Webcomics: Reviews of Vattu, Stand Still. Stay Silent, and The Right Number

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The Two Guys are back for another installment in their new monthly show devoted to webcomics. For January, Derek and Andy W. have three engaging titles to discuss. First, they look at Evan Dahm’s Vattu, a fantasy adventure reminiscent of Bone, and with tones of sword-and-sorcery. This webcomic has been going on since July 2010, Vattuupdated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Currently it’s in its third book — the first, comprising 270 pages, has been collected in printed form and can be purchased through Dahm’s website — and the initial storyline has evolved into a much vaster narrative. The guys comment on Dahm’s knack for complex world-building, as well as the vibrant, eye-catching art. Vattu is the winner of the 2014 Ignatz Award for Best Online Comic, and there is a reason why Andy and Derek wanted to feature this as one of their current and ongoing webcomics for the month. Next, they turn their attention to another current title, Minna Sundberg’s Stand Still. Stay Silent, a post-apocalyptic adventure set in a ravaged Scandinavian setting. SSSSIts premise is that a virus suddenly wipes out much of the human, and mammal, population, leaving only a limited number of survivors. This event, referred to as “the great cataclysm,” has ended the world as we know it, and an unlikely group of survivors — including mages — sets out to make safe a world of violence, desolation, and fantastical beasts. Both Andy and Derek are enjoying this ongoing tale, but they note an abrupt (and perhaps unexpected?) shift in tone from a more realistic style into one that is more fantastical. What’s more, they feel mixed about Sundberg’s commentary that accompanies each story installment. Sometimes, these reflections or annotations turn out to be unintended spoilers, and readers can leave their own spoilery thoughts. But fans of SSSS (as it is commonly know) apparently love this kind of reader engagement, making Sundberg’s one of the most popular webcomics around. Finally, and for their older and already completed webcomic, they discuss one of the first high-visible advocates for webcomics, Scott McCloud. His two-part graphic novella, The Right Number, was written between 2003 and 2004, and it utilizes an experimental zooming format. There is a projected third installment, as RightNumberMcCloud points out on his website, but due to unexpected delays and competing projects, the conclusion has yet to be written. But although we’ve been waiting ten years for the story to wrap up, and although this isn’t technically a “completed” webcomic, Derek and Andy nonetheless wanted to give some love to one of the earliest experimenters of the webcomic format.

This episode’s incidental music is brought to you by
They Might Be Giant’s Then: The Early Years

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About Derek Royal

The Comics Alternative is a weekly podcast focused on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There’s nothing wrong with the superhero genre…we just want to do something different.) New shows become available every Wednesday…much like the comic books you get. Episodes feature reviews of graphic novels and current ongoing series, discussions of upcoming comics, examinations of collected editions, in-depth analyses of a variety of comics texts, spotlights on various creators and their oeuvre, roundtable discussions with prominent critics and scholars in the field, and interviews with the artists and writers who make all of this possible. Along the way, Andy and Derek will talk about the various books that they are reading; the many pop cultural references that, for better or worse, inform their lives; and the unpredictable (and inexplicable) weirdness that seems to creep into each episode. In essence,The Comics Alternative podcast is brilliantly simple: Two guys with PhDs talking about comics.

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