On this webcomics episode, the last of 2018, Sean and Derek get into the holiday spirit. They discuss three titles that concern Christmas or the winter season (i.e., has the word “snow” in the title). They begin with Leonardo Faierman and Marcus Kwame Anderson’s Snow Daze, a narrative about a group of enterprising teenagers in Queens, NY, who create a business shoveling snow, all the while dealing with the challenges of urban life, especially as it concerns matters of race. After that the guys look at another snow-related webcomic, Snow by Night, written by Eric Menge and with primary art by Julie A. Wright and Brittany Michel. This is a fantasy inspired by French colonial culture in North America, and largely revolves around a manitou, a nature spirit of the wilderness, who quests to find her “heart.” Finally, Derek and Sean turn to a quite different webcomic, one created by the Blizzard Entertainment corporation to supplement one of their popular video games. Michael Chu and Miki Montlló’s Overwatch: Reflectionsis a Christmas story involving the character Tracer as she attempts to find a last-minute gift and (predictably enough) learns the true meaning of the season.
On the November webcomics episode — albeit a little late — Sean and Derek look at three very different webcomics…especially different when it comes their hosting platforms. They begin with Stuart and Kathryn Immonen’s Grass of Parnassus. This is a unique science fiction narrative that is relatively new, starting in September this year, with an intriguing storyline (what there is so far) and incredible art. But what is additionally notable about this webcomic is that it’s being hosted on Instagram. This is the first time the guys have discussed an Instagram-based webcomic, and Sean and Derek spend a bit of time discussing the pros and cons of this platform.
After that they focus on Lavender Jack, a webcomic hosted on Webtoon and written and illustrated by Dan Schkade. It’s an engaging crime/intrigue webcomic that reminds the guys of both The Scarlet Pimperneland Batman. A unique combination! It’s the story of a wealthy socialite who dons a costume to cover his identity, and then goes about exposing the hidden crimes of prominent, powerful, and corrupt citizens in the city. This is also a relatively new webcomic, starting in June, and although there are already 24 episodes (as of this recording), there are still a number of mysteries that are yet to be answered.
Finally, the Two Guys wrap up with an already completed webcomic, M. Dean and Z. Akhmetova’sTake the A Train. This is a relatively short narrative, but what makes it stand out — in addition to the incredible art — is that each half of the story is hosted on Dean’s and Akhmetova’s sites, respectively. This is the first time the guys have discussed a webcomic that was a collaborative endeavor in this manner. The webcomic is based on Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s classic song, and both creators focus on young protagonists in the middle of the 20th century who are fascinated with Ellington and his historic relationship with The Savoy in Harlem.
On this, the Two Guys’ annual Halloween webcomics episode, Sean and Derek discuss three horror-related titles, each of which is quite different one from the other. They begin with Jenny Romanchuk’s The Zombie Hunters, a story that has been serialized since 2006. This is a post-apocalyptic narrative that centers on a group of zombie hunters who are themselves infected by a virus that could possibly turn them into the undead, should they die a natural death. After that they look at Kim Reaper, a relatively new webcomic created by Sara Graley, and one that could arguably be described as a horror romcom. Finally, they discuss Ryan Andrews’s Nothing Is Forgotten, a somewhat short but nonetheless powerful story about a young boy who buries his father the same day he stumbles upon a lair of some ill-defined and mysterious creature.
On the September webcomics show, Sean and Derek look at three intriguing titles. They begin with E.T. Girl, written and illustrated by theplanetsdreamer (and whose real name is Kimberly Kotschi). This is a relatively new webcomic, a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, and plays upon the alien abduction convention. After that they check out Jackarais’s Bicycle Boy, a work that has been going on for over 5 years. However, the narrative is well-paced and with incredible art. This is also a sci-fi story, but one set in an a post-apocalyptic future with a cyborg as its protagonist. The Two Guys wrap up the episode with the already-completed Broken Telephone, a unique series of interconnected storylines that become more solidly interwoven as the webcomic progresses. Ryan Estrada is the writer of all the storylines, but with each installment, 18 in all, he uses a different artist or artistic team to express his narrative vision.
On the August episode 0f the webcomics — granted, a little late — Sean and Derek check out three titles where the art is incredible. They begin with Kochab, a YA fantasy about two young women, one a fire spirit, and their explorations of surroundings and self. After that they check out a most curious webcomic, Sara Valta’s Alchemilla. This narrative focuses on the struggles and encounters of Valo, a problematic adventurer, and Fabulous, the magical counselor of a crisis center for fanatical creatures. Sean and Derek wrap up with Zap!, a science fiction adventure, partly inspired by Star Wars, but instilled with a good bit of humor.
