1 Aug 14
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Review: Nu #1, by Sachia Goerg

I’m slowly but surely getting caught up on purchases from the past 3 months, and part of the catch up game is digging into snakeoily's Summer 2014 subscription bundle. This set comes with three 5”X7” comics, one of which is Sachia Goerg's Nu #1. The Oily Comics edition has compiled the first three minis into one book, and translated them from French.

Nu #1 is 24 pages of black and white risograph comics with a black and red cover page. It tells the story of a voyeuristic high school student, Jean-Michel, who can’t seem to get his artistic act together in live drawing class at school, but has taken to sneaking onto his crush’s property in order to sketch her while she is swimming. When he gets noticed by her massive dog, he almost gets caught, and his habit starts to spiral out of hand.

Goerg’s linework is nice - it has an organic quality similar to Noah Van Sciver or Inés Estrada, but Goerg is able to find a strength in simpler cartooning than either artist. Some of the strongest pages are Sacha’s portrayal of Jean-Michel’s second visit to his crush’s house where he has to retrieve something lost during his first visit. 

Jean-Michel is very two-toned. At school, he plays like a doormouse, very quiet and reserved. But when he gets home and goes out on his stalking adventure, he becomes confident. His posture changes, his demeanor changes. He demands his model do what he want, instead of being harangued. I like this tonal shift, I think it plays well into the rest of the comic.

I also enjoy the stark differences between the scenes where Jean-Michel is out at night - the way Goerg portrays motion and blackness is very appealing, the inks are a lot bolder. 

Goerg is playing with a mirrored narrative, in the sense that Jean-Michel’s activities seem to pique the curiosity of a friend, who ends up stalking him - the stalker being stalked, as it were. We see this reflective quality in the construction of this mini - chapters 1 and 3 focus primarily on the stalking, while chapter 2 focuses more on the interpersonal consequences of Jean-Michel and Lucas’ actions.

One of the features of Nu #1 is a collection of small pieces of pop culture throughout the comic - The pilot of The Wire is playing in one scene, Lucas wears a Zeroes QC t-shirt and listens to Nirvana. Part of me wonders if these pop culture accoutrements have a symbolic meaning for the story as a whole - I find it interesting that Lucas is listening to Polly when he gets caught stalking, a song about a girl who gets abducted and tortured after attending a concert. What does the use of Nirvana’s Polly inside the narrative say for Lucas’ fate?

The translation is a little stilted in places, but not enough to turn me off on the comic as a whole - and there are plenty of volumes to go. Goerg recently published his mini Nu #14 in French. 

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Notes: Nu is French for naked. I didn’t know this before today.

Sacha Goerg can be found at his personal website, his twitter account, and his tumblr account sachagoerg. Oily Comics is a micropress run by Charles Forsman. You can buy copies of Nu #1 at select comic shops and online at this link.

30 Jul 14
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Musings: CS by Inés Estrada

I’ve spent the past few weeks pushing through a backlog of books that I’ve been slowly accumulating since TCAF, and I wanted to step away from that a bit to focus on some of the small press things I’ve been reading recently. A recent acquisition is Inés Estrada’s new comic CS, a 16 page mini risograph in neon pink and green.

CS is billed as something of a micro/macro love story – it features an unnamed protagonist living on the skin of a person she admires. A mosquito bite becomes a route of entry for our protagonist, who is eventually ambushed by what appears to be cells from the person’s immune system. The comic is part comedy, part tragedy, all wrapped up in a surreal vision of the human body.

One of the ideas that Estrada toys with in CS is the visceralness of relationships. We often get so invested into our partners or lovers that we have the tendency to get consumed. A part of us changes when we let ourselves go; we feed off of that person, we fall into that person like we fall into bed.

