Category Archives: adventure webcomic
Out of the Eisner-nominated titles, Ben Towle’s Oyster War is probably the one we’d most conventionally associate with the term “webcomic.” By that, I mostly mean the layout. This Will All Hurt is a metaphysical zombie comic where all the pages of the chapter are laid out vertically. Bandette is available as a digital comic on Comixology, the preferred format for the big piracy-averse publishers and arguably not really a webomic. Our Bloodstained Roof is a short story (most webcomics have runs longer than four installments), and Ant Comic is a bizarre little creature that looks like it would be more at home in the pages of an alternative magazine.
Oyster War, on the other hand, is a webcomic webcomic. Handy navigational buttons at the bottom of the page, familiar layout with a snazzy title header and sidebars, and a sensible pace of one page per post. It’s about as standard-looking as you can get on the no-frills WordPress format. There’s benefits to trying something new — in fact, it could be argued that because they’re more experimental, that they’re more deserving of award attention.
Oyster War shouldn’t dismissed, though. Mainly because it seems to have earned Eisner consideration on the merits of it being good.
When I reviewed Ant Comic, I figured — perhaps prematurely — that I’d run across this entry’s “weird” nominee. Predecessors include Dash Shaw’s Bodyworld and Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo. You know, the ones that seemed like they were written after the creator huffed a ton of paint?
It turns out that I was partially right. While Ant Comic is, in fact, realy weird, I could at least figure out was was going on for the most part. The same can’t be said of all the Eisner nominees. For instance, I have a hard time making heads or tails of Farel Dalrymple’s It Will All Hurt.
The tour of Eisner-nominated titles for Best Digital Comic continues with Bandette, by writer Paul Tobin and his wife, artist Colleen Coover. Best Digital Comic is not, incidentally, the only award associated with Bandette. Ms. Coover is also a nominee for the Best Inker/Penciller Award. Fantastic news, as I am — above all — easily swayed by pretty pictures. Talk about setting me up with ridiculously high expectations!
Bandette may also be the first nominee that isn’t a “webcomic”, per se. The comic falls on the “digital comic” side of things. Bandette is downloadable through Comixology, which means that you gotta shell out a dollar an issue. Being not made of money (or a measly $3, which I then turned around and reinvested in the latest issue of IDW’s Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye), I did this review based on the first issue (which is currently free) and on the three page previews of the subsequent issues.
Some time ago, I thought about revisiting webcomics that I’d already reviewed, since I was getting an increasing amount of email on it. Girl Genius. Spinnerette. Evil Diva. But I knew I couldn’t move forward unless I revisited this particular sore point.
The last time I reviewed Sluggy Freelance, I concluded it with the following:
(Part Two coming … in about two years. Seriously, when the hell is that damn space moose going to shut uuuuuuppppppppppp?!?!??!)
That was a joke. I was actually planning on reviewing the remaining comic in a couple month’s time. If you recall, I’d given my initial review of Sluggy Freelance a positive score. However, Ocean’s Unmoving II is when I decided I could go no further. Everything had gotten so bogged down by that point. I was perfectly, PERFECTLY happy to drop Sluggy Freelance and never, ever have to look at it ever again. Life was too short to have to deal with the talking space moose over again.
Well, it’s two years later. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecies.
So here we go! The follow up review that dozens of readers asked for! Pete Abrams’ Sluggy Freelance — this time, covering the era in between “Oceans Unmoving” and “Oceans Unmoving II”, which spans from between 2005 to 2006. It inspires very polarizing opinions. Mention “Oceans Unmoving” and you will inspire either wistful remembrance or deep seated loathing. Admittedly, I’ve run across more the latter. “Dear Lord, Oceans Unmoving isn’t working”, says Websnark’s Eric Burns-White. “Somewhere around Oceans Unmoving II, I started forgetting to tune in weekly”, says Jackson Ferrell. But there are also some blog posts that I’ve run across that Oceans Unmoving is actually well structured, and overall a better re-read than the previous story (that I liked) where Torg was battling demons in another dimension.
Let’s dig in, shall we?
Listen: Bun Bun has come unstuck in time.
