my fears were completely unfounded

Fifth of February, Two-Thousand and Ten: Rene Engstrom’s beautiful, sad, funny, disturbing web-opus, Anders Loves Maria, has ended.  If you haven’t been reading it, for the love of God, do not jump straight to the end.  Start here (and be aware that it is not safe for work, not safe for kids, not safe to read around your parents–sex, nudity, bad decisions, pain, and heartbreak abound).

Much could be said about Anders Loves Maria.  Much has been said.  All I will add right now is this:  it is a mark of pure artistry that, upon finishing the strip, the simple act of looking back at the title re-contextualizes everything, and makes you want to just cry (more so than you did just a second before).

Kudos, Rene.


exploded in strange appendages


Just read through the entire archive of a webcomic called Astray3, by Eldon Cowgur–it’s excellent.  It’s the story of a young woman pulled into a fantastic (and often horrific) alternate universe populated by a panoply of monsters.  I know, I know, you’ve heard that one before, but the story is in the telling, and Astray3 is told with relish and care, not to mention talent.

The whole series has a genuine Early Marvel feel to it, from the constant chatter of dialogue, to the rollicking pace, to the never-ending stream of bizarre creatures.  Emily, our heroine, has a real Stan Lee accent, talking herself (and us) through every situation, adapting nonchalantly to her new lifestyle, and spilling our her every thought for all to see.  A lot of people have tried to imitate that classic style, but such attempts usually fall flat, reading as bland parodies or cloying nostalgia pieces–but Cowgur nails it.  The writing is sincere and engaging, holding up better than a lot of those old Marvel stories do, and the art is spot on, fulled to the brim with new and weird in every panel.  

Astray3 seems to keep a solid weekly schedule (I say, having just read it all at once), and I’m hoping it’ll stick around.  Go ahead and check it out, True Believers.

kitty hawk: chapter 2 in review


At long last, we’re winding down the second chapter of Kitty Hawk.  I emailed Braden the scripts for the final two issues yesterday, so the end is solidly in sight.  The chapter turned out to be much longer than I expected–or at least, to take much longer to tell.  I had originally planned for it to be a quick, adventure-y episode to break up the larger plots and introduce some elements for later use, but it dragged out in the writing.  Reading it over, it’s not as slow or laborious as it felt in my head while we were putting it together, but the writing process definitely highlighted for me the drawbacks of our weekly micro-issue format.  Updating only once a week is a real hindrance, not only to audience-building, but to plotting and scripting as well.  It’s difficult to retain momentum and immediacy when you only need to be on stage once a week (also it encourages pacing breaks which are not the most sensical in the long run).

I still think there’s potential in the multi-page format, but it doesn’t outweigh the drawbacks of a weekly schedule.  If we’d had the resources to put out two issues a week, it might have been a different story, but four pages is definitely beyond our means right now.  Perhaps there will be more experiments in the future–and perhaps not.

The good news, for those of you who are still reading after all that paragraphy, is that we’ll be embracing a new format when we start chapter three, which will be not only more frequent in its updating, but more friendly for web reading.  At the same time, I plan on making a lot of changes to the plotting and pacing of the strip, making things a little more dynamic and giving the story more forward motion.

We’ll have more details over the next couple weeks, so stay tuned.  Excelsior!

the better part of valor


Today is the 12th anniversary of Goats, the nations most powerful webcomic!  That’s right, twelve years of zombie cyborg fish, corporate intrigue in the Mayan underworld, beer, Dune references, and beer.  Goats was the first online comic I ever read, and it occupies a special place in my heart, from which it will someday dislodge, flow up to my brain, and cause a stroke.  Happy anniversary, Goats!