The Webcomics Weekly is back in your life. This week things get a webcomic gets a new name as “Verse” becomes “The Otherknowns,” “Ryan” continues to make mistakes. “The Witch’s Throne” is some anime D&D/ The “Agents” have a fight about what to do with the newest Agent. And “Sam & Fuzzy” deal with some ‘Skull Panda Stuff!’ So a pretty normal week for the Webcomics Crew
Pages 147-156 (Ch.4)
Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays
By Mildred Louis
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
After their run in with the mysterious final Agent, the team regroups at headquarters aka Norah and Adele’s dorm room. Which I have to say, isn’t very realistic that dorm is like a Friends apartment. Arbitrary realism aside this setting allows Louis to really flex and show off some just phenomenal staging and craft as Adele, Paige, and Kendel, have a disagreement over what the best course of action should be. Adele is on the side of, treat her as an adversary. Paige and Kendel are on the side of, we should try and get to know her better. With the Good Dr. Blackwater in the middle trying to keep her charges united. Where is Norah in all the? In the extreme foreground thinking over the mysterious Agent themed artifact she picked up from the fallen monster.
Louis uses the page as a macro organizing unit and panels within it to set up and express these group tensions, and Norah’s disconnect from them. We start with a nice deep view of the dorm with everyone in their respective corners. The middle portion of the page is the divided panels between Paige and Adel with Kendel, gutter running between them Louis’ lettering jutting into this space and clearly “talking” past the figure in the panel. The final third of the page returns to that deep focus of the dorm, with Norah now in the extreme foreground with the artifacts glow even more prominent. It is a soothing color in contrast to the increasingly tense, dense, background with the panel filled to the brim in dialog – which is cluttered but still readable. This feeling of disconnect is what earns the moment pages later when finally turns around and asks “what … is going on” as Paige decides to walk out.
Louis fantastic job of establishing these characters makes this sequence read as earned dramatically. These aren’t 4 ultra-defined super dimensional characters, there just isn’t the page space in comics to do that. But the core of these four characters: Paige’s skepticism, Adele’s belief in inherent goodness, Kendall’s cheery nature, Norah’s utter disconnect and ability to bring it together, have all been established which makes these things play as dramatically true.
They have more pressing things to figure out, like how to find this new Agent. It’s surprisingly reflexive to go over the “fate” driven coincidences that have brought them all together, until they all figure it out everyone of them is in that mythology class. Nu-Agent must be in there as well. Or she could be right down the hall, and her name is Jordan. On its face this could read as contrived but it just as easily reads as “fate” bringing them together.
After a couple of weeks of heavy action and Magical Girl fighting, this was a nice chance for everyone to catch their breath before the next big thing happens. The staging by Louis inside the dorm is just an excellent use of space, which is further extended to the use of the comic page in representing it. The Magical Girl inspiration is really fun, but this could be a straight forward slice of life college strip and be just as visually interesting.
Chapter 1, Pages 10-16
By Lora Merriman
Reviewed by, Jason Jeffords Jr
Ahh, “The Otherknown” is taking us on a grand tour! I love grand tours! My favorite would be “Dragon Ball GT.” Yes I went there. No, don’t try to fight my opinion. Plus we aren’t speaking about that grand tour. Instead we are speaking on Judd, and Reed’s grand tour for Chandra! Step into the Grand Tour of “The Otherknown” with me this week!Continued below
Within the first panel Judd continues the trend of there being a “rank” between the people that work on the planet and Chandra’s family. This in the form of mentioning stairs might be a bit much for “indoor” people. But, before he calls her an “indoor” person he was about to call her otherwise, until he corrected himself. The simple line alone brings up a multitude of questions. What was he originally going to call her? Does whatever group she belongs to not use stairs or such? Those are just a few questions.
Questions aside, Merriman answers some that haven’t been asked yet! Such as, what powers Chandra’s Aunts warp drive. Every world that’s created benefits from rules setup around said creation. In some magic based stories it bodes well to know how magic works. The same can be said on Science Fiction. By giving tid bits out like this Merriman adds background to the universe, while explaining its laws. All it takes to add in this story building lore is info easily dropped in the dialogue in an organic formula.
Merriman seems to understand this, as throughout the six pages I’ve gone through today, and the nine previous she adds in lore that can be expanded upon later. This while making the lore building moments organic, and not as if the characters are overly explaining to the readers. Funny enough none of the workers seem to know how the Chronotite (warp drive fuel) seems to work. Saying that if they knew they wouldn’t be here. Continuing the “rank” difference.
Much like the first nine pages, “The Otherknown” pages 10-16 focus on its characters and world building more than big action sets. Merriman’s simplistic art keeps the trend of working perfectly for the story being told at the moment. For the introduction of the workshop Merriman adds an a single full page showcase the site in all its glory. This page elegantly showcases why a new person would be amazed at first step in. Essentially making it a smart decision to showcase this workshop in this manner.
As the story progresses so does the little nods of lore, and world building. That may be one of Merriman’s greatest skills. That and the amazing shadows on the characters. Seriously, the lighting/shadows seen throughout “The Otherknown” is fantastic!
Updates: Every Monday
By Ryan Estrada
Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi
“Ryan Mande Mistakes” is such an endearing and funny comic, which is not an usual combination. Most often, the endearing part dominates all else and, while that can be good, it does leave those strip a bit monotone. Not so with Ryan.
