• Reviews 

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

    By | June 30th, 2020
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Welcome back to The Webcomics Weekly!

    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,” “Another Journal Comic” and a familiar looking “Detatched” along with our returners “A Better Place” and “Trekker.”

    Another Journal Comic
    ‘One Eleven’ through ‘Three Thirty’
    Updates: Sporadically, seemingly on hiatus
    By Marcy King
    Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli

    As I continue to actively seek out webcomics from queer authors all across the spectrum, it occurs to me that it may be some time before I review works by a cis-gendered heteronormative creator. This didn’t really start out as an intentional thing, I had just reviewed a few here and there, but a few weeks back I began to more actively seek out pieces by authors of particular identities. Much of this stems back to reviewing Disorder by Erika Price, a series I have since mentioned frequently in my reviews.

    To be very candid, reviewing webcomics is not an easy job. Never before have we had so much access as consumers and reviewers, nor have creators had so many avenues to release their creations upon the masses. This makes for a robust landscape of entertainment to engage in, but it also means an ocean of shit to wade through. Let’s be real here: when anyone can release a comic, 90% of what is available is pretty shit. So finding Erika’s series felt like something of a diamond in the rough. And, if I’m being quite frank, there’s a thousand and one series by cishet cartoonists that often feel like they’re all about the same shit. I was ready for something different.

    Thankfully, Erika took it upon herself recently to put up a thread on twitter of trans creators, which in turn makes my job easier. This is how I discovered Marcy King. And, even within the litany of LGBTQ+ comics I have poured myself into recently, Marcy’s is a breath of fresh air.

    Another Journal Comic” is a slice-of-life comic, but with a twist. The twist being it’s not a straight white guy. I know that may not seem like all that much on the surface, but in reality, it very much is a lot. It’s a different perspective, and a different context for each little beat and character moment. A “normal day” simply isn’t normal when one of your thoughts about wearing a mask during quarantine means it covers the fact that you haven’t shaved in a month of Sundays and you’re a woman who is trans. For me, not shaving is something no one would blink an eye at, but for someone going through a completely different experience, it is noteworthy, and Marcy handles this with a levity that belies how impactful it truly is.

    And that’s really what makes “Another Journal Comic” so enjoyable. It never beats you over the head with anything. There’s nothing to beat you over the head with because this is simply Marcy’s life. And all of us, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other divisive labels, can relate to what happens when your ADHD causes you to run six screens at once. Or when you learn what happened to the cat named Virtue, or you lose your job due to a global pandemic. “Another Journal Comic” is relatable regardless of your identity.

    Which isn’t to say that “Another Journal Comic” doesn’t directly deal with issues of transition and how we view ourselves as individuals, most especially with how a person with dysphoria sees themself. ‘Three Twenty’ sees Marcy dealing with self-image in a positive manner, as new razor blades have arrived and shower time is the best time (today). And yet, this still comes across as something any of us can empathize with. Everyone has a bad hair day. Everyone gains or loses weight at times in a manner they aren’t okay with. Everyone has that moment of looking at themselves after some period of time and having that glorious emotionally overwhelming sense of “I look (good).”

    Continued below

    Everything in this little series is so heartwarming and wholesome and if I were to further pontificate I would fill up our website’s server to the point of crashing. I haven’t even touched on the art which, while simplistic, is so aesthetically pleasing while accompanying such deft writing that it does its job in fulfilling half of a symbiotic relationship to the point that it becomes an afterthought. If you’re looking for a feel good read, go check out Marcy’s Tumblr.

    A Better Place
    ‘One of Ours’ – ‘Rest Now’
    Updates: Thursdays
    By Harry Bogosian
    Reviewed by Elias Rosner

    Other than a brief Christmas interlude, the third of which we’ve seen thus far , the chapters covered this time from “A Better Place” are singular in their focus. It’s unsurprising, as the fight between Hannah and the First on behalf of Tina has been building since we were first introduced to Hannah’s world. This battle represents the end of a book, the season finale, the culmination of three years of work, and it feels like it. It’s not very long, just a few pages, but every panel is intense and impactful, putting on display the power that Hannah wields and the power of her opponents. I particularly love how Bogosian turns the humor of a “destroy all” gun into a serious beat that clearly and effectively established how unprepared Hannah is for this battle.

