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Can you out-Wally Wood?

Filed under: — The William G @ 1:23 am

Peter Venables recently came up with a nifty little artistic exercise and creative challenge involving Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work.

I’ve taken up his challenge, and it’s a fairly simple one: You just need to draw the twenty two panels in your own way.

For example:

Big head

Easy as pie, and just as fun. So grab those art-tools folks, and give it a spin.


Chapter 2 of The Vanguard is Underway

Filed under: — Victor Daniel @ 4:02 am

Chapter 2 of The Vanguard is underway, already at page 7. In this chapter, the team tracks down the slave trading syndicate who sent mercs after their leader Thenurion in chapter 1. However, the slavers aren’t giving up peacefully, and they may have weapons powerful enough to give the heroes a hard fight.

Check out the new chapter from the beginning. And if you’re new to the Vanguard, click on the chapter 1 link above to read the whole thing from the beginning. I hope you enjoy it, and be sure to let me know what you think.

Victor Daniel a.k.a the MacNut
The Vanguard


Issue #1 of The Vanguard is Complete!

Filed under: — Victor Daniel @ 10:58 am

Today’s page of The Vanguard marks the conclusion of Issue 1! Check out the beginning of this classic superhero sci-fi adventure right here.

Victor Daniel aka The MacNut
Creator/Writer/Artist, The Vanguard


The Vanguard #1 is Up and Running

Filed under: — Victor Daniel @ 5:32 pm

Issue #1 of the Vanguard is up and running on Webcomics Nation. The series about a team of superhuman adventurers exploring and defending the galaxy of the 24th century is now up to page 19. Check it out from the beginning here, where the leading team member runs into…difficulties…while trying to get back to the team after a brief absence. 56K Warning: this link loads the first 10 pages at once-some patience is needed if you’re on a dialup connection.

Part of the Cover Page of The Vanguard #1

Victor Daniel
Writer and Artist
The Vanguard


Dallas Powers short on WCN!

Filed under: — navarro @ 6:04 pm

Dallas Powers short on WCN!

Words by Jen Contino, Images by Juan Navarro One-shot, No updates
Cheating in a card game seems a valid excuse to blow someone away - especially in the Old West, but what made Dallas Powers kill the barmaid? Has Dallas gone on a killing spree? Can the shaky Sheriff get answers or will he wind up six feet under as well?
Last updated: Wednesday, August 10th, 2005


Those Were the Salad Days

new inkwell image
Just wanted to post a little notice that I’ve started posting new MAGIC INKWELL strips over at WEBCOMICSNATION. The lastest installment can be seen here.

The current story arc, entitled THOSE WERE THE SALAD DAYS, follows the adventures of Dingbat the Cat and his friends, whose trip hop band SQUAREPEGZ is practicing diligently to participate in a “battle of the bands” style competition.

The story will be completed in a little over a year’s time and will include over 160+ pages of full color comics and 16 original songs which will then be opted for publication as a print graphic novel and cd.

Installments to the web version includes animated sequences with music as well as regular webcomics. Be sure to tune in next week for 2 new song debuts.


Share the Love: Dicebox, by Jenn Manley Lee

Filed under: — Alexander Danner @ 3:16 am

Dicebox, by Jenn Manley Lee
Simply put, Jenn Manley Lee’s Dicebox has consistently been one of the best comics on the web since the day it launched. Anyone can take a hundred pages of comic, print it out, slap on a cover, and call it a graphic novel. But Dicebox is that rare creation that actually captures the texture and depth of good novelistic prose. The writing and the art alike are subtle, detailed, and vibrant, whether Lee is presenting gorgeous alien landscapes or just two old friends talking.

More uncommon still, Lee has the good writer’s sense of not just what she needs to show, but what she needs to leave unseen as well, even going so far as to allow a starliner crash to play out in the empty gutter between chapters, so she’d be free to focus on what was really important—the people who walked away.

And oh, what people! The story’s leads, Molly and Griffen, are as richly nuanced as one could hope for a pair of characters to be. Lee’s exactitude in capturing the physical and verbal mannerisms that make her characters live is simply dazzling.