Estrada also seems to be saying that being so fully invested, so absorbed in these types of relationships can be unhealthy. Our main character dies a horrible death, all the while saying to the void, “I’m not afraid […] I’m where I want to be.” That theme of death inside the relationship is really powerful – is Estrada saying we let ourselves fall into these relationships too quickly? Or is she contemplating the loss of self that accompanies these types of relationships?

Estrada’s illustration is earthy and not afraid to be cartoony at the same time. Some of my favorite panels were of the protagonist falling down the rabbit hole – there’s a sense of seriousness coupled with a whimsy that permeates the comic.

A final point perplexes me – the main character seems to be in two places at once throughout CS, sitting beside her companion while simultaneously being digested by him. I think this echoes earlier points, but I like the mirrored visuals, the idea that we can be such a small part of a person and yet be right next to them.

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Notes: My scanner can’t handle neon, so I’ve used some publicly available scans for the images of the comic. I think I’m in love with neon colored riso-printing, but it doesn’t make for very good blog content.

You can check out Inés Estrada’s website here and she tumbls at inechi. Estrada has been a contributor to kuš, among other publications. CS was published by Sacred Prism, the zine publishing vision of Ian Harker (tumblr: sacredprism). You can buy Estrada’s comics at Gatosurio.

28 Jul 14
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Review: TERRA FORMARS by Yu Sasuga and Keni-ichi Tachibana

It’s been a while since I read an honest-to-goodness seinen manga. This weekend was a quick comics refresher – I was at a conference all week, and when I wasn’t learning, going to meetings, or eating at Waffle House, I was reading comics. On the stack was the first volume of TERRA FORMARS from Viz Media, and it certainly is a doozy. Please note that doozy status is not necessarily a good thing.

In relative future, Earth is overpopulated and no relief is in sight. Scientists start to look towards Mars as a second home – provided they can melt the frozen CO2 in the soil of the Red Planet to recreate its atmosphere and warm it so that life can be supported. In order to accomplish this, a hardy moss and one of the most resilient insects, the cockroach, is sent to populate the planet. Now in the far-flung future of 500 years later, humans are sent to be exterminators for the population of roaches on the planet – only to find that in 500 years, cockroaches have evolved into bipedal, 6’ tall monsters who are lightning quick and extremely resilient. To fight these creatures, humanity sends humans who have undergone the “BUGS procedure” to gain special bug-themed strengths to fight the humanoid roaches.

This is not the strangest seinen plot I’ve ever seen. Most seinen action comics require quite a bit of belief-suspending. Still, Sasuga stretches the theory of evolution and almost all of the laws of physics well past their breaking point. Sasuga also pushes most of his characters past their breaking points in the sense that of the 15 characters we start the book with, we end up with only two survivors. It turns out that the cockroaches on Mars are exceptionally violent. I’m reminded of GANTZ in a lot of ways – the group of relative strangers, the abnormal battle scenes, and the unique weaponry are set pieces to a relatively dull murderfest.

The art of TERRA FORMARS is remarkable for a few reasons; detailed and sharp, with plenty of computer aided body slices to spice things up. TERRA FORMARS takes no prisoners with its action scenes. Bug-themed humans sting, slice, and inject cockroach-based humanoids in wave after wave, only to end up splattered like a bug in turn.

The other remarkable feature of TERRA FORMARS is its hideously racist caricatures of black people. A quick look at the cockroach humanoids recalls images from the Jim-Crow era South – those wide-mouthed, blank-eyed stares are sharply reminiscent of images of Aunt Jemima and the Savage African that were so prevalent at that time. It is confusing to me that Viz would bring over this title given its racist imagery.

It is important to remember that things can be hurtful without being malicious, and I can see how TERRA FORMARS could be a case in point. Viz has a track record of bringing great comics to the United States. Regardless, I think TERRA FORMARS as a whole is alienating and for me personally, not worth supporting.  

