Hobo Lobo: Free Multimedia Webcomic Retells an Old Legend | AltSalt

Hobo Lobo: Free Multimedia Webcomic Retells an Old Legend

Title image of Hobo Lobo

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is an old but great example of what can be done with multimedia.

Length: 30 minutes or less
Devices: Desktop and limited mobile
Tech: HTML5
Cost: Free

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin has been out for a few years, but its fantasy canvas of art, sound, and sarcasm is still a great example of what multimedia can offer. Looking on it now, the level of immersion is especially worth noting for anyone interested in out-of-the-box media experiences.

In the opening panels, the artwork’s muted colors establish a somber atmosphere. The stylistic choices, down to the lengthy horizontal parallax on each wide page, help to give the impression that the world extends beyond the edges of the browser.

Picture of a fortune teller's crystal ball

The colors are used to evoke a somber, fantasy-esque atmosphere.

When the story kicks off, the town of Hamelin is in trouble. It’s infested with “coked-up rats running all over the place, freaking everybody out.” The mayor of the town visits a psychic for advice on how to deal with the problem (he’s told, quite simply, to hire a professional).

Enter Hobo Lobo, our protagonist, a self-proclaimed “fraternal boiler maker,” “doer of deeds,” and “indoctrinator of youth.” Who better than he to get rid of the rat horde?

Hobo Lobo, our protagonist, looking at the moon

Hobo Lobo, our protagonist, is a journeyman, or maybe just a hobo, and a bit of a snake oil salesman.

On webcomic’s third page, Hobo Lobo does lead all the rats out of Hamelin, and it’s with dramatic flair. The text largely takes a backseat to the movement of colors and art across the screen. We hear original music, see some creative parallax effects, and the level of immersion feels here unique, a moment that is purely Internet, and purely multimedia.

It’s here that Hobo Lobo hits on a perfect combination of atmosphere and story, and I wish I could see more moments like this, not only in Hobo Lobo, but in other graphic novel and interactive fiction projects. (We do get another set piece like this at the end of Hobo Lobo; sadly, though, the project hasn’t been updated in more than a year.)

Hobo Lobo leads the rats from Hamelin to their death off a cliff

The third page of Hobo Lobo is beautifully executed and a good mix of music and art within a narrative.

An obvious criticism of Hobo Lobo is the user experience – the text feels largely disconnected from the images. Also, the experience isn’t optimized for mobile devices, but it was first released in 2011, so we can cut a bit of slack.

In case you were wondering, yes, this is a retelling of the legend, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, which you can read (or reread) here if you are so inclined.

Hobo Lobo leads the children into the mountain in another set piece... and the story is left to be continued.

Hobo Lobo leads the children into the mountain in another set piece… and the story is left to be continued.

So please check out Hobo Lobo. And, of course, you can beg creator Stevan Živadinović for more Hobo Lobo updates on the appropriate Facebook page.

About the author

Artemio Morales

Artemio Morales is a programmer, digital literature enthusiast, and founder of AltSalt. Perpetually stricken with wanderlust, he enjoys playing music, social dancing, and making awesome work with talented people.

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