    Tina did her homework and the stakes have never been higher for Hannah.

    At first, it seems like Hannah is gonna do what all final bosses do in the middle of a story: take the surprise hit and then absolutely wreck the player’s plans. That’s not what happens here. Hannah is thoroughly trashed after a couple back and forth exchanges. I gotta point out the way Bogosian does the lettering for these pages because he continues to use the video game world idea to its fullest, rendering the speech of The First as if it manifested in front of each creature, as if it were subtitles above their heads. It creates this rad 3-D effect on the page and when Hannah responds in kind, her own lettering red rather than blue, her words carry more weight than if they were in a regular dialog balloon.

    It also makes the page composition more effective, having Hannah be smaller than the words that surround her.

    With these chapters, Bogosian’s “A Better Place” continues to impress, crafting an impactful fight that elucidates on the characters and the world as well as the supplemental material — tags and descriptions — being additive and engrossing rather than extraneous without ever having the pages themselves require the knowledge. Knowing time makes creations more powerful, more “real,” is not necessary for following the stakes or actions of the “destroy all’s” failure, but figuring that out from the extra material is satisfying and enriches the narrative without over-burdening the main story.

    There are many webcomics that take advantage of the uniqueness of their platforms to do interesting narrative things; “A Better Place” is an exemplar of this ethos.

    The Boxer
    Pages: Episodes 1-3
    Schedule: Thursdays
    Written and Illustrated By JH
    Color Assists by Yoo-Dam Oh and Jing Jing
    Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

    Early episodes of “The Boxer” make it seem like the comic primarily produced by JH will be following typical fighting/boxing manga structures as a prodigious youth dances circles around the countries number three super middleweight. At first I thought doing this kind of action in the medium would be poorly done, that was a poor assumption. The near frictionless scrolling of the vertical format is to this strips advantage as JH peppers the strip with panels with wildly different angles and perspective with copious speed lines. It replicates the sense of fluidity and freedom this naturally gifted athlete. Until all the vigor and exuberance runs into tried veteranship and some inescapable laws of physics.

    Over the course of the next several episodes “Boxer” again leans into several narrative tropes associated with boxing stories, that they are primarily a space for stories about fathers, sons, and masculinity, but like the natural form the first episode puts switches up their punches midswing and catches the reader with an uppercut they never saw coming. That virtuoso boxer is a bully and sociopath, not the sole main character of the story. He shares the spotlight with two other men who seem antithetical to the hyperviolence that permeates the book and culture it depicts. One is on the Tetsuya Naito wave length and tranquillo all the time. The other is, well, a nerd.

    Continued below

    I originally only planned to read the first four episodes, but ended up reading the 7 that have been posted so far. JH knows how to make an engaging strip that feels episodic while still working in a serialized narrative. Their strips are engaging and take time to read, which is somewhat paradoxical given the lack of friction. “The Boxer” is a different from the other kinds of fight comics I’ve found on Webtoon thus far, it’s closer to “All-Rounder Meguru” but with a heavy dash of high school melodrama. It makes for a potent mix as these three boys battle it out and try to figure out what it means to be a man.

    Detached
    Page #44-45
    Updates: Varies
    By Angela Oddling
    Reviewed by Jason Jeffords Jr

    Two weeks ago I talked about a new webtoon I found and loved called, “RIP You and Me,” the artist on that title was Angela Oddling. I absolutely fell in love with her style. Luckily, I looked into her name more and found she has another webtoon she does herself titled, “Detached.” So, I knew I had to check it out!

    The last two pages uploaded are shorter than the other updates, but it’d be quite awkward starting this write-up midway through the last chapter. Nonetheless, I’ll speak on a little of the story up to here, then Pages #44 and #45.

