Welcome back to The Webcomics Weekly!
It’s 2020 and there’s nothing we love more than bringing you new and old to welcome in a decade that’s sure to be characterized by referring to the 1920s. We got your “A Better Place”‘s, your “Order of the Stick”‘s. We got “Bicycle Boy,” “Down to Earth” and “Lomy in the Abyss.” We got it all. . .if by all you mean five.
A Better Place
‘Crimes Against God’ – ‘Still Loyal’
By Harry Bogosian
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
Man, I love this comic but doing these reviews 5 pages at a time is maddening. The strengths of “A Better Place” are in the immaculate and intricate construction of the world that bolsters the story, and that only comes about when reading large swaths at a time. The greater whole only becomes visible once we reach a critical mass. Page by page, week by week, the story holds my attention, with small cliffhangers building to small reveals which in turn builds to greater and greater cliffhangers and greater and deeper mysteries.
On the page, the story remains simple, though the twisty nature of espionage and resistance means that relationships are constantly in flux. In the descriptions, the deep lore bolsters and contrasts the page’s contents while in the tags, we are given some levity — an in to the joke, albeit a morbid one. Arma assisting Nina escape is sudden, though not totally unexpected from the page’s contents alone, but is heavily telegraphed if you’ve been keeping up with the descriptions. However, week by week, you may have forgotten about those details.
I think what I’m trying to get at is the storytelling in “A Better Place,” at this point at least, is all at once dense and sporadic, which favors a release schedule that is more dense than what was given or even for what I’ve arbitrarily chosen. Bogosian does a phenomenal job making each page work stand alone as well as in sequence, a trait that not even some famous Big 2 writers can handle, and I am completely engrossed in the narrative being told, a feeling helped by Bogosian’s lush backgrounds and detailed but uncluttered pages. It’s simply a good thing that we are well past the initial publication of these pages because week by week must have been torturous.
Can I also say that the panel layout at the bottom of ‘Crimes Against God’ was so good? Because it was. The tension? The fear? Ah! Masterful.
Pages Ch 1. and Ch 7 pages 1-22
Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli
Hello webcomic enthusiasts. I’m here breaking the rules again, as “Bicycle Boy” isn’t exactly a “new” series. In fact, it has been running as far back as 2013. It did, however, get back on track recently with a regular schedule in its seventh chapter and I only just discover it, so it’s new to me, right?
First and foremost, this strip is very nice to look at. Artist Jackarais’s expressions are a fine example of how a cartoonist can make their characters emote. While the linework is left seemingly intentionally sketchy, there is an overall polish that pulls the visuals together. Jack’s work is a masterclass in solid structure over fine-tuning. Where the fine details are less than so, they lie atop skeletal structures with an abundance of dynamic movement. The compositions are well-balanced, the reader’s eye is directed smoothly, and the colors–despite a post-apocalyptic setting–are well separated in quieter moments and absolutely pop when there is a call for tension.
Jack’s use of sound effects is also noteworthy in that they are well-crafted and also fit well within the greater piece. The “Tnk tnk tnk” of titular character Poet’s cybernetic limbs as he runs away in the first chapter especially stands out. Where the visuals are quite striking, these lettering devices are unobtrusive, and only further contribute to the overall experience.
To explain the plot of “Bicycle Boy” would be an effort in futility here as reading the first and most recent chapters gave me very little but this is not in any way a strike against the series. I’m actually rather intrigued by it. The beginning chapter is beautifully quiet in its introduction. We see Poet awake in the desert, and slowly make his way through a barren landscape before discovering a bicycle–GET IT?!!!–and later running from some mysterious figures. There is little dialogue but the visual storytelling is effective and keeps your butt in the seat.Continued below
I enjoyed finding this little gem and will certainly be reading the complete work after having reviewed these bookends.
Down to Earth
By Pookie Senpai
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
“Down to Earth” does a lot of things right in the first three episode. Writer-artist Pookie Senpai continually employs moment to moment paneling to obtain comedic effect, which actually takes advantage of the much lamented overly large panel gutters often found on Webtoon. They make good use of the vertical scroll at the start of episodes that draws the reader in. Their cartooning is expressive and minimalist. “Down to Earth” is a good example of the functional elements of the vertically scrolling webcomic. There are also some moments where the spell doesn’t fully take hold.
“Down to Earth” follows Kade an apathetic, apparently heartbroken, adult working a menial job at not-Spencer’s Gifts. Pookie works in a nice homage to Deadpool t-shirts without it being distracting or overkill. It’s in this early section that the moment to moment paneling cleanly articulate Kade’s apathy and the perceived rudeness. This mode gets a slightly different reorientation when his girlfriend breaks up with him, as he plays aloof at the whole thing.
Artistically these moments largely work and are a good example of the kind of blocking and panels-as-pacing. The sequence with his ex-girlfriend, however, isn’t as effective for a couple of reasons. The readers have a lack of time with Kade, we don’t really know much about him. So as his former partner pours soda over him for his rudeness and vacancy it is hard it get a read on if he’s actually the problem here. His actions cause similar reactions but there is a great difference in scale. This is a sequence also that is reliant on to a degree the readers voice for vocal inflection that isn’t really supported by the same style of lettering throughout.
