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    The Webcomics Weekly #15: Penultimate Tidings for 2018…to the eXtreme (12/18/18)

    By | December 18th, 2018
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Welcome back all you radical, tubular, wonderful webcomics fans! As we near the end of the solar Gregorian year, we here at The Webcomics Weekly are winding down as well. One more post before 2018 turns to 2019 and to celebrate, we’ve got 6 webcomics for you all to enjoy. Three you know and three you might know so check them out to see what’s changed, what’s good, and what is way too close “Youngblood.”

    Bad Machinery
    December 1, 2009 – December 15, 2009
    Updates: Completed
    By John Allison
    Reviewed by Bodhi

    After a lot of build-up and relatively minimal action in previous pages, things finally start to happen in John Allison’s “Bad Machinery” in this bunch of updates. It’s always a foreboding of sorts when Allison namechecks “The Damned United”. There’s a paranormal, almost X-Files-esque, appearance. There’s an attempt at a break-in. We get introduced to two new characters: soccer club owner Kropotkin’s irate wife Jana and Amy Beckwith-Chilton’s father. A crack appears in the friendship of Shauna and Lottie with the introduction of Mildred in their lives.

    Allison does interesting things with the guests in the drinks party at Kropotkin’s house to make them stand out. Especially with their hair. And his drawings of Jack’s cartoonesque movements trying to act like a hoodie ninja made me smile. Plus there’s a buildup of tension which when it was defused made me realize how expertly it had been set up. Have I mentioned before Allison is the absolute champion at drawing people leaning against a wall? No? Well, there you have it.

    While “Bad Machinery” does deal with fantastical aspects, Allison never loses sight of the fact these are teenagers (yes they are fictional, so what?) whose lives he is chronicling. His depiction of the weird and unfair social truths of school life always makes me nod in agreement. So when a character says ‘I know it shouldn’t matter, but it does’ it rang especially true.

    Next time there’s redemption and we meet Erin. Who? Exactly.

    Chris and Christina
    Episodes 91-95
    Updates: “um, sometimes” in the words of its own creator
    By Chris Fenoglio
    Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli

    Chris Fenoglio describes his strip as a “dorky comic about me, my wife, and our two dogs…one of which can talk”; but it’s what they talk about that makes this series interesting. The first in this latest batch of strips begins with a commentary on Bill Maher’s blog post in the wake of Stan Lee’s passing; and Fenoglio uses the opportunity to both denounce Maher while simultaneously poking fun at himself and comics in general.

    Given the following four installments this seems to be a good summation of both Fenoglio’s personality and the webcomic itself. What follows are a well-played skewering of the views of Trump supporters, an endearing moment between the titular characters as Chris pontificates on wedding vows, and bad puns…just…so many bad puns.

    Fenoglio has a unique artistic style in a sea of “cartoon-y” looks. Perhaps it is the size of bouffant that Chris carries, or perhaps it is something else, but there’s an ineffable quality to the visuals that make them appealing here.

    “Chris and Christina” is a series I should have checked out some time ago, and reading these five entries will make you want to go back and check it out from its beginnings. I certainly am.

    Lost Nightmare
    Pages 4.01 – 4.10
    Updates: Completed
    By Julia K. (a.k.a. Miyuli)
    Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi

    After a chapter dedicated to Jasper, “Lost Nightmare” returns its focus to series protagonist Ink, as he ventures forward into the woods neighbouring both the land of Nightmares and Dreams. On his journey for acceptance – and misdirection – he is now met with two additional nightmares, Nila and Moki.

    Once again, Miyuli has used colors as a main narrative tool. “Lost Nightmare” had already shown that technique when introducing Ink and Jasper, and now the choice moves to red for Nila and Moki. The way that the artist utilizes this is beautiful and effective: tones of red start to populate the page, becoming more and more prominent as new characters are finally fully revealed. It adds both to the narrative and to a less-obvious aspect of their personalities.

    Continued below

    This update, however, is a bit light on content, as it essentially covers Ink wandering through the woods until that search is interrupted. There are some smaller clarification about the larger world around them, but nothing that readers could not have deducted from the story so far. While this is not necessarily bad, it does remove a bit of the momentum from the stronger beginning and execution of the chapter dedicated to Jasper.

    “Lost Nightmare” is surely a series that takes its time with events and characters. It is all about the journey that Ink is undergoing and the characters that join him or oppose him. And although it can feel a bit empty at times, it usually changes the pacing in the nick of time to keep its audience invested. Here’s hoping that the continuation of the current ‘Fox Nightmares’ chapter adheres to that trend.

    Mokepon
    Pages 79-83
    Updates: Mondays and Fridays
    By H0lyhandgrenade
    Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant

    “Mokepon” first started off, as one would suspect, as a parody of the typical “Pokemon” adventure. The protagonist is, against his wishes, sent on a Pokemon journey, where he has to run chores for the Professor and catch Pokemon in spite of being completely disinterested.

    However, the tale took a turn when protagonist Atticus actually joined Team Rocket. From there, while it still continued the tradition of “Go to new town, battle the gym,” it included Atticus struggling with turning to a life of crime and trying to successfully steal a Pokemon.

