Pham, on the other hand, is an artist whose instincts seem to be almost directly contrary to Yang’s. He’s minimalist and almost childlike in his renderings. He’s essentially a minicomics guy given slick paper and the opportunity to use watercolors. His main flaw as an artist has always been his sloppiness, especially in terms of lettering and balloon placement. Working with Yang tightened up some of those flaws, while working with Pham helped loosen up Yang and let his pages breathe a bit more. It’s perhaps not coincidental that Level Up features Yang’s best-realized, most human set of characters.
It’s awesome to get a mostly positive review from The Comics Journal, especially considering the kick-in-the-nards reviews I’ve gotten from them in the past*, but I am going to hear about this one from Thien over and over and over again for the next few months. And over again. Especially this line:
That said, Level Up represents a step forward in his development as a writer, in part because of his choice of Thien Pham as his illustrator for this story.
I can already see his smile now. He is just not gonna let that one go. Read the whole thing here.
*Side note: Kick-in-the-nards reviews hurt, but I am grateful to The Comics Journal for their courage in printing them. No medium can truly mature without reviewers who are willing to do that. And the comics industry, especially indie comics industry, is so small that you’re usually kicking the nards of someone who’s two degrees away from you at most.