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On the July webcomics show, Andy W. and Derek do something different. Not only do they look at two current and ongoing series, along with one already completed title — as is their usual format — but they do so by focusing on just one specific webcomics outlet: Study Group Comics. The guys begin, appropriately enough, by looking at current work from Zack Soto, the publisher of Study Group. His comic, The Secret Voice, is a mashup of various genres, part adventure, part science fiction, part superhero, and (at least in the beginning) part Jules Verne-inspired fantasy. So far there are five completed chapters of The Secret Voice, and as the narrative unfolds, Soto is creating an ever-expanding and complex world centered around the enigmatic Dr. Galapagos. Next, the guys discuss François Vigneault’s Titan, a futuristic sci-fi drama set in an hydrocarbon processing refinery on Saturn’s satellite, Titan. Vigneault’s story is perhaps the most socially charged of this month’s bunch, touching upon class and ethnic conflicts, and even venturing at times into scientific ethics. Titan is in its fourth chapter, with Vigneault currently posting updates. Finally, Derek and Andy look at a Study Group webcomic that was completed back in 2012, Julia Gfrörer’s Black Is the Color. Her story is relatively simple and straightforward — a sailor is cast adrift from his ship and encounters a fabled mermaid — but Gfrörer’s art and pacing add a sophistication that give depth to this relatively short narrative. Black Is the Color is driven by subtleties and innuendo, ultimately embracing an ambiguity that opens up text in unexpected ways. This story was published in hardcopy by Fantagraphics in 2013, and in fact, the other webcomics discussed this month have seen printed form, and through Study Group Comics. There are two comic-book issues of The Secret Voice published so far, and one of Titan.
Listeners of the monthly webcomics series will be saddened to learn that this will be the last episode in which Andy Wolverton will serve as regular cohost. Andy will still be a big part of The Comics Alternative family of podcasts — he’s not going anywhere soon — but he’s decided to hand over his webcomic-analyzing duties to another so that he can pursue another project for The Comics Alternative. So keep your eyes open for more exciting stuff from Andy W.! Beginning in August, Derek’s cohost for the webcomics series will be Sean Kleefeld, an incisive critic and webcomics maven who is sure to inject some gravitas into the show.