Webcomics Weekly is back in your life. This Week: Norah starts to make a new friend in “Agents of the Realm.” Elias discovers a comic called “Meow Man” and how that fits into the nature of Japanese comics. Gustavo returns to “Raruurien.” “Sam and Fuzzy” go through some short filler bits after the conclusion of a long arc.
Agents of the Realm
Pages 57-67 (Ch. 2)
Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays
By Mildred Louis
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
After the arrival of Adele Silveira in the last batch of pages, this batch moves into the getting to know you phase. Or at least why are you crying so much, it’s kinda keeping me awake … that came out wrong.
Louis does a nice job of using costuming and body language to play Norah and Adele’s characters off one another even as they don’t really talk early on. Norah wants to go for a walk and talk it out. Adele has other ideas. Norah haphazardly puts on an extra sweater so it looks like she tried. Adele mysteriously throws a whole outfit together in the gutter space between a few panels. This several page sequence nicely contrasts Adele’s financial security and image consciousness with Norah’s seat of the pants approach.
They end up going for a drive in Adele’s sweet sports car. The driving sequence/page 65 is a wonderful bit of cartooning from Louis. It packs all the bits, gags, and jokes, of a driving montage into a single page. Adele has a bit of a lead foot. Norah maybe isn’t the fastest on directions. By putting it all on one page Louis gives a chunk of the map and lets us see where left could’ve been right and so on. It both supports the humor and enriches the environment. Eventually, they make it to a deserted main street which can only mean something magical will happen soon.
This batch of pages isn’t like the previous one where body language was the key to characterization. Here Louis plays up the class and temperamental differences between the two women and begins to establish Adele in the readers minds, before she’s even said her name.
Updates: Tuesday & Thursday
Translated by Dami Lee
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
In the United States, the dominant form of comedy comics for much of the medium’s history came from the three panel newspaper strips. In Japan, this tradition is continued with the 4-koma strips, of which “Nichijou” and “Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun” are notable examples. Why do I bring this up? Because I needed some framing device to introduce the format of “Meow Man,” which has never been printed on newspaper, or any paper for that matter, and hails from Korea, yet is more in the tradition of those formats than the usual webtoons/webcomics format.
It’s also a meme-tastic, side-splitting, other-hyphenated-adjective-descriptor comic with an utterly bonkers premise. . . which means this shit is right up my alley.
Y’all, you have to see this to believe it. Basically, there is a tall anthropomorphic cat named Claude that looks kinda like the ones from the “Cats” trailer, only stylized to be funny rather than abjectly horrifying, more like the one from the Space Dandy episode “It’s Always Been Dandy, Baby,” and it was saved from the rain by our main character, Bonnie, who is rightly terrified by this cat man who is more cat than man, when he offers her three wishes. From there things go off the rails in the weirdest ways and all you can do is laugh along at Bonnie and Claude’s misery.
Olso’s artwork isn’t anything particularly stunning, with faces and people that remain inconsistent even within each segment’s four panels, and loose, sharp linework, but this adds to the humor of the work. It’s more natural and less distracting than if it were to be highly polished. The surreal and gag-based humor benefits from the malleability of the figures. . .and also all the visual gags. I mean, Bonnie’s crush’s friends have the faces of squids while his shines, sparkles, and is very handsome, you don’t get much simpler or better than that. Except maybe for the last panel of ‘Oh Yeah’ in the fourth episode. That one is comedy gold.Continued below
Updates: Mondays & Thursdays
By Ann Maulina
Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi
Revisiting “Raruurien” after a long while feels like going back to a place you would trek with your family when you were young. The manner that artist and series’s creator Ann Maulina creates this world is mesmerising. Coincidentally, the opening pages of this batch of updates shows readers a little behind the scenes of just that, from the fauna of this realm, the dressing attire and littles pieces of alphabet and dialogue particular to the culture. It is more than extra material, though, as it feeds directly into some of the themes the following pages present.
Rien, the widowed mother of two young boys, continues on her struggle to properly raise her children, while keeping their magical gifts under control and away from prying eyes. However, as any parent can relate to, even the best efforts can go unnoticed, as one of her sons, Ra, is heartbroken by the fact they need to separate from their late father’s stead. Again, based on the broader customs of the place, the beast must go to a new owner after his passing, making that separation even further painful.
The art is gorgeous from start to finish. The story skips a few days right at the beginning, so the audience is thrown in a new setting in the middle of a trade route, so everything feels new and fresh, with a new coat of paint as color palette changes dramatically. Pulling back to the events that preceded that trip, Maulina zooms in on her leads with spot-on facial expressions, so important on this heartfelt moment of the boys lives.
The story itself, while small in scope, is grandiose in emotion and consequences. From their perspective, making a long journey is truly fundamental for Rien, Ra, and Ruu at this point in time, and the reason for that ties to all the challenges they’ve faced so far. It manages to remain true to character and expand the plot scope at the same time.
All in all, “Raruurien” is a joy to read and revisit multiple times. An honest story, fully settled on its scope, with amazing world building and visuals.
Sam & Fuzzy
How To Draw Fuzzy + Malcolm Explains the Universe + Employee of the Month parts 10-18
Updates: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
By Sam Logan
Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli
This week’s review brings us a couple of small, filler installments and the conclusion of ‘Employee of the Month.’ I was going to include the guest spots that follow but it turns out there’s a whole bunch of those so two week’s from now, the “Sam & Fuzzy” Happy-Fun-Time Hour (testing that name. Does that work? I feel like it works. You decide) will focus solely on those.
‘How To Draw Fuzzy’ reminds me of the variant covers Chip Zdarsky did this past year for Marvel, reveling in their own absurdity and meta humor. Telling the reader to burn all of the art supplies they’ve used in a ritual sacrifice to “Blotovia, god of ink and pen” gave me a nice chuckle. I’ve always found “How To Draw” books and segments in magazines to be mostly trite fare for the youngest of budding artists, even in my own younger years. Though many of the “Basic Training” segments from Wizard Magazine did go above and beyond and featured a bevvy of amazing artists. Regardless, anytime I see a send-up of this it is a delight.
Beyond that, ‘Malcolm Explains the Universe’ is a short segment that features a character espousing Alex Jones-esque conspiracy theories to mild amusement. Fun fact: of all the crazy shit Jones says his now-infamous “they’re turning the frickin’ frogs gay!” rant does have some actual science behind it.
The latter half of ‘Employee of the Month,’ though, sees this series flexing yet another of its greatest strengths. It has a ton of heart. The humor is still here, as Sam blunders about asking Dev about her Bindi while they share a burger. But it is the subsequent conversation about her parents and Sam’s revelation that N-M-S is nearly broke and in danger of shutting its doors that bring us closer to these characters. Sam may be a naive character, but at his core he truly wants to help people despite the elders deeming his handling of the organization in such a manner to be an abject failure.Continued below
As Mr. Y begins to “Heeeeeere’s Johnny” his way back into the room and nearly kill Dev Sam finally asserts his dominance over the agent as well as his rival, Mr. X, who bursts in immediately after. It is nice to see such a goofy character take a moment to remind everybody that he is, in fact, the boss. And, while his final decision to send X and Y back into battle but with foam bats and nerf guns this time is–as he, himself puts it–a “childish decision,” it is also the right one to make. Sam is a good boss in spite of himself and his own immaturity.
Fuzzy’s near-revelation of his relationship with Hazel also provides a bit of foreshadowing that leaves me looking forward to later installments and a possible return of that character, even if those flashbacks are the weakest points of this series.