A Guide to Webcomics: Our Pick of Epic, Fantastical and Magical Worlds
A Guide to: Classics | Humor | Fantasy | Sci Fi & Drama | Superheroes, Horror, Diary
Yesterday, we laughed, cringed and felt generally bewildered as we passed through the hallowed halls of comedy. Today, in our week-long exploration of webcomics, we trade LOLs for something more, well... epic. (If you feel lost, check out Monday's crucial 'Intro to Webcomics,' which presents a webcomic primer for any reader.) What is more epic than magical fantasy or high-adrenaline adventure? The genre isn't just dragons, elves and Harry Potter-style imaginings (although 'Gunnerkrigg Court' borrows delightfully from Hogwarts); it also encircles strange creatures, alternate worlds, magical powers and the ultimate fight between good and evil. Webcomics allow for wonderfully long narratives, whose tangents and details let us get to know characters and environments like familiar friends.
Largely unfettered by monetary or spatial constraints, creators have created some wonderfully intriguing worlds and creatures, from the absurdist travails of 'Rice Boy' to the terrifying telekinetics of 'Minus.' To help readers decode their favorite fantasy narratives, we've produced a handy icon guide (after the break). Wednesday's entries have too much imagination to be constrained by Tolkien or Dungeons & Dragons tropes (although those are present, too), so enjoy the realms of the unreal.
Surrealistic, strange, and inhabited by imaginative characters, ancient prophecies and heroic journeys, Evan Dahm's 'Rice Boy' is as hard to pigeonhole as it is wonderful to read. For fans of 'Bone' and 'Sandman,' this tale is as cleverly written as it is bizarre.
Charlie Trotman's 'Templar, Arizona' is hard to describe: a webcomic whose titular city is as much of a character as its inhabitants are. Trotman has not only created an entire alternative universe populated with fascinating subcultures and traditions (not unlike our own), but he also deftly balances it with the engaging stories of its curious residents.
Tom Siddell's 'Gunnerkrigg Court' stars two students who attempt to unravel the mysteries of a Hogwarts-esque boarding school. Lovingly written and illustrated, 'Gunnerkrigg Court' combines myriad supernatural and science-fiction elements, from robots to devils to telepathic powers, all framed by raging teenage hormones.
The Phoenix Requiem
'The Phoenix Requiem' is Sarah Ellerton's fantastical Victorian-era tale of magic, ghosts and strange creatures, told in a graphic-novel style. Deftly illustrated by Ellerton (who also created the equally gorgeous 'Inverloch') with a cel-shaded mix of Eastern and Western styles, 'The Phoenix Requiem' is proof of the visually sumptuous work being done in the webcomics field.
Ryan Armand's 'minus' is like a storybook interpretation of the classic 'Twilight Zone' episode "It's A Good Life." Like that bit of scary science-fiction, 'minus' stars a young child (the eponymous minus), who has the ability to change her reality at a whim, making her wildly unpopular and endlessly powerful. Eerily juxtaposing elegantly childlike art with sometimes horrific content, 'minus' is sublime, terrifying and hilarious.
The Prohibition-era 'Lackadaisy' features a cast of shady, anthropomorphic cats. Tracy J. Butler's beautifully illustrated strip is equal parts historical fiction and cartoonish comedy with a bit of 'All Dogs Go to Heaven.'
Ursula Vernon's 'Digger' stars one of our favorite marsupials, a wombat literally named Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels. Illustrated in sharp black and white, the appropriately claustrophobic strip tells the tale of the eponymous protagonist as she finds herself lost and far from home, caught up in a web of spiritual and magical intrigue.
Lady Yates's 'Earthsong' tells the intricate and exposition-heavy story of an amnesiac woman in a world where those infected with "soul stones" (superhuman elements of their native worlds) are exiled to a distant planet named Earthsong. Dreamy and other-worldly, this is a great start for readers who want real, true-blue fantasy.
'Erfworld' is 'Partially Clips' creator Rob Balder's fantasy webcomic. The strip takes place in a world that adheres to strategy wargame rules, thus allowing Balder to parody fantasy role-playing tropes while telling the epic tale of a regular gamer sucked into a fantastical world.
'Girl Genius' is Kaja and Phil Foglio's steampunk (or, as they like to call it, "gaslamp fantasy") epic. Theirs is a world inhabited by airships, steam-powered robots and the Spark, an innate Force-like power that turns people into raving geniuses.
Drowtales: Moonless Age
The 'Drowtales' world, created by Yan Gagné, revolves around a complex elven culture. His site hosts several comic interpretations of this universe, but the central one is Gagné's own 'Moonless Age' comic. Illustrated in a computer-colored manga style, Moonless Age tells an epic tale filled with a diverse and imaginative cast of magical characters.
The Dreamland Chronicles
Scott Christian Sava's 'The Dreamland Chronicles' is a modern-day interpretation of 'Little Nemo.' 'The Dreamland Chronicles' uses computer-rendered imagery to illustrate the story of Alex, a young man drawn into a world of dreams populated by dragons, centaurs, and other fantastical beings and objects.
No Need for Bushido
Set in feudal Japan, Alex Kolesar and Joseph Kovell's 'No Need for Bushido' is an action-comedy that parodies manga and anime tropes. Its story centers on a runaway princess and a group of travelers caught between two warring clans.