• Columns 

    The Webcomics Weekly #28: Webcomics Go on WalkAbout (3/26/19 Edition)

    By | March 26th, 2019
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    Welcome back, one and all, to The Webcomics Weekly! This week we start on a journey to Do in “Walking to Do” and treck through “Lilith’s World.” We also have continuing coverage of “Blood Stain,” where Elly has a rough day. “Sam and Fuzzy” try to figure it out. And the adeventure never stops with the “Order of the Stick.”

    Blood StainLineTapas
    Chapters 56-60
    Schedule: currently on hiatus
    By Linda Sejic
    Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

    Strips 56-60 finishes off chapter two and starts us off into the third chapter, as Elly’s first day on the job comes to a close. Overall it’s a fairly eclectic group of strips that spends time running things from the point of view of our trio of character. Linda Sejic’s use of thought bubbles as these fluid and constantly shifting barriers to represent this trio, though especially Elly, gives this batch good variety and help reinforce how each character sees the world around them.

    Strip 56 ‘Panic’ is my favorite single strip so far. Elly goes up to Vlad to drop off some stuff and is creepin on him, is both visually humorous and Vlad’s assertion that she be “creepin” nicely sets up the various jumps through perspective in following strips. The core of the strip is what comes after Vlad dismisses her: a anxiety-panic attack. Elly gets inside her own head and starts connecting lots of dots together that fuel her insecurity until it all points to the same dreaded question: she’s going to get fired. It’s here that the use of thought bubbles as panels begins and heightens the compounding sense of dread she is feeling as panels slowly more together until she is pictured right next to a monstrous vision. Having gone back and read the sequence in the collected form, it works far better as a single webstrip. The core content is the same, but the horizontal arrangement and lack of friction in this version is this medium reads like a better representation of what those moments feel like. As someone with anxiety issues, the ease at which the crescendo moving rightward creates is reminiscent of how my own thought patterns can keep compounding and making small things into big things and much worse. Until you’re just standing there with a beaker cleaner and Serge shows up wondering what is going on.

    Not every strip is as heavy, in fact the reaming strips are the kinda light episodic work place comedy that “Blood Stain” does so well. Sejic does a fantastic job in the final strip of Chapter 2 #58 ‘too long,’ of running through the rest of Elly’s day and how it was as the title says. She’s actually doing a good job but the long hours are getting to her … and she tries to attack Vlad with her magic staff from not-Guild Wars 2. The reply “oh right, my class got nerfed …” as to why she is acting this way will never not be funny. Still waiting for the Sejics to team up for a Sejic-verse Video Game Adventure OGN. Vlad’s perspective on Elly’s actions is both funny and a good indicator of his own limited perspective on things.

    Chapter 2 comes to a close on a good note. Reading the webcomic straight through there isn’t that big a sense for these chapters beyond organization, but there is a narrative structure that makes them work well enough as large episodic containers.

    Lilith Word
    Pages 3.01-3.07
    Updates: Fridays
    By Nina
    Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi

    “Lilith Word” tells the story of the last surviving goddess of her race, traveling alongside her unnamed Brother, as they discover more about the world around them, the mythologies ruling over their existence and Lilith’s true purpose, that of being a creationist, with the power to master reality with words alone. All of that mixed with sharp character interaction, regardless of their powers or origins.

    This webcomic clearly is a work of heart by artist Nina, who’ve first creating the concept during high school, later developing it into a full series when the right skills and time were available. This is an important clarification, as “Lilith Word” is filled with backstory, notes and explanations on how this world exists, what are the rules governing it and how the rich array of details come together.

    Continued below

    Having said that, and perhaps because of it, “Lilith Word” can feel at times a bit expository, with characters pausing for a few pages to convey within the story and to readers that level of backdrop that is surely floating on the artist’s mind. It is not a bad thing onto itself, but it could have been managed in a better way, if it was introduced on a more natural pace, with supporting characters, less “in the known” of this mythology learning at the same time that readers are.

    On the drawing and coloring department, “ Lilith Word” is a beauty to behold, as Nina certainly understands what are her key strenghts as an illustrator. Page and panel compositions are spot-on, knowing when to pull back to reveal beautiful vistas, but also to zoom in to convey facial expressions and emotions. The landscapes, often magical or hyper scientific, are layered, feeling like a real-world scenario, as outlandish as they may be. And the color pallete accentuates the eeriness of some situations and the whimsical feel of the series. By usually relying on a spectrum of light and dark blues, aligned with Lilith’s own powers and the pure energy that the story focuses on, it creates a sense of consistency that is observed from chapter to chapter.

    All in all, “Lilith Word” is a very enjoyable adventure, focused just as much of its rich mythology, and on how extraordinary and mundane characters interact. By choosing to have goddesses, mythical creatures and plain old humans mesh, series creator has delivered a tale that is part coming of age, part fantastic reality, and full on beautiful art. By managing exposition pieces a bit more organically in the future, “Lilith Word” could really blossom into a compeling adventure saga, spanning worlds and dimensions, but staying close and true to its characters.

