Category Archives: Webcomics

Webcomics, pt V

All right! It has been a while since I posted one of these.

Firstly, Phoenix Requiem. I have no idea where the name comes from as it contains no trace of a phoenix after, at the time of writing, 557 pages. There is quite a lot of dying though, so maybe it can be explained in part. Anyway, PR takes place in the Victorian era of a fictitious world where the magic and supernatural are real. It is well drawn and the story is original enough to keep the reader’s interest engaged, although much of the character interaction borders on cliché.

Next up, one that is even more cliché but has a lot of grace saving charm – Red String. It follows a group of teenage friends in Japan and their various everyday lives. Topics like arranged marriages and coming out make it less predictable, but generally it is all rather innocent.

Want to read something absurdly long with lots of exposition? Errant Story might be just the thing for you. Fantasy, manga-ish, elves, moments of immense destruction: the works. Pretty good actually, but boy does it take long to read… I am not even near to catching up. However, it does contain new twists on old ideas so parts of it is pretty good.

This all demands something un-cliché to wrap it up, and I cannot imagine anything less cliché than the comics of Jesse Moynihan. I have read all of Kime Agine and follow Forming obsessively. Wonderfully, wonderfully weird. And thus I think, sometimes very profound.

On a final note, DAR has ended.

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Webcomics, pt IV

It is time for a few new recommendations!

If you liked Dresden Codak, there is a good chance you will like Gunnerkrigg Court. It follows the protagonist Antimony Carver’s adventures at the eponymous school/institute. The Court itself is greatly reminiscent of the castle Gormenghast from Mervyn Peak’s books but set in the modern day, with internet access, robots and science classes. It also has some parallells to Harry Potter with a boarding school setup, school houses and class room drama. Combine these two things, put them through a Dresden Codak filter and possibly you have something that approaches Gunnerkrigg Court. It is beautifully drawn with over 560 pages as of this writing.

In the vein of Questionable Content, we have the long running Least I Could Do, which is something so rare as a daily updated webcomic. It follows a group of friends and their somewhat inept attempts to live their lives. Rayne is the one most of the action circles around, his main motive in life appearing to be to get laid. It is not exactly a deep comic, but often very funny!

And finally this time we have Menage a 3. It follows comic book geek Gary and his troubles – which are plentiful. The name comes from the fact that he has to share an apartment with two other people, two very strange girls. The drawing style is western, but it has a certain japanese edge of hysteria that makes it stand out a bit.

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Webcomics, pt III

My thanks to commenter riv for reminding me of Pictures for Sad Children and for showing me The Secret Knots.

Pictures for Sad Children is a, you guessed it, pretty sad comic but still has a lot of humour in it. Dark, absurdist and sad humour, sure, but humour none the less. It begins with the story of Paul, who is a ghost, and then introduces other characters. Some stay and some do not. No one is ever really happy, but they are all to apathetic to really do something about it (although the recent squid storyline had a somewhat happy ending).

The Secret Knots is altogether different. Somewhat reminiscent of A Lesson Is Learned But the Damage Is Irreversible, but with several longer story arcs – “Unbreakable” is both sweet and unsettling at the same time.

In Anders Loves Maria the two protagonists have a difficult relationship, to say the least. The comic has several different artistic styles and an extensive cast. In the artist Rene Engström’s words, “It is a story about “adulthood” in a modern age where coming-of-age seems to be completely arbitrary” which sums it up very well. No one is a real “hero”, no one is a real “villain”, it’s just life unfurling.

Happy reading.

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Webcomics, pt II

So I have been reading some more webcomics lately, and some stuff I had forgotten about has reappeared.

I mentioned Dar last time and I have now decided I like it – I was not sure before now, but I will probably keep following it from now on. It is a more or less autobiographical comic by Erica Moen.

I have also rediscovered Questionable Content and read somewhere in the neighbourhood of 800 episodes during two sittings last week, doing really bad things to my sleep pattern in the process… It is about a group of friends and their various issues.  Imagine an indie version of Dawson’s Creek, only funny.

Finally, Alpha Shade is a well drawn comic with several parallell storylines on different worlds going on at once. It is slightly confusing because of this and the very infrequent updates, but I still like it. One of the worlds reminds me a bit about “Ghibli-verse”, the cheerlily steam punk/turn of the century kind-of Europe in movies like Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

That is it for now. Enjoy!

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I think the first webcomic I really read might have been Yu+Me, which I got tired of pretty quickly. From there I moved on to Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life and Copper, which is pretty darn good stuff but was rarely if ever updated even when I found them a couple of years ago.

At this point I had started waking up to the fact that webcomics, as a medium, might be deeper than I had thought. I already knew that comics has matured considerably since its infancy  (there will probably be a post on Batman appearing in kbospeak in the future), but webcomics hadn’t really struck me as being very attractive. These first tastes of high quality, then, paved the way for what I and apparently everyone else agrees is the absolute pinnacle of the medium right now – A Lesson Is Learned But the Damage Is Irreversible. It is astounding: the artwork and the writing are brilliant, expressionism and impressionism with a great deal of abstraction. Often there is no defined beginning or end, or the end has little or no relation to the beginning, recurring characters change in appearance. The absurdist humour makes it occasionally hilarious, but what makes it all worth it in the end is the constant undercurrent of sadness that gives A Lesson Is Learned its emotional impact. I’ve used the desktop background based on number 014, “Getting Over Women” twice the last two years, because it is perfect.

Go read A Lesson Is Learned now, from start to beginning. It will take a long time but it will be worth it. It is unfortunately no longer being updated.

Completely different, in visual style, is Dresden Codak. In the words of its creator Aaron Diaz, it is “an illustrated celebration of science, death and human folly”. The scope is at times both interstellar and intertemporal, but it is more often more down to earth. Themes include the future of humankind, RPG:ing, the celebration of science, love, childhood memories, friendship, childhood trauma and tiny dream analysis. Most of the episodes are just that, episodic, but don’t miss the extended “Hob” storyline. Dresden Codak is being continuously updated.

For the more story-oriented reader I have two recommendations: Rice Boy and Shi Long Pang. Rice Boy is set on the Overside, a world invented and continually explored by its creator Evan Dahm in the story arcs “Rice Boy” and “Order of Tales”. Adventure in a sort of fantasy-ish world, lovely artwork and with “Order of Tales”, weekly updates. I love Rice Boy and am saving up for the book and posters.

Shi Long Pang chronicles the wanderings of the eponymous shaolin monk Pang, new to the world outside of his now destroyed home monastery and looking to save what can be saved of the wisdom of that place in the form of books that were rescued from a fire. Among the difficulties he now has to face is social intercourse, bullies, his guilt of surviving the attack on the monastery, normal life outside the walls – and girls. Updated weekly and a truly great read, often with fascinating historical/factual information and explanations in the footnotes.

In a very different vein comes xkcd, “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”. It has no over arching story, but an enormous open heart and a solid footing in nerdy esoteria and science. Updated several times every week. xkcd is like candy that is healthy for you.

So, these last four are the ones I follow at the moment. I also look in on Dar and Anders Loves Maria, but I’m still a bit undecided on those. Good luck if you go webcomic hunting and I’m always happy for reading recommendations!

PS. Slightly less healthy but certainly hilarious is Gone With the Blastwave, updated very rarely. [updated 091128: new GWTBW domain]

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