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TERRA FORMARS is published by Shueisha in Japan in the manga anthology Weekly Young Jump, and has published it since 2011. The series is being adapted into an anime and will be released this Fall. You can find more comics from Viz manga here

23 Jul 14
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Review: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

This may be a partial heresy, but I’ll be as up-front and as honest as I can: I’ve read 1 volume of Scott Pilgrim, own the rest, and haven’t finished them. I never saw the movie. So, despite knowing about O’Malley’s work, I haven’t really been immersed in it until this point – the enthusiastically awaited Seconds, a project many years in the making that’s had a lot of comics people excited. And now, having read Seconds, I’m also excited – excited to go back to Scott Pilgrim and finish where I left off.

Seconds is a 336 page hardcover book with partial dust jacket printed in lux full color on matte paper featuring Katie Clay, a very talented and ambitious chef who has worked hard to build a great restaurant, Seconds. Because she has no ownership in the business, she has set out to build her own restaurant with a partner, and she’s running into walls. Mix in a current fling with the cook, an ex-boyfriend she still pines over, and a bunch of “baby” co-workers she doesn’t really know, there’s a lot that can go wrong… and does. But when the house spirit of the building her restaurant is in gives her a chance to fix her mistakes with a magic mushroom, her life takes multiple directions for the better and/or worse.

While Seconds is a departure from previous work, it is unmistakably the work of Bryan Lee O’Malley. The in-jokes, the witty dialogue, and his casual breaking of the fourth wall is reminiscent of one of my favorite cartoonists, Mitsuru Adachi, but is immediately recognizable from Scott Pilgrim. O’Malley’s art is clearly influenced by manga and Osamu Tezuka, and while it still maintains much of the same look as Scott Pilgrim, it feels like a cleaner, stronger version of his previous work. Katie especially has the kind of hair that only shonen manga could love.

The reason Seconds works as well as it does is due its strong leading lady Katie, a character who is really well-developed. Despite her flaws, Katie is very emotive and charismatic, which makes for a fun, engaged read. Backing up his characters is a great setting and some wonderful world-building. The city Katie lives in feels real, feels right. O’Malley’s paneling and strong eye for flow are evident – Seconds is a quick read despite its length.

I like the running theme of “seconds” that O’Malley is playing with throughout this book – it’s a book about second chances, a book that reminds us that some of the most important things we do (or don’t do) happen in seconds. It also alludes to the second portions we get when we enjoy food. The idea of food is also central to Seconds, in that eating is basically what the story revolves around, whether that is customers eating food at Katie’s restaurant, eating magical mushrooms in order to reset time, or food given to the ornery house spirit.

Fans have been waiting a long time for Seconds, and as a relative newcomer to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work, I can say with relative ease that this book is one of the best to come out in 2014. It’s a book that will stick in your craw for a long time, make you think more about the way you live your life, and most importantly, make you ask for seconds. Recommended.

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Notes: Sorry for the wretched scans. My scanner isn’t equipped to manage a big book like Seconds, and I try as hard as possible not to damage a book when I scan it, so these turned out a little blurry.

Bryan Lee O’Malley can be found at radiomaru and at his twitter handle here. Seconds was published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House.

21 Jul 14
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Review: The Wrenchies, by Farel Dalrymple

Last week was a surprisingly great week for new comics. Books like Terraformars, Through the Woods, and Seconds all were published to great fanfare. But the book that came out last week that I read first was Farel Dalrymple’s The Wrenchies. I was expecting it to be out around September, so getting it early was a great surprise.

An even greater surprise is how stylistically and intrinsically odd The Wrenchies is.  If ever there was a time to call a comic book a fever dream, now is that time, and The Wrenchies is that comic. In many parts, a gang of super-powered children, adults from an alternate dimension, and a boy from the past in a superhero suit all team up to destroy an ancient evil called the Shadowsmen who have taken over the world.

