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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

ADCoTW: Riot Nrrd

July28

It’s been like a million years since I last did an “Awesome Damn Comic of the Week” bit, so I really want to thank Garland Grey of Tiger Beat Down for bringing Riot Nrrd to light.

Oh.

My.

God.

I basically fell in love with this comic like 2 or 3 comics in. The art is pretty rough, but in an endearing and trying-hard way, and the writing is awesome. The cast is extremely diverse, including characters who are disabled, and it doesn’t feel in the least like tokenism or inclusion for the sake of inclusion. It very much feels like a group of people who are friends, and some of them are different in some ways and some of them are different in other ways.

And oh, the nerdity.

It’s beautiful.

There’s only 35 comics so far, so there’s not much to catch up on. I really hope RJ continues with this project. I’m very excited about it and adore the characters.

Some of my favorite comics so far are:

The Whedon Problem
Community Service
Mae Jemison is awesome
Blind Date pt 3

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Webcomics not about White, underachieving 20 year olds.

December15

One of the big, huge, MAJOR themes in webcomics is “White 20-something hipsters working surprisingly enjoyable service industry jobs/generally underachieving, and saying witty things.” You know the kind. The main character works at a record shop/music store, book store, coffee shop, etc and despite making barely over minimum wage never has any money problems and has lots of free times. Also, these comics are frequently a Eugenics paradise. There are no or very few non-White characters.

I thought I’d put together a list of comics I read or know of that buck that trend.

I’ve noted race in a few instances not because I think it’s usually important to catalog race/ethnicity, and not in a “collect them all!” kind of way, but because the complaint/requests I’ve heard have involved looking for comics that feature a not exclusively white cast.

Achewood, by Chris Onstad, is a frequently surreal ongoing comic about “alive stuffed animals” and small real animals (mostly cats and a squirrel). It has both long storylines as well as stand alone one-off strips, and has been running for years. It features virtually no humans, and the characters’ personalities are extremely well defined– to the point where Onstad maintained blogs for characters, for awhile. Their voices were exceptionally distinct.

Bad Machinery, (formerly Scary Go Round) by John Allison, has massively shifted gears recently. It now appears to be about school children in England who solve mysteries. The relaunch is still very new and there’s just enough to be interesting and intriguing without being a swampy morass of backstory. As usual, Allison writes pithy, realistic dialogue and his characters are eccentric but also very grounded in reality. One of the characters is a young Black boy. , I think he might be younger than your oldest, but he still might be interested. I remember you’ve been looking for characters, in general, he can identify with.

Kate Beaton draws comics about books, history, and tiny ponies. Also, herself as a child interacting with he present day self. They’re really cool, witty, well done comics.

BobWhite by Magnolia Porter, follows the adventures/lives of 3 (female) college students. Ivy is Iranian, Marlene is Jewish (and dresses like Frank Sinatra’s Grandmother) and Cleo… has issues. Actually, they’re all kind of petty jerks, but they get called on their jerkdom instead of it being celebrated as cool and hip. They are very flawed and realistic feeling, and Porter draws on her own experiences in art school to inject a little more truthiness to the strip.

Dicebox, by Jenn Manley Lee, has had an erratic update schedule for a while (life happens) but has a VAST archive to go through. One of the main characters is Black. Additionally, the world of Dicebox has a linguistic system set in place to cope with non-gendered pronouns: “Peh” is used to indicate neither male nor female; “Note: used as a formality when assuming or noting the gender or sex of the antecedent is considered irrelevant to the subject at hand, i.e. government documentation, news reports, etc.”

Gunnerkrigg Court, by Tom Siddell, is about a freaky technomagic boarding school that houses mysteries. Gods and ghosts pop in and out. Katerina “Kat” Dolan, the main character’s best friend (and totally awesome character in her own right) is half Romany. Her mom is apparently full blood Romany, and if I remember correctly, the only reason we readers know this is because of an off-hand comment. There’s none of the ~~OMG GYPSY PRINCESS~~ stereotype crap that so frequently is attached to Romany characters.

