Things We Like to See and Do on the Interwebs
I never know what Subnormality
is going to do from week to week. It's got that sort of Far Side unpredictability to it, mixed with the ability to pull ideas from some dark cauldron of comic genius that I dare not gaze into too long. Every episode I grumble to myself, "I wish I wrote that," and then grind my teeth under a blanket somewhere. Great stuff.
I have only known of this comic for a few days as of the writing of this, so I'm reporting with the fervency of Initial Enthusiasm, which is never entirely wise, but I can't help myself. It is just so... damn... good. I don't get jealous too easily, but this comic - the art is so lively that you could get away with erasing the word balloons entirely and still have a fantastic comic experience, but then paired WITH the words... Babbage's positivistic bombast mixed with Lovelace's poetry-hating efficiency - it is Brilliant. Oh, I suppose I should say what it's about - mathematicians being rad, that's what it's about. Read it now.
The Count's side project comic features the adventures of a Vocate - a specially trained mortal who does odd jobs for minor deities - during the tail end of the great age of western polytheism. Gods, demons, rituals, and the locative all in one place!
Joel, Anne, Andy, and Luke are everything that I want in Folks Telling Me What I Ought To Read and Avoid - they are knowledgeable, thoughtful, funny, and fundamentally likeable. I am always happy to throw the latest Trade Secrets on as I go off to tutor for 12 hours on Sundays. With many podcasts, you get the feeling that the hosts are trying to Be Personalities first and, secondarily, convey something to their readers. With the TS team, it's all about bringing to light corners of the comic world that they find interesting (or terrible), expressing opinions as rational human beings rather than Podcast Characters. The place to go to find Something New and Worthwhile your next trip to the trade shelves of your comic store.
The Historically Accurate Adventures of Jack and Voytek
Sam Hock and Xander Kent (the latter of 6th Circle
fame) tell the story of British (and entirely historical) supers soldier Jack Churchill and his adventures battling against the Nazis accompanied by the equally historical Polish artillery bear Voytek. To recap: super soldier. Bear. Nazis. Yes!
Absolutely True Tales of Lesbian Drama
Astrid Johannsen (who is also a contributor at Skeptic Freethought
) tells a delightful story of flipped worlds and ordinary people trying to navigate them. This is what is so nice about it - there are two worlds you are introduced to - one that populated with the everyday tales of lesbian drama, and the other the parallel universe that they seep into, and watching the stories that rise up on that interface is addictive fun.
Mirror Sense is a newer historical comic set in dazzling 17th Century France. It is, artistically, the most interesting history webcomic currently running, for my money. There are risks taken here that I would never have the artistic heft to pull off, and it's high time that somebody took such chances with pushing the boundaries of how we tell these historical tales. Do give it a look-see!
LaSalle's Legacy is a comic about is a deeply thought out alternative universe pirate story featuring an entirely fabulous ship's captain and his adventures running cargo through scurvy dog infested seas. Magic, the undead, dashing poshness, raging nobles, and engineering superfeats are all tied together in an entirely welcome-feeling universe.
Sorcery 101 & Other Works of Kel McDonald
Kel McDonald is a master universe creator - her worlds are populated by people and creatures whose interactions are entirely strange, yet entirely believable. Sorcerers learning magic from angsty vampires, werewolves having their stories written by struggling romance authors, shapeshifters getting wicked street cred in their home village for owning a janky motorcycle - it is all held together by McDonald's lovely sense of character and drama.
Lust for Freelance
Madeleine Graham's Lust for Freelance is hard to describe - it's driven by the relation between a magical expert / researcher who veers between schoolgirl effervescence and enigmatic schemer, and an amnesiac demon assassin who both hates and relies on the former's studies and plans. The dynamic is great, and the wide spectrum of reactions and traits in each character is engagingly unified by Graham's unique sense of character.
Skin Deep is about a race of mythological creatures who have been subsumed within human forms for generations and what happens when they rediscover their original forms. I've always loved stories revolving around a mystical underlayer of society, and how that negotiates itself with the real world. Harry Potter, Fables, and Skin Deep all tap this place for me. What's nice about Skin Deep is that you get the stories from characters on the fringes - isolated individuals trying to figure stuff out by themselves or with a few companions - and that adds an aspect of tension that you don't get from the books where all of the sublayer critters have organized a full and effective system of hiding. You don't have the elaborate cloaking mechanisms of Hogwarts or contract systems with the big city - you just stay on your feet and try and be smart about when to let your wings out. And that makes for a neat, neat story.