And the story is still only just beginning—we’re in the sixth of thirty-six total chapters. Quiet and restrained, Dicebox is the very definition of slow-burn—it takes its time, but it’s never, ever tedious; on the contrary, this is comics storytelling at its best. Dicebox is weekly, and I look forward to it all week long.


Share the Love: Joe Zabel’s The Ice Queen

Filed under: — Chris Shadoian @ 11:10 pm

I’ve avoided this as long as possible.

I was afraid regular readers of The Webcomics Examiner and various other Modern Tales publications might have read Joe Zabel’s frequent praise of my comic, Streets of Northampton, and think we’d made a “you pat my back, I’ll pat yours” kind of agreement. It’s true we Modern Tales folks tend to be pretty chummy — not only do we like each other, we like each other’s work — and the relationship Joe and I have is no exception. But all you have to do is count the number of times I’ve written a Share the Love review (zero) to know I don’t offer praise when I don’t want to.

For a long time, in fact, I wasn’t sure I liked Joe’s adoption of a computer-generated art style. I’ve read just about every bit of comic work he’s ever done, and I was very, very fond of his hand-drawn stuff. The work he did for Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor was accomplished to say the least, and his self-published Trespassers mystery series, which he also wrote, was sublimely rendered. I couldn’t understand why someone with the ability, talent and will to generate hundreds of comic pages, all painstakingly brushed and inked would choose such an ethereal medium as 3-D computer modeling. I thought, Where’s the personality? The little touches? All the quirks and hiccups that are inescapable in brush work, that computers are so bad at capturing?

But then, I had a similar reaction to Picasso.

I encountered Picasso the same way most do: in a confrontation with his cubist style. And man, did I hate it. For years! Until I saw what he could do when he was twelve. I saw this arm he drew, in pencil. A perfect, exact duplicate of a human arm. I could practice for the rest of my life and not draw an arm so well. Suddenly, Picasso’s cubism looked different. He wasn’t some wacky hack who chucked paint at a canvas because he couldn’t do any better. He was frighteningly talented; he could draw anything he wanted, represent its precise likeness. He could already draw perfection. He chose not to because there wasn’t any adventure in it, no mystery. No reason at all for him to do it. So he switched gears and did something no one had done before.

I’m not specifically comparing Joe Zabel to Picasso. I was just skeptical about Joe’s switch in style because my experience with Picasso turned me into a creativity snob. Joe had already proven his abilities in a medium that’s generally thought of as more creative than what computers are capable of, and my superficial examination of his switch struck me initially as a huge step in the opposite direction . . . a bucking of the tradition of bucking tradition. But the progression his 3-D style has shown in the last couple of years in The Return of the Green Skull and The Fear Mongers — along with the emergence of other impressive computer-generated works (most notably The Incredibles), made me realize I was doing the same thing I’d done with Picasso’s cubism. I was judging the medium rather than the artist wielding it. A lot of bad artists have used “weird” techniques as a crutch, and computers do benefit those who don’t want to put much thought or care into their work, but just the teensiest peek beneath the surface of Joe’s stuff reveals a depth of thoughtful construction that should be welcomed in any medium.

Which brings me, finally, to The Ice Queen. Oh, my.

Looking back at the art in his previous 3-D work, it looks to me like Joe has slowly been working his way to what he’s finally achieved with The Ice Queen: the perfect balance between reality and cartoon. The human bodies, most especially the facial compositions and expressions, have taken a gigantic leap forward. They look more human. More real. They’re more, well, flawed. Bodies are more subtly defective; people are fat, and ugly. They have acne. Joe’s even redesigned his two main Trespassers characters, Delphinia (Finn) Morgan and Raymond Fish: Finn is still very pretty, but not too pretty, and Ray has been slimmed down significantly from the hunky jock facade he used to wear over his intellectual, writer’s interior. All of The Ice Queen is like that, it would seem, more at ease with itself. While the figures are more real, the backgrounds have taken on a less real quality, despite being almost completely photographic . . . I think. I can’t quite tell what Joe’s done, actually. Sometimes I think he’s taken photos of every panel’s background, sometimes they look computer generated. He’s done something to the color and texture — though I’ll be damned if I know exactly what — to create that quality, to melt everything together. Maybe the colors have been cranked up. Or maybe it’s what I usually don’t see in computer-rendered stuff: the little touches. The personality. The reflections on glass and the glow of the streetlights that mix so well with the twinkle of a character’s eye, or the jerky twitch of a hand as . . . . Ah. I’d better stop. I wouldn’t want to give too much away. The point is, everything fits. The characters by themselves wouldn’t look real enough and the backgrounds would look too good. Together, though, they make a world that exists apart from reality, which is, I think, the ultimate aspiration of any comic creator.

