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#Webcomic 9/23

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It’s been a while since we did a #Webcomic, right? No excuses, but between teaching, making comics, and writing over at Haunted MTL I’ve not had time to put together some news. I decided, though, that I wanted to mix things up a bit this go-around, so I threw out a general call on Twitter.

So, I’ll be sharing five webcomics pulled from the responses and, if you’re reading this and you do a webcomic, you can Tweet me any time with your comic and let me know you want me to share it. Standing offer going forward. Keep me posting.

Anyway, the five comics this week are…

The Chevalier

The Chevalier is a supernatural romance comic that you can find on Webtoon. It is written and illustrated by the talented Lady Arrowsmith.

The comic is described on Webtoon as:

The High School football coach, school nurse and their rag tag team of students fight strange demons that have taken over their small town. HORROR – ROMANCE – DRAMA

As for the initial impressions on my end? The art is solid though a little minimal at times. The usage of pre-rendered references is a bit obvious at times, such as the buildings, and lacks some of the more charming imperfections of the “non-referenced” backgrounds. I put “non-referenced” in quotes because I do not know the process of the artist, but the rougher the background and the less straight lines there are the better it looks to me. They have more character and feel a little less plain. The character illustrations are well done, evoking manga but not diving into some of the more cliched visual tropes. I mean, there are some, but nothing too out of character for what should be a supernatural drama.

Tory is our protagonist who finds herself involved in the world of the supernatural.

As for the writing, well, I will be honest, romance is rarely a primary element of the comics I read. It may be a present element, maybe even key, but if a comic is described as a romance comic I’m already kind of half tuned out. It’s just how I am wired, I suppose. That being said, The Chevalier did enough to keep me interested in the story despite my bias. I think the pacing early on is a bit rough, but overall the story did keep me engaged. There is enough weirdness and mystery present that I would be happy to continue reading to seek more answers. All in all, good work.

If you’re down for supernaturally tinged romance then you should get something out of The Chevalier.

You can start reading from the beginning by clicking right here.

Key to the Future’s Fate

Key to the Future’s Fate is a science fiction comedy by Gage Lippolt. Specifically, it’s described as “solarpunk” which is dope as hell. It’s also got furries and furries are friends.

The comic is described on the about page as:

Key to the Future’s Fate is an all-ages solarpunk comedy adventure comic. It follows an arrogant teenager who gets brought to the future by two groups he will eventually create. They’re seeking a mysterious key he lost in his time… but they’re pretty tight-lipped about why they want it…

The very basic idea of KttFF is something I’ve had in mind since roughly 2009, and is technically a direct sequel to my previous comic series, Cat Comixz. However, you do NOT have to read it to understand this; Key to the Future’s Fate is deliberately written as a standalone story.

Updates on Thursdays!

So, full disclosure: I am a friend and fan of the comic, so instead of first-impressions I am basically just gonna tell you to read the damn comic.

The art has developed a bit since the first pages, particularly after the switch to digital tools. That being said, I do feel a bit nostalgic for the old paper days. I think the character designs while pretty simple are effective. They are definitely shape driven and as Gage refines his work further I think a really fun art style will emerge.

Luca and Leon have a chat about technology.

The strength of the comic lies in the writing. Gage has crafted compelling characters and I absolutely adore the solarpunk setting. So many sci-fi settings are grim and jaded, whereas Gage is building a lighter world and fusing science and nature in fun ways. I find all the characters to have distinct personalities and voices, and their interactions make for some laughs and some drama that isn’t heavy-handed. What more could you want?

So, please consider giving Key to the Future’s Fate a read from the beginning.

Leif & Thorn

Leif & Thorn is a queer fantasy comedy by Erin Ptah. The about page pitches it as such:

A sparkly queer bilingual fantasy comedy. Featuring trauma recovery, slow-burn romance, cross-cultural communication, and baby unicorns.

In the nation of Ceannis, a prophecy has been revealed. Dragonslaying hero Thorn Estragon and his team of loyal knights must assume the solemn duty of…standing guard outside a foreign embassy. And that’ll save the world. Or something. It’s not clear.

Leif is a gardener at the embassy, serving his native Sønheim in order to pay off a mysterious debt. Thorn doesn’t speak Leif’s language too well when they first meet — but he’s about to find a lot of reasons to learn.

They’re the heart of an increasingly-broad ensemble of characters, all facing their own struggles to communicate across cultural boundaries, deal with traumas and scars, use magic for practical solutions, and pick the perfect song for karaoke night.

Updates seven days a week: six strips, plus Saturday bonus art.

