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Variants Brings Guild-esque Charm to the Comic Book World

I’m going to say something here that, I feel pretty certain, will completely disinterest many online video fans in The Variants: this indie web series reminds me a lot of the works of Kevin Smith.

Wait! Come back! I mean that in a good way!

I guess I should specify that I very specifically mean Clerks, Smith’s first film. I am a big fan of the film’s sweet nature, slightly absurd characters and nerd references, and find its incredibly low production values charming. And it’s these same qualities which inspire the comparison to The Variants.

Set in the Dallas-area comic book store Zeus Comics, Variants came about (according to the About page) when Joe Cucinotti and Richard Neal were approached by store owner Richard Neal to create a web series that “would appeal to fans of something like Felicia Day’s The Guild.” Ten episodes later, the result is a super-nerdy but charming workplace comedy whose first season concludes with an epic two-parter featuring Eisner-nominated comic book artist Ben Templesmith.

Cast standouts include the acerbic and almost too good-looking Barry Fuhrman and Keli Wolfe as the token girl clerk who’s rarely treated like the token girl (the handling of her character is one of the show’s major strengths). On a technical level, the show could stand slightly tighter pacing and at least a little music underscoring the action. But the sound design is pretty good otherwise, and genuine laugh-out-loud moments occur on a surprisingly frequent basis.

Of course, when approaching Variants it does help to already be a comic book fan, which I am. In fact, Zeus Comics looks like a comic book store I’d genuinely enjoy shopping. I’ve certainly enjoyed getting to know its staff.

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