drama


Wednesday’s Webcomic: 2D Goggles

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Tuesday, October 15, was Ada Lovelace Day! It’s a day to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the technology fields.  As such, it is only fitting I share with you the comic 2d Goggles, or, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage! The origin story of this comic was conceived for Ada Lovelace day, as a humorous way to tell the story of the first computer programmer. In our own history, the first computer was designed by a man named Charles Babbage. He called it the Difference Engine, which was never completed, and the programs Ada Byron Lovelace wrote were never used before her death at the age of 36. The ending of the first comic where the two of them succeed and continue on to fight crime was originally supposed to be a one off joke, but by popular demand it was spun into a small pocket universe where Babbage’s Difference Engine was completed and the digital era was begun over a hundred and fifty years early. A chain reaction of adventures, super villains and hijinks follow as a result. Scientific and technological heroes of nineteenth century England appear through out the comic, as well as Queen Victoria, who sees the Difference Engine’s application as an instrument for her plans of World Domination.

The comic is done in animation-type-style, with thick brushstrokes of black ink and impressibly researched anatomy and machinery. Indeed, one of the joys of the comic is the volumes of research, primary sources, and the reference and practice images. The comic is presented in a succession of short and long issues as well as a collection of shorter one shots, with a long book currently in production! Professional delays, referred to as giant monsters, have occurred when the author is overloaded by her day job as an animator, frequently of giant monsters in CGI action movies. One creature you may know of that she animated was the Kracken Liam Neeson was always shouting about releasing. You can check out her impressive recipe, including her work on The Iron Giant,  here at imdb.

Page one of the Origin

This is completely historically accurate. Don’t believe me? Check the sources!


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Strong Female Protagonist

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

I’ve been wanting to share Strong Female Protagonist for awhile now, but I wanted to wait until the current story arc was resolved since it was such a nail-biter. Strong Female Protagonist can be an incredibly emotionally intense story; best be prepared to sometimes have a powerful cry at your monitor. The comic tells the story of Allison Green, a New York City college student. She’s a pretty average girl who studies for exams, lives in a dorm, and clashes with her professors with one notable exception: she’s a former teen superhero. Super strong and completely invulnerable to harm, Allison publicly unmasked herself and denounced the superhero way of life when she realized she wasn’t really doing anything to actually save the world. She wants to draw attention to fighting poverty, disease, and war, but that’s difficult when everyone’s afraid you will squish them like a bug, old friends are nagging you to get back in the crime-fighting game, and super villains bust into your life to settle old scores. There’s also the question if some mysterious power or shadowy organization has a vested interest in preserving the status quo, and if they are quietly assassinating heroes who are trying to actually make a difference.

Cleaver

We have to worry about suddenly running into our exes. Alison has to worry about guys like this.

The comic is black and white with gray-scale washes for shading. The characters and art style are more cartoonish than the average mainstream comic book. The anatomical rendering is excellent, with clear actions sequences and intense facial expressions. And I do mean intense. While not a depressing comic by any means, the emotional anguish of the characters at certain points in the story really reaches into your chest and starts pumping your heart for you. The comic has updated biweekly with regularity, and three complete “chapters” have been published.

The Authors and their Other Works:

The duo behind Strong Female Protagonist are writer Brennan Lee Mulligan and artist Molly Ostertag. Mulligan is a filmmaker in addition to being a writer, with some short films available for streaming on his website. Ostertag has created some other comics in print, including a retelling of the true story of Khutulun, the Wresteler Princess, a Mongolian folk hero.

FANS OF WEDNESDAY’S WEBCOMIC: I need your help! I am running out of comics I know of to read. If you are writing or reading a webcomic that you love, please let me know about it so I can read it and maybe recommend it in the GonnaGeek’s new forum! 


Wednesday’s Webcomic: The Order of the Stick

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Order of the Stick

This week’s recommendation is a big name, but I would like to reiterate that if at least someone hasn’t read a fantastic comic then it is worth my time to recommend it.  I am also hesitant to give any plot details whatsoever, as I believe it should all be experienced first hand. The Order of the Stick is a long running, fantasy parody comic with pithy gaming humor and complex, cerebral story lines worthy of the high fantasy pulp novels that inspire it. The art, while simplistic on the surface, will surprise you with it’s range of expression and flexibility. The story begins with one shot jokes that point out the practical failings of actually living in a Role-Playing Game as the characters discuss their levels, skill points, and passing their skill checks as if they were brushing their teeth or walking the dog. Very quickly and subtly an over-arching plot develops, and then another, and then another, and then they weave together deftly into one mind-boggling overarching storyline. The characters, which at first appear to be a fairly simple collection of fantasy trope characters, slowly reveal interesting depths and motivations. One character’s lack of explicit gender at first seems to be a simple joke, but over time becomes one of the most notable challengers of traditional gender roles I know of. The romances are also one of the most realistic and human parts of the story. Despite their cartoonish fantasy world they have all too familiar ambitions of a great romance, achieving mastery over their skills, building a family or a fortune, or simply finding some stability. The villains themselves are complex and challenge the black and white notion of good and evil in a fantasy universe. Thanks to one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time, The Order of the Stick is also available in its entirety in print.

