Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hey Kids! It's Comics!

I was twittering away this evening, and sent someone the names of some of my favorite Webcomics, but without the links due to the 140-character limit. This bothered me enough that I'm dusting off this old thing to post some of those links. We'll see how this goes.

First up: Girl Genius. (

Phil Foglio wrote and/or drew some of my favorite comics from the 80s, and the mad genius behind this series, or more appropriately serial, belongs to him and his wife Kaja. It's the story of a girl discovering that she is Heir to Power, set in a Steampunk Europe ruled by mad-genius "Sparks" who create and, to a degree, control the steam-powered technology that makes things run. Madcap adventures, daring heroes and heroines, sidekick hijinks, giant (and tiny) robots, and SCIENCE!

Next: Gunnerkrigg Court. (

A comic that started (so far as I can tell) on the Web, the story begins with the heroine (and sometime narrator) entering school at Gunnerkrigg Court, and encountering an increasingly complex and sometimes disturbing mix of technology, mythology, magic, and interpersonal relationships. I've bought the first two published volumes of this in book form already, which should be enough to get you to take a look.

Questionable Content. (

More of a cross between a comic strip and a sitcom, QC is mainly about a bunch of twentysomethings (give or take a few years) centered around a coffeeshop near a college, somewhere not unlike Massachusetts where the artist/writer/musician resides. (He has also recorded several tracks as Deathmøle, the band several characters are in.) Added bonus: He has Twitter accounts for most of the characters and occasionally posts exchanges among them in addition to the story in the strip. Not always "family-friendly", but none of them have quite grown up that much anyway.

El Goonish Shive (

EGS, named after its creator, Dan Shive, is a combination of themes from manga and anime, superhero comics, magic, alien technology, high-school dramedy, and squirrels. It's better experienced than described, and it gets better all the time. Bookmark it, peruse it, then when you start to wonder why this character does that, go to the beginning of the series and read the whole thing. Early strips are not polished, but the characters soon take their own shape.

The Phoenix Requiem (

One of the most visually striking things on the Web, the tale centers around a young woman in a somewhat-alternate Europe, studying to be a doctor, and a handsome stranger, who apparently can't be killed. Spirits, ghosts, and threats from both paranormal and natural sources abound. Well-written, beautifully painted, with a haunting quality to both.

Family Man (

Historic fiction, set in Germany during the Enlightenment, around a young scholar denied a degree for heretic leanings, hired as a lecturer at a more forward-thinking university through a friend with a mysterious past, and the handsome, strong-willed daughter of his new employer. More subtle and thoughtful than most modern works, it almost feels like an adaptation of something Thomas Jefferson might have read, but it's the work of a young artist from Portland, Oregon, Dylan Meconis. If this description interests you, you won't be disappointed.

Dicebox (

A story that might have been a space opera, but is instead a character-driven story concerned less with the things that happen to the characters than with how they deal with them. Less "Doc" Smith, more James Tiptree, Jr. (alias Alice Sheldon). Intriguing, in multiple senses.

Templar, Arizona (

Set in present-day Arizona, just not the one you could actually go to. A young man, half-Korean, leaves his home and attempts to make his way in Templar, leaving behind clues pointing toward Seattle. He meets some odd people, works at his writing, and things become just a little more off-kilter all the time. Displaced Nile worshippers, clay-themed diners, guerrilla urban renewal, prostitutes' unions, movements around extreme sincerity or personal Eugenics... if you've ever taken one step too many when climbing stairs, the experience is not unlike what you think you know coming into contact with Templar's occupants.

That ought to keep you busy for a while. Oh, yes... I can't let you go without telling you about

FreakAngels (

but the less I tell you about that, the better. If the name Warren Ellis means anything to you, at least when it comes to comics or movies, then you really ought to be reading this comic already. Updates most Fridays, unless one or the the of the lads are not quite feeling up to the task, but well worth then wait when it does come. Tell you what: Go to the site, start at the beginning, and read. The longer it goes, the weirder it gets, and the more wonderful as well.