I’m usually not a fan of motion comics. They are often little more than extremely limited animation that tend to move at a pace slower than I read. So when Adam Fox’s Sidekick’d (www.sidekick-d.com) was recommended to me, I walked, not ran, to my nearest online device. But when I did read it, I was more than pleasantly surprised. It’s fantastic.
Sidekick’d is the story of Frank Stone, a 50+ masked vigilante known as the Watchman. A generation or so back, he was a legend; today he’s tired, and largely regarded as little more than an urban myth. But thanks to FindYourSidekcik.com, the Watchman’s war on crime is about to receive a shot in the arm, courtesy of Viral, a social media savvy young hipster who desires nothing less than working alongside the legendary Watchman. But to Frank, Viral is little more than a ego-driven punk. Adding insult to injury, it isn’t long before people start asking, “Who’s that old dude fighting next to Viral? Is he Viral’s sidekick?”
First of all, the “motion” aspect can sometimes be gimmicky, but in this case, it works as third component in the words + pictures blend of comics. By adding the element of time, you are spared the sometimes spoiler-y images one may see in peripheral vision while reading a full comic page. Rather than simply watch a film with extremely limited animation, I was in completely control of the pace of the panels.
But regardless, any storytelling project must be judged first by the strength of the narrative. And Fox has crafted a story worthy of the considerable effort he has put into this project. The story is funny, poking major fun at the various super-hero tropes, from clueless friends to hidden lairs to battles where no one is EVER injured. And in this era where fans will cosplay any real or imagined celebrity, it isn’t long before they have to deal with more unbalanced admirers than you can shake a nightstick at.
In order to push these kinds of buttons, you have to know where they are and what they’ll do, and Adam Fox clearly does. He breaks from tradition effectively, and uses inventive methods for deviating from typical storytelling technique. For instance, when the Watchman is explaining to Viral what’s happened over the past 25 years, Viral’s lack of attention span leads him to mentally check out. As Watchman’s dialogue continues, it is reflected by the action in Viral’s online super-hero game.
The story is filled with strong characters, which is every bit as necessary in a humor book as it is in a more serious adventure. They play off one another enough to create conflict, but not so much that one is significantly more favorable than the other. The two major characters are both heroes as best they can be, but both have feet of clay. Supporting players do exactly that – they support without becoming a crutch for the stars of the story, and each has a purpose in their own right.
At the end of issue #4, I believed I had a clear idea where the story was headed. Boy, was I wrong, and happily so. It speaks to Fox’s ability at crafting a tale that takes the road less traveled, and when it reaches the end, you see how it was destined to get there, despite any preconceived expectations.
Adam Fox would love to see Sidekick’d be published as a more traditional comic, and it deserves to be. Until then, he has two more installments for fans to look forward to. Count me in.