Welcome back, one and all, to the Webcomics Weekly. Do we have a show for you. Not only have the six corporations graciously allowed us to come to print, we have five webcomics here that we think are pretty swell. “Axed” tells the tale of monsters and hunters while “Quinley” brings the laughs and the magic cats. “Cosmoknights” rounds out the new additions with space, space and more space while our returners continue, with intermissions in “Lost Nightmare” and astral oceans in “The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn.”
So read on, fellow enthusiast. See if something catches your eye. For the game waits for no one, and the comics are there for all.
Updates: Wednesdays and Sundays
Written by Shren Patel
Illustrated by Emi MG
Backgrounds by Bon
Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant
“Axed” is a webcomic with an amusing concept: a modern-day monster hunter searching for employment in a world where humans and monsters live in peace. The concept lends itself to some amusing jokes about temp work and seeking employment, as well as some neat monster designs, but this episode marks what seems to be the start of an actual story.
The episode begins with an actual story hook, featuring lumberjacks and a shadowy monster. This lends itself to protagonist Axelia’s two strengths: swinging an axe and fighting monsters. The way Emi MG illustrates her lighting up as she learns what the job entails makes for a satisfying moment of happiness after seeing her express little more than seething rage for the past few pages (in a humorous way, of course). It makes for a good step forward for the character, who may finally be finding a job she’s suited for – as someone who’s struggle through unemployment and dealing with employment agencies, it’s nice to see someone actually find professional satisfaction.
Then we have D.B., which could stand for “demon boy” or, well, the other obvious acronym. He’s an amusing character, an odd sort of optimistic slacker with a silver-tongue. He’s somewhat less suited to the lumberjack job, which lends itself to another gag which I won’t spoil here. But it involves lots of fire. Because he’s a demon.
Shren Patel has created a handful of amusing characters, tying the story with clever wordplay and gags to provide some good chuckles. We can relate to Axelia’s struggle to find employment in a world that no longer values her skills, and laugh at how D.B. adapts to every situation thrown at him. The characters are slowly but steadily beginning to grow on me, with a few good gags (or bad puns) along the way.
Emi MG’s art style seems similar to that of Bryan Lee O’Malley, a mix of cartoon styles with a hint of anime. It suits the tone of the comic and makes it easy on the eyes. As a comic on webtoons, it’s read by scrolling down the screen, although it doesn’t add or detract from the flow of the comic; it could work just as well in a typical left-to-right strip format. It does occasionally make use of the style, like when speech bubbles flow down to connect one panel to the next, so touches like that help improve the readability.
Overall, “Axed” is off to a solid start. It’s a good concept with likable characters and solid, clean artwork that adds a layer of endearment to everything. It’s worth a read for a few laughs.
Schedule: Tuesday and Fridays
By Hannah Templer
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
I’ll admit I’m something of an easy mark for “CosmoKnights,” the queer space opera webcomic eventually to be published physically by TopShelf Productions. When your opening slug says this is a tale is about a “ragtag band of space gays” fighting an evil patriarchal empire, how can you not be grabbed by that hook?
Writer and artist Hannah Templer was smart to publish the first 25 pages of this webcomic, listed in the directory as the Prologue. Readers get to read through a floppies worth of content in one go. Subsequent updates have been in the 2-4 page range, which would have taken too long to build up and work through the prologue.Continued below
The opening 25 pages deal with the friendship between Pan and Tara, two people from different sides of the space tracks. Pan does her best to help Tara deal with an upcoming, unjust, event that is forced upon her as a space princess. Templer does an effective job pacing out their night as a montage of one to two page sequence. Pan and Tara’s dyanamic is beautifully shown with only oblique dialog references to everything else, it made their relationship read as normal. The prologue more than does its job setting up their relationship and with it the real stakes of the story, before getting into the space opera side of things.
“Knights” already has a book deal and with that in mind, the influence on the overall design is evident. This isn’t a bad thing, Templer’s page design is solid and expressive when it needs to be. The format the web strip is posted in also helps to emphasize scale. When Templer finally goes big in the prologue as Tara and Pan stare up into space, it lands with Templer’s beautiful space filled vistas. Without the ability to read the prologue all in one go, those moments wouldn’t have landed nearly as well.
The webcomic format for “Knights” displays a single page at a time. This makes sense since it will be published physically so everything is designed as a normal comics page. The annoyance comes in the way the website is formatted, not fully responding to window size in Chrome or iOS Safari (both phone and tablet version). It makes the comic pages just a hair too big and cutting off the bottom of the page. Webcomics are all about frictionless progression and having to scroll down and readjust the page is a lot of noticeable friction. The content helps to make up for it, however.
