This week, I am featuring World of Hurt: The Thrill-Seekers.
Hopefully, you remember the blaxploitation movement in film of the 1970’s. It was an important time in American film. There was a clear shift in the way in which people of color were portrayed on the big screen. Prior to 1970, minorities were relegated to the roles of servants and menial laborers, a sad reflection of the civil rights struggle in our country. With the emergence of classic blaxploitation films, such as Trouble Man, Shaft and others, minorities in urban communities were finally able to see a more accurate portrayal of themselves in the movies – more importantly, they were finally recognized as leading characters. Undoubtedly, there are a vast number of blaxploitation films that are beloved for their comedic value, these films should not be considered the standard. The best examples of the genre, exuded a raw independence often accompanied by a strong moral message. The characters were hardened and tough, as was necessary to survive the streets. While leading characters often existed in a moral gray area where they may be pushed to break a few legs, they were tempered with a strong sense of justice and honor. Sometimes, a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor is an added bonus. After all, who doesn’t love a good catch phrase?
Written and inked by Jay Potts, World of Hurt touts itself as the Internet’s #1 Blaxpoitation Webcomic. World of Hurt hopes to pay tribute to the great blaxploitation films by playing on those same elements of intimidation, action and doing what is right. In this effort, Potts succeeds!
“The Thrill-Seekers” follows the title character, Isaiah “Pastor” Hurt as he seeks to solve the murder of a young black woman and bring the guilty parties to justice. The story is brilliantly crafted with fantastic pacing throughout 67 strips. Potts does a masterful job of weaving all aspects of the plot together to create a cohesive piece of work that flows nicely. The characters are interesting and complex, particularly that of Pastor. Sure, he is a bit rough around the edges and will shoot you if you give him an excuse to do so, but there is also a tenderness and a concern for the helpless that endears him to the reader. The villains aren’t the over the top characters with a menacing laugh. Instead, they are ordinary, self-important people who believe their circumstances place them above others and above the law. One of the things I enjoyed most about the characters was the supporting characters. Each of the supporting characters is a result of their situation and often not exactly what they appear to be. It makes their interactions with Pastor more interesting than simply being a vehicle for exposition.
As for the artwork, it is spot on! Restricted to black and white, Potts has developed an impressive mastery of his craft. The limited palette lends itself well to the material and helps to evoke the sensibilities of the genre. Stunning outline work and a true skill for shading allow the characters to carry the emotion and action of the story.
World of Hurt is so much more than a webcomic, though. It is an interactive experience. Potts actively engages his readers by personally responding to posted comments. He goes further in the way he established his process. New strips are posted on Wednesdays. On Fridays, Potts adds commentary to that week’s strip. It is a revealing look at his creative process and things that serve to inspire and motivate him. The commentary post may reference movies, pieces of music or artwork. It is a lovely addition that helps to foster a sense of personal connection and community. It is the “world” in World of Hurt.
I gave you insight into the first installment of World of Hurt with “The Thrill-Seekers.” The story continues with “The Black Fist.” I hope you will take some time to delve into World of Hurt and will find it as entertaining as I have.
To read World of Hurt for yourself, please visit the website at http://worldofhurtonline.com/.
On a personal note, many thanks to Doug Gross for recommending World of Hurt to me! For great technology news and general nerdery, follow Doug on Twitter (@doug_gross)!