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The ComixTalk 2010 Roundtable

For this year's roundtable we talked about favorite and new webcomics from 2010, the impact of the iPad and other digital devices, the changes in the comics industry landscape, awards for webcomics and much more about the state of digital comics in 2010.  I'm joined by Brigid Alverson, Larry Cruz, Lauren Davis, Brian Heater, Heidi MacDonald, Rick Marshall and Gary Tyrrell.  

Let me introduce our panelists:  

  • Brigid Alverson writes about manga at MangaBlog and webcomics at Paperless Comics. She is the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog and writes a regular webcomics column for Robot 6. She also is a freelance journalist for Publishers Weekly Comics Week and SLJTeen newsletters. She lives in Melrose, Massachusetts, where she works as assistant to the mayor when not hanging out with her husband and two teenage daughters. 
  • Larry "El Santo" Cruz reviews comics at The Webcomic Overlook.  Although he has a mask, he has never been a luchador.
  • Lauren Davis writes for io9 and blogs about comics at Storming the Tower.
  • Brian Heater is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Cross Hatch. He has covered music, technology, literature, and films for publications such as: Spin, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Press, The Onion, HEEB, The Oklahoma Gazette, The Santa Cruz Metro, Popmatters, PC Magazine, Laptop Magazine, Rockpile, Skyscraper, DIW, Amplifier, Aversion, and various other publications.
  • Heidi MacDonald is an award-winning comics editor and journalist, and founded the comics culture site The Beat. She has worked for Disney, Warner Bros./DC Comics, and Fox Atomic/HarperCollins and is currently a contributing editor to Publishers Weekly.
  • Rick Marshall is the Editor at MTV News comics blog Splash Page. Previously, he served as the Online News and Managing Editor of ComicMix, a website covering comic books and comics culture, and as the Online Editor/Content Manager for the pop-culture publishing company Wizard Entertainment.
  • Gary Tyrrell is a man of opinions, which he will gladly share with you. He is also a fan of webcomics, of which he consumes six or seven dozen on a regular basis. These two tendencies collide Monday through Friday at Fleen, where he is the editor, head writer, and general dogsbody.

What were your five favorite digital comics from 2010 -- we’ll define this as broadly as possible to include comics published on the web, comics published on the iPad or other tablets, or any other digitally available form.  

Tyrrell:  Hark! A Vagrant comes in tops of my list; tied for second are The Abominable Charles Christopher (so many different stories, from tragic to goofy), Octopus Pie (the characters feel more real than some people I know), and Skin Horse (more fun than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide); third is for the occasional team-ups between Anthony "Nedroid" Clark and Emmy Cicierega known as Laserpony Studios. Honorable Mentions are too many to count.

Alverson:  Bug, by Adam Huber: (it makes me laugh every single morning), xkcd (ditto), Set to Sea (this webcomic was simply beautiful, and I loved every panel), Stop Paying Attention (Lucy Knisley's full-page meditations on life), and The Oatmeal (her observations on social media are dead on).

Davis:  It’s funny, I have several dozen comics saved in my RSS reader, but my favorites don’t change much from year to year. I still get excited every time Danielle Corsetto posts a new Girls with Slingshots, and I think I’ve only grown more fond of Something Positive as Randy Milholland’s characters have started to mature and take on new responsibilities. Octopus Pie quickly stole a spot on my top roster because it reminds me of a twenty-something version of the Nicktoons I loved as a kid, as did  The Abominable Charles Christopher because it’s simply amazing. And, even though her updates have been sporadic, I turn green with envy every time Lucy Knisley updates Stop Paying Attention. Her grasp of visual language is breathtaking.

Cruz:  Personally, I’ve been very lucky to have read several excellent webcomics this year.  I got to read a fair amount of  Bayou (before Zuda folded and made the comic a pay-per-issue thing), which I felt should have won the Eisner this year.  I immensely enjoyed he completed adventures of Rice Boy and MS Paint Adventures: Problem Sleuth.  I dug the contemplative atmosphere of Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life, and got caught up in the good clean fun of Sam & Fuzzy.