Loxie and Zoot is a long-running niche strip about naturists (also known as nudists). It has a lot of nude people. They are very comfortable in their nudity. They are also all sorts of different ages, shapes, and ethnicities. There’s a VERY multicultural cast, although there’s also a sort of iffy “Magical Negro” Aboriginal Australian (it’s an Australian comic) who literally has magic, and acts wacky sometimes. A lot of the plots are kind of corny, of the sort you’d see on TV, but they’re handled well. There’s a bit of preachiness about the wonders of being unclothed, but frankly, that’s kind of the point of the strip. The art’s pretty decent, too.

Necessary Monsters, by Sean Azzopardi & Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, is a long-form comic that has recently entirely completed a story arc, which makes it a good time to dive in at the first comic and read it all the way through. In tone, it reminds me of Hellblazer when Hellblazer is firing on all cylinders. A secret agency exists, which has for some time now been essentially enslaving monsters and binding them to service. This is explored to a very good effect via the “recruitment” of Creeping Tuesday, the daughter of a Freddy-Krueger-esque dream monster who was recently killed. She has inherited his abilities, and is forced to don the shackle and keep the world safe from her kind. Tuesday is African-American, with natural (dreadlocked) hair. Other non-white characters include Knife Mother (Japanese) and a man named Levi Gibbs “The Ju-Ju Man” who I’m assuming is West African, or else from Louisiana or something (he looks kind of voodoo-y, but not in a Fail Way.), but his face is skull like so it’s hard to tell. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about Necessary Monsters is that even though most of the characters are male, and it’s a violent horror comic, the main character (and the one who has to Make A Fateful Choice And Resolve Things) is female. (I just read this one, and need to write a real review of it.)

Octopus Pie, by Meredith Gran, switched formats recently from updating regularly to updating when a storyline is finished. It also comes thisclose to being about underachieving 20-somethings, but the underemployed are mostly underemployed through idealism (working at an organic grocery store MEANS SOMETHING, dammit) and money issues exist. The main character, Eve, is Chinese-American.

Over Compensating, by Jeffrey Rowland, is a pseudo-diary comic that was originally about Rowland’s life, but now is about politics and the web comics industry. Which makes sense, because politics are important and Rowland runs Topatoco, which sells T-Shirts and other merch for webcomickers. Also he has some other long running webcomics. You may recognize Rowland, or the giant scar on his leg, from when he got bit by a giant brown recluse spider and it started rotting off. You may also have been linked to the Thanksgiving strips he does every year, about the hypocrisy and hate of Thanksgiving.

Pictures for Sad Children, by John Campbell, is done in stick figures, and done very well. It can be depressing/futile but also very poignant.

Skin Deep, by Kory Bing, is a long-form comic about mythical creatures that interact with humans. As she draws from mythology all over the world, her characters also all come from all over the world (although she’s focusing, right now, on some English characters in England, one of her protagonists is Egyptian-American). There’s a lot of issues about identity, both cultural and personal. It’s simply lovely art and fantastic story telling as well.

A Softer World, by Emily Horne and Joey Cameau, has been imitated, just about always poorly. It’s a 3-panel piece of art made up of photographs and lines of text that convey a vignette, emotion, or bit of story. It’s much more awesome than it sounds.

Templar, AZ, by Charlie Spike Trotman, is a long-form character-driven comic about an alternate universe city and its inhabitants. The main character (other than the city) is Ben, who is Korean-American, and who was adopted (from Korea) as an infant. One of his friends, Scipio, is a very large Black man with long dreadlocks, who habitually wears a kilt. He is Buddhist. He has a pet chicken. (another friend is Reagan, who is female and who ISN’T hot, or well dressed, or interested in any of the characters romantically. Carnally? Yes. Romantically? No. It’s… refreshing.)

Wapsi Square, by Paul Taylor, started out as a gag strip that has since moved to long form drama. I used to check it frequently, now I wait for long chunks to go by so I can try to get most/all of a story arc. One of the character is Hispanic-American (and does big brainy work at a museum) and one is Native American (and is a mechanic and a musician), two less central characters appear to be Black and Japanese (they are non-humans taking human form). Both central characters are female, and do a pretty good job in general in not falling into sexist tropes. In fact, most of the cast is female. There’s some boob fanservice where Monica is concerned, which is a bit jarring in contrast to how female positive the comic is otherwise, but w/ev.

