Welcome back, one and all, to The Webcomics Weekly! The April Fool has come and gone and, in its absence, has left us with a five webcomics to ring in the new season, two returners and three new ones. Tiny dungeons are explored, unsettling halls are traversed, strange tales are told, lost nightmares are found and gym rats flex their way through their reps. What better way to spend the day after the internet becomes one giant joke than to read some internet native stories that show you just how serious it can be?
Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant
A band of intrepid heroes must make their way into a town of danger, disguising themselves to hide from their enemies… is probably what the DM wanted this to be. Instead we get a halfling revealing his love of theater and a poorly-made horse disguise, as one would expect from any group of players.
Dungeon Minis started as a series of one-shot comics focusing on a group of players and the many ways they make things difficult on their Dungeon Master. It’s currently following more of an in-game story, with fleshed out player characters and gags that are both game-driven and character-driven.
The disguises themselves are actually pretty neat designs, though the best part is clearly their skeleton, who maintains enough of a sense of self to recognize that he was a noble knight in life and is now forced to dress as a mule. It’s a good gag, and the skeleton’s voice comes through well in his dialogue; you know this is a character the DM uses a special voice for.
FierceFerrets uses a cartoonish, minimalistic art style, which matches the tone well. While some pages have color, the most recent five do not, with the exception of a page advertising a “Legend of Zelda” based fundraiser. There we see the team’s color work come through, utilizing primarily bright and solid shades, but with some nice lighting effects and fading transitions on the hair.
Dungeon Minis is a cute little webcomic about a group of D&D players and their characters, all of whom are having a great time (occasionally at the DM’s expense). It’s fun to read through when you have time to kill and want a quick smile (and as I am a sucker for anything tabletop gaming, I’ll be sticking with it for a while).
Chapter 2 – Guest – Pages 15-19
By Christian J Encarnacion Navedo aka WideMouthInk
Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli
“Endless Halls” is an uncanny dreamscape of amazing, but terrifying visuals. It follows a young Lumina named Mia who leaves the solitary comfort of her room to search for her mother, who has not returned from scavenging for food. As we accompany Mia through The Halls we are introduced to its many horrors, all of which have been birthed from the clearly very demented mind of series creator Christian Navedo.
After dealing with specters and a Cheshire-cat-monster Mia is given a bit of a breather in these recent installments of “Endless Halls.” The mysterious specter has led her to the residence of Carrie and Murrie, the latter of whom we were introduced to in Chapter 1. Carrie seems to carry a great deal of knowledge, most especially of Luminas. It is unclear yet whether she is friend or foe, though her snake-like form is likely a hint.
The art for this series is gorgeous. Navedo’s sense of color balance is impressive, as is his linework. A recent post from his Twitter also shows a great deal of promise for future pages as he experiments with a lineless style. Visually, at the very least, “Endless Halls” appears to be a series that that will do nothing but build upon an already very solid foundation.
If you’re looking for an exquisitely weird series, “Endless Halls” provides the beautifully bizarre, the meticulously macabre, and the splendidly surreal.
Schedule: updated mostly weekly
By Jeremy Flex & Chris Marzuola
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
It’s funny despite the rise (or I guess rediscovery) of “Nancy” and the web being home to a horde of traditional comic strips, I haven’t really read or written about many of them. The choice of “Flex Comics” is due in part to meeting Jeremy Flex at WonderCon 2019 this past weekend and being intrigued by the booths mixture of hyper muscled bodies juxtaposed with humorous merch. “Flex Comics” is a comedy anthology revolving around the lives and culture of gym rats and those looking to get swole.Continued below
Overall the strips are simple and effective. The blog/archive for these strips is rather clever in how it previews each strip by compressing what is generally three to four panel strips and still landing a joke or gag. ‘Swole Today, Gone Tomorrow’ works in both the full and compressed form. The compressed version is a micro version of the larger strip as a relationship starts out great before their partner deciding they’ve become to self-centered and only caring about the #gains with their proper meal planning. Another strip parodying the flash in a pan viral fad that was Bird Box is a nice fusion of pop culture and the specific one of working out as it plays the two off one another.
