Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Adamant, Scurry, and The Phoenix Requiem

Time Codes:

blkfade

“It is a big-ass story”

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.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: The 2018 Eisner Awards Nominees for Best Webcomic

Time Codes:

blkfade

Getting It Right This Time?

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:

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Everblue, Handrava, and Warning Label

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:02:56 – We get mail!
  • 00:08:08 – Everblue
  • 00:34:53 – Handrava
  • 01:07:31 – Warning Label
  • 01:33:36 – Wrap up
  • 01:35:17 – Contact us

blkfade

Relationships

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.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of The Flying Ship, Next Town Over, and Yu+Me: Dreams

Time Codes:

blkfade

Fairytales, Steampunk, and Dreams

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.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of The Shaderunners, Binary Star, and Nautilus

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:05 – A new year in webcomics!
  • 00:06:36 – The Shaderunners
  • 00:38:16 – Binary Star
  • 01:01:30 – Nautilus
  • 01:24:50 – Wrap up
  • 01:26:12 – Contact us

blkfade

Fun Webcomics for the New Year

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 NautilusIn 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.

 

 

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Cookies, All Along the Wall, and Holiday Wars

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

blkfade

Holiday Web Fun

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.

Comics Alternative, Episode 258: Our Fifth Annual Thanksgiving Show

Listen to the podcast!

Pass the Pie

thanksgiving2016

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and the folks at The Comics Alternative all gather around the virtual table to share what they are thankful for in terms of comics and comics culture. Pulling up a seat this year are Gwen, Paul, Sean, Gene, Edward, and Derek. Among the many things that they’re thankful for are

What more could one ask for in a holiday podcast episode? Well…maybe some pie.

ForbiddenWorldsThanksgiving

 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:44 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:48 – Interview with Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus
  • 00:59:30 – Wrap up
  • 01:02:24 – Contact us

blkfade

Froot Loop?

Sean joins Derek to interview a creative team that the two have discussed previously, Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus. Last year the guys reviewed Ryan and Klaus’s webcomic Turncoat (now available in softcover), but this time they talk with the creators about a new print publication, their Image Comics limited series Void Trip. The first of its five issues comes out this week, and the Two Guys talk with Ryan and Klaus about the genesis of this project, the psychedelic nature of the story, the dynamics of their collaboration, and their philosophies on self-contained and tightly woven narratives. They also talk with the creative duo about their previous work together, Turncoat, and any potential future plans to utilize the webcomics platform.

 

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Blindsprings, Albert the Alien, and A Fire Story

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

blkfade

From the Ashes

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.

Be sure to visit Brian Fies’s blog and click on the banners of his two books, Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?. Your purchase of those works will help support Fies as he and his wife attempt to rebuild their lives.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Righteous, Zen and the Ephemeral, and American Barbarian

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

blkfade

Kirby Lives!

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 Kamandi and Conan the Barbarian. The guys spend a lot of time discussing Scioli’s art, but they also mention other webcomics on his website, such PrincessFinal Frontier, and his brand new biography of Jack Kirby.

 

 

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Gods Can’t Die, Kamikaze, and The Secret Life of Gitmo’s Women

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

blkfade

Slow Build

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.

 

 

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of the 2017 Eisner Award Nominees

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:02:55 – Webcomics news: The Library of Congress’ Web Comics Web Archive
  • 00:11:24 – Trying to make sense of the Eisner Awards’ “Best Web Comic” and “Best Digital Comic” categories
  • 00:30:37 – The Middle Age
  • 00:44:30 – On Beauty
  • 00:56:54 – Helm
  • 01:08:27 – On a Sunbeam
  • 01:32:41 – Wrap up
  • 01:34:14 – Contact us

blkfade

Definitionally Challenged

For the June webcomics episode, Sean and Derek take a close look at the webcomics nominees for the 2017 Eisner Awards. Before they do that, though, they have to determine exactly which titles are actually webcomics and which are not. If this sounds strange, that’s because this year the people behind the Eisner Awards have separated “Best Digital Comics” and “Best Webcomic” into two completely different categories — which is a good thing — but in doing so they have ill-defined the criteria to where there are digital comics mixed in the “Best Webcomic” category and webcomics in the “Best Digital Comic” category. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be any clear distinctions between the two…which was the problem in previous years when webcomics and digital comics were unfortunately clumped into the same category. Sean and Derek discuss in detail the problems underlying this year’s categorization, and they offer advice for next year’s judges and hope that in the future there will be a much more precise understanding of what a webcomic actually is.

After that, they begin discussing the real webcomics that are scattered between the “Best Webcomic” and “Best Digital Comic” categories. There are five in all, and in this episode they discuss Steve Conley’s The Middle Age and Christina Tran’s On Beauty (both nominated for “Best Webcomic”), as well as Jahanzeb Hasan and Mauricio Caballero’s Helm and Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam (inexplicably nominated under “Best Digital Comic”). Anne Szabla’s Bird Boy was also nominated as a webcomic, but since the guys discussed that title on a previous webcomics episode, they spend their time talking about the other nominees. And as the guys reveal, there is a reason why these four titles are nominated for an Eisner Award this year. They’re all well-written, keenly drawn, and ambitious in what each endeavors to accomplish. Both Sean and Derek wish this year’s webcomics creators, despite the appropriateness of the categories for which they’re nominated, the best of luck when the announcements are made at next month’s SDCC!

