise is and how far reaching the narrative implications are, but I have to give you credit for continuing the Jekyll/Hyde legacy with competence and wit.
As a unique approach to the story, I applaud you. It never would have occurred to me for the Jekyll/Hyde story to be rewritten as what amounts to a buddy-cop story. You explain this with your intent: this is a comical, more family friendly interpretation, without the sense of existential surrender. It really works, and it works not just because the original story is good, but because your grip on the tale and its characters is so competent. Jekyll and Hyde have the much needed chemistry, and, although they are far more distinct and separate than they are two sides of the same coin, they play off one another very well as an odd couple. Reworking Lanyon into a suitable antagonist worked surprisingly well, too--largely because you skillfully retained his thematic role as materialistic, morally skeptical foil to Jekyll. That's such a crucial factor--that you are clearly not changing or warping the characters, but you are ITERATING on them. You take what they are, what their purpose is, and extrapolate new stories from that narrative essence. It's wonderful.
I have nothing but good things to say about the writing, as you can no doubt tell. This is not a full endorsement, however. There was still very little dialogue that I found really compelling, the story is pretty procedural, and there are leaps of time between scenes (the dread "Later..." boxes) that make for odd pacing. All of this said, I cannot deny that I was hooked the whole way through. There is a childlike poignancy at several points in the story, not by virtue of any poetic prose, but through the unique partnership of your art style, the narrative, and the ever present legacy of the original novella. I can't quite put it into words, but it is the self evident truth behind the original tale, channeled in this new way, in your children's book style, that strikes an inexplicable nostalgia in me. That's all I can say.
I fully admit that I went into this comic thinking I was going to be pulling my hair out. On the contrary, it was a delightful romp. Yes, the technical prowess of the artwork is limited and could absolutely be improved a lot, and yes, the writing doesn't fully match the poetic thrill of the original story (and it would be unreasonable to expect that); still, your work is technically good enough to channel your great respect for the Jekyll/Hyde legacy, which is all it needs to be to channel your keystone skill: clever iteration. You take the old and create not just something new, but an homage. You don't discard the original, you use it as a foundation for great ideas and unique fun. I am genuinely excited to see what happens when your technical skill improves.