Eventually alien element of “Down to Earth” comes into play. It to is another largely good example of the conventional way these types of sequences are shown. Pookie works in a great physical comedy spot. Much like Kade the reader is coming in at a page deficit with Zaida, who by all appearances is another Born Sexy Yesterday trope incarnate. It isn’t that she is naïve to human culture, these sort of alien come to Earth stories are reliant on that for comedy and commentary, it’s how Pookie frames her as she hovers to a not-PS4 with her butt clearly emphasized. Kade doesn’t seem to notice, but that just reinforces his asexual apathy considering what has fallen in his lap. Zaida is treated like classic good girl art but with a kawaii twist.
It’s early going for “Down to Earth,” and Pookie on a technical level does a largely good job using the medium for their story. At the same time that deficit of page time undercuts it in parts and plays into sexist tropes. As the strip goes on it could easily turn that off that path, but to see if that happens it is a matter of page and real time.
Lomy In The Abyss
Chapter 1, Pages 1-9
By Shel Kahn
Reviewed by Jason Jeffords Jr
Rejoice music and Webcomic lovers! By golly, do I have a banger (in the music sense) for you this week. “Lomy in the Abyss” was another Webcomic I found on Twitter and wanted to read. Besides the amazing art and relatable story, there was one thing that Kahn added that made me interested. During each update, they would add a Youtube video underneath with different music. The reason why? Well, let’s finish this opening paragraph and write more about “Lomy in the Abyss!”
To begin, “Lomy in the Abyss” is vastly different than the other Webcomics I’ve read. That’s because it’s more down to earth and less fantasy. Genre diversity is a great thing! Instead of a story of Dragons or space, “Lomy in the Abyss” focuses on 12th-grade Metalhead Lomy. That plot alone is quite relatable to a few people. Granted the way Kahn showcases Lomy listening to music could fall under “Fantasy”, I’m not counting that.Continued below
The story isn’t some grandiose plot of good versus evil or a hero’s journey. Instead, it’s about Lomy trying to get close to a new fellow Metalhead (Louis) arriving at her school. Nonetheless, if we’re being honest, that struggle is grandiose in itself. Everyone that has tried to make friends that share a hobby completely understands Lomy’s struggle. Hell, most people can relate to being an 18-year old or going to high school. That’s one of “Lomy in the Abyss’” greatest strengths. It can relate to a vast multitude of people. Plus the characters are fun and make you want to stay in their world for updates to come.
The trick Kahn employs with visualizing music is a sight to behold. When Lomy listens to music, Kahn draws the story happening inside of the music in a huge bubble forming from the headphones. During some of these visuals, they show a knight riding a dragon, skeletons regurgitating weird red tentacles or apocalypse landscapes. Kahn makes sure these moments burst off the screen with brilliant colors while occupying a fair bit of the panel. This technique is fantastic, at times I swear I can hear the song Lomy is listening too. But, during these visual music treats, Kahn adds in another layer.
When someone talks to Lomy while she is vibing out, the bubble overlays the words, showing she can’t hear them due to the volume. This visual tactic is immensely smart and adds a lot to the visual elements. Everything about the visual representation of music is fantastic in its execution. Yet, Kahn adds even more to this with the aforementioned Youtube videos. Yes, after many words I will explain the inclusion. It’s a simple one, but a uniquely smart decision. At the bottom of each update, Kahn adds a Youtube video that said character on the page may be listening too. This extra layer of storytelling is unique, fun, and smart too boot. Instead of just using your eyes to read, “Lomy in the Abyss” uses your other senses to boost the storytelling.
I absolutely love every single expect of “Lomy in the Abyss”. For a Webcomic that just started, I cannot wait to keep up with it each update. Plus I love Lomy’s pants, and her full name, Lomina, is amazing! I’m using Lomina as my custom video game character names from here on out!
Order of the Stick
Pages 186 – 190
By Rich Burlew
Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi
“Order of the Stick” continue with its hilarious romp through the world of RPG trope. Same as the update before it, it steers clear of some of the more political and social commentary of the past, that although sorely missed, did open the floodgates for some very amusing observations about gaming conventions as a whole.
For once, the order provides a great explanation to the futile nature of mcguffins, i.e. the plot element of object that is fundamental for the characters, but often neutral to the reader. Here, that perception is inverted, with even the characters feeling bewildered as to how mundane their final quest ends up being.
Back at villain camp, a series of antagonists, or even group of antagonist, show how villains ultimate weakness is their willingness to work together. It is almost as if their own side-quests are so incompatible with one another that one true pollen must persevere. It makes for some truly fourth-wall breaking moments.
Overall, while these updates are not groundbreaking as some of the past, they still hold the signature humor and sharp dialogue “Order of the Stick” is well known for. Do not miss it.