Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Zip and Li’l Bit (Trade Loeffler)

Trade Loeffler
Zip and Li’l Bit is a webcomic by Trade Loeffler that is simultaneously quite modern and nicely retro. By “retro” in this case, I’m referring to newspaper comics from the early part of the 20th Century (or “Golden Age”, coinciding with the Golden Age of illustration).

I say that partly because of the excellent drawing, which has echoes of classic strips, particularly in the carefully portrayed backgrounds, and partly because of the gentle, whimsical approach to characters and story. The linework on the characters, although it fits nicely with the backgrounds, is crisp and modern, owing more to Bill Watterson than McCay or McManus.

This is particularly easy to see because the strip has an absolutely wonderful feature, possible only in webcomics, that allows you to click on any panel and see it enlarged.

Loeffler also has a subtle, balanced color palette that he uses quite effectively in service of the story, always keeping the focus on the characters. The nice combination of new and traditional sensibilities, along with the artfulness and craft that goes into the strip, put me in mind of Kazu Kibuishi and Rad Sechrist.

Zip and Elizabeth (Li’l Bit) are a young brother and sister whose first adventure, The Upside-down Me features their friend Officer John and what seems to be a version of Zip who walks on the ceiling. The story takes place while everyone else is sleeping. (As an interesting side note, Zip walks around in his PJ’s, the kind with feet, that have a letter on the front; except that is seems to be a different letter in each panel.)

The project was originally planned as a printed graphic story, but Loeffler has repurposed it as a webcomic and is posting pages twice weekly, on Thursdays and Sundays.

There are only 11 pages posted as of this writing, but the strip is beginning to get some well-deserved attention, already garnering mentions on Bolt City and Drawn!.

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