The Author

Author Richard Burlew was formerly a professional graphic designer. A long time player and GM of Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, Burlew has also contributed to the Dungeons and Dragons monster manual and other canonical publications. The comic has updated mostly consistently over the course of it’s nearly decade long publication, although a private chronic condition occasionally prevents updates. In September of 2012, a serious hand injury prevented publication for a long stretch, but after surgery and physical therapy updates are back up to full swing with Burlew reporting he has made nearly a complete recovery.

Order of the Stick Page 1

From this humble beginning has grown one of the greatest fantasy epics I have ever read. For real. Have I ever steered you wrong?


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Broodhollow

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Today’s webcomic is brilliant one, so much so that it’s difficult to describe the plot without giving away too many details. I can describe it as a cosmic horror, a psychological thriller, as well as a tale of finding trust and friendship in difficult times. In the midst of the Great Depression, Wadsworth Zane is struggling with a nigh-hopeless case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a job as an encyclopedia salesman, and a growing pile of bills when he receives word of an inheritance in the distant town Broodhollow. Although his windfall may be the answer to his prayers, foreboding and terrifying dreams begin, warning him away from Broodhollow. Despite his anxieties, he travels to Broodhollow to find a happy and welcoming town, with residents anxious for him to occupy the vaccum left by the death of his Uncle Virgil Zane, an antique dealer and pillar of the community. Despite the town’s warm welcome, Wadsworth quickly notices the townsfolk don’t notice things that he finds incredibly alarming, to the point that Wadsworth begins questioning whether he may be truly hallucinating. Is Wadsworth merely hallucinating the frightening goings on in the town of Broodhollow? Or are his own neuroses the ones that make him capable of perceiving that his kind new friends and neighbors are in mortal danger?

Broodhollow   The Pattern

The package that starts it all.

Broodhollow comes from a popular veteran of the webcomics scene, so it’s no surprise that it is punctual each week with a detailed and well designed website. Not only is it well-presented, but the writing is excellent. The creepy and funny moments are all timed perfectly with illustrations that alternate between bright and friendly and dark and truly terrifying. The colors are done in a water-color wash style which lends a sort of bloody realism to the clean-edged cartoonish lines of the scenery and characters. Even the typefaces are period appropriate to the art deco style of the website.  This is a completely rock-solid read; and with the first book 200% funded on Kickstarter after only two days I have no doubt Broodhollow will thrill and terrify me for a long time to come.

Broodhollow   The Back Room

Is this all in his mind? Or is this creature real?

The Author and his Other Works

The prolific Kris Straub had been publishing webcomics for over 13 years now, with the completed sci-fi humor and drama Starslip and the currently running gag daily Chainsaw Suit. He partners with Scott Kurtz on the Blamimations segment at PATV. Some of the elements that lead to Broodhollow  came from his microfiction horror site Ichor Falls.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Wednesday's Webcomic

I return from my break a little late this week, but I return with the fascinating, deep, and kind-hearted dramedy Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell. The comic takes place in an other world where tracking your Karma is as important in life as your credit score and your taxes. Unicorns are available as pets, your landlord might be a minotaur, and pothead angels might foist their heavenly duties off on their roommates. Darwin Carmichael is, according to his Karmic balance, one of the worst people on earth. While he tries his best to improve his balance, he has a hard time making up for a single stupid mistake made as teenager. This action haunts his every job hunt, apartment application and his romantic life. He is sometimes arrested by the Karma Police in a preemptive strike against someone so (apparently)  evil, and when he occasionally meets up with someone with psychic sensitivity they usually go into fits from fear and shock at his doom.  Since he is in actuality an average joe, he has some good friends who try to help him get into the black. His best friend and ex-girlfriend Ella tries to keep him on the path of righteousness despite her own  frequently questionable actions. She herself is incredibly karmically wealthy thanks to inheriting the karmic balance of her deceased guru parents, enough so that she could commit several murders and still be considered one of the best people on earth.  His two-millenia-old and somehow still-mentally twelve pet manticore Skittles is always there to cheer him up, or sting him with a scorpion tail if he had been accidentally locked in the closet.

Unicorn

Whatever you say, Darwin!

While Darwin Carmichael’s cheerful tone and brightly colored, friendly animation style give it the appearance of a light hearted romp through international traditions of faith and creatures of myth, it does have a very deep commentary on the dangers of thinking of good and evil as merely black and white, and the hypocrisy of whatever moral authority deems itself fit to judge you. It also lovingly pokes fun at the more mundane intricacies of New York hipster culture with beings like the Leprechaun of Gentrification and the actual Muses who hang with the art scene.  It was recently completed after nearly five years of weekly regular publication. The stories are a mix of funny one-shot gags and longer philosophical stories, and is as a whole a heart-warming and positive saga of friendship, moving on from your past, and being the best person you can be.

About the Creators

Jenn Jordan is the cowriter and draws Skittle’s Crayon interludes. She is a PHD student of History at NYU. Sophie Goldstein is the other writer and the primary artist, who is currently getting her MFA from the center of cartoon studies. She is working on a contribution to the horror anthology Sleep of Reason and more of her art, incuding the recent Adventure Time cover can be viewed at her website.

