Things I like about the art in Book 1:
- The color. Book 2 takes place over a more confined area than Book 1, so visually it looks more uniform: a city at daylight. Book 1 has a volcano erupting at night, sunrise after the apocalypse, dark forests and city tunnels...it's like a sort of Tim Burton world in its color and proportions. This is not necessarily about comparative artistic skill, just that under Jamie's tenure we happened to see very dynamic range of settings.
- The faces. Book 1's characters have moments of extreme emotion showing on their faces: Bogroll's sacrifice, Parson's command to uncroak the volcano (and his moment of resignation right before), Ansom's rage at Parson's anti-pep talk, Vinnie and Jillian grieving...the characters really come alive in those moments in a way I think doesn't happen with the more "clean" approach of Xin's art.
Things I like about the art in Book 2:
- Consistency. Jamie's renderings of the characters visibly changes over the course of Book 1 - specifically, their heads get a lot more humanlike in terms of size relative to the proportions of their bodies. Xin more or less hit the ground running in terms of the proportions and appearances of the characters, which is difficult even for accomplished artists to pull off in stylized comics.
- "Blocking". Book 2 is very good at showing us where things happen in relation to one another. The Battle for Gobwin Knob I think could have done with a few more establishing shots and filled in a couple of visual gaps (like exactly what happened to the wiener-rammer whose rider attacked Parson in the endgame). Some of the dogfights could also get a bit visually confusing. I felt like Book 2 gave me a much better handle on what was where.
Overall, I think I prefer the artwork in Book 1, mainly because I think the dark and dynamic feel is more distinctive than the "cleaner" feel. It gives me all sorts of nostalgia, like it's the webcomic version of the look and feel of all those cult fantasy films from the 1980s, or the style in which a graphic novel of The Hobbit would be illustrated. Book 2's art reminds me more of Pokemon.
"If you leave out important things or events that you know about, the story is strengthened. If you leave or skip something because you do not know it, the story will be worthless." - Hemingway