For the July webcomics episode, Sean and Derek discuss three unique titles. They begin with Ryan Howe’s Daisy Blackwood: Pilot for Hire. This is a series of short stories featuring an Indiana Jones-like figure whose job as a pilot introduces her to a variety of adventures. And many of these adventures involve supernatural elements. Next, the Two Guys look at a relatively new title, Moby Dick: Back from the Deep. This webcomic, written by Matt Schorr and with art by Joe Bilicic, is reminiscent not only of Herman Melville’s classic, but also Spielberg’s classic, Jaws. Finally, Sean and Derek wrap up with a recently completed webcomic, Katya Granger’s Hana and the Firebird. This is a fantastical narrative about a community of individuals with special powers, and one resident in particular who must come to terms with her past and her current relationships.
This month Sean and Derek look at three very different webcomics. They begin with Mike Exner III, Ian Waryanto, et al.’s Adamant, a superhero narrative that spins the genre in fascinating, and parodic, ways. After that they turn to a beautifully rendered tale, Mac Smith’s Scurry. While the story is solid, the guys point out that the art is this webcomic’s biggest draw. Finally, they discuss the already-completed webcomic, Sarah Ellerton’s The Phoenix Requiem. This is a Victorian-inspired supernatural narrative of love and mystery that, as both Sean and Derek point out, is quite substantive.
After a month’s hiatus — and due to an accident that Sean suffered (although he’s recovering now!) — the Two Guys are back with their latest webcomics episode. And since it’s Eisner Awards season, Sean and Derek decided to discuss the nominees for this year’s Best Webcomic category. As listeners may remember, last year the guys were quite critical of the Eisner Awards judges. While they finally took the long-overdue step in separating webcomics from digital comics, they nonetheless seemed to have no clear understanding of what defined a webcomic. They included webcomics in the Best Digital Comic category, and digital comics in the Best Webcomic category. This year, the judges seemed to have correctly understood the distinctions, although Sean and Derek still have questions as to the parameters and qualifications as to the choices and decision-making process. Then again, theirs may not be to wonder why, but to discuss critically the webcomics under consideration. And the guys have a fruitful discussion concerning this year’s nominees:
Awaiting a Wave, by Dale Carpenter and Nate Powell (The Weather Channel Digital)
For the month of March, Sean and Derek discuss three webcomics that are very different in terms of art style and storytelling technique. However, what all three have in common is a focus on relationships. They start off with Michael Sexton’s Everblue, a fantastical tale about two young adventurers who want to explore their world while at the same time avoiding the threats that are in pursuit. After that the guys discuss Handrava, a more realistic narrative set in Madagascar’s capital city. It’s author Rado R. captures the rhythms and flavors of his subject matter through both the dialogue and the visual layout of his scripting. Finally, Derek and Sean turn to a recently completed webcomic, Thom Zahler’s Warning Label. As with the creator’s previous works — most notably Love and Capes, Long Distance, and Time and Vine — the focus is on relationships and its unpredictable contours. This is yet another impressive work from Zahler, and one that will leave you, once again, with a warm and positive feeling.
For February, Sean and Derek discuss three very different webcomics, each published by a single young female creator. They begin with two currently ongoing titles, Jess Milton’s The Flying Ship and Erin Mehlos’s Next Town Over.The first is webcomic inspired by a Russian fairytale, and despite its relatively short run so far, Milton does a great job at establishing a detailed premise. Mehlos’s Next Town Over is a curious mix of magic, steampunk, and the western genre (although not set in the American West). The Two Guys then wrap up with the already-completed webcomic, Yu+Me: Dream. This long-form narrative ran from 2004 to 2010, and there are several fascinating stylistic turns that the guys cannot discuss in detail for fear of soiling the webcomic for first-time readers.
