When I Am King

When I Am King (first strip) (completed, nudity, drugs, sex, violence, vulgarity, animation) is a rather old (for the internet, that is) completed comic and deserves another remembrance. It is a completely wordless (and thus remarkably international) comic about an Egyptian king who wakes up desiring a flower, and has a remarkably bad day. Along the way, the “infinite canvas” of the web comes into play- most strips involve horizontal scrolling, a few involve vertical scrolling, and several actually open the strips into different frames of a single window to show how time flies in different areas. There’s also several animated gifs used for emphasis. When I Am King has 5 chapters, with a total of 63 strips.

The wordlessness of the strip occasionally feels a little weird, but after a few strips it’s remarkably intuitive. The symbols used to indicate what the characters are saying are remarkably clear, and conversation really isn’t a big part of this strip, as most of the strip just follows the current character around without much conversation. It’s also rather interesting to read the strip and realize just how well symbols by themselves communicate. Comic artists who fear that they’re writing more than cartooning should read When I Am King to realize just how much can be communicated without writing at all.

The art is rather simplistic and iconic, which makes the clear communication of the character’s emotions and intentions all the more impressive. When a character’s face consists entirely of an oval, two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth, it’s hard to have the detail to show complex emotions, but it’s there. The simplistic art style never hurts the strip, and the later chapters add complexity to the strip layout that is amazing, creating strips that twist and turn and display real works of art.

When I Am King is remarkably vulgar. I don’t really know how to describe how vulgar it is without giving away spoilers, but let’s just say that it’s really bad. The sex scenes are remarkably open, there’s vomit and bathroom humor… it pretty much hits it all. Do not read this comic if you’re offended by much.

When I Am King actually received much critical acclaim in 2002, when it came out, winning a Web Cartoonist’s Choice Award (for Best Use of the Digital Medium), being covered by Wired magazine, The Comics Journal, and mentioned in many other places. In general they seem to consider it a remarkable underground-style comic. To quote the Comics Journal - Demian5 “treats the underground staples of sex, low humor, and drug experiences with wit and artistic virtuosity.”

When I Am King is an excellent comic if you enjoy underground comics. It’s simplicity, low word count and short episode count means that it’s a very quick read. If you’ve spent this much time reading the review, reading the comic should be easy. Go give it a read.

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One Response to “When I Am King”

  1. Nish Says:

    That is one messed up comic. I like it, but wow is it messed up.

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