Hello and welcome to Anchored. What we have here is a gag-a-day comic about ghosts who are “anchored”, so to speak, to the land of the living. It follows their everyday lives (oh, you know what I mean) and the mischief they create while they wander (usually) unseen. So what kinds of mischief do ghosts get up to? Well…
Right then. Let’s dive in.
Mostly, this is just a collection of gags. It starts off with a lot of jokes about the ghosts teasing the ghost-hunters, but it later evolves to cover more ground. You get your call-backs and short arcs here and there, but the point of the comic is mostly to show the ghosts doing silly things. Gotta say though, it really works. Some of the humor revolves around death or the supernatural, while some is based on the characters just being who they are. And who they are is pretty fun. It’s enjoyable seeing them have their little adventures and the jokes are often corny, but charmingly so.
And sometimes it’s just a little to on-the-nose. Still, it’s usually not overly groan-worthy. At worst, it’s just inoffensive and not very memorable.
The comic actually made me chuckle a few times. There’s something to be said for a bit of harmless corny humor. But lest you think this is just some silly comic, allow me to introduce you to the ghost orb, aka Little One. This character is the spirit of an unborn child and drops the feels like an atom bomb.
Ow, my heart.
Oh, and later this happens.
The characters are just wonderful. Let’s do a roll-call. Of course, there’s Little One and their parents, a duo of ghost hunters (based loosely on the author and his wife). You also have the main trio, Sugar, Bookworm, and Peter. Sugar is a sometimes scatterbrained, sometimes snarky songstress with a sentimental streak. Bookworm is exactly what he sounds like. Peter is a silly, prankish, sometimes dense hick with a whole lot more courage than he realizes. You’ve also got Big Dead, the fast-food loving zombie who works at a call center, the longsuffering medium Victoria, who’s often a victim of Peter’s shenanigans, and Lizzy, a young psychic with just a bit of brat in her. There are a couple other characters rounding out the cast as well; a cute pug, a cute turtle, and Odin, god of all Asgard. Y’know, just to name a few average Joes. And they all have such great chemistry. Take any two or three of these characters at random, toss them in a blender, and you’ve got a recipe for a solid strip.
If you want an idea of the characters at their best, just take a look at some of the links I put here. The only criticism I have is that sometimes it seems like the characters are just voicing the author on something. It’s a little distracting when that happens, but it doesn’t happen too often.
Although I do really like the characters and find a lot of the jokes amusing, the dialogue could use some improvement. A lot of the characters seem to sound very script-y. Obvious setups followed by obvious punchlines that sound like something out of a sitcom. Sometimes it works, but it often seems forced. I just can’t imagine anyone saying some of these lines out loud with a straight face. There are a lot of references to pop culture and memes in the dialogue too, which doesn’t age well.
Of course, it does have its moments. Later strips like this one seem to have a better handle on how to write dialogue.
Up until the comic went fully-digital, the lettering was all hand-written. The small size of the strips makes it a little difficult to read sometimes. The penmanship is sloppy, too, and I’m not big on those lumpy-looking word balloons. It improves a little bit once it goes digital, but I really don’t like the choice of font. Plus, for some reason, the digital pages have randomly blurry text. I have no idea how or why, but it’s distracting and I kept waiting, thinking making the strip wasn’t loading right. Overall, not a fan of the lettering.
The art doesn’t have much going for it. I like the characters. I like a lot of the humor. I really like the unexpected poignant moments. Visually, though, it’s just a bunch of crude gray-scale ink drawings. In the more recent strips, it goes to digital and the author throws in color from time to time, but the art doesn’t really improve.
Every single thing on the page is flatter than cardboard and twice as stiff. Even when there are colors, they’re just flat tones with no shading. In my opinion, the art looked better drawn with ink on a dark-grey background. At least on those pages, I saw a sense of shading starting to form, but it was still never all that good.
Reading this, I found myself liking the comic in spite of the art, rather than because of it. On the plus side, it’s impressive that the writing was good enough to make me enjoy reading this. If I were the creator, I’d consider either taking a class in cartooning or hiring an artist. Just do something to make the visuals serve the writing better.
Paneling & Visual Storytelling:
Most of the pages are just your usual rectangular 4-panel strip, typical of a lot of gag-a-day comics. Sometimes the number of panels will change, but it’s nothing earth-shaking. It’s kind of utilitarian; it just does what it needs to do to make the strip happen. As for the visual storytelling, the less-than-stellar visuals make some of the gags based on movement a little underwhelming. Still, I never had a hard time telling what was going on. Overall, it’s just okay.
It’s just a SmackJeeves comic with no customization or extra features. Everything that needs to work does work, but the site itself has nothing noteworthy about it. I give it an average score for having an average template on an average site.
This comic is so much better than it looks. I have a feeling people were put off by the art and the fact that it’s a gag-a-day comic, given the reputation of gag-a-day as being low-quality. But seriously, I liked this way more than I thought I would. The idea behind this comic is a good one. I could see people really enjoying a lighthearted comedy about ghosts’ daily misadventures.
The author hasn’t updated in several months and seems to be putting this comic on the backburner for now (life getting in the way and all that). I don’t know if he plans to continue. Either way, I’d encourage people to give this comic a chance, and if you find yourself pleasantly surprised, as I was, maybe leave a kind word for him.