Marshall: Overcompensating - I've been reading OC for almost a decade now, and it's still one of the only comic sites I visit every single day. Every year when I do these lists, it's really just a measure of the comics I liked as much as Overcompensating this year.  Scenes From A Multiverse - I love that Jon Rosenberg went from creating one of the most continuity-heavy webcomics to a consistent one-and-done comic, and managed to bring over so much of what I loved in Goats. Order of Tales - Gary Tyrrell introduced me to this comic, and I've been absolutely hooked since the first time I visited the site. Evan Dahm has created an amazing, massive world that's easy to spend hours paging through. It's brilliant, and to be honest, it's exactly the sort of webcomic that works really well in collected print format, too.  Alien Loves Predator - I love that Bernie Hou is working on this series regularly again. Like Overcompensating, it's a comic I've been reading for years and years, and it still has everything that appealed to me when I first started reading it.  FreakAngels - Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield are still going strong with this one. For me, it's the perfect mash-up of print and online comic sensibilities, and it still manages to surprise me week to week.

MacDonald:  I don't really read webcomics regularly so much as I read comics ON THE WEB. Things I have been following, of course Kate Beaton, The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kershl, Gabrielle Bell's webcomics, Puke Force by Brian Chippendale, the debunking comics of Daryl Cunningham, various things by Hellen Jo, Laura Park,  Becky Cloonan, Hans Rickheit, James Stokoe, Brandon Graham and so on. I really enjoyed Set to Sea by Drew Weing and now it's in a cool book.  Comics are everywhere on the web.

 

A lot of great mentions there.  One I'll add that wasn't mentioned is Kevin Church's and TJ Kirsch's She Died in Terrebonne --  which just wrapped up.  An entertaining mystery professionally delivered.  I’m also interested though in whether there were any comics that debuted this year on the web specifically that really stood out to you?

Cruz:  As for comics that debuted this year, I’m going to have to give a shout-out to Newton’s Law.  It’s a classically illustrated comic dealing with Sir Isaac Newton’s later years.  There’s two possibilities presented: either Newton is some sort of powerful warlock transcending time and space or (truer to history) he’s just suffering the ill effects of mercury poisoning.  Both solutions are fairly intriguing, and part of the fun is trying to guess where Garrett Anderson and Dan Dougherty are going with the story.

Alverson:  Ectopiary. I'm waiting to see where the story goes, because it's moving kind of slow, but the art is remarkable.

Davis:  I’m extremely impressed by Chris Baldwin’s Spacetrawler. I’ve never been a huge fan of space operas in comics, but Baldwin has managed to create a very funny, action-packed comic that retains his typical sweetness. I’m also kind of obsessed with two comics that Brigid [Alverson] pointed out on Robot 6: Canaan Grall’s Max Overacts and Faith Erin Hicks’ The Adventures of Superhero Girl.

Marshall: I'm really interested in seeing what Sean T. Collins and Matt Wiegle do with Destructor. I like the look of it so far, and I've liked Sean's previous comics. We used to work together at Wizard back in the day, so he's been on my radar for a while now. Destructor seems like it has a lot of promise, so I'm keeping an eye on it.

Tyrrell:  So Far Apart by Rene Engstrom & Rasmus Gran. Brutally honest, heartbreaking, inspiring.

MacDonald:  This is what I hate. I know I'll forget something. The one thing I want to emphasize is that since I got an iMac with a big, backlit screen, as opposed to previous years, I LOVE READING COMICS ON SCREEN. It really was a technical thing for me where I had to scroll down and around whereas now I see thing huge and vivid -- it's a completely different medium than paper, which I still love, and one that is ideal for comics.

Marshall: I knew I'd forget about one or two in this category. It's always hard to remember exactly when a comic debuted, especially when it's so compelling that it makes you feel like you've been reading it for as long as you can remember. Gary made a great call in naming So Far Apart by Rene Engstrom & Rasmus Gran in this category. It's everything he said about it and much, much more. Both comic creators regularly manage to surprise me with their honesty and the ease with which they capture both the light and heavy moments of their lives.