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.
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
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!
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
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!
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
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
Steve and Jason’s Webcomic Colonic this week got me thinking about the way webcomics change over time – like Steve says, the webcomic you’re reading today might not be the one you signed on for when you first started reading. The longer a comic runs, the more fundamental these changes can get.
Now, as I mentioned back in May, I’m a bit of a fan of Dan Shive’s El Goonish Shive. There’s a lot about the comic to recommend it – the (current) art style, the excellent writing and story structure, the themes it deals with regarding gender issues and the diversity of its cast. Recently, the comic has been expanding the history and role of character Pandora (Chaos) Raven – Immortal being of immense power and (until this examination began?) one of the primary antagonists of the comic. So do the recent changes to the Pandora character in El Goonish Shive suggest a fundamental change to the comic itself? Or is it, as Jason puts it, the privilege of watching the writer’s perspective change over time? Continue reading
It’s been nearly a month now since Spiderman: Homecoming first hit cinemas in the US so, unless you’re a blogger who spends all of their free time reading webcomics on the internet (*cough*), chances are you’ve seen it by now. If you are anything like me, though, how are you supposed to get your spider-fix when the whole world is talking about Spiderman, the Vulture, and the strange sexual tension between Tony Stark and the canonically octogenarian aunt May? Webcomics, of course! Here’s a few of my own favourite Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-themed Webcomics from the past few weeks, months and years to get you in the mood for some Homecoming, or to relive the joy if you’ve already seen it!
- Adam Huber, over at BugMartini, had a good one just this week.
- Rory and Dan from DeathBulge had two episodes about the trials of toileting as a superhero – here, and here.
- The inimitable Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal has one too – in the secret panel at the bottom of this comic.
- In a similar style, Kristian Nygârd from Optipess made this strip last November – a sort of sequel to this earlier strip, perhaps?
- Brian Gordon from FowlLanguageComics had one I supremely relate to…
- John Cullen from Nellucnhoj answered an age-old question for me… and gave me something to have nightmares about…
- The folks over at Dragonarte have a few good ones as well – there’s a couple of good spidey comics on this page (and plenty more scattered throughout the archive) but my favourite one is probably this one.
- And last but not least, once you’ve seen the movie you can have a chuckle at this spoiler-iffic comic from the TextFromSuperheroes mob!
Do you have any favourite Spiderman webcomics we haven’t got on our list? Make sure to leave a link in the comments or let us know on Twitter, and until next time, remember: don’t eat the clickbait!
Longtime fans of Jeph Jacques’ webcomic Questionable Content may have noticed the comic has taken a bit of a turn in recent years. What once used to be a story about a group of predominantly 20-somethings, their relationships and the indie music scene of middle America has become, in Jeph’s own words, “a comic about robots that want to kiss.”
So it’s no surprise that when Jeph started his new webcomic Alice Grove back in 2014, it quickly became a story focused around sci-fi themes as well. So far those themes have included everything from your everyday, run-of-the-mill AI uprisings and man-made nanotech, to spaceships, aliens (both pretend and real), and giant floating space trees. But since the comic’s earliest pages, the reader has been left with the question of how the titular town witch, Alice – and in particular, her abilities – fit into these overall themes. Until now. But although the descriptor of ‘demon’ might seem to fit the town witch we have got to know over the past few years, what exactly is a “Maxwell’s Demon” and how does it play into the overall theme of the comic? Continue reading