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Adventures in Genre
For the July webcomics episode, Sean and Derek discuss three titles that not only vary in content and genre, but are also different in the ways they are designed and consumed. They begin with two current and ongoing webcomics, Kenn Minter and Clarence Pruitt’s Tales of the Emerald Yeti and Jim Francis’s Outsider. The former is just one of the comics on the creators’ publishing site, Near Mint Press. In fact, the Two Guys spend a bit of time discussing the presentation platform of this webcomic — Minter and Pruitt use Google’s free Blogger service — pointing out that its navigation and consumption feels antiquated and isn’t what they’ve usually come to expect from most webcomics. Nonetheless, Emerald Yeti is a fun pulp-infused read of post-Vietnam America that has the feel of an old Marvel serial of the 1970s.
After that, Sean and Derek turn to Outsider, a webcomic that began back in October 2001, but whose updates are so infrequent as to make this a relatively young narrative. The guys mention that Francis’s combination of 3D settings and 2D hand-drawn artwork are an effective means in presenting this hard sci-fi story. But what gives Outsider such a sophisticated edge is the author’s use of mystery and focalization. All the information we get is filtered through the protagonist, Alex Jardin, and his inabilities to thoroughly read the alien cultures he encounters generate more questions than answers.
Finally, the guys wrap up this month’s show with a discussion of a webcomic that concluded just last month. Mike Norton’s Battlepug is an Eisner and Harvey Award-winning webcomic that takes the sword-and-sorcery fantasy subgenre into parodic, and pet-friendly, avenues. This story has been running consistently since February 2011, and it has been collected in hardcover editions annually by Dark Horse Books. Although both of the guys enjoy Norton’s storytelling technique, they differ on its ultimate effectiveness. While Sean feels that the frequency of narrating scenes — that is, visual reminders that the story of Battlepug is being told by a young tattooed woman to her two dogs — disrupts from his enjoyment of the story proper, Derek appreciates these constant shifts from one narrative level to another, as it highlights the complex dynamics of storytelling. And this is arguably one of the book’s central themes. Still, the guys definitely agree that Battlepug is a sophisticated story well worth reading.