Nambanga Vol. 1

Posted: Tuesday, September 3, 2002
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Nambanga Vol. 1 Creator(s): Various
Publishers: Alex Unginor & Forbidden Galaxy
From: com
Price: $26:99 (US)

Comics on computer, that's the catch cry of many these days with creators such as Scott McCloud trumpeting the potential of electronic publishing to escape the high costs and limitations of print media. Mambanga seems on first consideration to be a prime example of the new road ahead. The CD ROM contains 75 short comics from a range of 24 countries, brought together by Alexander at his base in Japan. The comics are displayed on the web for visitors, subscribers get access to further portions of the comics and extra stories.

I love comics, especially when they are from a bunch of countries I don't know much about apart from their names, so 75 strips was a tempting package. But as I started viewing the material on the CD ROM I soon found myself getting annoyed with the time and amount of mouse work it was taking me to navigate through the collection. Each strip has been broken up into blocks of a panel or two, one block per page. The strips being arranged into groups of 9 to 12, corresponding to monthly releases on to the original web page. Find a strip meant moving from a page that had 12 less than informative links to pages with brief introductions on the stories and artists. Click on the links on this page and you get the first panel, and you click an arrow to progress. The arrows never seemed to be in the same place on any two pages and finding your way back to the main menu was as speedy as backing a trailer up hill.

After about 24 strips I gave up in the face of a tiresome interface seemingly designed to wear out my mouse and make reading the comics as awkward as possible. True, some features such as the translations appearing if you moved the mouse over a speech balloon showed some thought had gone into the presentation, and I have to acknowledge that I do have a slow five year old computer, but my hands are over 30 years old and they still manage to operate a paper and ink comic without any great delays. For a sampling of international talent this is to be applauded, but you'll need more patience than this reviewer.

In a Word: Frustrating.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me