Dungeons and Dragons and Webcomics (Part 4)

We’ve spent the last few weeks getting to know a little more about the Dungeons and Dragons franchise. Its beginnings, the way its popularity and infamy grew in western culture, and the influence it had on a selection of creators in both the fiction-writing and webcomic worlds. For the finale of this series we’re bringing it back to webcomics in a big way, by pulling together a thematic overview of webcomics based on the property itself, and seeing where these influences are present in action. Continue reading

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Dungeons and Dragons and Webcomics (Part 3)

In today’s episode of this series, we’re going to take a look at how the meteoric rise of Dungeons and Dragons in popular culture from the 80’s to today is reflected in the comics and cartoons that sprung up around it – firstly, in the works commissioned by the game’s creators and producers, and then by the fans creating zines, fanfiction and yes, webcomics. So. Many. Webcomics. Continue reading

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Dungeons and Dragons and Webcomics (Part 2)

Anyone who’s spent any time reading comics in print or online, is probably familiar with Seduction of the Innocent. This infamous tract by pseudo-psychiatrist Fredric Wertham in 1954 claimed that comic books, with their overt themes of homosexuality, eroticism, violence and murder, were having a deleterious effect on the children of America. Wertham’s book stirred up a frenzy of controversy centred around comics which played out in the media, in the courtroom, and through the establishment of parent’s groups across the American continent. Ultimately, the furore led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority, a regulatory body which oversaw the content of comic books up until as recently as 2011.

If you’re familiar with this story, you’ll see the parallels in the “satanic panic” which erupted around the game of Dungeons and Dragons in the 1980’s. Continue reading

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Dungeons and Dragons and Webcomics (Part 1)

Dungeons and Dragons – the archetypal fantasy roleplaying game which created and defined a genre – is a big part of the internet’s collective conscious so it’s no surprise how often it’s referenced in webcomics, whether directly or indirectly. Digital Strips episode 489 delved a little into the between the game, webcomics and their creators (and podcasters) so this seems a perfect time for a companion article series on just what DnD is, how it came to be, and the influence it has had on the webcomics scene. Continue reading

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Chasing IT: 3 horror webcomics you should read

It’s exam time here in Australia, so I haven’t yet got out to see the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s IT on the big screen. Luckily for me (and us all), there’s plenty of great horror to be found in webcomics, meaning I can scratch my horror itch and still pretend to be working on my essays!

If you’re like me and need something to tide you over until the movie – or if you’ve seen the film and are jonesing for more – here’s a short list of some great horror webcomics that are sure to stand your hair on end.

False Positive by Mike and Ashley Walton

Written and drawn by Mike Walton, and edited by Ashley Walton, False Positive gives plenty of content for your click. An anthology of short-run stories of horror, fantasy and sci-fi that Steve and Jason discussed way back in 2012, it features some truly creepy stories and some deliciously grotesque art. They’re short reads, so if you’ve only got a few minutes to spare they’re definitely worth your time.

The Last Halloween by Abby Howard

Ok, so we’ve talked about The Last Halloween before on the blog and the podcast, and it’s clear I’m a fan. But really, how many webcomics out there open with someone burning (mostly) to death, rendered in lovingly graphic, greyscale detail? If you’re looking for something that reminds you of Stephen King, while still being it’s own, unique work, then this is definitely the webcomic to read and recommend to your friends as the credits roll on IT.

Little Green God of Agony by Dennis Calero and… Stephen King

What can remind one more of a Stephen King story, than an actual Stephen King story? Little Green God of Agony was adapted to webcomic format in 2012 from King’s 2011 short story, and is available to read from King’s website. As you would expect from a renowned professional comic artist, the pages are gorgeous, and capture the creepy tone of King’s prose whilst bringing a distinct and unmistakable comics feel to the story.

Do you know any great horror webcomics to add to this list? Drop them in the comments or link them to me on Twitter – I’d love to check them out (instead of studying). We’ll be back to our scheduled programming on the blog posts from next week, but until then I hope you enjoy a tale or two that send a shiver up your spine. And, as always, remember: don’t eat the clickbait!

 

 

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Posting Apocalyptic

In the last few years, the post-apocalyptic genre seems to have really exploded – with children, and road warriors, and zombies (oh my!) all dominating our current popular media. Steve and Jason’s review of Weapon Brown last week got me thinking about the genre and just how it’s come to be such a big part of the media all around us whether that be film and television, literature, gaming or webcomics – and I was surprised to find how long and how often we have, in our stories, been living beyond the end. Continue reading

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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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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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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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Jenny Everywhere Day 2017

August 13th is a busy day. Not only is it International Left-hander’s Day, it’s also National Filet Mignon Day and National Prosecco Day for those who are Stateside. So why not grab a left-handed friend and invite them over for a nice dinner? Then, when you’re finished, drag them over to the nearest computer and strap them in – because there’s a webcomics reason to celebrate August 13 as well: Jenny Everywhere Day! Continue reading

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