Diner

In my head that’s the God of Coffee.

 


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Narbonic

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Because I had written about Girl Genius and Dresden Codak in the previous weeks, I now have MAD SCIENCE on the brain. Specifically, mad scientists of the female variety, which brings me to the now classic daily webcomic Narbonic. Narbonic is the story of Dave Davenport, a chain-smoking recent graduate in Computer Sciences who lands a job as a henchman with Narbonic Labs right out of college. His new boss, Dr. Helen B. Narbon, is a certifiably mad and and gerbil-obsessed scientist with a penchant for buggy doomsday machines. Her cheerfully amoral gun-toting intern Mell is searching for some direction in life but until then has a large stockpile of grenades. Later on one of her experimental gerbils, Artie, achieves sentience and tries to be the voice of reason, but usually fails miserably. Dr. Narbon’s lair is frequently attacked by her rival, amorous mad scientist Lupin Madblood, the vigilante hero Antonio Smith: Forensic Linguist, her own twisted creations, and her diabolical mother. What at first appears to be a light-hearted comedic strip seductively lures you into an intricate story of madness and morality, love and the fear of intimacy, and the many different shades of good and evil. Many a “throwaway” line becomes a Chekhov’s gun much later, so pay very close attention!

Dave and Mell

Narbonic is mostly a black and white daily strip with the Sunday strips in full color. The colored Sunday strips are very rarely part of the main story line, but are usually some type of side story,  fan art, fan songs, or fan poetry of the main story. This includes long palindrome songs sung by Helen’s Giant Ur-Gerbils. This is another opportunity to watch an artist evolve and refine her technique, although the artist’s style remains consistent.  In the beginning it is a much rougher hand drawn style and smooths out beautifully over time.  Not only is the comic a long cohesive story, in the original website Dr. Helen Narbon’s secret origin story was hidden in the file names of the images, a few words at a time. A fan compiled it into this text file.  The comic ran from 2000 and was completed 2006 and the comic has been re-running with Director’s Commentary for a few years now. I recommend reading it and the hidden backstory file after reading through the original comic. It has also had a few print runs, and the books can be acquired here.

The Author and Her Other Works

Narbonic was Shaenon K. Garrity’s first webcomic, but it thankfully wasn’t her last. She’s either created numerous other webcomics, as well as numerous published short stories columns and you can peruse her body of work in her gallery. I shall draw attention to Skin Horse, her current long running project which has some connections to the Narbonic universe  She has been an editor with Viz Media since 2003, a colmunist for Comixology, and is a long time volunteer and advocate of the Cartoon Art Museum located in San Francisco. The Cartoon Art Museum is the only Comics and Cartoon oriented museum in the western Hemisphere. You should visit and/or give them money. You should also read Garrity’s brilliant retelling of The Trouble with Tribbles in the style of Edward Gorey.

Meet Helen. Meet her Ur-Gerbil.


Wednesday’s Webcomic – Digger

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Wednesday's Webcomic

Digger  is nothing short of a true epic of mythology, gods, and a wombat. Digger-of-Unnecessarily-Convoluted-Tunnels, or Digger to her friends, becomes disoriented from noxious fumes and subsequently very lost underground. She ends up stranded far from home in a distant and strange country where the statues talk, the slugs are prophets,  and the squash thirst for the blood of the living.  The practical and courageous Digger, who has no use for either gods or prophecies, is the reluctant and unlikely heroine in a short chapter of an ancient battle between good and evil.  She may not be happy about it, but if she has a job to do, she’ll do it right!

Left Hand Purple Ink

digger hyenaDigger is complete as of March 2011, and won the Hugo award for best Graphic Story in 2012.  It was part of a paid subscriber collective for most of it’s run, but it is now available in it’s entirety for free. It was originally a short story of just the first five pages which then grew into six volumes. It is also entirely in print with bonus short stories in the print volumes. While Vernon’s incredibly fascinating world of multicultural legends and bizarre creatures will draw you in, it’s Digger herself who really holds everything together. Her practical and genre-savvy nature and her deadpan wit give you a heroine who won’t put up with any nonsense from demons, trigger-happy monks, or packs of hungry hyenas. She will introduce them to the business end of her pickaxe if necessary.

 I must warn my readers of two things: Do not read the comments on the archived pages as many previous readers have left spoilers. Also, there are scenes of domestic abuse.

Remember tunnel 17The Author and her Other Works

 Ursula Vernon is an award winning painter and children’s book author. She’s the author of the children’s series Dragonbreath, where a young dragon will teach you about biology and myths, and had a big hit on the message board 4chan and subsequent memedom with The Biting Pear of Salamanca.  She also illustrated the game Black Sheep.  Almost every single painting on her website and Deviant Art also has a bit of back story and flavor text, so those are definitely worth a browse through.

Please let me know what you think of Digger in the comments area below! Did you enjoy it? Do you hate it? Is it just… meh?

Troll hyena cute

Aren’t the trolls are just the cutest? There’s an extended feature about them in volume 3 of the printed comic.