    “Detached’s” story is about Casey (a human) who has to overcome her insecurities and anxieties, but the best part is the why and how. It seems a year before the story a heart-shaped hole opened up in her chest bringing her personal demons into the world as weird creatures named, Oddlings. Funny enough, I didn’t put two and two together that these creatures share the name of Angela’s last name. Honestly, that’s pretty cool.

    Throughout the pages, we learn a little more of the Oddlings and their place on earth, while Casey is trying to get herself together. Oddling never gives too much info at once, just enough to keep you entranced. Yet one of the most interesting aspects is the two most recent pages that begin Chapter 5. We are introduced to a new character that wants to be an Oddling guardian. Not much is given on this character yet, but if you go back to when Casey was in Queen Syel’s room you can see a picture of this character with a flower crown and horns. So, I’m interested where Oddling is taking this.

    I adore Oddling’s art, but I think the thing I enjoy the most is watching her growth. Throughout the series, you can see her experimenting with her style. The first few updates were just different shades of one color with few panels then she starts to add colors. The further on we go she starts experimenting with panel placement, more negative space, then she moves toward a more American comic style paneling. That last style doesn’t work that well for a webtoon and it seems she figured that out, as she went to a more detailed full page style. The last few updates of “Detached” have stuck with this more detailed full page style and it fits amazingly. But, not only did the styles change, but her ability improved as well. As gorgeous as her older work is, the recent pages are sights to behold.

    Another great aspect of her art are the designs. The world is oozing with beautiful details, while the characters each look unique.

    “Detached” is a heartwarming tale that deals with personal problems many have dealt with. Oddling portrays it in such a manner that it’s taken seriously, yet it isn’t a chore to read. Instead, you want to fully engulf yourself in this tale. On a side note; Oddling has a youtube video explaining the history of the story. Sadly, I didn’t have enough time to check it out, but I do plan too! I love extras like this.

    Trekker
    Pages: Book 9 “Sins of the Fathers”
    Schedule: Mondays
    Written and Illustrated by Ron Randall
    Colored by Jeremy Colwell
    Lettered by Ken Bruzenak
    Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

    Continued below

    “Trekker” takes a couple of big steps as we reach “Sins of the Fathers” originally published in “Trekker Special” #1. This is a 40 page one shot the goes into the origin story of Mercy St. Claire and marks the start of “Trekker” comics being published in color. These two features create interesting possibilities and some features I am not immediately sold on.

    Serializing this series as a webcomic with the use of blog posts to add context and historical notes by Randall continues to pay off with this major story receiving a lengthy write up detailing the other members of Team Trekker. It also talks about the process of recoloring this issue by Jeremy Colwell. This story did mark the beginning of “Trekker” being published in color but due to changes in the process redoing the colors would make things better. Or so Randall argues, I am currently not sold on the coloring. There isn’t anything wrong with Colwell’s work it just feels slightly out of step with Randall’s line work. Maybe it’s because the use of color pushes “Trekker” away from the late 80s black and white explosion feel. Maybe it’s because Colwell’s values are see too high and everything is a bit too saturated and smooth compared to the textured screen tone effects Randall had been employing previously. It will take some adjustment to be sure.

    The extra page count however has not changed Randall’s strong use of the page as a unit of storytelling. Other than a couple of about 1/3 of a page sized panels the general structure hasn’t changed. It is what allows the cyborg reveal on the third page to land effectively even though this is a character we met the previous page and know nothing about. It is still early going in “Sins of the Fathers” meaning there is plenty of time for “Trekker” to go big, but it seems doubtful “Trekker” will turn into the first issue of “Bloodstrike.” That strong sense of structure allows the opening 10 pages to honestly act as if they were published in “Dark Horse Presents” as they setup and tell a story over 10 pages. There is a fulfilling reading experience that feels lacking at times in contemporary single issues.

    Like Colwell’s coloring actually getting some concrete information on Mercy’s backstory will be an adjustment. Not because Randall and the teams work is bad, it just doesn’t seem all that necessary. It is also a bit generic as we find Mercy to be driven by the death of her mother and father due to the corruption in New Gealph City. There is still plenty of time for some gritt and texture to be added to things, but it seems to clean and predictable at this point.


    //TAGS | Webcomics

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