Daniel Lieske’s The Wormworld Saga is probably going to get a proper review sometime in the future. But man, I just wanted to bring it up because it’s probably the best looking webcomic I’ve seen to use the infinite canvas in quite some time. It’s fairly simple: it’s just an up and down thing. However, panels blend seamlessly to the next as you keep scrolling downwards. The story itself is sort of a modern day Alice In Wonderland, and the visuals get more and more incredible the further you get into the story. Though, truth be told, I was already plenty impressed by the rendition of a red Volkswagen in the very first chapter.
After man first set foot on the moon, young kids dreamed of voyaging to other planets. After all, if human beings can put their footprints on soil not of this earth, how hard can it be to, say, go to Mars? As it turns out… very hard. Universe Today estimates that the journey would take 250 days. And that’s the nearest planet. How long is it going to take to get to the moons of Jupiter? To the rings of Saturn? Heck, are we even going to get out of the solar system?
So we resign ourselves to the fate that most deep space exploration is going to have to be conducted by robots and computers. Like Voyager 2 and it’s ground breaking tour through the outer planets. Or Mars rover Curiosity, journeying the red planet to unearth new scientific discoveries. Is it as thrilling as Neil Armstrong hopping off a lunar lander? Maybe not. At the same time, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a pang of empathy when the Spirit rover got stuck in sand. Sure, it was just a piece of machinery. And yet, it had sort of anthropomorphized into a poor little explorer stuck on a weird alien world.
James Anderson’s Ellie on Planet X is the story of one such space probe. this one, though, is a whole lot more adorable than anything assembled by NASA. Well, maybe except for Sojourner. That one was pretty darned cute.
One of the most mockable aspects of anime is when the characters have a big brother/little relationship when the two characters are not actually related. (And, let’s face it, sometimes when they are.) There’s usually a sizable age difference. The girl will be barely into her teens, and the guy will be college age or older. The girl is typically portrayed as somewhat infantile, especially when mewling something along the lines of “onneeeeeiiiiisaaaannnn!” (Alternately, “neeeesannnnnnn!”) The guy, on the other hand, is some aloof, emotionally distant dude who appends the heroine’s name with “-chan.” While this is typically portrayed as sibling closeness, there’s a little bit of creepiness in the subtext of how that same closeness can easily translate into something more serious. (And it can get really weird when it actually does happen.)
In Strays by Samantha Whitten and Stacey Pefferkorn, we’re introduced to a young 12-year-old girl named Meela. She’s homeless and trying to survive in the big outdoors by herself. Suddenly, a fight breaks down nearby, which destroys her rickety lean-to. She meets the 28-year-old Feral. Feral, while being a silent badass, takes some pity on Meela and decides to let her tag along.
So many alarms were going off in my head.
So many alarms.
(Incidentally, I was writing this on the day before Easter — a huge shopping day, due to the many sales at the mall — while sitting at a window facing an American Girl doll store, which is abundantly populated by many tiny girls. I imagined a terrible scenario where someone called security, and they confiscated my laptop which currently has the first paragraph written up without any further context. I think that chances were high that I would’ve had to register my name on a list of not very nice people. These are the sorts of sacrifices I make for you, dear readers. Blogging is more dangerous than it sounds.)
At some point, I’m going to have to make peace with the fact that exposition is a very hard thing to do in high fantasy comics. It’s more natural in books, where characters can stop at the ruins of an ancient kingdom, then ponder the long elaborate history of Fantasy Magic Land while gathered around the fire eating roast oliphant. It’s actually pretty natural in video games, too. If you ever want to go more in depth into a world’s history, you can head over to the nearest abandoned dungeon which happens to have a fully stocked library regaling the history of Middle Landia.
Elaborating the history of a fantasy land in webcomic form, though, is more difficult. Sure, you can banish all the relevant stuff in a separate tab, but most of the time it functions in the same way an appendix works for a novel: it’s more or less ignored except for the diehards. If you try to do it the same way as the novels and have the characters spout exposition every time they see something culturally significant, it can seriously halter the pace of what is a visual medium. Out of webcomics, Order of Tales struck the balance between plot and exposition the best. The main character was a scribe, which gave the story a ready made excuse to switch to prose in order to flesh out the world’s background story.
In most webcomics, though, attempts to explain the backstory come off as rather forced. This is, unfortunately, what happens in Gaia, a comic by Sandra and Woo creators Oliver Knörzer (from Germany) and Powree (from Indonesia).