Why web comics and prestige formats?


Why do I review webcomics and collections? Well the answer is simple: time, money and space. As I’m nearly thirty, with a wife and a baby on the way. I’m in that awkward section of society that is unable to collect and more importantly store endless comics. The best that I can aspire to is the prestige graphic novel format, which take up less space. Web comics by their very nature take up no space at all and tend to be cheap or free. I’m also really impatient, I always want to read the next installment now rather than later, so the graphic novel suits me as is fairly self contained. This does lead me to the biggest frustration and drawback of webcomics: updates. Artists and writers will insist on having their own lives and take their time between updates. On saying that the wait is often worth it.

Demonology 101


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This series by Faith Erin Hicks is now complete. It tells the tale of Raven, A half-Demon, teenager and her battles against the evil Jenner’s and their demon allies.

The events prior to the story that unfolds in the comic are compelling and intriguing, they would make a great book in their own right. This is always a positive point in a narrative in my view. While Hicks does offer an origin story for one of the villains we never really find out all that has gone on before between the Network and the Jenners.

In tone the dialogue takes on a buffyesque quality from time to time, but I guess this is only natural as it involves teen characters in a high school setting. This the only point were this series can be compared with external influences. The witty banter and repartee gives this comic a lot of its charm as do the complex relationships between characters. This is most importantly a character driven piece that has compelling, sympathetic villains that are more than simple two dimensional stock bad guys. This is more of a cold war between good and evil that has suddenly warmed up. Most of the villains are evil because of family tradition or ’cause they’’re demons and that’s what demons do right?, rather than any particular zeal for the cause.

The major positive with this series is that it’’s complete, you get to read the whole story without having to wait for updates. This is also a major negative because you will get to the end of this comic and still want more.

Demonology 101 is a superb comic and en engaging read. Read it now.

Ghost Rider: The Road to Damnation


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Written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Clayton Crain.
This book was something of a gamble for me . I’m not Garth Ennis’ biggest fan, while his work is of high quality he does have a tendency to crassness. However, in this book he resists. While some of his characters still retain a preacher like quality, such as Buttview to name but one, overall this is a finally crafted tale. Ghostrider is pitched into a struggle between heaven and hell. As you’d expect Ennis portrays the hosts of heaven and hell as nasty as one another. Humans are expendable to both sides. It is difficult to find a sympathetic character in this book. Ghostrider spends too much of his time at the center of the action to act as a moral fulcrum, that role falls to humble mortal Jemima Catmint. Crains’ artwork is lush in detail and colour and provides a worthy stage for the oldest cold war in creation.
As you would expect from a Ghostrider title this is a hell for leather action adventure. Not really deep and thoughtful but a diverting read nonetheless.

ICE


Ice is the new project of Faith Erin Hicks, who brought us Demonology 101.
Hicks has produced a compelling vision of the future. It is a believable world that is introduced subtly via the narrative. The story starts off by introducing the main characters and the world they inhabit. The main characters are interesting and the villains, Munsch and Saul, are suitably sinister. This comic is only just underway but shows a lot of promise. I for one will be checking in to see how it progresses.

The Rainbow Orchid


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The Rainbow Orchid is a webcomic published in a strip format by Garen Ewing an English freelance illustrator who devotes his spare time to creating this beautifully drawn strip in the clear line style of Yves Chaland or Herges.
This one takes a bit of getting in to but it’s worth your perseverance. The storyline is reminiscent of Conan Doyle or pulp 20’s fiction.
My major gripe with this is the strip format, which makes it difficult to get into the story. I can see that this makes it easier on the illustrator and his updates and it takes up less screen space, but at times it can be frustrating for the reader.
The villains are suitably evil but tends towards the two dimensional, but again this suits the pulp nature of the strip. The supporting characters are great, particularly William Pickle the gossip columnist.
Check out Rainbow Orchid

Agnes Quill


agnes_jessfink0.pngAgnes Quill is a superb comic by David Roman. It follows the adventures of its title character, a teenage detective whose cases always seem to take a paranormal bent. Roman presents a range of interesting characters and refreshingly original plots. There are Six Agnes stories so far: The Mummified Heirloom, The Divided man, Zombie Love Trap, Buried Homes and Gardens, Lost and Found and Invite Only. These are to be collected into a graphic novel published by Slave Labour Graphics in October.
The Stories are of a generally high quality, with The Mummified Heirloom being the best in my opinion and Buried Homes and Gardens the worst.
The art throughout is of a consistently high standard and the artists style reflects the mood of the stories perfectly.
Jason Ho’s moody black and white ink provides us with our first view of legerdemain and Agnes up to her neck in ghosts and goons, setting the standard for the series.
Not to be outdone Jeff Zornow opens Zombie Love Trap with an atmospheric cityscape that proves that he’s up to the challenge provided by Ho. His work is masterful and reminiscent in my opinion of early 2000AD strips. As good as Zornow’s art is the series has a downward blip with Buried Homes and Gardens which has all the right elements for a rip roaring adventure but feels a little flat in the final delivery.
The strip returns to form with Lost and Found, with Raina Telgemeir taking the comic in a more toony direction, which none the less compliments the storyline of child ghosts.
David Roman Sums up the series with Invite Only and his style creates a surprisingly sinister mood.
Agnes Quill showed me what webcomics have to offer and inspired me to look at the work of independent artist in a fresh light. Free of editors they have an opportunity to try fresh ideas, which is a breath of fresh air in a form dominated by X-men clones and preacher wannabes.

Welcome


I’ve discovered webcomics and the refreshing ideas that abound on the net. Don’t get me wrong there is still a lot of rubbish out there, but hopefully I could steer you away from the dross towards nuggets of geeky bliss that abound in this truly independent form.