Dalrymple’s art is one of the key features of any of his comics, but in The Wrenchies he stretches and pulls his abilities in ways that are astonishing and exhilarating. With a mix of dark inks and oversaturated water colors, Dalrymple quickly sets the tone for the book – noxious, dangerous, mystifying. Dalrymple uses color in really cool ways – a concert scene in the first 70ish pages comes to mind with its mix of reds and pinks, simulating darkness and fire. It is clear above all else that Dalrymple has slaved over the illustrations of this comic, and the result is a true joy to behold.

The story leads the Wrenchies on an epic quest to find the poisoned and manipulated body of Sherwood, the progenitor of the chaos and the source of the Earth’s damage. Taken at face value, the book meanders through multiple storylines, with flashbacks and retellings. But nothing about The Wrenchies should be taken at face value.

Consider Sherwood – the story shows that he is the source of the damage and evil feeding the Shadowsmen. But is this evil world a manifestation of Sherwood’s mental illness? There are many potential theories about the source and reality of The Wrenchies‘ dark, polluted world. Is this Sherwood’s breakdown after accidentally killing his best friend in a drug-induced stupor, or perhaps Sherwood’s failed attempts to cope with the unexplained loss of his brother Orson? Conversely, the source of the fantastic story may not be some deeper darkness, but the overactive imagination of Hollis, a boy trying to navigate between his love of fantasy, his mother’s deeply religious ties, and the schoolyard bullies. And what does the end of the book tell us about the “truth” of The Wrenchies, if such a thing can even be derived?

With The Wrenchies, Dalrymple wrings out the darkness of the human condition and builds it up so that he can tear it down with his cast of wizards, ninjas, and marksmen. And despite all my questions, it’s clear that Dalrymple has created something fantastic in The Wrenchies. Recommended.

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Farel Dalrymple's  The Wrenchies is published by First Second (tumblr: firstsecondbooks). You can find Farel on twitter here, and read his series It Will All Hurt, which is set in the same universe, at study-group

16 Jul 14

Quick Picks: New Shojo #1s

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Say I Love You #1 by Kanae Hazuki

After a hurtful betrayal as a small child, main character Mei withdraws from her peers and moves through life without making friends or attachments. But she isn’t afraid to speak her mind, especially when she’s getting harassed by a classmate. The encounter intrigues the school playboy Yamato, who does Mei a favor (in a strange way) and forces her to break out of her shell a bit.

Say I Love You has a lot to say about trust, betrayal, bullying, personal image issues, and uses Mei’s trust issues and a lot of silliness to dive into the heavier content. There’s this skeeziness about Say I Love You - unwanted-but-actually-wanted kisses, etc. While Yamato generally seems to have a good heart, he doesn’t have a lot of respect for Mei’s personal space (or anyone’s personal space). Part of what keeps this book grounded is how Mei deals with the problems that high-schoolers face all the time: with honesty, embarrassment, and sometimes blunt force trauma.

Verdict: A shojo character study in the real world. Not a bad start.

My Little Monster #1 by Robico

Another friendless lead, this time Shizuku is a grade-obsessed loaner who, by request of homeroom teacher, takes class print outs to a guy who’s been suspended for beating up kids on the first day of school. It turns out that Haru, the violent “monster” is really just a guy who is extremely gullible and earnest (but also violent). Since Shizuku is one of the first people to be kind to him, he gets attached to her - but can she give up her grades to go after a guy?

My Little Monster is a fun comedy - Haru is played for laughs with his stupid antics and his awkward and earnest behavior. Robico can dial up the drama when needed, but this is mostly a fun romp. The story moves at a perfect pace. How My Little Monster manages to pull together such a strong cast of characters in a first volume is a testament to strong dialogue writing and just the right ratio of fun to smolder. 

Verdict: Fun, funny, and a perfect cast for volume #1. Recommended.

My Love Story!! #1 by Kazune Kawahara and Aruko

Male leads in shojo books are becoming more and more common -and the hook on My Love Story is that instead of being the blithe, sexy guy that normally is the love interest in shojo manga, Takeo is a giant macho hunk. He seems to always get passed over by the cute girls he likes - the ladies in his life always tend to go for his best friend Sunakawa.

