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KC Green And Anthony Clark’s ‘Back’ Is Your New Webcomics Jam [Review]

Back, KC Green and Anthony Clark

 

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.

 

Back, KC Green and Anthony Clark

 

To be honest, if you launch your comic by having someone kick their way out of their own shallow grave, you’re already halfway to winning me over as a fan. When you follow that up by having that same grave-kicker confronted by (and immediately shooting one of) a quartet of triangles — who, according to a sign on their door, are known as the Cool Witches — then you’ve pretty much pulled me the rest of the way in. And believe it or not, that sequence, those first few pages that went up when Back launched, definitely feel like they’ve set the tone for the rest of the series.

If you go by just the events that have happened so far in the strip, then it feels like it’s the most dire, serious thing in the world. I mean, the very first thing that happens is that someone gets shot and dies, and from there on, it’s prophecies, betrayal, and the literal end of the world, met with only the most potent apathy:

 

Back, KC Green and Anthony Clark

 

That’s very heavy stuff, especially when it’s positioned as the driving force of the narrative. The thing is, Green and Clark present it in a way that’s downright masterful in how it manages to be hilariously funny without ever sacrificing that feeling of danger and urgency.  That’s a difficult trick — if they screwed it up, the story would suffer from a weird whiplash in tone, balancing threats of Armageddon against slapstick comedy and hilarious bickering, but they do it so elegantly that you don’t even really notice how smoothly the tone shifts until you actually sit down and start thinking about what you just read. It’s one of those comics where I want to read over and over again just to try and reverse engineer it to figure out how they pulled it off.

To be fair, I probably shouldn’t have been that surprised. Green and Clark are both very, very good at what they do, and what they do is make webcomics. Green in particular has proven to be pretty deft at exactly that kind of tone shift, in comics like The Anime Club, but in this case I think a lot of it comes down to what Clark is doing. Considering that the first 24 pages are populated by people who are basically eyes, hands and shapes — vague squares and triangles with capes covering their faces — they’re astonishingly expressive, and that plays up the comedy just as much as it underscores the weird undertones.

The first 20 pages feel like a prelude to a larger story — and I mean that in the best way possible, since they’re intriguing, engaging, beautifully crafted and completely free — and now that it’s moving on, I’m hooked. There’s no better time to jump on, so if you haven’t already, set aside some time and read Back. And if you figure out how they made it so good, let me know.

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