Although not all of the jokes will make you laugh out loud, it leaves readers in a constant stage of near-laughter, with varying mileages depending on each reader’s own back-story and how they connect with the titular character.
This time around, Ryan continues on his attempts to get a comic published in a major newspaper, while struggling to complete kindergarten (yes, really). There are some truly funny moments when the perception of a child, little more than a toddler, grasps with the inconsistencies of adulthood. The art combines really well with the narrative style, being as cartoony as they come, but very well fleshed out, with a distinct cast and backgrounds. This is not one of those series where every character is cookie-cut from the rest.
This chapter ends with the perfect lead-in into grown-up life or, for the case of Ryan, having a younger baby brother. This is surely a series to follow, as the young boy grown before our eyes… and our laughters.
Off the Books parts 17-21 plus some Skull Panda Stuff!
Updates: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
By Sam Logan
Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli
‘Off the Books’ has certainly been one of the highlights of my reviews of “Sam & Fuzzy.” It is an effective character study of both Fuzzy and Rikk Estoban. As Fuzzy’s growing ire for Hazel and closure is on full display, and Estoban is broken down well throughout the arc. Part 17 begins with Fuzzy’s reclaiming of the painting he was tasked with retrieving and an amusing instance of his staunch advocation for knowing the difference between a paddle and an oar. But it is the following conversations with both Estoban and Sam that end this story with so much gravitas.Continued below
Estoban informs Fuzzy that “artists reinvent themselves all the time” upon Fuzzy’s discovery that the Dexter Williams painting was, in fact, a pre-Skull Panda Estoban work that was panned critically. But it is Estoban’s rebuttal to Fuzzy’s revelation of a desire to close out his feelings for Hazel ring most poignant, as he is told of “little disappointments” in life to “forget them. They’re done. It’s over. Let them go. Don’t keep hanging on in some vain hope that somehow, someday, they might still work out. It’s too dangerous.”
Fuzzy’s obsession with his own past and Hazel looks to be potentially dangerous to the future of the titular duo. While he informs Sam that having taken the job against Sam’s wishes, nothing unethical occurred, Sam points out that not knowing beforehand still makes it unethical. In a rather dark ending to a “Sam & Fuzzy” story-line, Fuzzy lets him know “I’ve done worse.”
This strip goes places I don’t expect it to at times, and I mean that in the best way. Even in the weeks I have given it less than stellar reviews, it keeps me hanging on. I’d even mentioned to my editors changing series at points but then something like ‘Off the Books’ comes along, and I realize I just can’t quit “Sam & Fuzzy.”
Oh, and Skull Panda eats some guy’s head and there’s a joke about a vacuum cleaner in space with icicles on it.
‘The Encounter: Part 5’ – ‘Alexander’s Will’
By Cedric Caballes
Colored by Jojo Gubser
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
“The Witch’s Throne” is an anime video game put into comic form. Think Skullgirls meets D&D meets “The Gamer” with a healthy bit of Shonen action mixed in. Y’all, this comic feels like it was made for me. It’s got those good, good tropes of super powerful people kicking the snot out of each other, a textual and deeply intriguing reason for why the world operates on video game logic, complete with HUDs, critical hits, and those sweet intro cards, as well as a design aesthetic that’s sleek, kinetic and, most importantly, has a lot of characters with pointed teeth when they smile.
I may be just a bit biased in favor of this comic.
But fear not! For the narrative being crafted is deep and, now that we’ve started season two with ‘Alexander’s Will,’ the party has been assembled and the adventure is kicking into high gear. The final four episodes of season one are heavy, which has always been the case for “The Witch’s Throne” but now that we’ve spent nigh on 60 chapters training and living with Agnii, Grom and Reksha, the moments hit harder and the trials are more stressful. If a new characters is gravely wounded, it’s worrying but if your fave is near death, it’s downright nerve-wracking. So how do we start season 2? Why, with some secret lore, backstory, and a kickass pose by our intrepid party.
And that’s saying nothing about the artwork. There’s a lot to love about Caballes’ art. The comic is laid out for the scroll, more manhwa (think webtoon) than manga or traditional American page layout, and in the scroll, the tension lies. In ‘Alexander’s Will,’ Caballes has a scene of the new character Alva, sitting on a throne. The scene is static, with a slight zoom out panel to panel, as she wakes up from her memory and has a bit of an expositional breakdown. It’s a damn fine scene that accomplishes a lot in just a few panels. The digital linework is crisp and clean, allowing Gubser to define the scene and the contours with bright colors and shading.
Now, before you go off to read the whole thing, there is a catch. While the first few episodes are free to read, the rest are behind a semi-paywall. Part of Tapas’ “premium” comics offerings, you can buy ink (or earn it for free via watching ads and the like) to unlock episodes. This is one comic I truly believe is worth the payments, though I did read the updates I had missed when it was free on Friday. (I’m sorry! This column goes up too late to capitalize on it.) We try hard not to highlight paywalled comics here, as the great part of webcomics are their low barrier to entry. That said, episode 1 of season two is also free, so if you want a very confusing start, begin there! Otherwise, save that ink and get them one episode at a time.