Category Archives: steampunk 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.
“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.)
Through its relatively short lifespan as a genre, webcomics have proved they can do things just as good as any other form of media can. They can make you laugh. They can make you cry. They can make you poo your pants when you get a surprise animation of a creepy anime zombie girl. They can make you find the goodness in humanity through the flooded streets of New Orleans, and they can make you feel the frustration of trying to find a loved one in Iran.
And, yes, webcomics can teach. Moreso, I suspect, than conventional print comics can. There are a lot of webcomic creators out there — such as Kate Beaton and Randall Munroe — that actually respect the intelligence of their readers. They’ll give you a set up using an obscure historical figure or an advanced calculus mathematical equation and trust that you’ll laugh even if you don’t get it at first, and that you’ll do more research if the subject piqued your interest.
Take, for example, Sydney Padua’s 2D Goggles (subtitled The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage), a webcomic about two historical characters that I hadn’t thought about since my high school BASIC programming class.
Greg Rucka is the sort of comic book creator who’s developed quite a reputation for writing strong female characters. I mean, real strong female characters. Not the unrepentant cheesecake masquerading as feminism that Kate Beaton famously mocked that studios like Top Cow have exploited to the extent that you’re actually more embarrassed reading their comics in public than if you were reading, say, Maxim.
Rucka, though, is the real deal. He was at the helm for the controversial launch of the new Batwoman, Kate Kane, perhaps the first prominent lesbian superheroine with her own title. He turned Batman supporting character, Rene Montoya, into the mysterious, faceless Question, which is about as far from the girls-in-swimsuits look that most superheroines sport. He’s been given writing duties on other notably headstrong female characters like Elektra and Wonder Woman.
His most famous independent work is Whiteout, which starred a female Deputy US Marshall. In 2009, was turned into a movie starring Kate Beckingsale. Another independent series, Queen & Country, centers around a female secret operative who goes no dangerous missions. For his efforts, he’s won 4 Eisner Awards, 1 Harvey Award, and 1 GLAAD Media Award.
Last year, alongside artist Rick Burchett (a fellow Eisner Award winner for his collaboration with Paul Dini and Ty Templeton on The Batman and Robin Adventures), Mr. Rucka also launched his won webcomic: Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether.
Some of my ideas for this site never pan out. A few weeks back, I had played around with doing a theme week. Specifically it was going to be Girl Power Week. (Motto: “Girls rule, boys drool!” Eh heh heh … so true.) A marathon session, reviewing webcomics with sassy, brassy ladies in the lead role! I even had a logo designed and an intro paragraph written (which can be found in The Black Cherry Bombshells review. OK, so it took me all of 3 minutes from googling “gurren lagann yoko” to slapping the logo together in photoshop. But still!
But, you know, actually finding the time to read webcomics and write about them takes forever. I finished about two-thirds of Girl Power Week: along with The Black Cherry Bombshells, I also finished the Earthsong review. But the third comic was too long to do properly. And now here we are, almost a month later.
More than one Webcomic Overlook reader has enthusiastically requested that I take a look at this comic. It’s one of the few comics set in the steampunk framework and does it right. It’s been nominated for Hugo Awards and Eisner Awards, and has won WCCAs and Squiddy Awards (whatever the hell that is). It’s the comic about “Adventure! Romance! Mad Science!”
Yup, you guessed it. The Webcomic Overlook finally reviews the eminent, notable, and prestigious Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio. The webcomic takes a lot of surprise twists and turns, so I’ll try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. However, there will be some revelations (minor ones, I hope), so proceed reading this review at your own risk.