Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show Book One (Chase Sequence Co.)

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This workplace comedy offers plenty of film-centric laughs, but also lots of heart.

 

224 pgs. full color; $19.95
(W / A: Gordon McAlpin)
 
Well this is fun. At first, I wasn't so sure. Multiplex (which is about movie theater employees) comes on a bit strong with wisecracks about movies (circa 2006, when the webcomic began) and jabs at obnoxious theater patrons. But the strip has heart. It has a lot of heart.
 
I've been skeptical of webcomics in print form before. To some degree, comics are comics, but webcomics are often narrower in focus than their printed cousins. The good ones thrive online because the limitless distribution allows for far-flung fans that all fit into the same niche to follow the strips. So, why, then, would artists and publishers gamble on a book? Why make fans seek, find and pay for something they've been loving for free? Strong sales can support the artist, but it's a big risk, and it's easy to see why so many creatives on the web—in comics or other media—push t-shirt and other merchandise sales.
 
Multiplex undoubtedly appeals to a very specific kind of nerd: the movie nerd. But it works in so many other ways. There are insider jokes about cinema, but every few strips are broad and clever enough to charm anyone who hasn’t seen the movie being skewered. As the collection continues, the characters take over. Their personalities develop quickly. After a few pages, the setting becomes secondary.
 
The art improves, too. It's never bad, but in the beginning the characters show the limits of Adobe Illustrator's line and fill tools. As creator Gordon McAlipin shapes the characters' personalities, he also shapes their...shapes, making faces more expressive and bodies less blocky.
 
To make this more than a printout of the webcomic, McAlpin adds a number of special features and his own running commentary to the book. His frequent notes between strips are exuberant, and it feels like he's reading along, too, pointing out what he wishes he would've changed and what he's especially proud of. And there's plenty to be proud of with this one. | Gabe Bullard
 
To read Multiplex: Enjoy Your Show, visit http://multiplexcomic.com/book/1
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