“Levi and Sue attempt to meet again after a long pause in their friendship. However Levi ends up in an accident that has something else behind it than just careless street crossing. Old strains are being brought up and something sinister is lurking around.”
Whenever I read a webcomic that is made with traditional forms of art, I instantly have a lot to say about it. Numb by Niina Salmelin fits well in this category as it is created using watercolours. I get so absorbed in the art that I sometimes forget the story, but Salmelin has done a fantastic job of making the art and the story merge together into a tale told through multiple mediums.
Too often a story can get lost in the gorgeous art, or the art can be left behind by the written story. When a story is balanced perfectly between the two, then you have a truly successful comic.
Numb becomes its own unique story as soon as you are no longer able to tell what is real anymore. This is a story that manipulates the art style to create a trippy image, allowing the plot to follow along a twisting tale full of confusion and yet, still remaining very clear.
The use of two different character perspectives allows for clarity to be thrown into the confusion, which inevitably allows the plot to continue moving forward. A unique concept with interesting characters keeps the reader hooked in a world where you aren’t sure where you stand.
One thing I’ve decided to do with this review that’s different from others is to take images mainly from the beginning of the comic. The reason I chose to do this is because the panels later on are something you should experience while reading, and not see separately and without the flow from one page to the next. Numb gets progressively better with each new page.
The writing in Numb is a bit rough around the edges, but the underlining flow is still comprehensible. There were a few instances where the sentences came across as awkward with some spelling or grammar errors. My belief is that this is due to a language barrier. To counteract this, make sure you get someone who is highly fluent in the English language to proofread your stories before you release them. As a reminder, if you are ever stuck on anything in particular, I’m always open for brief consultations.
I still cannot get over the amazing plot buildup that has been created for Numb, and the writing certainly plays an important role here. Not only the way things are written, but also through placement does Numb become its own terrifyingly trippy horror story. Psychological thrillers succeed when the writing and the artwork become one -quite literally.
Speaking of the art, I was overall impressed with the brilliant impact that the traditional watercolours had on the emotions of the comic. Salmelin did a fantastic job setting the mood of each page through vibrant or dark colours, dragging the reader into the despair or excitement of the scene before them.
The paneling choices were also stupendous, allowing for smooth sequencing from one scene to the next. Some of the sizing changed with the panels, so trying to keep consistency when it is necessary. However, bordered panels weren’t always used, and this worked well for Salmelin, as it allowed for exciting scenes to be expressed more freely.
There were some opportunities for some fantastic transitions that were missed a few times throughout the comic. Connecting time lapses is important but can be tricky. Think of these transitions as similar to the transitions needed in writing. There needs to be a connecting sentence, or in a comic’s case, there needs to be an image or word in the following panel that connects it back to the last panel. Some artists decide to transition with a particular object, or stance that a character is in.
Different stances can be easier or harder than others, and some create challenges in regards to proportions. As Numb continued, the proportional errors became less and less (as is expected with practice), however, there were still a few. Practice makes perfect however, and as Numb continues to grow, I’m certain Salmelin will only proceed to improve in this area.
The final thing I wanted to touch on was what I was most impressed by for the artwork in Numb. The movement captured in this comic is impeccable. I can’t express enough how important it is for characters to be able to appear fluid in a scene, and to be able to capture this so easily and with traditional art is something to be admired.
This is a comic that I would recommend to anyone looking for a refreshing read. The art style stands out and makes a statement, but is followed along by a compelling plot. You’ll certainly get lost in the madness, but enjoy every minute of it!
You can read Numb by Niina Salmelin here!