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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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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Pandora-monium! Character change in El Goonish Shive

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

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Coming Home to some Spidermans

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!

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!

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Questioning Content – Maxwell’s Demons and Alice Grove

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

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