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Isle of Elsi, Late Bloomer, and Carriers

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:28 – Introduction
  • 00:03:03 – Eisner Award nominees announced
  • 00:10:04 – Isle of Elsi
  • 00:47:30 – Late Bloomer
  • 01:09:44 – Carriers
  • 01:31:32 – Wrap up
  • 01:32:31 – Contact us

blkfade

Very Punny

Sean and Derek are back with your monthly dose of webcomics analysis. Before they jump into their reviews, however, they spending a little time discussing the recent announcement of this year’s nominees for the Eisner Awards. The guys will devote next month’s episode to the actual webcomics nominated, so they don’t go into much detail this time, but they do mention the big news that the judges have tried to distinguish “webcomics” from “digital comics”…albeit rather ineptly. Tune in next month for more in-depth discussion on this matter!

But for May, Sean and Derek already have plenty to consider. They begin with Alec Longstreth’s Isle of Elsi, an all-age fantasy with a penchant for word play. Both of the guys are bowled away by this webcomic, one of the most impressive that they’ve discussed on the show. Not only are the art and storytelling top-notch, but the design of the website is a big draw, as well. (And while you’re at it, check out the Two Guys’ 2014 interview with Longstreth.)

Next, they turn to another webcomic from Webtoons, Late Bloomer. Written and drawn by Zealforart (AKA Tiffany Woodall), this is a shōjo-inspired romance about a young woman with a flower bud growing out of her belly, a family condition that can only be overcome with her being “deflowered.” Yes, it is quite an unusual premise.

Finally, Derek and Sean wrap up with Lauren R. Weinstein’s Carriers. This completed webcomic was originally published in five parts on the Nautilus website, and it received an Ignatz Award nomination in 2015 for the “Outstanding Online Comic” category. It’s a sobering look at being a carrier of cystic fibrosis and what means for young couples wanting to start a family.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Conceptual Heist, Ménage à 3, and Smash: Monstrous

Listen to the podcast!

Time Codes:

blkfade

Concentrate

This month Sean and Derek offer a genre buffet of webcomics goodness. They begin with Jay D’Ici and Matt G. Gagnon’s Conceptual Heist, a heist narrative with a unique science fiction twist. As the guys reveal, the story is solid, and the black-and-white art, accentuated with a monochromatic blue, suggests a noir tone. After that they discuss a highly popular webcomic that has been around since 2008, Gisele Lagace and David Lumsdon’s Ménage à 3. Derek and Sean describe this as a cross among Strangers in ParadiseArchie, and the TV series Three’s Company…but more suggestive and explicit than the latter. While the guys can see the appeal of this thrice-weekly strip, they nonetheless feel that reading its various narrative arcs over a more concentrated time period — as opposed to experiencing this story as its pages are released — doesn’t necessarily work in the webcomic’s favor. Finally, the guys wrap up with fun completed webcomic from Chris A. Bolton and Kyle Bolton, Monstrous. This is a mini-story within their Smash world, one that the Bolton brothers completed between their earlier work, Smash: Trial by Fire, and the next Smash book that will be published through Candlewick Press.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of The Great McGonagall, Sufficiently Remarkable, and The Boston Metaphysical Society

Listen to the podcast!


Time Codes:

blkfade

An Historic(al) Episode

For March, Sean and Derek check out three very different webcomics. They begin with Roger Langridge’s The Great McGonagall, a biographical treatment of William “Topaz” McGonagall, known historically as the worst poet in the world. This is a very new webcomic, having begun in January 2017, and in it Langridge takes an already cartoonish figure and plays it up for even more humor. As the guys point out, the artist’s style is perfect for this kind of send up.

Next, Sean and Derek turn their attention to Sufficiently Remarkable, Maki Naro’s ongoing look at the struggles of a young artist trying to get by in New York City. Naro is one of the former contestants of Strip Search — much like Abby Howard, whom the guys discussed back in October — and, in fact, is how he first gained Sean’s attention. As Derek reveals, this is a reality-based drama of interpersonal relationships, but one that struggles at times with the occasional pull into gag-strip formulas.

Finally, and after a brief check in with Jim McClain about the progress of his and Paul Schultz’s Poe and the Mysteriads, the guys round out the episode with a discussion of The Boston Metaphorical Society. Written by Madeleine Holly-Rosing and with art by Emily Hu, this is a steampunk-inspired narrative surrounding the paranormal investigations of a former Pinkerton agent, his uniquely talented colleagues, and the scientific exploits of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Harry Houdini. This is the second webcomic of the month that mines history for its content, although unlike Roger Langridge’s cartoon biography, this one uses the past as a springboard for its fantastical flourishes.