Knights of Nine to Five
Trevor Kellogg's comic about knights in the workplace is absolute fun. The workaday slaughter and paperwork of adventure mingle deliciously, and before you know it, you've read through the whole series and are waiting, waiting, for the next episode. A must!
Minor Acts of Heroism
Adriana Ferguson and Kristen van Dam put out this wonderful comic about a trio of young heroes following in the footsteps of their world famous guardians. The character chemistry is utterly enthralling, with one of the kids entirely accustomed to the role dragging the others through the steps in his own ineffable way. It's a great universe to be in.
The Littlest Elle
An entirely bewitching journal webcomic full of cats and life - just a wonderfully warm and familiar place to be now and then.
Kate Saturday's Confounded Contraption!
The Leonardo of San Jose (though since relocated), Kate Saturday is an artist, writer, and musician of frankly intimidating talent. One of the sketches she dashed off for me at the East Bay Alternative Press Book Fair hangs in my study as a reminder of how much I have to learn. If you're interested in living in a visual and sonic space such that Neil Gaiman and Tom Waits might dream up over bourbons at 3 in the morning, you must stop on over!
Chances are you don't need us to tell you to read the beautiful and deep works of Dylan Meconis. The worlds she creates are lush and simply wonderful to live in for a time, AND tend to splash about in the pond that I dearly love - the down on its luck 18th century. More beautifully rendered than I'll ever be able to pull off, and with as evident an affection for the corners and nooks of history, I am currently utterly charmed by these works.
I happened upon Dicebox while combing through Dylan Meconis's links for new reading material to get excited about it, and there are two things I love about it immediately - first, the most obvious, is the palette of it, how integral the color is to making the entire universe here make sense. It creates this pre-context for the words which works in a way I haven't experienced in this medium before. Second, the dialogue itself, and this is harder to pin down, which is why it's great - it has the feel of perfect truth to it even though you haven't necessarily ever heard people talk this way. As an expression of what a continuous narrative webcomic might be, it is an impressive and bold thing.
Tuesday With Everything In It
Lynn Lau's comic is infectiously alive in every panel. The art is utterly charming, and the story, centering on a pair of mercenaries, one delightfully morally ambiguous and the other somewhat less so, is simply Whedonesque (which is more or less the highest praise I can offer).
Prophecy Failed is a delightfully told tale. The interplay between disgraced soldier Fairchild, and Felix the Bard is a fascinating addition to the world of comic fantasy, and yet feels somehow entirely comfortable at the same time. Every part of you just feels better after reading it.
I've never seen a comic where the visual and verbal scales jibe so well as in Carpe Chaos. It is a beautiful, thought provoking work about the clash of alien civilizations and philosophies. It moves from the personal to the galactic effortlessly, and in every line you can palpably see the thought and effort that went into creating this universe.
The Thinking Ape Blues
One of the smartest, most consistently uproarious comics out there, written and drawn by Mark Poutenis, whose encouragement and example have lighted our way from the start. It's Yevgeny Zamyatin meets George Carlin, and it's awesome.
Kate Beaton's Hark, A Vagrant!
is unceasingly brilliant - a series of historical miniatures that capture the immense absurdities of governing and the governed in small gestures. If you like us, you'll like Beaton better!
First of all, this comic is GORGEOUS!! It has this Dark Victorian Engraving quality to it that my eyes thirst after. Then the writing is a mixture of everything that I dearly love in Doyle, Moore, Stoker, and Thackeray, but still with entirely its own voice.
is, at its base, a highly compelling story about the balance between stability and freedom, and the hushed ways in which Power is used to tilt a society towards one of these poles. It also features a cast of fluffy fluffy animals. As such, it is entirely rad.
The Abominable Charles Christopher
I don't think I've successfully predicted the last panel of any Abominable comic ever - there is a narrative and comedic sense here that is entirely beyond pre-coded device. It's FABULOUS.
These guys work every day to put humankind in space. Every day, they uncover some minor miracle of the universe and report it to a country that has grown largely indifferent about man's greatest and noblest pursuit. So, swing on by, see what they're up to. Get excited about space again. You know you want to!
The Military History Podcast
I first found this through its neat episode on Frederick the Great
, and have found all sorts of other tidbits to be excited about since. Great stories about the strengths and weaknesses of major military minds and campaigns, evenly but engagingly told.