Webcomics Archives - Page 2 of 7 - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Note: This contains spoilers for Unsounded: Chapter 9, “Wherein Family Ties Chafe the Throat.”
In a way, the recurring theme of Ashley Cope’s Unsounded is breaking ties.
The most obvious example of this is the zombie Duane, who was ripped from his old human life when he and his daughter were murdered by an invading force. Now doomed to live his existence as one of the walking dead, he is bound to his young companion Sette because of his compassion for children. He is thrust from his noble position and his loving family, and becomes a shambling servant of a criminal family.
Star Trek never dies, it just flies into a wormhole made by red matter, and emerges with hot new actors and lens flares. No matter how many times the series gets rebooted, though, the Roddenberry original will always be with us.
The aesthetic of the original series will always hold a special place in the hearts of many fans. Its appeal is two-fold: It taps into the optimistic side of science fiction, where the peoples of Earth can set aside their differences to voyage to distance stars. It’s also a great peek into 1960s mod fashion, with miniskirts, beehive hairdos and primary colors everywhere. Even as early as The Next Generation, a lot of that aesthetic appeal was stripped away to create a bridge that can charitably be described as the lobby at a LensCrafters.
Are journal webcomics more personal than, say, a typical blog? Both involve a certain level of voyeurism. It’s not unwelcome, as the writer put a not-insignificant amount of effort chronicling their lives to the public, filtering moments to a key handful of anecdotes that hopefully someone, somewhere finds relatable or amusing. We get the sense of his or her speech patterns, experiencing what it would be like if we talked to the person.
There’s an extra level of effort and intimacy when the writer is also drawing about her life. It’s almost like seeing the world through her eyes: You see them how they see themselves, other people, and the world around them. We see firsthand what the artist finds amusing or daunting.
It’s my experience that there are some comics you shouldn’t be reading past midnight on the flickering glow of your tablet. You’re never more vulnerable than in that moment when the veil between reality and dreams are the most thin. As you drift off, strange images fill your mind, only intensifying to heart-palpitating levels when, say, your desktop computer suddenly powers on and wakes up from sleep mode for no reason. It’s moments like this when you realize perhaps you really should have reviewed Wuffle: The Big Nice Wolf instead.
Funny thing is that despite its horror trappings, Kris Straub’s Broodhollow doesn’t look like the sort of webcomic that could scare a fly. It’s more quirky than anything: An encyclopedia salesman finds himself living in a town where the locals have silly traditions. Characters are rendered in that recognizable Straub style, where noseless people sorta look like hedgehogs. I was a little ambivalent toward the comic after its first chapter; things pick up considerably in Chapter 2, though, with the introduction of a murder mystery.
E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, runs this week, and video game news sites and fans have been poring over every announcement with the delicacy of a sledgehammer. One thing that has become clear: The so-called “console wars” is still on. Devotees line up behind their game system of choice to cheer or lambast the latest news. That was most apparent last year during the unveiling of Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation consoles, when the wild rhetoric between console partisans was indistinguishable from political rallies.
Webcomics have a long history with video games, with one webcomic (Penny Arcade) launching a popular convention circuit centered on gamers. Anthropomorphizing game consoles is hardly new. Few, though, have taken the concept as far and as creatively as Tyler Rhodes’ Castle Vidcons.
Cartoonist Emily Carroll, who has entertained (and unnerved) with such haunting webcomics as “His Face All Red,” “Margot’s Room” and “Out of Skin,” is back with another chilling tale called “The Hole the Fox Did Make.” I won’t say anything to spoil the story, except to say that it includes those dark fairy-tale elements you probably already love about her work.
It’s been a particularly good year professionally for Carroll, who won both the Cartoonist Studio Prize and a Doug Wright Award. The first print collection of her work, Through the Woods, will be released next month by McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.
Dustin Weaver is best known for his work on such Marvel titles as Infinity, Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., but he’s also been busy creating his own space epic that most likely didn’t know existed: Amnia Cycle is a longform story that follows a space pilot named Tara and a bizarre alien life form named Amina. Weaver has drawn, and published online, three full issues of Amnia Cycle with plans to begin serializing the fourth “chapter” later this month.
Although Weaver has been seen primarily as a cover artist since the end of Infinity, that will change later this year with Marvel’s newly announced Edge of Spider-Verse series, which he’ll both write and draw. Senior Editor Nick Lowe told Comic Book Resources last week that Weaver’s work on Amnia Cycle helped secure him the writing gig.
Escapism gets a bad rap in comics. Are they adolescent escapist fantasies? Well, yeah. Of course many of them are. There are exceptions, sure, but who doesn’t want to imagine themselves as the super-strong dude who flies around and saves the day, or the guy who dresses up as a bat with the slick car and the grappling hook? What I don’t get is why people who raise this criticism often see this as a bad thing.