    Order of the Stick
    Pages 66-70
    Updates: Varies
    By Rich Burlew
    Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant

    The battle of the Order of the Stick versus the Linear Guild reaches its thrilling conclusion, where Elan gets to actually be useful. First we get a use of illusion magic that plays to Thog’s character and his childlike nature, then a decisive character moment as Elan has to choose his evil twin’s fate.

    Sure, the shoulder angel/devil trope it uses isn’t exactly new, but it’s an amusing scene that goes surprisingly in-depth into whether evil is a result of nature or upbringing. More importantly, it ends with a hilarious punchline as Elan considers lawful vs chaotic instead of good vs evil, who are slightly less coherent.

    But this series also gives us a great line that helps define Elan’s character: “I saved you ’cause I’m the good twin, not the neutral twin.”

    Past the defining character moments, we also get the usual assortment of gags. Nale’s instant karma (making him quickly switch from “I’ll never join you” to “Help me, brother” the second the platform collapses) is amusing, but we also get Belkar with his new Kobold-skin hat, and the return of the sylph Zz’dtri petrified earlier. The gag was set up well, as she was the only guardian not outright killed, and her reappearance is timed nicely. Not only does it first set up for it by having Vaarsuvius note cracks on the ceiling, she crashes in at a humorously appropriate moment.

    Nale then convincing her she was petrified for a thousand years doesn’t advance anything, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. Yes, him getting electrocuted for it is worth it for the readers as well.

    While there’s nothing particularly different about the artwork, it still manages to give us properly intense moments even with its simplistic style. Nale dangling on the ledge beside Elan manages to have all the appropriate stylings of the dramatic scene, even if they are stick figures.

    Overall, “Order of the Stick” continues to be incredibly entertaining. The characters continue to grow in depth and personality, making each page a joy to read.

    Sam and Fuzzy
    The Big Cheat parts 6-10
    Updates: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
    By Sam Logan
    Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli

    We rejoin Fuzzy and Hazel in a flashback which sees them on the job, breaking into a building to steal the band of…something. What that something is was obscured in a previous installment, likely intentionally. Whatever the band is, it is an object of interest to the Ninja Mafia, the secret organization that becomes N-M-S in the present day after being taken over by Sam.

    Continued below

    The shot of Fuzzy ziplining down to the building may be one of my favorite visual moments from this series. The look of terror on Fuzzy’s face is presented clearly and hilariously and the perspective of this panel is impressively on point.”Sam & Fuzzy” never lets itself get bogged down with overly complex visuals but when it takes moments to flex like this, it is dazzling.

    Logan has been working on “Sam & Fuzzy” since roughly the year 2000 in one form or another before starting this version but you can really see him sliding into a place of comfort with his visual style here. Fuzzy’s face in the final panel of part 7 is pitch-perfect cartooning as Hazel entices him with jellybeans.

    As always this series is mostly played for laughs, such as Fuzzy’s immediate God complex upon entering the surveillance room but Hazel’s hubris through parts 9 and 10 is ominous and foreboding. Whoever broke in before our dynamic duo is skilled, but Hazel is blinded by dollar signs in her eyes and I sense something wicked this way coming in two weeks when we return to review more “Sam & Fuzzy.”

    Walking to Do
    19. ‘We’re Trying No to Lose Our Heads’ – 23. ‘Pete is Tall’
    Updates: Mondays & Thursdays
    By Coni Yovaniniz & Rodrigo Vargas
    Reviewed by Elias Rosner

    There are a glut of mono/duotone journal style webcomics out there — the medium was practically founded on them & gag strips — but each one has its own unique story to tell and its own unique way of telling it, bringing the personal ever closer to the universal. So to with “Walking to Do.”

    Alternating art duties per update, Coni & Rodrigo take us on a journey as they go on their first comics tour, from SPX to Sol-Con to Cartoon Crossroads, and all the (mis)adventures that go on in between. In these latest updates, we’re finally at SPX! While the con hasn’t officially kicked off yet, and so I can’t comment on their capturing of the claustrophobic but intensely awe inspiring atmosphere, the anecdotes they do portray are, in equal measure, hilarious, instantly relatable and, as is the case with update 19, all too real.

    While I personally prefer Coni’s drafting, thanks to the ways they use environments to create a sense of motion and place, both have a knack for expressive but simple designs, thanks to their strong linework and inking. Of the batch, my favorite has to be Rodrigo’s bagel story. I, too, would be disappointed by the store bought, bagels in bags down in Maryland but the way Rodrigo sells the joke, building up the excitement without over explaining WHY he’s so excited/disappointed, is what really sells it.

    That and perhaps the original draft that’s beneath the comic is why.

    //TAGS | webcomics

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  • Reviews
    The Webcomics Weekly #93: A Fighter By Their Trade (6/30/2020 Edition)

    By | Jun 30, 2020 | Reviews

    It's been a long week, a long month, a long year. It's been a long forever and we must press ever onwards, keeping an eye on what can be fixed and what must be replaced. We can do it, but it will not be easy and it will not be done without toiling hard. And now that my soap box is starting to crack, let's get on with the comics. This week, we have newcomers "The Boxer" and a familiar looking "Detatched" along with our returners "A Better Place" and "Trekker."

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