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Warren Ellis’s Webcomics Week Explored – Part 1

What do you get when you select all the webcomics artists who follow a certain foulmouthed comics writer by the name of Warren Ellis (of Transmetropolitan fame, and currently writing FreakAngels and Ignition City)? When such selection is jumpstarted by Ellis putting out the call personally on Twitter, you get a motherfucking kickass webcomics roundup thread, that’s what. It’s not the first time he’s done this, but the collection appears to be snowballing.

I’ve only tackled the first three-odd pages of the thread so far in my reading and in this post (up to where Warren himself comments, ‘There is some amazing shit in here…‘), and I’ve already been solidly entertained for days. And there is just way too much good stuff in even those few pages to time-manage into one post, but it’s definitely worth giving a shot. I admit to being fairly fresh to the webcomics world. Most of these titles are new to me. But let’s start with the ones that are more likely to be new to you

Plan B
by mitz

The first post off the top of the thread, this supervillain tale is still my personal fave. And it’s not just the main character’s take-no-prisoners fuck-with-superheroes ‘tude that clinches it — it’s the generous helping of pan-deflationary wit.

I have excerpted a couple of my favourite ‘small’ moments rather than the actiony bits, though there are plenty of them, and they’re all good++funny. The writer’s tight grip on POV sharpens both Veronica’s pop-villain interior monologue and the combat scenes themselves. I’ve read a smackload of ‘supervillain-grows-huge’ stories — but I hadn’t ever read one that made me think I know what it is actually like to have mondo limbs and organs. Now I have.

I have only one bone to pick with ‘Plan B’: no RSS feed. I have a need for feeds!

Sails of Blood
by Jason Brezinski, Ozzy Longoria, et. al.

Posted unassumingly with a rather small thumbnail, Sails of Blood was almost missed. It wasn’t until my third pass that I finally clicked through to this tale of a 17th Century vampire alchemist aboard a zombie-captained pirate ship crewed by drugged Mayans in the Caribbean, and hotly pursued by an assassin chick squad from the Inquisition! Well worth it. The art is amazingly atmospheric.

Nathan Sorry
by Rich Barrett

I like the clean-lined art in Nathan Sorry, and the storyline is intriguing, if still in its infancy: a man starts a new life with an orphaned (?) $3 million after being presumed dead in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11. But it’s the nicely captured character moments among the denizens of the diner where he seeks refuge that really marked this tale as a must-follow for me.

Metaphysical Neuroma
by Attila Adorjany

Told with a mixture of iconography and more traditional comic art, Metaphysical Neuroma has so far been successfully balanced between coherent narrative and the random-seeming collection of visual inspirations into which many modern experimental webcomics tend to disappear. I have to say there were a couple of places in the course of the first ten pages where it actually kinda blew my mind, narratively. And that’s my favourite kind of mindjob.

Wide Awake
by Eric Trautmann, Brandon Jerwa, Mirco Pierfederici

You have to love anything that sports a great big knife in the eye! And the art is obviously anything but. This one hasn’t gotten much further than its first hero splash page, but it looks like possibly an enjoyable read waiting to happen.

Sean and Wormwood, The Friendly Satanists
by Lore Sjöberg

I remember giggling at Lore’s Alt Text videos and have been pleased to see him generating and new webcomics concepts, at Bad Gods, like they’re made of light (which I guess, they are). His snappy-comeback-riddled Sean and Wormwood strip plays to the current web’s strengths with self-contained morselly joke strips that are also part of a larger clickable storyline.

by Kevin Church & Max Riffner

A character from another Kevin Church strip, The Rack, quits for a corporate job, and her adventures are spun-off into this fledgling, but finely observed, workplace strip. I was unfamiliar with The Rack, but already found myself identifying with Lydia.

In doing a survey of such a large number of comics I just don’t have time or resources to chase every print issue down for those that require it, so the law of my private jungle for this particular series of articles had to be, ‘If I can’t realistically get my headspace into these print-dependent storylines, then I can’t realistically know whether to recommend them, either.’ So although the remaining four comics I’ll point you at for now have been around a little longer, they are all still fully available to read, from the start, online…

The Secret Knots
by Juan Santapau

A sometime-episodic, sometime-less-structured, but always-narrative oasis, The Secret Knots is like chamber music with a dark, dissonant undercurrent. The art and script cooperate beautifully to produce emotional crosstalk that is not always pleasant but feels true.

Odysseus The Rebel
by Steven Grant & Scott Bieser

A dynamic retelling of The Odyssey, recasting Odysseus himself, rather than as an errant hero punished by the gods, instead as humanity’s hero against their meddlesome interference. This Steven Grant-penned adaptation feels modern but steers remarkably true to the source — both from what I remembered and from the random Wikipedia spotchecks I conducted. The greyscale art works well for the story’s classical feel, and as Homer well learned, the cunning Odysseus is a very engaging hero (unless you’re reading this from ancient Rome in which case he’s a dishonourable, underhanded Greek). So engaging, that his popularity spawned the original extra-spectacular sequel: Grant and Bieser do it justice.

Sin Titulo
by Cameron Stewart

I’ve spotted pages from Sin Titulo quoted around the web before, but I’d never read it all the way through, thinking I was further behind than I really was. Starting off the top, I found it minimalistically evocative and economically narrated (witness the multiple meanings packed into the final panel above — if you don’t see them, read more: you will). It has some of the markings of noir, but is more dreamy. More thoughtful. Just as mysterious. And I suspect it is about to tip into some rather serious sci-fi — but guessing is half the fun! If aren’t already subscribed to Sin Titulo, you probably should be.

Eye of the Gods
by Gerimi Burleigh

Another one without any RSS feed that I could find! How am I going to get updated on this? I don’t really do bookmarks anymore — my most recent one is about three years old. Anyway, that’s my problem to solve I suppose, because Eye of the Gods is a very fluidly readable fusion of a mystery thriller about clairvoyance, and a personal story about an artist caught between his relationships and his ‘vision’. I appreciated the resonances between those two worlds, along with the accessible, cinematic framing (above), and hope to see both further explored as the storyline unfolds.

So, that’s all I figured it would be prudent to squeeze into one post, but I am definitely not done with Warren’s thread. There will be another installment, wherein I’ll select further from page 4 and beyond. Of course, you could simply leapfrog me and totally pwn my slow ass, and just continue on spelunking without a guide. Ain’t rocket science, folks! 87

Oh yes! I should probably mention that I am not a disinterested party. Like many others I could not rationally resist Warren’s call, and posted my own webcomic to page three of the big bad thread.

[Submitted by The Laroquod Experiment.]

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