Pick of the Week : Marooned

Really, Tom Dell’aringa explains this comic best and most succinctly: “It’s Gilligan’s Island on Mars.” Marooned isn’t really a gag comic strip (anymore- in its early stages it was structured more like a comic strip), but it can be quite funny. For a long-form story, it is very easy to jump into and Tom’s detailed archive and episode pages are extremely helpful in flushing out what you may have missed. Not to mention, the awesome introduction video, narrated with character voices and showcasing Tom’s awesome artwork. When it comes to long-form comics and how to make new readers feel at ease in your extensive archives, Tom gives us a great example of what to offer on your comic’s site!

From the beginning, we are thrown right in the action, with Captain John and his sidekick, erm– assistant, erm– robot annoyance Asimov, suddenly stranded on Mars. This comic here lays out the exterior relationship between this man and his robot. Quite different than another favorite duo, Luke and R2D2…. but just as entertaining. But is the snarky attitude and the endless trading of insults really all there is to these to characters? Just wait and see…

After attempting to navigate the desolate terrain, and martian friends Ugo and Ril are aquired, the story progresses far beyond that of finding fuel and getting back home. In one of the major reveals, John finds out that he was not the first human on Mars after all. In a anxious race against time for John who falls ill, we not only are introduced to the mammoth tripods called “The Dark Ones”, but also to the mysterious female lead Captain Lian Fisher…. whom seems to have certain mystical powers that only leave the reader wanting more! What are these mindstones, and how did she also become stranded on Mars? Was it an accident…. or not?

Tom’s shows off his arsenal of skills in Marooned. It is not easy creating alien characters that are original and memorable, but his designs for “The Dark Ones”, Ugo and Ril, (and many, many others you will come across) are truly unique. Not only can he write intriguing and powerful plot lines full of twists, but he can also be a comedian and add some humor throughout to lighten the tone. The comic pairing of John and Asimov, or Ril and Ugo for that matter, is always good for a laugh, but as the story continues, we see more of a deeper side to all the characters. You begin to feel for them, not just watch their adventures from the outside…. they definitely start to pull at the heart strings the more you read through the chapters.

Wonderful characters can be lost in a color palette that doesn’t help showcase them, as well as a poorly thought-out setting. Tom doesn’t allow this to happen though, as his choices of color reflect the tone of the story at that moment and the characters’ personality quite well. The backgrounds, even though this is desolate Mars, are able to capture the setting without distracting from what the characters are up to.

As with most long-form comics, there can be periods in the story where there is a lot of dialog and little action going on to capture the reader’s interest. Tom handles these periods well, with interesting panel layouts and some background details. Plus, the dialog itself as to be top-notch; despite there being an actual ROBOT in the story, the conversation must not feel robotic, it has to flow and ring true. One of Marooned’s strong-points is the casual way Tom writes for his characters, with perfectly suiting gestures to emphasize it.

But don’t get me wrong– Marooned is full of some fun and fantastical action and adventure! Half the time, you’re not yet clued into why things are happening, such as Liam’s mysterious mindstone’s powers, but with Captain Tom Dell’aringa at the wheel, you allow him to take you anywhere. After all, he’s got the map somewhere in that spaceship…  or maybe his robot navigates. Either way, it’s all about the ride.


Dawn Griffin is a self-described “crazy chick”. She likes steak, Cleveland sports, video games and oh yeah, comics. She spent her high school years either playing street ball, pitching, or drawing comics and submitting them to syndicates. Once she –accidentally– discovered the world of webcomics, the sydication route became a pointless hurdle. After all, “Crazy Chicks” do things their *&%$ selves. Dawn is the mastermind behind Zorphbert and Fred, and the illustrator of the Abby’s Adventures kids book series. She can be easily bribed with ice cream.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Awesome write up about Marooned, this is one of those comics I found early last year from a link on another site, and have really enjoyed it. I took time and started at the beginning of the adventure and navigating through the archives was not difficult at all.

    Tom does an awesome job with this comic and is a wonderful support of other artists as well. Definitely much deserving of POTW.

  2. Wow, Dawn, this is a very flattering review! Thank you so much for picking Marooned, and then taking the time to really write about it knowledgeably. It’s nice to know that the hard work that goes into the strip is appreciated, especially by someone who really knows comics. Thanks again! 🙂

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