I’m sure there’s more, but this is what I’ve come up with more or less off the top of my head.

Please feel free to add comments, links, etc.

Awesome Damn Comic of the Week: DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary

August27

It seems a little silly to call a comic on the internet, with a world wide following, “top secret.” But Dar: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary” by Erika Moen, is at its heart very personal and very much a diary. Moen talks, in her strip, about sexuality and gender, about coming out as a lesbian and later about her confusion of being attracted to and falling in love with a man, about breaking up and making up with lovers, about her family, about her dreams, about her goals, about her quirks and habits and mental illness. And also about her really horrible flatulence.

One might expect something so personal to fall into the realm of navel gazing, but there’s something universal about Moen’s diary comic. Everybody wonders about themselves, everyone falls in love, everyone has quirks, and everyone farts. “Dar” is a slice of life comic, specific enough to have a very solid and definite personality, but general enough to be accessible. Moen writes about herself and the people in her life, and in doing so, she writes about the human condition. Also, she’s a really great artist and her comic is very stylized and fun.

Check this comic out. It’s personal and universal all at once, and is pretty kick ass as well.

Also, if anybody has suggestions for Awesome Damn Webcomics, suggest away.

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Awesome Damn Comic of the Week: SPQR Blues

August20

SPQR Blues, by klio, is a comic that I’m new to but I’ve managed to fall absolutely in love with it. The linework is very clean, and klio has a great grasp of anatomy, architecture, and visual story telling. She also is a giant Rome Nerd, what with a comic set in Rome, historical intrigue going on, and references to Ovid. I got a huge kick out of one scene because the court yard of the building through which the characters are walking, I swear to God, is taken from a book I just read about Private Life in Rome.

Because I’m lazy, I suggest you read this synopsis on Comixpedia: http://www.comixpedia.org/index.php/SPQR_Blues.

I’m going to rattle off some of the stuff I like about this comic now:
1) Very fine, clean art
2) Interesting mingling of “clean” and “rough” pencil styles
3) Solid groundwork in Roman history, architecture, and private life
4) Interesting characters and story
5) Did I mention the solid groundwork in history, architecture, and private life? Research for the Win.
6) There’s a goddess
7) Interesting and intriguing storyline
8) Mention of Ovid, for whom I have a soft spot <3 This is a consistently solid comic, and reading it I really regret not paying more attention/doing better in Latin Class in high school. Sorry, Mr. Keating. I didn't appreciate you at the time but I'm starting to now.

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Awesome Damn Comic of the Week: Bold Riley and the Witch in the Wild

August13

Bold Riley and the Witch in the Wild is another comic that passes the Bechdel test. Now in its second chapter, The Witch in the Wild takes a fairly typical Fairy Tale/Quest story and turns it on its head. The hero is Bold Riley (Princess in the East, Hero in the West), a fiesty woman looking for her suddenly (and mysteriously) missing Lady Love. Armed with a seriously awesome pair of ass-kicking boots, a cast iron skillet (proof against fairies/magic and also an emblem of the female realm, yum), and a personal and intimate item left behind by her Lady (an earring), Bold Riley sets out into the Wild to win her lover back.

The art is good; lyrical in places, spooky in others. Leia Weathington has a distinctive style, and a strong inking hand. She also uses tone and pattern creatively, and frames her panels very well. Weathington has done a good job of creating a world and mythology that draws on many sources, and her characters speak in different and distinct voices.

Bold Riley and the Witch in the Wild is one of the comics I check on regularly and am disappointed when it’s late or misses an update. I also spent actual physical money on an actual, physical copy of the first chapter and was NOT disappointed with it. It looks really good in print. It also came with a drawing of the Whispering Women. It’s an awesome woman who can make a bunch of naked ladies terrifying, and those terrifying ladies are hanging on my wall right now.

Check this comic out. You won’t regret it.

