One of the great strengths of webcomics is that they can offer a corrective to mainstream media. Rather than pandering to the interests of the perceived common majority, webcomics can target under-served audiences, embrace alternative heroes, and present a non-traditional view of the world. And sometimes that philosophy can manifest in surprising places. Like a beefcake calendar.
Mancalendar is a project put together by Countershot Press, a collective of five webcomic creators from Canada, the US and the UK, which brings together twelve talented illustrators to present their refreshingly different takes on the pin-up.
If you've not heard of Patreon yet, it's a service not dissimilar to Kickstarter, in that it allows you to donate money to projects and artists you'd like to support, sometimes for rewards, but largely because it's something you're invested in and would like to see continue. It's also different in that you can pledge ongoing support; giving a certain amount of money each month- say a dollar- although there's the option available to cancel at any time. As you can imagine, these factors make Patreon better tailored for those working and producing art online, as evidenced by the number of more established online artists doing well on there- KC Green, Anthony Clark, Meredith Gran, Ryan North, and more.
With so much projects and content to sift through, it's easy to miss some perhaps lesser-known, but equally excellent comics worthy of wider attention, so I thought I'd spotlight three of my favorites here. Regardless of whether you choose to support them or not, at the very least hopefully you'll be introduced to a few great comics that you may not have been aware of.
Author H.P. Lovecraft's stories of ancient terror gods that drive people insane upon seeing them and cruel fate making life difficult for people aren't exactly laugh riots, but cartoonist Patrick Dean has managed to find some macabre humor in the horror writer's work.
For the past two years, Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag's webcomic Strong Female Protagonist has mixed up gender politics, social responsibility, and superheroes into a really compelling package, with excellent art to boot.
Now, after a successful Kickstarter, the creators are partnering with Top Shelf to release a 220-page print version of the comic, collecting the first four issues along with bonus material.
Here's the thing about Boulet: As amazing as that guy's comics are, and stories like "The Long Journey" and "Darkness," the most incredible thing about them is how suddenly they appear. You're just minding your own business one day and then boom, there's a new forty-page Boulet masterpiece out there, and whatever you thought you were going to do that day becomes "read this new Boulet comic and then probably also all the others that I've already read." They're that good.
And that, my friends, is exactly what happened this week when the French cartoonist dropped "Kingdom Lost," a story that starts out with classic high fantasy and turns into something completely different.
One of the best things about digital comics is that you can read them online pretty much anywhere, but sometimes, every now and then, you want to read them in print. Whether it's the extra features that inevitably come with a printed collection, the texture of paper or just the comforting reminder that physical objects exist and you are therefore not alone and isolated in a formless void, printed webcomics have a lot to offer today's discerning reader, and Dark Horse is stepping up to give you three of the most exciting collections of the year.
Set for release next spring, Eisner winning digital comic Bandette and the webcomic Polar: Eye For An Eye are returning to Dark Horse for the book trade customers, but the third, Murder Book is a newcomer, and it looks awesome.
Benign Kingdom fills a niche that lay absurdly open for too long: well designed and curated artbooks from webcomic creators. Somehow, the idea never occurred to me or most anyone for years, despite the absolute cavalcade of talent on display. Who knew Danielle Corsetto, creator of Girls With Slingshots, produced such gorgeous figure drawings? Who knew Yuko Ota, co-creator and artist of Johnny Wander, could fill a page with such whimsy and menace?
One enormously successful Kickstarter later, Benign Kingdom has presented the world with these awesome talents, but also helped demonstrate the viability of self-publishing. ComicsAlliance sought out Evan Dahm, co-founder of the Benign Kingdom project and creator of the webcomic Rice Boy, to discuss a changing industry and their place within it.
Wednesdays have been the focal point of the comics calendar for as long as I've been reading them, but recently there's been a new reason to look forward to the middle of the week: Back, a webcomic that sees Anthony Clark (Nedroid) and KC Green (Gunshow) steadily weaving a bizarre and often hilarious tale of resurrection, prophecy, and the occasional Garfield phone.
When it was announced, I predicted that Green and Clark coming together would create a project that would send all other webcomics fleeing in terror of their union, and while that might have been overselling it just a bit, I don't think it was far off in terms of just how good this thing is. Now that we're about 26 pages in, it's safe to say that if you're not reading Back, you really need to be.
Spike Trotman is a visionary. She sees possibility where others throw their hands up in defeat. She sees innovation where others see stagnation. She is fundamentally optimistic about the future of comics — and why shouldn't she be? Trotman has conducted massively successful Kickstarters — plural — organized some of the best talent in comics into anthologies like Smut Peddler and The Sleep of Reason, made money-producing Poorcraft (a comic about not having money), and, all the while, maintained Templar, Arizona, her long-running and beloved webcomic.
Comics have been good to Spike Trotman, but her success is very much the result of hard work and fresh thinking rather than chance—hard work that has left her one of the most interesting people in the industry. So, naturally, ComicsAlliance tracked down her booth at San Diego Comic-Con to talk Kickstarter foibles, “porn for chicks,” and a new golden age for comics.
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Speedster artist Claire Connelly can complete three-to-five pages per day, so it's no surprise that she's consistently busy with projects like her own webcomic The Last Outpost, Animals with writer Eric Grissom, and The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill: A Documentary with writer Erica Schultz. In addition to being a penciller and inker, she's also a writer, letterer, and painter.
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