Here’s another winner, except unlike My Little Monster, the reason why it works has more to do with the chemistry between the two best friends Sunakawa and Takeo than the love story (although that too is fairly well written). My Love Story!! draws on the double act tradition of comedy, with Sunakawa being the perfect straight man for Takeo’s over the top physical humor and social misunderstandings. There were parts of this manga that had me rolling. And I like the obvious physical attraction that Yamato has for Takeo. Seeing her blush while looking at Takeo in an undershirt was cute and funny. Big people are attractive too!

Verdict: Good shojo chemistry and a double act that stands up and makes you take notice. Recommended.

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Say I Love You and My Little Monster are published by kodanshacomicsMy Little Monster has an anime adaptation that you can watch for free at CrunchyrollMy Love Story!! is published by Viz Media.

14 Jul 14

Linkblogging #2

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Happy Monday!

Linkblogging is a monthly “go look” feature on Sequential State that I’m using to feature fun comic things around the internet. There is a lot of great stuff to look at on the internet. The stuff featured is just the stuff I’ve been looking at lately. If I missed your thing, send me a message!

Kickstarter:

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You’ve got a little less than 10 days to get your copy of Locus Moon Press’ Winsor McCay Little Nemo in Slumberland tribute book, Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. The contributor list is a who’s who of comics creators, including Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon, Peter Bagge, Farel Dalrymple, Paul Pope, Nate Powell, Craig Thompson, and many more people.  Getting a copy of the book itself is going to set you back a cool Benjamin, so this project may be a little rich for some tastes, especially since despite the book’s size you’re only getting 144 pages of comics.

Roman Muradov (tumblr: bluebed) a celebrated illustrator and comics creator, has a Kickstarter running for his latest zine, Yellow Zine #5; it should debut at SPX this year along with his book (In A Sense) Lost & Found.

Read this thing:

I featured this book on my alt-blog, but here’s some updated linkage for you - The SCIBA-sweeping all-ages comic Dungeon Fun #1 is available for free on Gumroad for a short time.

 Chris Schweizer’s recently posted holy grail of DIY comics creation.

 Lamar Abram’s funny/cute Sonic the Hedgehog (kinda) comic.

News/Reviews/Oddities:

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Breakdown Press (tumblr: breakdownpress) has recently announced a new alt and indie comics festival in the UK, Safari Festival. Featured exhibitors currently on the list for a late August show date include Breakdown Press, Space Face Books, Jazz Dad Books, Famicon Express, and more. Check out the show’s tumblr page (tumblr: safarifestival) for more information.

Zainab at Comics and Cola has a lovely review of Luke Pearson’s Hilda and the Black Hound. Comics and Cola also now has a new facebook page.

Sonatina Comics (tumblr: sonatinacomics) has two preorders up right now – one for Sam Alden’s ‘Screentime June/July’ and A. Degen’s ‘Junior Detective Files.’

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Until July 31st, you can join Smaller Comics “Minicomic of the Month Club,” for $40 AUD anywhere in the world and get a new minicomic in your mailbox every month.

Speaking of subscription plans for comics, Cardboard Press’ limited Summer 2014 subscription sold out pretty quickly. Subscriptions are a huge part of the way smaller comics presses are generating buzz and guaranteed sales for their work. I’m not sure how many of these things a person can be hooked into before they lose their stomach for the concept, but we aren’t at market saturation yet.

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A redesign of Batgirl has taken the tumblr crowd by storm. Babs Tarr (tumblr: babsdraws) did the art and it is a great redesign, and a sign that DC’s previous creative attitude towards women might be changing, if only ever so slowly.

Oh, and keep an eye on sequential-alt, a smaller second half of this MWF blog. I do my reblogging and small post stuff over there. The two blogs together make up a better picture of what I’m up to and interested in.