That update schedule is insane and super commendable. I struggle just to get a single page out there sometimes. Damn. The series is currently on its fifth volume and is typically formatted like a comic strip, giving readers about 4 panels an update. It’s an interesting system that keeps you clicking.

Visually, Leif & Thorn is good. Character designs are distinct, there is a manga-influence, and the latest pages show that the comic has really grown. I also think the inking is solid, but I do wish some weight was put into the lines. You’ll see the more sweeping lines have breaks or bumps instead of a continuous curve. Line weight would also add a little more dimension to the figures as well. My other concern is that the current shading style can feel a bit overpowering, as the shadows feel overly saturated on very pale characters. These are my only major quibbles with the art, other than the fact I wish the strips were published in a slightly larger size. The art is good. I’d love to get a good look at it.

This early comic is already well-illustrated, but it also feels a little cramped.

The writing as a whole is solid. I do think that the comic might be a little too broken up for its own good, but again, the short updates make it a quick daily read and are the best analog to a “page-turner” I have seen in the webcomic format. It just might be there are too many pages to turn sometimes. That being said, the characters are written well and the world Prah has created is sufficiently developed. I am not really a romance person but there is enough surrounding the romance where I can find myself intrigued by the comic as a whole.

If you want to read Leif & Thorn I’d suggest starting from the beginning.

Whispers of the Past

Whispers of the Past is a Fantasy/Romance/Drama comic by Crona J. that can be read on Webtoons. The comic updates weekly, on Thursdays. AS for the author’s pitch:

When a foreigner with amnesia washes up on the shore, a young woman decides to help him solve the mystery of his dreams, only to realize that his nightmares are coming to confront him.

That’s actually a very efficient logline for the whole series. Nice, to the point, but also not giving much away beyond the general mood of the comic. Well done.

The art is solid. I appreciate the more impressionistic approach to painting here, and while it works extremely well for the backgrounds, the character art could be defined a little bit more. That’s not to say the character art isn’t good, it’s just that sometime features can be lost to the stroke of the paintbrush and sometimes they feel a little flat against the more loosely painted backgrounds.

The painting is lovely, but some features, such as the sleeves, may be less defined.

The writing is fine. It is a romance comic, which is clearly not my cup of tea, but nothing about the writing stands out as particularly problematic beyond the odd pacing that comes with the scrolling format. That is mostly on the Webtoons format, though, not Crona. The story is teasing out revelations and background information at an appropriate rate as well, so fans of romance comics should enjoy this comic quite a bit. It’s a good looking comic about good looking people with love on the way and some hidden depths being revealed.

You can read Whispers of the Past from the beginning, right here.

Dust Bunny Mafia

Dust Bunny Mafia is a mob-humor comic strip created by Bret Juliano. It looks to update about twice a week. It’s described as such:

Dust bunnies usually are swept under the rug or found lurking under beds, but what do dust bunnies do all day? The Dust Bunny Mafia Comic explores the inner workings of and events relating to the lives of several lovable but dangerous dust bunnies. The Dust Bunny Mafia was formed directly after Leo worked his way to the top of the family. Once he earned the title, his allies got their restitution as esteemed members in his mafia family.

It’s a cute blend of concepts and as someone who enjoys mafia history, I’m already pretty much on board.

The comic is a fairly simply illustrated comic strip. It’s a little flat and geometric at times, especially regarding the backgrounds, but it ultimately works. The visuals here are mostly a vehicle for written jokes, and that’s fine for some comics, like Dust Bunny Mafia. The dust bunnies themselves are pretty cute and different enough visually that they become distinct characters. I’d love to see the bunnies drawn by hand and maybe have their bodies squash and stretch a bit to convey their emotions. This becomes a little more necessary as recent comics have been introducing other animals as gangsters and the bunnies begin to stand out.

The writing is the main appeal of the comic, crafting cute little chucklers and groaners themed around the tropes and history of organized crime and some of those outsized personalities. Not every joke lands, but I’d say that about my own work. As a whole though, I enjoyed reading from strip to strip. One bonus is that the recent strips have also included little snippets of the history of organized crime that each strip is referencing. It’s a nice bonus for each update. I do quibble a bit about the mixture of modern technology and the old-time crime tropes and characterizations a bit, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

Dust Bunny Mafia is a comic you can jump into pretty much immediately with the latest update, but we’re establishing a pattern, here, so start from the beginning.

I will not say that this is the future of #Webcomic going forward, but I think I’d like to mix installments like this in every once in a while. What did you think?