Set two million years ago, as a great ice ages grips Earth, the adventure is the story of the first human to leave Africa.
You’d imagine that professional wrestling would be a natural fit for comics. The characters and storylines are larger than life. Undead cowboys! Evil clowns! Heroes carrying two-by-fours against a red, white and blue backdrop! Masked, underdog heroes who can fly around the ring like they have the proportional agility of a spider! Both even went through similar phases in the ’90s, with superstars taking on grim-and-gritty personae while indies made a mark with strange, unconventional ideas. So how come wrestling comics aren’t quite so prominent?
Award-winning cartoonist Hope Larson (Mercury, A Wrinkle in Time) has debuted a new webcomic, Solo, which won’t be updated on a regular schedule. Rather, she explains, “I’ll be drawing the pages and slapping them up online the moment the ink’s dry, raw and fresh and full of mistakes. And full of swear words — the subject matter is fairly tame, but it’s not a kids’ comic.”
Larson adds on Twitter, “I don’t have an RSS feed and you can’t make me. Maybe I want people to forget about my comic for 6 months and stumble back to a whole bunch of pages. Or NEVER stumble back.”
Resources are precious when you’re a webcomic creator, and nothing is more precious than time — get pulled off on anything, and there’s an almost 100 percent chance the comic’s going on hiatus. Big publishers have the luxury of bringing in fill-in writers and artists from a deep talent pool; webcomics, not so much.
Homestuck is a case study in a webcomic getting too popular. Creator Andrew Hussie ran an enormously successful Kickstarter for an adventure game version, raising a mind-boggling $2.4 million by October 2012. Work on the game began in earnest, but unfortunately, Hussie is only one person, and he wasn’t going to neglect the project that many people put their hard-earned money into. From an update on January 2014: “Since pausing, basically all I have been doing is writing. No drawing or animation yet. Writing, writing, writing. Writing for Homestuck, and writing for the adventure game. More time has been allocated to the latter. The game is a big, big project. Let’s not kid ourselves here. It’s like this whole new major story and everything, fueled by millions of dollars. That’s a very different situation from Homestuck, which is usually fueled by approximately zero dollars.”
Three Panel Soul was created by Matthew Boyd and Ian McConville, the same team behind the classic webcomic Mac Hall, which ended in 2006. It’s a natural transition, as Mac Hall was about a group of slackers getting through college, and Three Panel Soul is about the life after. The somewhat-autobiographical slice-of-life webcomic ruminates on careers in the software industry, families, and soul-crushing existential crises.
The structure follows the limits of its title: Every strip is three panels, no more, no less. Its artwork is dominated by shadows: Three Panel Soul is heavy on the inks (there are exceptions, and they’re typically spectacularly rendered and exclusive to video game gags). The use of negative space gives the webcomic a contemplative quality, reflective of the isolation of the soul. Characters sometimes seem tiny and insignificant when they’re drawn against the vast emptiness around them. It’s as if Boyd and McConville feel the suffocating grip of a life where you’re too old to change but too young to be completely obsolete.
Aging video game webcomics are fascinating, as tastes and opinions change as the creator gets older. Perhaps with the pressures of work and family, he or she doesn’t have the luxury of investing so much time into playing all the latest releases. The writer, then, needs to find a new angle to keep things interesting. For instance, Tim Buckley of Ctrl+Alt+Del made waves some time ago by eliminating his main cast and focusing on color-coded players who’d only appeared in gag strips.
Debuting in 2006, Scott DeWitt’s Fanboys is one of the many webcomics that seemed to appear in the wake of the explosive popularity of Penny Arcade. The setup is familiar: two guys and a girl sitting on a couch with controllers clutched in their hands. Each character was even a hardcore fan of a specific console; the childlike Lemmy played Nintendo, the grouchy Paul played Playstation, and the cheerful (yet aggressively competitive) Sylvia preferred Xbox. The three even exclusively wore clothes of their gaming system … which was the chief defining point of their characterizations. This was a Penny Arcade clone, after all, which means random humor, violence and a rude disrespect for authority.
When the webcomic reality show Strip Search ran last year, Abby Howard emerged as one of my favorites. As the youngest of the group, she had the least experience out of any of the contestants (eventual winner Katie Rice, for example, had worked for years in animation.) She was quite the character, though: When asked if she would consider taxidermy, Howard admitted she’d been interested in the subject for a while. She had some good jabs at Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins’ expense in the final episode, regarding how they were trying to paint her as a villain in line with reality-show tropes. It was my favorite moment in the series.
In the finals, Howard drew with a more traditional style than her competitors. The Last Halloween was rendered in heavy black and white, with macabre style reminiscent of Edward Gorey and Jhonen Vasquez. Krahulik and Holkins remarked on the designs of her creatures and her great grasp of anatomy — honed, perhaps, by her experience illustrating college textbooks.