Generally the art and overall pacing of the strip follows a tried and true pace of setup and payoff. Panel 1 is the setup. Panel 2 generally expands on it a bit for a bit of humor. With the third and often final panel ending things in a solid joke. Flex and Marzuola don’t reinvent the comedy wheel but show why that wheel is so good in the first place as the consistently got me to at least chuckle at everything.
Pages 6.10 – 6.20
Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi
In its home stretch, “Lost Nightmare” dials the creepiness dial up several notches, as Sandman confronts Jasper (the long-lost dream of his own realm) and the two smaller “Fox” nightmares that ventured into the real of Dreams to find their friend Ink. It is a disturbing confrontation, one that displays a traditional benevolent force and a fatherly figure for several of the characters of this series, in an adversarial role.
The art on “Lost Nightmare” has always been one of its key strengths. The balance of cartoony and distortion, the use of a limited color range, the focus on any given character at a time, have been themes explored on this review section for a while now. And while it does not dip in quality for this update, it does lose points for missing out on the opportunities this confrontation presents. The comic has been building up to this point for so long, that here at the end, the Sandman could have been shown in a more grandiose manner, or the art could have taken even more liberties to visually display the full reversal of his role.
Characters and dialogues, though, remain absolutely on point. The fear of the adventuring trio and the weird madness on the Sandman’s face are all pitch-perfect. The debate between Sandman and Jasper, the recognition of their past relationship, the hints at cruelty occurring towards Ink. . .they all expand an already high anticipation at this time of the narrative.
There is not much left of “Lost Nightmare” before its ultimate end, less than two chapters away. And yet, there are still several loose-ends requiring explanation. It is not that the series is hinting that they won’t be solved, but only that it seems that a lot of it will be concentrated on the back of the proverbial envelope. And while the deliberately slow pacing does allow for dialogues to breathe extremely well, it leaves everything else in terms of plot evolution to second fiddle.
All in all, “Lost Nightmare” remains as beautiful as ever, despite choosing to fare more on the safe side as the journey nears its end. Hopefully, all characters and plot elements will have a chance to shine before everything is said and done, and before the realms of Dream and Nightmare can be at balance, once more.
The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn
By Tri Vuong
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
As ‘Stardust and Soliloquies’ swims towards its end, Vuong treats us to some effective drama and exciting action while pulling back the veil on some of the more mysterious aspects of Oscar’s most recent journey. I’ve made the comparison before but each arc of “The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn” really is like that of a “Hellboy” story. Self-contained yet building upon that which came before it, expanding the universe and the mechanisms of its operation as much as it building the characters. In these chapters, we learn what lurks behind the veil of the Cassiopeia, expanding our understanding of the magic & specters of this world.Continued below
What’s more, Oscar is rendered as more than just a hunter of spectres with something trapped within him; he is also a tragic figure who has caused much harm to those around him, and he is also a staunchly loyal friend, who causes nothing but trouble for those around him. Oscar has a big heart but why that, what drives him, and who he even is behind the faces he puts on, remains shrouded in mystery. Because of this, the desire to know more extends beyond just the arc proper, providing a scaffolding for the series and for each new adventure.
The most interesting development in this chapter was the reveal of what Abe looked like before he was put in the suit. It’s a decision that went a long way to explaining Abe’s personality, and possibly that of the other Hydronauts, while also providing a tragic reminder that normal rules and assumptions cannot be applied to the world beyond the veil.
In terms of the visuals, the same problems that plague the rest of the arc is present. It’s clear that Vuong would have done better if allowed a different format, so as to not have to split panels in half. However, the contents of these panels are still easily readable, wringing a lot of emotion out of characters who don’t have faces. His ability to set an ominous or ethereal mood comes down to his coloring and I love the use of a harsh pink to denote the coming of the fishmen. These were a good four chapters, showcasing Vuong at his strongest, held back only by the decisions of past him.