Pages 6.01 – 6.10
Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi
After a brief, but compelling interlude, “Lost Nightmare” returns to its main narrative, as Ink finally makes his way into the Sandman’s realm, with some of his fellow dreams and nightmares in tow. If the interlude was interesting given its revelation about the true nature of the Boogeyman’s and Sandman’s relationship, the beginning of this chapter takes those concepts and runs with it, for some truly exciting crescendo as the series heads into its endgame.
It is not unusual for comics, books, and movies to use dark, shadowy situations to convey dramatic moments and downright creepy scenarios. It is, however, quite uncommon for an artist to reach the same effect with brightly colored, earthly pallets… and do so it so effectively like Myuli accomplishes here on “Lost Nightmare” is commendable. The dream land is nothing but sharp, bright and optimistic, filled with clear yellows and fluffy grains of sand. However, every single details is slightly distorted, every character expression skewed just enough to provoke a sense of unease. It works remarkably well and it all lingers of drawing and design. A lot of “Lost Nightmare” story could fall apart if this section failed, so it is great that it does not.
Over at the narrative front, it is very promising to see Ink finally reach the tail-end of his journey, and to meet the Sandman face-to-face. Without going into spoiler territory, there is a lot of potential as to what can happen next, how the cast of characters will behave from this juncture onward. It is not often for a series to have so much hanging and still provide cohesion and a sense of possibility, and yet this is exactly what “Lost Nightmare” does.
All in all, this series continues to deliver on its early promises, that of telling a very known story, with very unusual setting, choices and roles. It is provocative in just the right amount, still being accessible, while providing a lot of thought to a tried-and-tested narrative trope. Don’t miss out.
Shrinking Spell through Con Prep
Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli
The daily life of a freelance is amusingly not a terribly exciting one. Including the mundanities of cat vomit, supply shopping and avoiding work by diving into the void of Netflix, something I think we can all relate to. While nothing here is heart-pumping, flashy, or full of the type of wacky shenanigans we generally associate with stories about magic, Potoh portrays main character Quinley in an endearing manner. She’s just hilariously normal to the point that readers will be able to connect to her immediately.Continued below
The first strip I clicked on sees Quinley in a supply store reading off a modest and practical list before being taken by the beauty and mystique of packed shelves in a magical repository. The final panels of “Supply Shopping” show Quinley returning to her domicile to exclaim “I’m home! And we’re broke!” while holding several full bags. All of this is done in four panels and utilizing a CalArts style that is goofy but cute and perfectly accompanies its subject matter.
Following Quinley and her magical cat Lachs is just good, light-hearted fun. One of the best bits from these last five strips has to be “Summoning Spell” which sees some sort of demon attempting to rise up from a summoning circle only to be consistently stamped upon by Lachs like my own cat tries to banish that monstrous red dot and never gives up.
This strip is easily both one of my favorites to have reviewed as well as one of the simplest, representing just what a good comic strip should be. It is available free on Tapas and you can support the artist and creator Potoh there as well as on Patreon.
The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn
By Tri Vuong
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
‘Stardust and Soliloquies’s’ third act dances on with these chapters, bringing with it some solid drama and a refocused narrative. While the interlude on the island was a lot of fun, and served to complicate the world we’ve been experiencing in ways that broaden the questions of the series, it always felt like an aside, a tangent to the greater driving plot. It pulled on the mind, asking when we could return to the sea to complete the mission we set out to achieve. That said, it is an invaluable part of the story, just maybe out of place and extended too long. With chapters 54-57, that feeling is gone, leaving behind only the humor and the ticking clock of Charbdys to keep us company.
This series clearly has inspirations from Mike Mignola & the “Hellboy” universe. From the initial art style, to the aesthetic of the adventures, to, now, the fishmen who are oddly reminiscent of “BPRD: Plague of Frogs,” it’s a welcome touchstone that is mined and riffed on. Vuong’s artwork continues to improve, along with his storytelling. The captain’s slow descent into the depths of melancholy has been charted for many chapters now but it’s only here, with him staring into a mirror, grasping a gun, that we finally feel it with the intensity it should have had.
Vuong also utilizes the paneling to reveal events in clever ways, with characters hidden behind where the camera was, giving the impression that they were there the entire time without ever having to show or allude to it earlier. The action, too, has taken a step up and there is the palpable sense of dread and hopelessness intermingled with the knowledge that, while they will get out of this, it will not end happily. Perhaps the best part of these chapters, though, are the two or so panels in the middle of the fight with the fishmen where Oscar and the Hydronauts are spouting fish puns.
Vuong juxtaposes it with Edmund & the captain slumped up against the wall, their lives fading. It is humor in the face of despair. It is a summary of this arc and a fantastic one at that.