    The story continues in these chapters with Atticus having nearly successfully completed a heist, complete with a disguise that would make Jessie and James proud. It gives us a great page devoid of dialogue, where he strolls through the town with his Team Rocket uniform barely visible under his disguise, a satisfied smirk on his face.

    This is an important moment for his character, given the many possible emotions behind it. Is he happy to have successfully stolen Pokemon? That he got his revenge on the snobby Pokemon Fan Club members? That his success may get Team Rocket to return his Charmeleon, Dragonthing, to him? Perhaps it’s a mix of all those, but the ambiguity of the smile works nicely.

    Then we get a possible hiccup, with a member of the Fan Club (whose design is clearly based on the Beauty trainer from the games, complete with a very short dress) catches up to him. His rebuffs of her advances are rather amusing (and has some commenters thinking he may be asexual, which would be nice representation if so), before leading into a good character moment that explores his own perceived flaws.

    H0lyhandgrenade does a great job with the illustrations. They’re all in black and white, but there’s some nice shading at play with the characters and the uses of black or shadows. For some of the pages, she’s experimenting with digital art before switching back to pen and ink, but while the difference is slightly noticeable it’s not distracting. Overall, the art does a nice job setting the tone of the story and carrying the atmosphere.

    “Mokepon” is proving to be an engaging webcomic for older fans of the “Pokemon” franchise. It’s a far more cynical look at the Pokemon world, but not devoid of hope or positivity. If anyone wants to add a bit of snark and moral ambiguity to the world of “Pokemon,” this is a good place to start.

    The Strange Tales of Oscar Zahn
    Chapters 30-33
    Updates: Wednesdays
    By Tri Vuong
    Reviewed by Elias Rosner

    “Oscar Zahn’s” third arc, ‘Stardust and Soliloquies’ starts off quiet, directly contrasting ‘The Last Soldier of Somme’s’ tone. It also marks a shift away from the tightly focused, one-on-one conversations of the first two arcs, to a larger, group dynamic. The voices of these new characters and their design are distinct but also archetypal. All seafaring folk, they exude the mariner’s spirit, even though three of them all seem to be mystical, walking diving gear.

    There is also a more subdued humor to these chapters. Where ‘The Last Soldier of Somme” had many moments of banter and absurdity, ‘Stardust and Soliloquies” is more reserved, the humor of old only coming about in the flashback of how Edmund met Oscar at the end of Chapter 33. It is replaced, however, by a greater sense of wonder. Vuong infuses the adventure with dread early on through the implication that something otherworldly has it’s mitts on Edmund, but this is secondary, at the moment, to conveying the majesty of the oceans beneath the ocean. The fish glow and shimmer with an iridescent pink, all the while Edmund and the captain chat.

    Continued below

    Shifting the materials used to create the comic, Chapter 32 was a bit disorienting. Vuong notes that he switched to traditional pencil & paper from digital at that chapter and as such, the linework became more assured. However, the coloring, and thus, the lighting, was affected, removing some of the moodiness from the chapter, and flattening faces more than they otherwise should have been. That said, by Chapter 33, this begins to lessen, and the new style helps strengthen the core of the series. The journey is just getting started for Oscar and Edmund. I wonder where the waves will take them next.

    Young Blood
    Chapters 1
    Schedule: Unlisted
    By javidraws
    Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

    No, “Young Blood” by the pseudonymous artist javidraws is not yet another reboot the eXtreme “Youngblood.” It is diametrically the opposite of that 90s comic, with its California sunset-esque soft lighting and aesthetic, a slice of life focus, female characters, and distinct lack of male gaze creepiness. “Young Blood,” according to the summary is a comic about a group young adults as they experience friendship, romance, and drama, while searching for their place in the world according to the summary. The first chapter more than hits those generic slice of life markers as Pepper finally blocks Ivy’s number. From a narrative perspective, the first chapter “Young Blood” doesn’t do much to stand out against the litany of queer slice of life strips out there on the internet.

    The good thing about visual mediums, it often isn’t about what story you’re telling but how it is told. Javi’s soft, sunset, lighting and color palette when mixed with the large gutters, often found in Line or Tapas strips, aesthetically represents that feeling of ennui better than many of its contemporaries. The very first image in this strip sets up that sense materialistic boredom and isolation, highlighting Pepper’s beautiful but empty room. Subsequent panels reveal Pepper herself, lounging on her bed, juxtaposed against a pair of panels highlighting her smart phone and the previously mentioned blocking of Ivy’s number. Panels soon begin to morph together as Pepper and Topaz talk, but they never put Pepper or her friend Topaz in the same one. The lettering and gutter between panels highlights the distance between these friends, even though they’re in the same room. Which makes their eventual union all the more powerful.

    Despite this strip being limited to one room, Javi drops out the background about halfway through. This decision is more effective in some spots than others. When the background is rendered as a solid mass of pink it effectively pushes Pepper and Topaz to the foreground and gives everything a sense of depth. When everything is overwritten by the sunset lighting it is less effective at making a dynamic visual. While this isn’t as dynamic it goes back to representing that sense of ennui as the duo wonder about a party and potential romantic futures.

    The first chapter of “Young Blood” gets off to an aesthetically strong start with Javi creating a palpable sense of ennui quicker than some series do in triple the time. That mixed with some decently effective, and fittingly vacant, expression work has me curious at what is store for the series.


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