Welcome back to The Webcomics Weekly! In my continued quest to keep fictional 2019 futures alive in our titles, I have discovered that there are more than two House of the Dead games. I am shocked and horrified at this revelation. So, despite the promise of zombies in the title, the only spooky things are the usual haunts, Lost Nightmares, and Strange Tales. But, joining our intrepid continuations are the returning “Cosmoknights” and “Dungeons and Doggos,” and a look at our first Patreon centered comics by Lucy Knisley, which are sure to fill your day with wonder and doggo. What more could you ask for?
Schedule: Tuesday and Fridays
By Hannah Templer
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
After a highly effective prologue chapter, “Cosmoknights” jumps ahead five years and the real meat of the story begins to take shape. While Templer’s writing and pacing are still overall good, reading updates in 2 to 3 page chunks twice a week lacks the kind of wholly satisfying experience of reading those first 25 pages in one go. It’s like reading a novel a few pages at a time, it just isn’t designed to function dripping out a few pages at a time. With stuff that is hosted on Tapas or Line, organizing the series into strips gives things a better defined episodic format that helps to manage expectations and the readers experience.
Overall though this skip five years into the future makes for an interesting context as we finally see the games that were originally talked around. Are they an apparatus for a patriarchal regime to control women’s bodies? Yes. That doesn’t mean Templer can’t make the action both look good and brutal. After a free flowing prologue something with this much action is a nice change of pace. Templer shows excellent use of scale, both in going plainly big in spreads and with the mecha. The joust has that epic car crash feel to it. By showing off the games Templer is also able to introduce two new characters, Bee and Cass who subvert the Joust and free the princesses they win. Their presence also helps to highlight the heteronormative assumptions at play in the whole system, with Cass, as the Bull, constantly referred to with male pronouns.
The time skip also allows the series to deal in the wreckage of Pan’s actions to get her friend off planet. Those actions have economically devastated their world, no Princess means no games an economic benefits, turning her and her family into black sheep on their small world. Templer does excellent character acting with Pan as the character vacillates between fury and anger over the games and depression over how her, righteous, actions have negatively impacted her family. Which makes Cass and Bee bursting on to their front door a dramatically enticing setup. When Pan discovers they are like minded individuals, there’s a real moment of connection and dramatic fulfillment.
Templer’s work with Pan as she is continually impressed and intrigued by Cass is kinda adorable.
“Cosmoknights” distribution may not be the best, but you’re getting to read an OGN for free before it’s out. On the whole “Cosmoknights” continues to be a well told queer space opera that’s worth checking out.
Dungeons & Doggos
By V Lee Illustrations
Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant
These past few pages have begun to expand on the world of “Dungeons & Doggos,” adding in new animal races. First we get the chicken lady, and her utmost skill at both raising and laying eggs (including a little humor based on eating eggs from her), now we have a frog person. A very Kermit-looking frog person, but that’s never a bad thing.
Aside from how this expands the world within the game, this leads into a situation that’s familiar to any player and DM. The suspicious player rolls an Insight check, rolls low, and doesn’t sense anything wrong. Then all the other players immediately get suspicious and assume they’re absolutely up to no good. Having been on both the player and DM side of this situation many times, it’s a common scenario that can make a normal but odd NPC into a subject of mass scrutiny.Continued below
On the other hand, why would anyone farm water by pouring more water into it? Clearly the DM (and by extension, writer/artist V Lee Illustrations) has something in mind.
While we haven’t heard the frog speak yet (I assume everyone will imagine him sounding like Kermit), the chicken lady’s voice comes through very strongly, with dialogue that carries her tone and intention well. Of course, the central characters are already well-established, so their voices remain solid, and their reactions in every situation match well with what we know of them.
The artwork continues to improve, adding more detail and shading to the in-game world. The new character designs, like the chicken lady and the frog farmer, have solid designs brimming with personality. Little details, like the dogs literally licking their plates clean, add to the fact that the players and characters are dogs with their own personalities. Even the out of game moments, which typically have been less detailed, have strong linework that keeps the comic looking crisp and clean.
“Dungeons & Doggos” continues to entertain, with new characters that flesh out the world and characters that blend the behavior of dogs and gamers nicely. It’s a cute little story that’s always sure to amuse.
