Some comments on
the work of
Anthropomorphic animal characters
in comics or in animation seem to have been traditionally limited emotionally,
to rather shallow roles . They've never really been limited as far
as subject matter. Violence, usually the humorous slapstick kind,
has always been there. Even sex shows up, usually with a burlesque
humor approach. But serious, deep, gut-wrenching emotions are rare.
And they are even more rarely done well. David Hopkins is one of
the few who combines the artistic ability to draw very expressive characters,
with the willingness to put them into extreme emotional situations.
When it is done right, as it is in David Hopkins work, it's a transforming
experience - like a beautiful passage of music, the characters' love, pain,
or anguish goes straight to your soul.
Hopkins' characters (some are his
creations, some are those of other artists, notably Katie Popp in the case
of Jack) are put into everything from homey domestic scenes to World
War II, and from starships to Heaven and Hell. Hopkins current web-comic
on life itself. Jack's title character is one who's
violent life led not just to Hell, but to his personification as both the
sin of Wrath and the Grim Reaper. It's all there - life, love,
sex, death, and a vision of the afterlife that could give Dante Aligheiri
a run for his money. "Fine", you
might say, "there's plenty of sex and death and violence out there.
What's different about this guy?". For one thing, he does a good
job of coming up with characters that you care about. Nothing's worse
in a story than to have it filled with characters you can't care about
or have no sympathy for. Even some of the more demonically evil ones
have a vulnerability that makes them very human. They aren't the
typical one-dimensional anime/video game/action-adventure beings.
They are characters you can get involved with. They may be a collection
anthropomorphic furry creatures, but they have more realism and humanity
than most of what passes for drama today.
The other refreshingly realistic
feature of Hopkins' work is the underlying messages. Anthropomorphic
art has traditionally been a place to escape from reality. But in
Hopkins' stories, real things happen - people you love die, war takes young
men from their families, evil exists. And In Jack's afterlife,
earthly actions have definite consequences.
I don't want to leave you with
the impression that Hopkins' work is all on the dark side. Even Jack
some comic relief in it. It fits in well with the other more serious
elements. After all, you can't be very close to reality if you can't
laugh at yourself.
note: Check out Dave and Katie's work on the links below, and send them
money. God knows they deserve it.
Hopkins Archive (Orlando)
Hopkins Archive (VCL)
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