The Witch & The Space Boy: Should You Be Reading ‘Alice Grove’? [Sci-Fi Week]
With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today, and this week we’re focusing on some of the very best science-fiction in comics. Discover the world of tomorrow with Sci-FI Week!
For more than a year, Jeph Jacques' webcomic Alice Grove has been building an intriguing sci-fi world while telling an ambitious, sweeping story about the clash between the past and the future.
WHAT"S IT ABOUT?
In an agrarian, Wild West-ish Earth lives a woman named Alice Grove. Known as a witch, her neighbors alert her to a mysterious blue boy who beams down onto their farm. Luckily, the boy --- Ardent --- is not malevolent, but a rather dim tourist.
The same can't be said for his sister Gavia, who floats by interfacing directly with nanotechnology and starts a bunch of damage by coming to Earth to look for him. The two of them aren't supposed to be on Earth, as contact and travel between earthlings and those who live in space is strictly forbidden.
Setting off to solve the mystery of why they're really there, Alice leads the two on an expedition that involves her mysterious past, the history of the world, and strange forces with sinister agendas.
WHO'S IT BY?
Alice Grove is the second webcomic by Jeph Jacques, best known as the artist/writer behind long-running slice-of-life webcomic Questionable Content. Jacques is a confessed admirer of sci-fi writers like Frank Herbert and Iain M. Banks. Furthermore, as the sci-fi elements of QC should make clear, with their undercurrents on AI civil rights, he has a knack for lacing humor with serious social exploration laced with science fiction.
Thus, Alice Grove. Running weekly (formerly biweekly) since 2014, the strip was funded into existence by Jacques's supporters on Patreon. Initially it ran on its own website, but due to intense traffic crashing the servers, the comic is currently hosted via Tumblr.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Alice is not only a chance for Jacques to show his SF love, but also a way to indulge and expand his art skills in a way the domestic dramas of his other webcomic simply don't afford. As if to make this point, the first four pages of the strip are entirely wordless and simply astonishing.
But past that, the strip has become a joy to read for its expansive world and deeply endearing cast. In a welcome break from most SF worlds, the majority of the cast are women, all with diverging points of view and philosophies. That, along with the constant inventiveness and ready wit, are what make Alice Grove a joy to read.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Fans of Herbert, Banks, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Fans of Questionable Content, of course, and Girl Genius and Sam & Fuzzy. Anyone who loves female-driven storytelling with a compelling mystery and an SF edge.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
Alice Grove is published weekly on Tumblr and is also carried on the Comics Chameleon app for iOS and Android.