11 Jul 14
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Review: Young Avengers #1-12, 2005-2006 Edition by by Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung, Andrea DiVito

I’m not planning to do reviews of Big 2 comics very often, but because a really good friend of mine often loans me older comics, I’m reading Big 2 content from time to time.

The 2005-2006 run of Young Avengers occurs somewhere in the Marvel continuity where the Avengers have disbanded after killing many Avengers in something of a freak accident. A group of teenagers with similar powers steps in to fill the shoes of the Avengers to fight time traveler Kang the Conqueror. In addition to the bad guys, the teenagers also have to deal with upset parents and members of the Avengers team.

Based on my conversations I’ve had with the friend who lent me these books, Young Avengers was something of a breakout hit in 2005-2006. It did a lot of fresh things at the time, including having a believable gay couple who were treated as normal people by the rest of the team.

But the books nagged at me as I was reading them, and I felt like something was always a bit off. It wasn’t until book #7-8 that I figured out what was going on. The book, despite its diverse cast, has some problematic subtext.

It’s clear that Young Avengers of 2005-2006 is very much a white man’s book… that should not be surprising, but it was disappointing. The team leader, that African American teen, takes the majority of the abuse. In the first books, he is suspicious and bitter about the addition of a woman, Hawkeye, to their team. While he finally is won over when she saves his life a few times, we then go on to find out that he has been lying to his friends and team the entire time: he’s been using drugs to obtain his strength and healing powers.

Let that sink in… the black character in the book is a sexist drug addict who can only hang out with white people when he’s on drugs.

The issues don’t really stop there, unfortunately. One of the things that I think can be difficult with these 32 page action-o-rama team-based books is that there isn’t a lot of space for character building. This is most evident in the relationship between Iron Lad and Stature; Stature, one of the cute female leads, basically throws herself at the only straight white guy at first opportunity in a completely unrealistic way.

I have to continue to remind myself that these comics are nearly 10 years old, but that doesn’t excuse the lazy writing. Despite some of the good things the run does, I still think that Young Avengers 2005-2006 is really indicative of the Big 2 as a whole, in the sense that it’s white books for white guys.

In my eyes, superhero comics aren’t just a straight white guy escapist power fantasy. There are really great things that you can do with the genre, and it’s obvious that people outside of the Big 2 core audience love superheroes. Things are changing, and I think that’s a good thing - Ms. Marvel is a pretty popular book right now, and I really loved issue #1. There’s a Batgirl redesign floating around the web that looks fresh, realistic, and not all spandex and boob windows.

 Realistically, the only way to reach those people who like superheroes and don’t read comics are to stop writing books like Young Avengers 05-06 and consistently invite and engage with non-white, non-male audiences. Which means good characters and strong, nuanced writing that doesn’t pander to a particular age, race, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

I’ve also been lent the latest run of Young Avengers from the Marvel Now! line, and I’ve been told this set of books is more my speed. We’ll see how it goes.

9 Jul 14
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Review: Blindsprings by Kadi Fedoruk, pages 1-71:

Blindsprings is a webcomic that updates two times weekly, Tuesdays and Thursdays; it features a princess named Tamaura who made a contract with ancient spirits to serve them in order to protect her sister. When a rogue mage pulls her from her woods and breaks her contract, she finds that it has been 300 years since she last saw the outside world.

One of the things that separates good web comics from mediocre or bad web comics is preplanning. I started reading webcomics in the early 00s, and while that wasn’t the bleeding edge, there was still a lot more chaff at that point than there is now. Part of why webcomics are consistently better now is that instead of building a comic around a few characters and a daily joke, webcomics creators are coming into a comic with a plan.

Blindsprings is clearly a webcomic with a plan. There are a lot of features of the comic that are still a little hazy – like what exactly is an Orphic witch, why are Orphics segregated/discriminated against, how does Tamaura’s contract interact with this new world, etc. The biggest key here is that Fedoruk is (or at least appears to be) plotting comics ahead of time.

