Longtime readers will have seen me mention the webcomic Savestate before. If you’re not familiar with it though, the general idea is that it’s a fun story of gamers that happen to be anthropomorphic animals. You get a ton of references to classic consoles and pop culture, some creepy-but-cute demons, and the sort of shenanigans that would fit well in a lighthearted slice of life comedy.
Let’s talk about it in a little more depth though. In terms of characters, the core cast comprises of Kade, Nicole, Harvey and Ness. Kade and Nicole are twins that inherit an old manor form their uncle Scooby. Of the two, Kade is the more easy going, and I would say naïve. He’s fun, especially in his occasional bouts of awkwardness. Meanwhile, Nicole is a little more upfront and has a touch of cynicism to her, which balances out her brother’s more impulsive nature. Harvey is a self-proclaimed Elder God. He has a rabbit skull for a head and a dark whispy body. He’s supposed to bring about the apocalypse but, lucky for us, he gets wrapped up in Kade and Nicole’s extensive game collection. Meanwhile, Ness is another evil spirit, but she’s been bound to a squeaky plush toy. These four are the ones that we spend the most time with, and once they’ve all been introduced, they have a natural chemistry to their interactions. They’re a fun group of housemates, with the moments of Kade and Nicole trying to quell Harvey and Ness’ almost comic-book villain plans being some of the funniest.
While not as prominent as the main four, we also get to spend some time with Rick and Riley. Rick is a childhood friend of our protagonists. There’s a really nice touch with him that, being a lizard, he tends to be a little more clothed than his furry friends in an effort to stay warm. Riley meanwhile is another dog and acts as a romantic foil for Kade. She’s been a lot of fun since her introduction, not only because she draws out Kade’s awkward side, but because she has a far tougher time getting used to Harvey and Ness.
There isn’t really a major story driving the book forward. Sure, some scenes run to more pages than others, but it’s mostly a collection of skits designed to provide some laughs for those that get the references. And what are those references? Expect everything from 8 and 16-bit gaming to modern titles, and classic cartoons to Attack on Titan. They can range from outright mentions to visual nods, and a lot of the time, it’s simply spotting the reference that will raise a smile for you.
From a technical standpoint, the book itself is a beautiful piece. It’s set up to look like an old school instruction manual, complete with a ‘getting started’ section. The print quality is really nice throughout the strips that form the brunt of the book, and then we hit the bonus material. Here, we get some information on the author’s real-life dogs, a character select screen style introduction to the cast, concept art, and bonus pictures. Oh, and you can throw in a 9 page bonus comic that adds to the backstory, and a free bookmark and sticker too. It’s a really beautiful collection.
In terms of the art, it’s interesting seeing the way Tim’s work has developed over the three year period that the book covers. The early strips are fine, but there’s no denying that the later ones have shown a clear improvement. Facial expressions are a real strength for Tim, which gives the characters a really emotive quality, and his work on body poses is also good.
It’s this physical quality that makes it such a worthwhile purchase to me. Bar the bonus material, you can read the whole thing for free online, but when you consider how good a package it is, it makes it well worth owning. Whether you buy the book or read online though, this is a great time investment for gamers and furries alike. 5 out of 5.
You can purchase the comic now from the Savestate website.