For months, I rock along maintaining the status quo, and then the other day, I visit the Freak Angels website just to see what Paul Duffield is up to now that the Freak Angels graphic novel is completed. (Freak Angels is an interesting story and the artwork is gorgeous, but I’d rate it R for graphic violence and adult subject matter. You can read all of it for free online.) I really like Duffield’s artistic style, and the samples of his 14-page graphic novel Signal were so outstanding, I ordered it — only to discover that the book in the hand is at least 10 times better than it looks on the website. So, down at the bottom of the Freak Angels website are links to discussion topics, one of which caught my eye: “Webcomics to read after Freak Angels.” I perused and found some that appealed to me.
I have to say, I’m picky about the webcomics I decide to follow. Quality of artwork is a major criterion. There has to be some kind of technical mastery involved. I don’t care how good the story is. If the artist can’t draw well, it won’t interest me. Style is one thing but poor artwork is a horse of quite a different color. Here are some that caught my eye and held my attention.
Fallout Toy Works — The art on this one is very high-quality and is in full color. It’s about a bankrupt toy maker and his attempt to build an android with human emotions. An interesting take on some of the ideas Philip K. Dick played around with in his novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” which was the basis for the film Blade Runner.
Hemlock — About a witch named Lummi who lives in the shell of a giant snail named Richmond. The black and white artwork has a very “woodcut” feel to it and a very unique style. The story line is original and somewhat unusual.
Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether — I’m only a couple of pages into it, but so far, this one appears to have a “steampunk” style story line in the vein of Girl Genius, but not quite as tongue-in-cheek and with a little more old-style Marvel Comics feel to the artwork and story line. There are some definite nods to the artwork of Roger Dean, who did all that fabulous album art for bands such as Yes and Asia.
Makeshift Miracle – About a young, teen-aged boy named Colby Reynolds whose life suddenly becomes very strange in a 少女漫画 shōjo manga sort of way. The artwork is in color and is very well done in a watercolor style.
Bird Boy – The artwork is excellent and highly detailed. The story takes place in one of the Native American cultures of the Pacific Northwest. According to the synopsis: “When a small boy stumbles upon a legendary weapon, he must flee across a dangerous land of gods, men and beasts to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.”
Kukuburi – This is a beautifully drawn, highly imaginative webcomic about a package delivery girl named Nadia and her pet chameleon, Mr. Bojangles, that begins on the day her life gets seriously weird. There is a strong element of fantasy in this comic. The colorful artwork has an almost psychedelic feel to it, and the detail work is fascinating. The story line works on so many levels that I think it would be as entertaining to a child as it is to adults. The plot line is G-rated and would be suitable for a child as young as 6. The plot/dialog might be a little over their heads at that age, but they would love the artwork.