On September 3rd, Beanworld made its 21st century debut as a feature of issue 14 of MySpace Dark Horse presents (MDHP). This is the first time there has been new Beanworld material since 1993. Just in case your arithmetic is bad, that's 15 years without any new Beanworld! If you are unfamiliar with Tales of the Beanworld but are an avid follower of the online issues of MDHP, you are probably thinking, "what the fuck is this shit?" and rightfully so. I'm a big fan of "Beanworld" and I am chomping at the bit for any sort of new material but I think that there are a few issues with Marder's choice to release new material via MDHP.
From what I gather, MDHP has an 8 page limit. I can see why Marder would have decided against using the 8 pages to explain the comic because:
a. thats probably not enough pages to fully explain it to a new reader
b. it would be publishing material that isn't really new.
"Beanworld" is simply too complicated and too involved to develop in just eight pages. For people that haven't read the comic before, there's no opportunity for them to really grasp the complex "Beanworld" community that's been developing since the first Eclipse Comics-published issue in 1985. Larry Marder's creation isn't really like any other comic ever and that means it doesn't have an easy-to-grasp or easy-to-sell concept or anything close to it. You take a deep breath before you answer anyone's question as to what this comic's all about.
Each issue or like, story arc, drops some new variable into the environment that shakes the Beanworld up, but it's all based on what's happened before it and so, this eight-pager's attempt to throw in a new theme with little context just doesn't really work, even if it's a concept that's a little easier to grasp than in previous issues. The overarching theme of the short feature is the invention of the idea of recycling and while that is noble, it just doesn't seem like the type of topic to reel in new fans.
The topic doesn't emphasize any of the interesting aspects of Beanworld interactions because there isn't enough space to explain the sensibilities of the characters. Beanworld is an ecologically themed comic, it's circular. Everything is dependent upon something else. I can only liken it to something like Meerkat Manor on animal planet. It's urgent, its "natural", and it's passionate.
Those visiting the MDHP short feature as Beanworld fans will find it equally problematic. The 8 page story isn't quite as complex or as interesting as a previously released issue of the comic because the complexities are down-played for the new readers. Additionally, it was shocking to see a quintessential black and white comic in color. Blasphemous! The addition of color made me feel like comic was more "cutesy" than normal.
Mostly, the color is just really unrelieved. They over-use of black makes it seem like it really just needs to be black and white. And that background, blue-fade really makes my stomach churn. I'm really not trying to be a hater. Maybe MDHP had no interest in publishing it in its black and white form? If so, that would be somewhat excusable but still, a little disheartening that Marder would comprise the presentation of his work, not just on an "integrity" level, but truly making his simple lines and black and white, ugly and photo-shopped. Lucky for us super-fans, Marder recently revealed a post on his blog saying that the graphic novel of new material slated for released in 2009 , Remember Here When You are There, will indeed be in black and white.