Robin Vehrs: successful transition from web to print

Review of Western Touch

Language: German
Author: Robin Vehrs
Publisher: Zwerchfell
Year: 2012
Pages: 93
Price: €10

ISBN: 978-3-943547-01-6

For me, Enjambements was the webcomics sensation of 2011 (although it had already been around since 2009, unnoticed by me). A selection of episodes has now been collected into an A5-sized paperback titled “Western Touch”.

A typical Enjambements episode consists of roughly square panels arranged in 2 columns and 4-8 rows. These panels are populated with pixel figures so crudely drawn that they make Diesel Sweeties look photo-realistic. The backgrounds are filled with ever-changing patterns reminiscent of computer graphics software from 25 years ago. These characteristics result in an overall art style that seems fitting for a digital medium.

In the printed book, this style works just as well: the images look like printouts from said era, retaining their simple and rough appeal. The grid arrangement practically lends itself to the portrait format of the book page (even more so than to the landscape format of a computer screen on which the webcomic version is probably usually read), with longer episodes being spread onto two facing pages (e.g. an episode with 2 x 5 panels is divided into a 2 x 2 and a 2 x 3 page).

The strength of this comic, however, lies not so much in its form but in its content. The absurdity of each little story is acted out with both straight-faced consistency and relish: where other cartoonists would stop after the gag in the third panel, Robin Vehrs just adds more panels, more gags and more absurd twists, each funnier than the one before.

Robin Vehrs is the most innovative German humour cartoonist since Joscha Sauer, and one can only hope someone will attempt to translate Western Touch into other languages. At the very least, this book is a fine object of study for anyone interested in webcomics mastering the transition to print.

Rating: ● ● ● ● ○