For their first webcomics episode of 2018, Sean and Derek discuss three fascinating and diverse titles. They begin with The Shaderunners, written by Lin with art by Capp (AKA Anna Assan). This Prohibition era-tinged webcomic concerns a group of rag-tag bohemians who attempt to bring color into their sepia-toned world. While this looks like a narrative set in early twentieth-century America, the storyworld that Capp and Lin create is actually a fantastical one. Next, the guys turn to a science fiction title, Jamie Primack’s Binary Star. The protagonist of this story, Zaki, is a bounty hunter out to capture a big payoff, and in the process, ends up growing close to and working with her target. And there’s quite a bit of humor. As Derek suggests, Binary Star is reminiscent of Midnight Run, yet set in a sci-fi world. Finally, Sean and Derek wrap up with an already completed webcomic, Jape’s Nautilus. In it, the creator, whose real name is JT Trostle, reveals what happened after the passing of his mother and how he managed her affairs in the wake of her death. The mother, Connie, was a hoarder, and the webcomic provides a empathic look at the challenges and frustrations surrounding Connie’s behavior and JT’s efforts to “clean up” after her.
It’s the holiday season, and for December Sean and Derek discuss three holiday-related webcomics. The start off by looking at two shorter works, Kate Beaton’s Cookies (available on her Hark! A Vagrant website) and Emily Carroll’s creepy All Along the Wall. After that they look at the much more substantial Holiday Wars, written by Scott King and with art by Michael Odom. So sit back, plug in your earphones, and enjoy the holiday goodness of this month’s webcomics episode.
On the November webcomics episode, Sean and Derek look at three very different titles. They begin with Kadi Fedoruk’s Blindsprings, a fantasy filled with magic and spirits, but one whose philosophical foundations are deeper than you may at first think. As the guys point out, the meticulous art is one of the highlights of this webcomic. After that, Sean and Derek turn to a lighthearted all-age series by Trevor Mueller and Gabo, Albert the Alien. Much like Blindsprings, this webcomic has been around since 2013, but there seems to be no foreseeable sign of story exhaustion. Finally, the guys look at a much more somber, and timely, completed webcomic, Brian Fies’s A Fire Story. This is a brief account of the author’s experiences in last month’s devastating California fires. The story is heart-wrenching, and Fies includes commentary and photographs to underscore the full extent of the tragedy.
The Comics Alternative‘s monthly webcomics series is back, and for October Sean and Derek discuss three intriguing titles. They begin with Righteous, written by Kevin Sheller and with art by Joseba Morales and colors by Gab Contreras. This is a narrative with a curious premise: What would happen if suddenly, everyone decided to do the right thing? The story focuses on Daniel, a risk analyst who is “touched” by a mysterious entity and then realizes that his work demeans human life and decides to commit himself to helping others. And his attitude becomes infectious.
Next, the Two Guys discuss a very recent webcomic (beginning in May), Laurence Dea Dionne’s Zen and the Ephemeral. It’s the story of Moé, a young woman suffering from depression who decides to spend ten days at a meditation retreat. The narrative is in its early stages — as of this recording, we’re still in the first chapter — but it reveals the various experiences and feelings that Moé goes through as she becomes acclimated to the retreat and its other participants.
Finally, Sean and Derek wrap up with an already completed webcomic, Tom Scioli’s American Barbarian. One of the first things that grabs the guys’ attention is the heavy influence of Jack Kirby on Scioli’s art. Both the character illustration and the kinetic action in the comic bear the stamp of the legend, and not in a derivative way. Scioli utilizes this influence in a way that propels the action forward, providing a story that is reminiscent of Kamandiand Conan the Barbarian. The guys spend a lot of time discussing Scioli’s art, but they also mention other webcomics on his website, such Princess, Final Frontier, and his brand new biography of Jack Kirby.
Sean and Derek are back with their monthly foray into the realm of webcomics. They begin with Z. Akhmatova’s Gods Can’t Die, a lavishly illustrated fantasy of adventure and self-discovery. This is a relatively young webcomic, beginning in April 2016, so readers can easily jump on board with its prologue and first chapter. It’s the story of Ena, born of both human and god, as she searches for her deity father and encounters other gods and creatures along the way. Next, they discuss Kamikaze, a futuristic dystopic tale created by Alan Tupper, Carrie Tupper, and Havana Nguyen. Its teenage protagonist, Markesha Nin, is a lightning-fast courier making deliveries within competing corporate interests and trying to provide for her blind father. The guys can’t help but think of CW’s The Flash when discussing this series. Finally, Sean and Derek wrap up with Sarah Mirk and Lucy Bellwood’s The Secret Life of Gitmo’s Women. This already-completed webcomic appears in the online magazine Narratively, and it presents the first-person accounts of two female naval veterans and their experiences at Guantanamo Bay. The conflict in their stories isn’t what you might expect, but instead have everything to do with the military’s (and our culture’s) patriarchal structures.