I hope everyone had a great weekend. I grilled the heck out of some meat on Monday and good times were had by all. Speaking of food, the Portland Mercury offers up a ballsy cooking lesson from Achewood creator Chris Onstad. (h/t Waxy). I challenge you to read that one all the way to the end.
AWARDS: The 2010 National Cartoonist Society's Reuben Awards were announced — According to the NCS members Zits by Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman is the best comic strip and Rhymes with Orange by Hilary Price is the best panel in the newspapers this year… I actually think Rhymes does have some amazing work but Zits, while extremely well-crafted, feels like a bland family sitcom translated to the newspaper. These are both very safe choices although given the glacial rate of change in newspaperland there's not really much in the way of dangerous choices the NCS could have made.
ANTHOLOGY: A new webcomic collective – or maybe better to say online anthology? Space Dock 7 is a science fiction themed hub for seven new webcomics that have strategically adopted an update schedule staggering their weekly updates so that each has its own day.
- SUNDAY:Escape From Planet Nowhereby Otis Frampton
- MONDAY: Cleopatra in Space! by Mike Maihack
- TUESDAY: Topaz by Joel Carroll
- WEDNESDAY: Red’s Planet by Eddie Pittman
- THURSDAY: Dimension Dust by Grant Gould
- FRIDAY: Gronk by Katie Cook
- SATURDAY: My Sister, the Freak by Dani Jones
HYPIN THE HYPE
I Want You To Feel the Pressure by M. Thomas Harding is interesting. The first thing you might notice however is how much the art and format of it look like Dresdan Codak. In fact the main character of IWYTFTP is kind of similar visually to a prominent character in Dresdan. It's worth mentioning that similarity, but it's not like Harding is slavishly copying — his comic is set-up to be about a super spy and her friends, but the first chapter was mostly about a night at a club — we'll see what the second chapter winds up focusing on. He's making progress with making the characters distinct and interesting, he's decently adept with the plot and there are some good beats in the individual comics. And his artwork is improving so possibly he'll get to a point where it doesn't seem to ape Dresdan so much.
Clockworks by Shawn Gaston is a lot of fun. It's not perfect but it has a lot of things going right. Visually, the comic is fantastic — Gaston has a great sense of color and design. The artwork is almost iconic at times where the characters can be submerged into the larger pattern of the panel. The whole world of Clockworks isn't necessarily unique but it's a well-done mashup of steampunk and fantasy images. Although there's a largely dark palette at work the use of color is really well thought out – it's often just very nice to look at. Story-wise after 90+ comics there's a bit more of the overall world revealed and you have a better sense of the characters. There's a lot of mystery and a bit of confusion as to motivation sometimes but give Gaston props for sticking (mostly) to the show not tell rule of story-telling. If you read the about page you learn that the webcomic is based on a roleplaying game that Gaston is running with a group of friends (inspired by this Dork Tower comic). I don't know how to feel about that — on the one hand, I now know that there's a structure to the world we're reading about that Gaston is borrowing, but on the other hand, the characters in the webcomic come from the roleplaying which may or may not lead to narrative coherence as the thing plays out (what makes a satisfying role-playing experience does not necessarily equal a satisfying narrative experience for the reader). I am going to give Gaston the benefit of the doubt and encourage you to as well (particularly if this is the type of story you'd already like).