It also doesn’t hurt that Blindsprings is absolutely stunning in terms of both palette and style. The colors and lines are soft but distinct. Take a look at the pages I’ve pulled for a better look, but it’s clear that these pages are taking a lot of time.

One thing that I really enjoy about Blindsprings is the way Fedoruk resists the temptation to pit the forces of the book against each other. There isn’t really a “good side” at this point – the spirits aren’t exactly kind and gentle protectors, and the Academic Mages have created a society that discriminates against Orphics. The people caught up in the middle are trying to make things work, maybe well, maybe not.

Of note, I do have some concerns with Blindspring’s pacing on a macro level. Each page flows very well, but the story seems to be moving rather quickly and without much in the way of explanation. Certainly part of this is on purpose, but I think there is something to be said for a slower burn and for allowing characters to grow on the page. We’re at a big turning point in the second chapter which may prove that my concerns are unfounded, but, as always, there will be more to come.

Clocking in thus far at just over 70 pages, Blindsprings is a fairly quick comic to jump into, and I think it’s a good example of how a webcomic can work well. Above all, I’m hoping for some answers in the upcoming weeks – let’s hope that they’re as good as the questions that have been posed thusfar.

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Blindsprings can be found at Blindsprings.com, and is written by Kadi Fedoruk, who can be found at blindsprings and on twitter at @KadiFedoruk.

7 Jul 14

Musings: Reviewing Webcomics

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A few weeks ago, there was this big send up about web comics review and criticism. A lot of really well known web comics creators got involved discussing the pros and cons of web comics reviews.

I made some comments regarding reviews that I’m going to pull in here:

In the past I have avoided webcomic reviews because of the reasons I mention above. It’s also harder to write a webcomic review compared to, say, a book. A book has a defined beginning and ending. Because it is a contained, open and closed narrative, it is easier to grapple with the work intellectually and come to a more solid conclusion. It can also be very discouraging for a creator to get a bad review when they are essentially providing free entertainment for their audience.

But one of the major reasons I write a review is to tell readers if I think a property or book I have read is worth their time or worth the money. While webcomics are by-in-large free to read, everyone’s time is valuable. So reviews can still be beneficial for readers.

Another major concern for reviewers or critics is that their voice isn’t necessarily a community voice, i.e. I am not a comics maker. Because I don’t truly understand their process or the stresses of creating and posting comics work, the argument goes, my critique isn’t necessarily valid, or as valid as someone who is doing the work.

I freely admit that I don’t make comics. I read comics. And… I read a lot of comics. And while I wouldn’t by any means tell an author what to do and what to fix about their comic directly, I have been building an eye for construction and flexing my critical thinking skills as much as possible with this blog. I’m certainly not at the level of other critics/reviewers on the web (10,000 hours and all that hokum) but I’m working at it. So if I notice something isn’t working, I’m going to say it.

So, with all of this in mind, I think that webcomics reviews are maybe a little more difficult, but with all of the content freely available on the internet, it can be hard to pick what to read, or find what to read. 

 Starting this Wednesday I’ll be running webcomics reviews alongside more traditional reviews with a few guideposts:

  1. Any webcomic review on Sequential State will mention the page spread that it focuses on i.e. chapters, page numbers, story arcs as part of the review title.

  2. Noting that one of the key features of webcomics is their transformative nature and that many webcomics are works in progress, if I am critical of a work, I will be more thorough and less acerbic in my writing.

  3. That said, there will be no pulled punches. I don’t think it’s fair to the creator or to my audience.

  4. If a creator wishes to engage me regarding any part of the review or my reviewing process, I welcome that engagement. Feel free to contact me via my ASK box, Twitter, or email.

Are there any other guidelines you think are important for webcomic reviews? If so, let me know in the comments.