Pages 7.16 – 7.23
By Julia K. (a.k.a. Miyuli)
Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi
This latest update takes the story to the end of its penultimate chapter, and, unfortunately, this series keeps oscillating in how well it manages the pacing on the final leg of the story. If the previous chapter, or even the beginning of this one, were satisfying from a reveal and closure perspectives, this one reads much more like filler.
Miyuli’s art remains strong as ever, being particularly beautiful when the script allows for Sandman and Boogeyman to interact more directly. In those situations, the pitch black that is the Boogeyman’s robes contrasts with Sandman’s bright yellows and oranges, made further distinct by the role reversal of good and evil one would expect from them. Also, the corruption that spreads through Sandman is made to look like a tinted substance, not unlike a symbiote, to great effect.
Where the story loses its power is when it tries to extract more emotional resonance without delivering on the reasons for why they are happening. There is a missed balance between mystery and connection that simply pushes readers too far, as they are asked to feel what the protagonists are going through, without having the backdrop to make it meaningful. Additionally, the absence of Ink – arguably the series key protagonist – for so long is being felt on these pages. True, this distance is meant to make his return and final review all the more relevant but, again, pacing is of the essence for plotting like that.
Despite a disappointing update, “Lost Nightmare” remains engaging. The story is almost over and the audience can observe the final pieces being put into place. Here’s hoping the closing chapter ties all loose ends in an interesting way, which would only be fair to the great narrative presented so far.
Lucy Knisley’s Patreon
April 24th-April 28th
By Lucy Knisley
Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli
I found Lucy Knisley through Twitter some weeks ago and have since become enamored with her slice-of-life comics she posts there, on Instagram, and on her Patreon. Lucy is the creator of several graphic novels, including Kid Gloves, Something New, and An Age of License and French Milk. But her sketchbook strips have become almost a daily treat for me, the most entertaining generally of which feature her cat, Linney.
Knisley portrays Linney as sentient and speaking–as is generally the case for comics strips featuring cats–but this is no Garfield. Linney’s surly disposition is a pitch-perfect representation of cats. Linney rules the roost, except when she doesn’t, but at all times her word bubbles featuring a commanding attitude and offer insight into the mind of God’s perfect killing machine.
Knisley’s strips also feature her son, partner, and herself. “Palindrome,” the nickname she has given to her little boy, is precocious and of a curious nature. The entry featuring an artist’s mannequin is a real delight, showcasing a heart-squeezing cuteness and Pal uses it to show his mother his new moves. People in my life are going to be left scratching their heads and my reenacting of “Long Kick!” for no apparent reason at times.Continued below
Knisley’s work is lighthearted and fun, but that’s the kind of comic we need in moments of respite from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. Sometimes a cat being scared off the porch by a honking motorist can inspire one of the funniest little comics I have read in some time. I highly recommend following Knisley on social media, where she posts her work for free, but you can also donate to her Patreon for some extra content as I have done. Trust me, she’s worth it.
The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn
By Tri Vuong
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
“The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn” closes out its inaugural season with a short story about the Witch Agnes, the cat Sophie, and the tricky nature of spirits. Flexing some different storytelling muscles, Vuong creates a concise story with high stakes, high quality of art and coloring, and lots of fun. I’m glad he chose to do this because, while I love sprawling stories that last for months on end, sometimes it’s nice to have a small, self-contained adventure to act as a palette cleanser. For those who were following along as it first came out, it also acted as a nice denouement before the hiatus, priming for the future while not leaving us on any burning cliffhangers.
Vuong’s choice to limit his color palette to Halloween colors, for the season, was a great boon to the overall mood of the piece as well. The warmth of the oranges clashed and fought with the greys and blacks of the night, creating a tension and a hominess to the chapters. The spectres were suitably eerie as well, more so than their analogs in ‘The Last Soldier of Somme,’ borderless and ephemeral, as if reality were skipping and distorting around them. His paneling, as well, is stronger than even the previous set of chapters.
There’s a sense that, while Vuong may have needed a break to rest his muscles and plotting, the expression of his craft has been refined and he can better apply it this smaller, more intimate story. That doesn’t mean the humor nor the horror is lost, only that it is better bolstered by panels and angles that fit the structure of Webtoons and don’t feel as if they were retrofitted from a page structure. It’s a fantastic way to close his first season, bringing “The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn” to the chapter that first released when my coverage of this comic began — to ‘The Ghost of Witch Lake.’