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Awesome Damn Comic of the Week: Girls With Slingshots

August7

Girls With Slingshots passes the Alison Bechdel test:
It features 1) more than two women who 2) talk about something 3) other than boys. Actually, Dicebox (last week’s feature) does that too… as do most of the comics I read. Interesting, huh? Anyway! Girls With Slingshots also features great characterization and art. It passes one of my favorite tests for character design: if you line up all the characters and show them in silhouette, you can figure out who’s who. Do you have any idea how that makes me squee?

There’s the tall skinny chick with long hair, the short plump girl (with big boobs and a belly and big upper arms and a round face and huge amounts of confidence and sexuality mmmm positive body model), the short muscle-y guy, the tall skinny guy, the short chick with short hair… they have different bodies, different faces, and different personalities, and it’s wonderful.

There’s a bit of wackiness (talking cactus) that isn’t too overboard, and the boob jokes are the same kind of jokes that I make with girlfriends. The art is really great and the writing is strong as well. When big comic companies scratch their heads and wonder about the kind of stuff that women read, I wish they’d look at stuff like this and Dicebox: strong female characters who live life.

Anyway, check this out. It’s grade A stuff.

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In other comics news…

July30

In other comics news, Scary Go Round is apparently featuring a bit on Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. It’s like John Allison has looked directly into my brain and knows what I need. A friend of mine was complaining that she wants to know what’s going on in hell. I want to know how Captain Beefheart is going to tie into the hell storyline.

<3

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Awesome Damn Comic of the Week: DiceBox

July30

People reading these comic recommendations are probably getting a pretty clear idea by now of what I like in a comic (or a story in general). Let’s make a list of what DiceBox has, shall we?

  • Science Fiction
  • World Building
  • Healthy Sexual Relationship
  • Strong Female Characters
  • People of color/different ethnicities who aren’t simply “exotic other”
  • Very solid, good writing
  • Very solid, good art
  • Consistent quality and improvement
  • A made up alphabet
  • The word “peh” to indicate gender indeterminacy

Ok. Some of this stuff is pretty specific to this particular comic, some of it more general.

Molly (who is missing a finger and who sees things) and Griffen (a musician and instigator of trouble) are married women, itinerant factory workers traveling around “a space faring future” and having adventures and interacting with others and revealing stuff about themselves. It is supremely character driven, yet also has a very definite sense of time and place. The colors used are rich and wonderful and set the mood of the story nicely. This story very obviously has a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is a script, and it is well plotted and well paced and very planned, a lovely and exciting thing in the world of webcomics. There are no wacky adventures here, there are not madcap adventures, there are no daily gags. Just very good art and very good story telling and really, what more do you want?

DiceBox is one of those comics that I cannot recommend highly enough. It is rich and lush and intelligent and will leave you at the same time very satisfied, and wanting more. Check it out.

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Awesome Damn Comic of the Week: Family Man

July23

Family Man by Dylan Meconis, is one of those lushly illustrated, intensely researched, fleshed out comics that make me swoon. Set in Germany during the Age of Reason, ex-Scholar (and can a scholar ever really be an ex-scholar, even if he did leave university behind?) Luther Levy returns home to the warm and welcoming bosom of his family: strictly religious mother, poet sister, watchmaker father, and affianced business man twin brother. While visiting them, he runs into an old friend of his who offers him a job that sounds a bit too good to be true. However, as the alternative is being a private tutor for a family of assholes…

I mentioned the research and the art. Have I mentioned the wonderful writing, or the excellent characterizations? The detail in this comic, both in the writing and the art, is just astounding. And then there’s the wolves.

Check this comic out at once, if not sooner. It’s new enough that you can get through the archives in good time, catch up on what’s going on, and be gaspingly thirsty for me. And then read through the archives again. This is just good, solid storytelling with excellent writing backing it up. I can’t recommend this enough.

Changing gears slightly, you might notice that this is tagged “AWDofW.” Maybe you wonder what that stands for. It stands for Awesome Damn Comic of the Week. Why, then, doesn’t it say “ADCotW?” Because I’m dyslexic, that’s why. And even though I carefully hunted-and-pecked for just those initials (as opposed to my usual touch typing), I still fucked them up. That’s also why it took me so long to notice the error. Yes, it “looked wrong,” but I’m used to 3 out of 10 words, at least, “looking wrong.”

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Captain America is dead, long live Captain America

July7

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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