Digital Strips Episode 488: Castle Talk

Tobias enters the Gothic Castle on Arrested DevelopmentJason brings the filthy post-apocalyptic comic strip homage, Weapon Brown, along with a mention of Terence’s latest article about Andrew Gregoire and his battle with anxiety. Steve keeps it light and funny, with the frivolity of Good Bear Comics and the childish period drama, Bloodlust and Bonnets.

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Widdershins: What your Magic says about You

Magic, by its very nature, is a force which can be infinitely variable when used in fiction. So it’s remarkable how often we come across the same recycled tropes over and over again: wizards with wands or staves, sorcerers weaving magic out of thin air, latin incantations or innate magical abilities like flight, strength, etc. So when something comes along that is a little out of the ordinary – like bargaining with a spirit  to imbue magical properties on an object – it’s worth a closer look. Welcome to the world of Kate Ashwin’s Widdershins. Continue reading

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Pro Grapplers Episode 53: The Night Roman Reigns Took It Out

Brock Lesnar confronts Heath Slater about his many childrenOne week later, we’re already tired of the Cena/Reigns beef, weiner-measuring contest and all. But don’t worry, because KO and Shane are coming to blows on SmackDown over a mention of some kids. Also, Carmella can’t make up her mind while failing to convince us the MITB was a good idea. Enzo’s getting far too many chances, Ziggler is collapsing like a dying star, and Asuka is done with NXT. At least week 2 of the Mae Young Classic will buoy your spirits until better things come along. Oh, and Strowman/Show tore it up yet again. Go watch that on repeat.

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Today I Learned (Nothing) Episode 42: Utah Hot

Swimmers enjoy the natural Utah hot springsHow hot has Seattle been? So hot that children are fighting on futons! So hot that it’s more like Utah hot. It’s got Steve in his perpetual state of percolating rage. Jason, meanwhile, has issues with dropping chocolate on his office chair (yes, it’s chocolate) and the magical clean-up that never takes place. Alien chairs? You be the judge! Also, why can’t you take Asians camping? The guys file their report.

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Pro Grapplers Episode 52: That’s a Noski For The Broskis

Ric Flair stand defiant after battling from the brinkThe Mae Young Classic has arrived and Jason gives you the skinny on the first round of matches! Who soared? Who tumbled? In other WWE views this week, Raw moved towards No Mercy while SmackDown Live floundered under the weight of a boring main event scene. Also, Steve gives a quick report on WCPW (free on YouTube!) and the guys weigh in on the kerfuffle that was Cena owning Reigns on the mic. Stay tuned after the show proper to hear what Steve thinks the Jax/Bliss feud should amount to.

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ARG-xiety: Andrew Gregoire and the silent struggle

On April fool’s day 2016, one of my favourite webcomics posted it’s last update before what would, eventually, become an indefinite hiatus: Andrew Gregoire’s I Am Arg! At the time (like most webcomics which lapse into a cycle of non-updates), Gregoire didn’t give a whole lot of reasons why that happened – one day the webcomic stopped updating, and the next, it never did again.
Two and a half years later, Andrew has revealed some of the struggle he was having with the comic in its final days, and it’s a story that will sound familiar to far too many of us: the battle with anxiety and the crippling expectations we place on ourselves day-to-day.

In a Twitter thread on 3 September 2017 (which starts here), Gregoire goes into detail about the circumstances that led him to quit his comic; how the mental toll of the workload – that is, the workload his anxiety was setting for himself by forcing him to write up to twelve drafts for a given comic before finally ‘settling’ on something he was still unhappy with – was affecting his sleep, his work, and even his relationships with his wife, family and friends. In this, Gregoire is not alone – the incidence of anxiety-related stress disorders in America and across the globe have been on the rise for well over a decade, and is now believed to affect between 18 – 30% of Americans (and about 10% of Australians, too). Part of the reason the exact number is not known, is the suspicion that many people are either unable to recognise the symptoms, unwilling to face the reality that they are living with anxiety, or simply anxious about coming forward and facing treatment.

In his Twitter thread, Gregoire confesses to the latter. As someone who witnessed their father struggling through a medicated approach to treatment, Gregoire was faced with what is a very common fear of artists, musicians, and creative people battling mental illness: the fear that they will lose their creative spark, and in seeking treatment lose something of themselves in order to become healthy. Eventually, Gregoire found the courage to take that step, and reports that ever since:

“It kinda helped. I’m not perfect, but I’ve only had 2 panic attacks in the last 2 years and they’ve been super mild.”

For Gregoire, the difference between trying to ‘tough it out’ in silence and seeking help (through a combination of medical treatment and coping mechanisms) was the difference between hundreds of attacks and insomnia multiple nights every week, to those two (“super mild”) attacks across two years. The importance of that difference is not lost on Gregoire, who ends his thread by reaching out to others:

“there are ways to help fix your brain, and there are people who want to help.”

Even if you’re not familiar with I Am Arg!, the chances are you, or someone you know, will be subject to feelings of depression or anxiety at some stage of your life. Gregoire’s decision to share his battle on Twitter is an important reminder that the people who make these internet drawings we all hold so dear are, at the end of the day, people the same as us – subject to happiness and sadness, and struggle, and courage, and hope. Gregoire may feel like he posted the thread for “selfish reasons,” but if reading it helps one person who is otherwise feeling like they’re struggling alone, then that will be a gift beyond words.

Do you have experience with depression or anxiety, either personal or experienced through the creative works of other webcartoonists? We’d love to see any links to other examples you have in the comments section, or you can contact us directly on Twitter. And until next time, remember: don’t eat the clickbait!

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Digital Strips Episode 487: A Problem I Need Scratched

Hashtag fingersGive me a hell yeah if you think adulting is hard! HELL YEAH! What’s not hard is looking at some great comics this episode, like Test and Stuck at 32. Steve even managed to find a podcast (called World Walkers) featuring the talents of many webcomics creators that you should give a listen to.

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Pro Grapplers Episode 51: Every Tom, Dick, and Killian Dain

KO approaches Breezango about being special referee for his title matchJason tries a new format and Steve immediately points out how invalid it is. Plus: Is hotshotting the titles around a good idea? Did the SummerSlam Big Beefy Boy Smashfest deliver? Are we looking at a squash match at No Mercy? Is Braun Strowman big enough to hide Samoa Joe for an entire match? How is Chad Gable’s spatial awareness? And can Kevin Owens find a special referee, or is he too Kevin Owens to get it done?

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Lil’ Political Cartooning

Steve and Jason’s latest podcast got me thinking of the very first blog post I made on this site, way back in April, when we discussed whether the term ‘webcomic’ was still relevant today. Jason’s webcomics choice of the week – Mike Norton’s Little Donnie – echoes something of this debate: being a modern, relevant incarnation of cartooning’s oldest and most enduring ancestor – the political (editorial) cartoon. Continue reading

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Pro Grapplers Episode 50: Waiting For Asuka

Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax of WWE making silly faces for the cameraThe lesser of the big two is here, it’s time for SummerSlam! Join Jason and Steve as they praise Titus Worldwide for the joy and wonder that they bring to the world, ask just when the Intercontinental Title will be defended again, plead that we all get on the same page when a MITB cash-in is made, predict a Carmella cash-in, fantasy book Shane-o-mac’s Precarious Structure Vision, ponder whether or not the Jindtourage will grow again, and convince each other that the new Universal champion will look good with the strap.

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