Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Comics of Note

Six years ago Scott McCloud wrote in Reinventing Comics that if there were to be a future for the medium it would be in the Internet. Newspaper comics were mostly tamed and boring. The promise of comic books was never fulfilled. He's probably right. These days it seems like everyone has a webcomic. Most of them follow Sturgeon's Revelation, "90% of everything is crud."

There are nuggets in the gravel. Some writers have moved completely to electronic distribution. Phil Foglio puts up three pages a week of his lovingly drawn Steampunk epic Girl Genius and only puts it onto dead trees as collections. It's also kept him to a schedule, something he used to have trouble with. Ghastly's Ghastly Comic, Tentacle Monsters and the Women Who Love Them would never see print but maintains a huge online following of hentai fans and other happy perverts. Bill Holbrook straddles both worlds. Safe Havens and On the FastTrack are syndicated. Herdthinners is an online comic and subsists on donations, subscriptions and collected volumes.

My two favorites are poles apart from each other.

Brooke McEldowney turns out a page a day of 9 Chickweed Lane, a fanciful slice of life about a grandmother, mother and daughter. Chickweed just won the National Cartoonist Society’s Award for Best Newspaper Comic Strip, quite an accomplishment for a newspaper comic that appears in no newspaper. His tri-weekly effort Pibgorn is currently replaying A Midsummer Night's Dream in a Roaring 20s urban setting. Cut loose ten bucks and look through the archives. It's well worth it.

Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman have offer a very different and much darker vision. Every week the chatty populist online Smith Magazine publishes another installment of Shooting War. In 2011 blogger/journalist Jimmy Burns is detailing the abuses of Eminent Domain under the McCain Administration when he catches a terrorist bombing live on video. The strip follows his later adventures as a journalist in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Mogadishu. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Lappe and Goldman have been declared enemy combatants, stripped of their citizenship and extraordinarly renditioned somewhere terrible for this bitter incisive critique of American foreign policy.

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