Category Archives: adventure webcomic
I’ve read somewhere — perhaps on a Snapple cap — that to really put together a good satire, you sorta have to be half in love with material you’re making fun of. Makes sense. If you lack the in-depth knowledge it takes to be a fan, jokes can come off as fairly limp and groanworthy. Like, say, The Big Bang Theory‘s idea of what nerd culture is like.
Harry Potter is one of those properties that has so many odd details that it’s permanently ripe for parody. Now, I’m not a Harry Potter fanatic. I’ve yet to read the last two books, mainly because I was so disappointed by Ms. Rowlings’ awful writing in Order of the Phoenix. However, I’m knowledgeable enough about the world of Hogwarts to enjoy a good Potter parody.
Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, for example, is one of my favorite recent fantasy books, and at its core it’s a Harry Potter parody. Imagine the Harry Potter world, only the teenagers populating it more closely resemble the ones you see hanging around, say, Reddit: nihilistic and self-destructive and witheringly snarky… but at the core, really very scared. Grossman used the Potter foundation to create another fully self-realized fantasy world.
Harry Potter parody fiction lives on in webcomics as well with Wizard School, written by Kevin Kneupper and illustrated by Robert Rath. It’s not as good as The Magicians. Mainly because I have five words for you that should send chills down your very spine:
Rayne Summers IS Harry Potter.
“Aeria” is pretty unfortunate name for a fantasy realm. I doesn’t sound too bad at first. It’s got the “aerie” in the name, which is the nest of a hawk, eagle, falcon or other bird of prey. There’s an implication of loftiness and grim (some would say hawkish) determination. Since the world of Aeria is a bunch of islands defying laws of nature and physics by floating in the empty confines of space while somehow retaining an atmosphere, then it’s sort of appropriate, right?
It also sounds like “aria”, the musical composition made popular by Puccini, Mozart, and Bizet. It puts you in the mood for some classical music, an appropriate accompaniment when you’re traipsing around a fantasy world with a team consisting of a mage, a paladin, a thief, and a ranger.
And yet … it feels a tad unimaginative. I’m going to blame it on the fact that “Aeria” also sounds exactly like “area.” “Well, we’re going to start off in north area and journey down to middle area. We’re then going to go to west area so we can catch a ship heading over the sea of area until we reach generic brand islands.”
It’s middle of the read, which incidentally is also how I feel about this comic. Aeria is the title of the land and the name of the manga-style comic written by Fabian Rastorfer, illustrated by Songwut Ouppakarndee, and assisted by Kridsana Rattananen and Tim Harding. The comic is something of an international production. Mr. Rastorfer is from Switzerland (though studying in New York), and Mssrs. Ouppakarndee and Rattananen are from Bangkok, Thailand.
(It’s also alternately known as The Tale of Aeria in the browser header, but since the banner truncates it to the single word title, I’m just gonna go with that.)
Some of you may remember comic book artist Travis Charest from WildCATs. I actually associate him with an earlier work, DC Comics’ temporary replacement for the Green Lanterns: Darkstars. One of these days, though, we may remember him for his webcomic, Spacegirl. Images burst with high adventure and Flash-Gordon-esque spacecraft as Spacegirl swashbuckles her way through the galaxy. it’s also delightfully retro: panels filled with bombastic expository boxes would feel right at home alongside the works of Alex Raymond, Hal Foster, and Milton Caniff. I gotta say, I’m excited for the inevitable Spacegirl Adventure Hour Radio Serial (sponsored by Lux Soap).
Stories of disenfranchised youth are all the rage these days. None strikes to the heart as much as the story of a young greaser named Ponyboy. (I should probably make this clear in this day and age that he’s not named “Ponyboy” because he’s way into My Little Ponies.) The rich kids are known as the Socs — short for Socials. Early in the story, Ponyboy gets attacked. This bings to a head a class struggle set against a dusty Oklahoma setting. After a tragic incident occurs, Ponyboy soon finds himself many miles from home, trying to sort things out and in the processes becoming wiser than when he started.
Wait — what? It’s a different Outsider? …. With no “s”?