The Ice Queen is just gearing up, so I’ll reserve judgment on the plot, though I will be reading it each and every day — another improvement — because Joe’s past work has been so good.

Obviously, I’d recommend you do the same.


Zack Giallongo Loves Raina Telgemeier’s “SMILE”

Filed under: — Zack @ 11:53 am

At first glance, the title of this post looks like I’m hitting on Raina. Truth be told, I’m just in love with her Girlamatic strip, “SMILE”. The comic follows Raina’s dental-adventures involving injury, braces and THE GUM DISEASE GINGIVITUS. Well, okay, I added the last part. But who knows?
Both her writing and her art is simplistic and pure without treading into the over-stylized and abstract. There’s not a single extraneous word in the dialogue and the art is crisp, clear and easy on the eyes. Clearly taking more cues from newspaper strips than comic books, her pacing and storytelling is also simple in every great sense of the word.
Whenever I read bio-comics, I’m always curious as to how accurate the artist’s renderings of family members and friends is. I haven’t ever seen Raina circa her pre-teen years, but I’m sure her drawings are close! She clearly knows how to draw and doesn’t succumb to the many tricks that less-than-talented artists often succumb to. It’s also nice to read about the real events in a person’s life in a sunny, humorous and ultimately satisfying way. You’ll never see Raina half-shaven with a cigarette drooping from her bottom lip pining over a lost love and no cash in “SMILE”


And guys, if you like “SMILE” too, then you definitely need to hit Ms. Telgemeier up for some of her “Take-Out” mini’s. Consider them the continuing Adventures of Young Raina. They’re scrumptrulescent.


Share the Love: More Fun

Filed under: — Alexander Danner @ 8:44 pm

Alexander Danner loves More Fun by Shaenon Garrity and Bob Stevenson (with Roger Langridge):

More Fun SamplesAnyone who reads Modern Tales already knows that Shaenon K. Garrity is one of the major talents in webcomics. Narbonic, her brilliant blend of long-form science fiction story with a short form gag format has long been popular and highly regarded. She then went on to prove that she can do the artsy indy comic thing in Trunktown, her collaboration with Tom Hart. And she followed that up with her delightfully subversive all-ages comic Li’l Mell, both on her own and with a variety of artists.

But it’s in More Fun, her collaboration with Bob Stevenson on Graphic Smash, where Garrity is really stretching her talents as a writer. More Fun follows the adventures of Michelle Wrigly, a college freshman and would-be comics journalist, along with her punk rock roommate, Gemma, a cappella singing neighbor Selena, and the rooftop roaming, self-appointed campus hero, Chamucka Man. But don’t go thinking this is yet another college roomies gag strip. More Fun is a smart long-form adventure, which certainly has its share of humor, but there’s not a gag in sight.

So far, Garrity has gone for the slow build in More Fun. The mood is quiet (unless Gemma’s around), the pace gradual, the conflicts low-key. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to think not much has happened yet. If you *are* paying attention, you’re libel to notice that Garrity has deftly lain the groundwork for at least a half dozen mysteries and plot threads, the intricacies of which are only just beginning to become apparent. So far, we’ve got a backpack thief, The Non-Conformist Chair Movement, a highly exclusive and eerily secretive a cappella group, and a mysterious (if somewhat uninspiring) would-be superhero. Plus Michelle’s personal dilemmas – her struggle to develop her art as a comics creator under the oppressive condescension of a “serious” arts faculty, her growing crush on the school’s unconventionally intelligent radio DJ, and her fascination with Chamucka Man’s nightly exploits. Adventure, mystery, humor, romance – this one’s got it all. If it continues as it’s going, More Fun promises to be an uncommonly complex and satisfying adventure story.

