Comicscape: Lookouts -

Comicscape: Lookouts

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Comicscape: Lookouts

Scout's honor

By Joel Rickenbach     October 24, 2012

Ok, this week it’s time to inject some fun into Comicscape. Not that you should take this comic lightly, it’s just more of an adventure than some of the books covered in the last few weeks. Lookouts conjures up everything from Dungeons & Dragons, Video Games and… Boy Scouts? It’s true, so stick with me if that sounds appetizing to your delicate pallet, and I’ll explain. 

The lookouts is a new print and digital book by the guys who run Penny Arcade. Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik have been churning out video game and geek related comic strips going on 15 years. They have vision, that's for sure, as their empire has spread from the web, to multiple yearly conventions, and even their own video game. It is fitting, however, that their latest venture is bringing them back to what put them on the map in the first place. Years ago the duo put up a one page introduction to Lookouts. By their usual fan reaction the reception seemed lukewarm. Personally, I was instantly in love. A bit later they had guest creators Becky Dreistadt and Oliver Grigsby continue the story. Despite being creatively stunning, the Penny Arcade crowd was less than enthusiastic. Lookouts disappeared for a few years, and every time I visited the Penny Arcade website my hopes at seeing a new chapter were dashed. I love the Penny Arcade guys, I generally enjoy their daily dose of humor, but I honestly thought that one Lookouts page was my favorite thing they had ever done. Forums be damned, expand this tease of a fantasy world! Apparently the Penny Arcade folks were as big of fans of their own creation as I was, because Lookouts have been unleashed upon the comic world, and I'm sporting a serious grin.
Holkins, Krahulik and editor/writer Cory Jones have handed the reins to writer Ben McCool and artist Robb Mommaerts, linked up with gaming company Cryptozoic as publisher, and are overseeing this quickly expanding world like the robed wizards they always claimed to be. So what are the Lookouts all about? Honestly? Merit Badges, but we'll get to that in a minute. Lookouts takes place in a fantasy world full of adventure, strange beasts and monsters, magic and a lot (a lot!) of forest. Here is what the book is about in Krahulik's own words: “Human settlements are few and far between. Learning to navigate and live alongside the forest is a necessity. Men must protect the few roads they have through the woods and as the Lookouts’ creed says, ‘What men must know a boy must learn.’ Young boys in this world join the Lookouts and are taught the ways of the forest.” That alone is enough of an idea to sell me on the book, but it's when the video game and Boy Scout elements come in that the book truly shines. To teach the young Lookout recruits about the ways of the forest, the Lookout elders assign them tasks, which on completion award merit badges to those who are deserving. Each six issue arc of the book will deal with the lookouts earning merit badges under the tutelage of the Ranger Samson. These badges are not your average "fire building" or "whittling" the Boy Scouts sew on to their sash. No, we're talking badges such as "Troll Hunting", "Magnus Arbor", "Sibling Lunarist" and the badge our young heroes are trying to earn in the first arc- "Riddles". And how do they earn such a badge? By defeating a Sphinx that's guarding a neighboring village for very mysterious reasons, of course. Even more fascinating is in the back of each issue is a page from the Lookout handbook that details how to earn a particular badge, and its different levels. In many cases the supplemental material can be forgettable, but here it is essential. The pages are chock full of information, and have art showing each level of the badge. Very cool.

What's so impressive about all this is it's not just a gimmick, it's literally woven into the world, and provides structure for the story. Leave it to people who come from the world of games to hook us on a comic that has all the addictive bells and whistles that define that medium. None of this would matter though if the story, characters and art didn't measure up, but lucky for us all the above are superb. McCool is building a fascinating world where Sphinxes challenge weary travelers, and the forest is guarded by an ancient order. As serious as that sounds, our group of Lookouts in training are a bunch of adventure loving kids who are each developing unique personalities, and are more than capable at providing humor. Robb Mommaerts' art has to be seen to be believed. He renders the book in a cartoon style that makes you instantly want action figures of all the characters, yet treats the appropriate moments with a skilled hand. Mike Norton's inks and Ranier Petter's gorgeous, leap-off-the-page colors also deserve special recognition.


I am so very excited for the future of this book, it's scratches so many of the itches I have as a geek, it's like the ultimate Saturday morning cartoon made with all the hindsight we've acquired as geeks throughout our conquests. Issues #1 and #2 are available now in print and on Comixology, with issue #3 coming shortly. A 3-part strip introducing the "Thornwatch" just ran on Penny Arcade this week. I have no doubt there is plenty of material ready to explode the work of Lookouts.

Here are some links to get your feet wet:
The very first Lookouts strip:
The second Lookouts strip:
The recent Thornwatch strip:


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Showing items 1 - 3 of 3
shac2846 10/24/2012 9:34:00 AM

 Another comic I'm going to have to check out. Thanks Joel. 

DarkLloyd 10/24/2012 3:27:43 PM

Looks very good.

I've followed all of the releases of the "Watchers" world they had at Penney Arcade and loved every panel. I've been hoping for a continuos book for awhile now.

dalgoda 10/25/2012 4:54:25 AM

I've enjoyed most of your recommendations Joel, so I will check this out.  If nothing else, my kids might enjoy it.



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