OK, look. Time out. Obviously I didn’t really mistake the infamous S.E. Hinton novel — whose movie adaptation launched the careers of Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, and Diane Lane — for today’s reviewed webcomic. I mean, geez, this isn’t Young Adult Novel Overlook. To tell you the truth, though, Jim Francis’ Outsider is not that much different. Just substitute Ponyboy for Alexander Jardin, the Socs and the Greasers with the warring Loroi and Umiak, and Oklahoma for outerspace. It’s fairly easy to confuse, admittedly, so here’s the big difference. The Outsiders is the one you were forced to read in junior high. Outsider — no “s” — has alien space babes.
There should be no question which one here is the superior product.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have some very sad news: I’m cancelling Mars Week. I knw you were looking forward to the parades with a giant Marvin the Martian balloons, a public reading of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, the contest to think up with a better Martian rover name than “Curiosity,” and free Mars Bars for the kids.
But I only have myself to blame, really. Earlier this week, I thought to myself: “Self, why don’t you finally review that other Mars-themed comic? Uh, what was it called? Red’s Planet?” It was a full-proof plan… until I reached the end of Red’s Planet and realized it had nothing to do with THE Red Planet. Fortunately, though, I have no regrets reading Eddie Pittman’s Red’s Planet. I’ll come right out and say it: it’s the most delightful webcomic you’ll ever read about Mars that will turn out to be not about that at all.
Recently, I’ve been reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars, a fairly methodical (yet still enjoyable) novel about the colonization of Mars. The main theme that emerged throughout seems to be that Mars sorta transforms its inhabitants into adverserial jerks. It’s not the only book to come to the same conclusion. Edward Rice Burroughs’ Princess of Mars is populated by a bunch of irascible aliens. The aliens from Mars Attacks! are murderous pranksters. And so on and so forth.
I think much of that characterization is taken from the nature of the planet itself. It’s defined by the color red — which is the color of blood, passion, and madness. It’s dusty and desolate, reminding us of the hardscrabble life of the Wild West. And it’s named after the Roman God of War. Violence seems to be the logical conclusion. So it is in the world of Dave Pauwels and Nicolas R. Giacondino’s Free Mars, where the red planet seems to be in a permanent state of debauchery (NSFW) and revolution.
Imagine you were in charge of a roller derby team. “What?” you say. “I came here for webcomics! What is this… the Roller Derby Overlook?” But just bear with me for a second. Imagine you were designing the mascot. What would it look like?
The character will pretty much have to be a devil. It’s an inversion of the traditional goody-two-shoes type that, I don’t know, shop at malls and go into marketing. It’s a sign of rebellion. Feistiness. Grrrrrrllll power. Besides, who’s ever heard of a roller derby team without a devil as a mascot? That would be ludicrous. That’s like designing an NBA logo without a basketball in it. So we start with a devil, preferably a shapely female to show that world that your team is both sexy and oh-so-dirty.
But… shoot… everybody has a sexy devil as their logo! How do I distinguish my mascot from every other mascot out there? Well, if the team’s called, say, the “Rat City Mavericks,” then the answer is simple: put some cowboy gear all up on that hottie! But it’s gotta be formfitting, lest you diminish the sexiness of it.
In the end, you would have a character that looked a lot like Kit, the protagonist of Matt Speroni’s The Dreadful.
Imagine a story centered around a nomadic tribe. They voyage the plains, perhaps resembling the African savannah. They live a sort of insular lifestyle, dealing with issues on a small, community-based level. What do we do when the herd we’ve been tracking suddenly moves? How do we deal with conflicts with neighboring tribes. And so on and so forth.
Suddenly, though, this tribe comes across a huge Empire that has ambitions for expansion. The Roman Empire, lets say. One of the people in that tribe is suddenly conscripted into the service of the Empire, and must now deal with a frightening new world, with new moral standards, a stratified class structure, and people who don’t look very favorably upon a simple tribesperson from the plains.
The set-up is pure Joseph Campbell and is a very popular one to use in historical or fantasy fiction. It sounds a lot like Conan the Barbarian, in fact. But … what if Conan was a girl? … OK, that’s just Red Sonja. BUT … what if Red Sonja was also a salamander creature?
While you’ve still got a way to go before this analogy starts making any sense, your starting to get close to Evan Dahm’s lastest incursion into the Overside: a little webcomic about a female, sword-wielding, salamander creature named Vattu.