As to the artwork…Stevenson illustrates comics just how I like—quirky, fun, and full of character. The energy of Stevenson’s art is the perfect complement even to the quietest scenes. The canvases are freeform and infinite, but with clear, intelligent design concepts behind them. Each page is different not just for the sake of being different, but for the sake of perfectly matching the story in those panels. Quiet rooftop ruminations get a basic side scroll. Scenes of energetic chaos are accompanied by similarly dynamic layouts. And Chamucka Man’s convoluted acrobatics are treated with kinetic layouts that twist and contort in a manner that creates an impressive sense of real motion. It’s also quite clear that Stevenson’s loose, energetic artwork has had considerable effect on Garrity’s writing. Ordinarily given to dense, wordy panels (though in a good way), Garrity has lightened up on the text as the story has progressed, relying more and more on Stevenson’s visuals to convey the events and emotions of the story.

Finally, it would be criminal to write about More Fun without mentioning the intermittent contributions of Roger Langridge. Langridge, best known for Fred the Clown and more recently Hotel Fred, provides dream sequences and flashbacks revolving around 23-Skidoo, the aforementioned a cappella group. Langridge’s Stepford-like renditions of the all-female singing group go a long way toward emphasizing the cheery façade and the creepy conformity it covers.


Share the Love: Reinder Dijkhuis Loves Michael Oscarsson’s Flick

Filed under: — Reinder Dijkhuis @ 4:48 am

Share the Love: Reinder Dijkhuis loves Michael Oscarsson’s Flick

I’ve heard the argument be made that crosshatching has no place in webcomics (I think, but don’t know for sure, that it was Scott McCloud who said it, in which case I’d better send some love to that bear). The argument was that crosshatching was an adaptation to the limitations of black and white print, and that on-screen display made it redundant and wasteful compared to other, more suitable techniques. Baloney. Go tell Robert Crumb that his cross-hatching isn’t a form of art in itself. For that matter, go tell Michael Oscarsson, whose Flick is a thing of obsessively hatched beauty.
It’s more than that, of course. Much, much more. Oscarsson’s design sense is instrumental in making his style work. But most of all, it’s Oscarsson’s fevered visual imagination that makes me anticipate each and every episode with urgent, uh, anticipation. Flick combines the look of stars from old movies (whose lithe, tomboyish forms are among the sexiest things in comics when drawn by Oscarsson’s pen), monsters and demons that look like obscenities made flesh, inter-dimensional travel and intrigue, and a healthy dose of black, sardonic humor.
And occasionally he switches styles like this:
Krazy Kat parodies have been done, of course, but I can’t wait to see how he turns this one into a working Flick story.


Share the Love: Teaching Baby Paranoia

Filed under: — Alexander Danner @ 6:12 pm

Share the Love: Alexander Danner loves Bryant Paul Johnson’s Teaching Baby Paranoia

Teaching Baby Paranoia SnippetBryant Paul Johnson recently announced the fifth anniversary for his webcomic Teaching Baby Paranoia. TBP is one of the handful of comics still remaining from the original launch lineup on Modern Tales, and was, in fact, the very first of the MT comics to really catch my interest (aside from the ones that I had already been reading, pre-MT.), and it continues to be among my favorites.

The format for TBP is very similar to Carol Lay’s Story Minute. On most days, a single comic is a self-contained story, with a unique set of characters, not likely to be revisited. The result is a narrative strip, but without continuity. Sort of an anthology series of comics micro-fiction. The content is similarly interesting; each of the stories pertains to “historical” events, but there is always a blending of true historical events and figures with often plausible fictions entirely from the author’s imagination. It is frequently difficult to disentangle the facts from the falsehoods. (Johnson describes it as faux-intellectual—genuinely intellectual or not, the creator’s intelligence is clear in every page.)

This year, Johnson got a bit more experimental, presenting several more ambitious stories, with three storylines that spanned through several months worth of updates: “Cell Division,” “Calibiyau,” and “The Clockwork Marvel.”

Impressively, in “Cell Division,” he did this without giving up his structure where each strip stands alone as a short narrative—it was a longer narrative composed of a series of short narratives. They did not even need to be read in chronological order.

