Comics Alternative Webcomics: Reviews of Star Punch Girl, The Last Mechanical Monster, and Dreamless

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Adventures with Black Hole Boy

The Two Guys with PhDs continue their valiant attempt to bring you monthly shows devoted to quality, substantive discussion of webcomics. In this March episode, Derek and Andy W. focus on three distinctive titles, two currently ongoing and one completed webcomic. StarPunchGirlThey begin by looking at S.D. Lockhart and Patibut Narm Preeyawongsakul’s Star Punch Girl (and Derek deeply apologizes for butchering Preeyawongsakul’s name). This is a different kind of webcomic that has a heavy manga and video gaming influence. This title began in April 2013, and so far the creators have completed the first two chapters. The first establishes the narrative with a creation myth, the titular character forming our world and then protecting it from nefarious forces. In the second chapter Star Punch Girl is invited to Earth and is honored by its worshipful inhabitants. Preeyawongsakul’s colors are vibrant and the standout feature of this webcomic. TLMMThe guys also discuss this series’ apparent fan base, believing that it comprises mainly a younger demographic, and then contrast that with readers of the next webcomic they discuss, Brian Fies’s The Last Mechanical Monster. Readers aware of comics history will especially appreciate this webcomic in that Fies bases it off of an episode of the Fleischer Studio’s 1941 episode of their Superman serial, “The Mechanical Monsters.” What makes this series so captivating is the elaborate drama that Fies spins from a relatively simple superhero premise, making his story primarily character driven and psychologically thick. Andy and Derek speculate that, as he did with his Eisner Award-winning webcomic, Mom’s Cancer, Fies is using the webcomic format to develop and experiment with his story before finalizing it in hardcopy form. This series began in November 2013 and may soon be wrapping up. And while not taking anything way from the other titles, of the three webcomics discussed this week, The Last Mechanical Monster is by far the one that Dreamlessthe guys appreciated the most. Finally, Derek and Andy conclude the episode — as they usually do — by looking at an already completed webcomic, Bobby Crosby and Sarah Ellerton’s Dreamless. This series originally ran from January 2009 to July 2010, and the creators later published a special edition hardcopy of the completed story. This is more of a novella than a novel-like narrative, with Crosby writing in a tightly condensed manner. The guys focus on Ellerton’s watercolor-like illustrations, giving the story a soft and emotive tone that underscores the content. In fact, the best way to describe Dreamless is as a melodramatic romance, with an emphasis on the “melodrama.” It may not be to everyone’s tastes, but as the Two Guys with PhDs point out, if you appreciate a good love story, then this title may be for you.


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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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