Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
As the year winds down, I’m reviewing my old posts to prep for all those end-of-the-year roundups and think pieces, and in the process, I’m taking another look at some of the webcomics I recommended during the year.
Max Overacts: You would think a joke like this—cute kid over-dramatizes everything—would run its course pretty quickly, but Canaan Grall keeps finding new and fresh ways for Max to drive his parents, his sister, his teacher, and his friends crazy. Recent episodes include a crush on a new girl, a near-death episode caused by an allergic reaction, and using ventriloquism to make the oranges in the supermarket talk back to shoppers. Grall is still updating regularly, and the comic keeps getting better and better.
Cleopatra in Space: This is a fun space-fighting action comic about a girl and her smart-aleck cat, but until the middle of the second chapter, it was all action and no backstory. That was a bit late, especially for a comic that updates weekly: The comic launched in August 2009 but the backstory didn’t start until November, and it has only just begun. I like this comic a lot, but I fell away because the weekly updates were too infrequent, but on the other hand, good for the creators for sticking to the schedule! The second chapter is in color, but I actually liked the monochrome of the first chapter better—it was more dynamic. I think this comic would work really well as a digital comic for iPad or Kindle, with an introductory page and the first chapter bundled as a single issue.
Max vs. Max: I really liked Wes Molebash’s semi-diary comic about life after divorce, and I especially liked that he could write an explicitly Christian comic without being preachy or judgmental. In the past six months, Wes took on the hard reality of dating sites and nerd discussions, and his first date is narrated by color commentators. After all this, he clicks with a girl, and then, just last week, he ended the comic. Gah! It’s still a great little story, and he didn’t fade at all toward the end, but it seems like it ended rather abruptly. More, Wes, more!
Americus: I found the first few chapters of this comic to be a tad heavy-handed. The story follows two boys who have just graduated from middle school; both are huge fans of a fantasy novel series, but when the mother of one of them finds out about it, she destroys the book and thunders down to the library to complain that her son is being taught witchcraft. While I realize there are people out there who burned Harry Potter books, the mother’s behavior struck me as being too extreme to be believable. The current chapter has a much lighter touch, though, as the other boy goes to a family party and an older cousin turns him on to some awesome (fictional) music. The creators really caught the nuances this time, and I’m liking the story a lot more.
Kitty Hawk: Sigh. I really liked this webcomic about a female aviator in the 1930s, and the creators had a pretty solid story going, and then they just stopped. As I mentioned in my column on webcomics that fade away, the last episode went up in September 2009 and the creators promised more in January. Well, it’s December and there have been no updates, which is very disappointing; I hope the creators are doing something equally awesome that I just don’t know about.