“Calibiyau,” much like Yasmina Reza’s play Life x3 or the wonderful German film Run Lola Run, presents three alternative ways that a single series of events might have played out. He’s not the first to explore this structure, but he does it well, and with genuine scientific theory metaphorically threaded through the whole narrative.

With an emphasis on narrative, rather than technical, experimentation and a wicked delight in revisionist history, Teaching Baby Paranoia is an excellent choice for readers who like to find a little mental challenge in their webcomics.



Filed under: — cuerden @ 1:26 pm

Daily I grow more obsessed with Narbonic. It’s a comic about scientists that actually manages to be intelligent, it’s crammed full of an urbane wit to rival Dorothy Parker, references to everything from 2001 to Shakespeare to Rocky and Bullwinkle, and has characters that live and breathe and that I’ve come to know better than some of my closest friends. Absolutely unmissable.

American Born Chinese

Filed under: — Tim Broderick @ 11:55 am

My dirty little secret: For the last year or so I have not followed any webcomic regularly. Nada. Just haven’t had the time.

Except for American Born Chinese - I have been a fan from the first page. Solid artwork, excellent storytelling. If you haven’t been reading - by all means start. Gene Yang has something special going on here. Updates Mondays.

Share the Love : Crab Allan

Filed under: — Reinder Dijkhuis @ 5:10 am

Share the Love: Reinder Dijkhuis loves and hates L. Frank Weber’s Crab Allan

By rights, in a fair world, Crab Allan would be awful. It’s got a crime-fighting hero with amnesia. It’s got a psychopathic villain who happens to be the Mayor of the city it’s set in. It’s got a pair of hired goons of which one is a skinny, sly fellow and the other is the Muscle. It’s even got a frickin’ monkey in it! As John Allison once said, monkeys fill the gaps that are left when a writer’s inspiration has gone away.

And yet… despite writer and artist L Frank Weber stacking the deck against himself by using all these clichés, Crab Allan is not awful at all. It’s gripping, excitingly paced, sometimes funny, always visually impressive. It’s one of the first things I read every day. Weber really knows how to write and draw a story that slides into the brain, makes itself comfortable there and settles itself in the pleasure centers. I’m actually curious about the things that Weber hasn’t revealed yet. What’s Crab Allan’s mysterious past? What motivates the Mayor and how does the female lead fit in? I’m itching to find out. I love this comic.

Except the monkey. The monkey has to go.


Share The Love– OPEN BOOK

Filed under: — joezabel @ 6:04 pm

Joe Zabel loves Jonathan Morris’s Open Book

I hadn’t gotten hooked on this series when it first came out, but Shaenon Garrity pointed out how excellent the most recent episode, “Death-Gazer,” is, and after being Wowed by that I took the plunge into the archives.

Morris has two big things going for him. One is his artwork, so loosely rendered, so bold, and yet so exact. In “the Book of Pirate Wisdom,” you can sense the giddy joy with which he renders a rogues gallery of the seafaring scoundrels, each of them a hilariously unique composition. His art also has a wonderful breadth of style, from the lean palette of “Nat Coogan Was Always A Queer Egg…” to the the florid chromatic orgasm of “Klanko- Lost At Sea.” He also has a talent for mimicking other cartoonists with sendups of Popeye and Bazooka Joe.Copyright 2005 by Jonathan Morris

But being a great artist wouldn’t mean much if Morris wasn’t also a savvy, skilled satirist, and in this series, he really spreads his wings and shows his audience what he’s capable of. Morris takes the Ed Sullivan approach to his series, dragging in the juggling clowns and the monkey acts as well as the big stars. His satirical subjects range from Solomon to Superheroes, Pirates to Philosophers, Thatcherites to unhatched eggs.

His short scripts are a good match for his drawing style– brash, assertive, and whittled down to the bone. Sometimes they don’t quite make sense, presenting the reader with a kind of open-ended puzzle. But the deceptively-simple clowning around is studded with little gems, as in Chapter Ten of The Book of Pirate Wisdom– “Live Your Dreams. You won’t find many pirates… with ship-in-a-bottle collections.”

Morris is kind of a cartooning pirate, and it’s nice to see him out there sailing the seven seas. –Joe Zabel

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