Cards Kill by Jason Chiu & Leah Liu
What's to Like:
Cards Kill is nice to look at. Really, it's easy to appreciate visually. The art has a dreamy, almost water-color aspect to it that made me stop and explore the panels. In particular, screen 1 and the last panel on screen 7 really offer layers of gorgeous, and even complex, images. True talent there, and that talent is also obvious in the color work, which I think is actually at the root of the artistic success in this submission. The color palette was beautifully manipulated as the setting changed from the barren, Voltron-esque environs of the set-up to the modern, mundane trappings of the neighborhood bar. The atmospheric adjustments that resulted were in no way obtrusive.
What it Lacks:
Let me qualify my comments-to-come with an acknowledgement that there appears to be a language translation issue with Cards Kill. Of course, I don't know this with any certainty, but the text and dialogue are so choppy and, honestly, awkward in this work, that it's the only conclusion I could come to. Naturally, this problem wreaks havoc with the pacing and general flow of the comic, making it hard to read and harder to enjoy. At the very least, an editor proficient in English would propel the work of these obviously gifted creators to a markedly higher plane. The idea behind the story is an interesting one, but it's virtually impossible to appreciate the concept because of the way it's communicated. Enough on that issue. It is what it is.
As for the actual story, it is irretrievably weighed down by the four screens of set-up for the card game in the middle of the submission. With only eight pages to make a case for a Zuda contract, a competitor has to make every single screen count, whether that's with slap-your-mama visuals or slap-your-knee one-liners or some combination thereof. In this reader's opinion, the best Zuda entries manipulate the Zuda widescreen format to effect set-up in a manner that is both concise and meaningful. Your try-out for the big leagues simply can not rely on a strategy that is one-half murky framing and one-half empty interaction. It just does not work.
My Zuda Rating:
2 Stars. A lot of potential in the art, but a story that is just not navigable.
Unh-uh. Not even close.