Newbie comics are both cursed and blessed by their, well… newness. Spinoffs like Scary Go Round and Lizard taken aside, most webcomics are the author’s first steps onto a new shore. Some creators will spend years, even decades developing their creative abilities before jumping onto the Web. Others may be borne of the online community, having yet to earn their artistic "sea legs". Whatever the basis of a webcomicker (and, by extension, their webcomic), we’re all evolving, and it’s usually most evident in the beginning.
With that in mind, here are a few quick glances at some newbie comics with limited archives, but unlimited potential:
by Paul Pate
A black-and-white pulpy crime drama in the graphic novel format, Detective Perez tells the story of a rookie cop on his first murder case. There’s a heavy amount of action, with entire pages comprised of no more than two or three words or phrases of Perez’s inner monologue. Overall it works well in this sort of motif.
Pate’s got a knock for dynamic perspective shots, with backdrops becoming more elaborate in the months since the story began. If there’s an area where Pate needs some work, it’s Human anatomy and foreshortening – characters still look a bit gangly and cartoonish. The "coming-of-age cop" motif has been done before, but Pate’s take on it thus far is well written, and its short archive means a quick catch-up.
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by Zachary Parker
The first thing noticeable about Flatwood is what a pain in the ass it is to remember the awkward webaddress: http://zph719s.keenspace.com. Once you’re past that, however, you’re in Flatwood, an "Alice Through the Looking-Glass" style adventure, wherein a college student named Alex is led through a mysterious door by a sort of white bat… thing.
The story is told through abstract dreams and fragments, and by the author’s own admission, is intentionally confusing. Parker’s art features cartoony figures heavily-shaded in pencil art, reminiscent of Jack, or early Dave Kelly work. Strangely enough, Parker’s text becomes MORE legible when he stops using a font and starts hand-lettering. Go fig.
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by Elina Hopeasaari
What a wonderful comic to look at. The quirkily Vera Brosgolian lineart and detailed watercolor shading pulls you in – Elina clearly earned her chops before she hopped on the web. Ottersoldiers is a modern-day fantasy about elves and a mysterious evil, and the 12-year-old girl to befriends them. Also, crows are a sign of cataclysmic events, not sure why.
It’s difficult to tell the specifics because like Parker, Hopesaari wants to keep things shrouded in mystery until she’s ready to tip her hand. The storytelling is solid, though Elina faces occasional rough spots in translation to English. The downside of the gorgeous art is the timeframe – weeks will often pass before a single page is finished. Still, this bad boy is bookmarked in the hope that it finishes before the Internet retires.
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Adam the Atom
by Jim Webber
No relation to the DC Comics character, Adam the Atom is closer to Stephen King’s Firestarter, or Liz from Hellboy. Whenever Adam "spazzes", he generates an enormous megaton explosion. Unlike the aforementioned heroines, however, Adam is never made a tragic figure cursed by his power. Instead, he lives in a sort of cartoon world where his victims are merely charred, "Wile E. Coyote" style.
The art consists of simple, bold lineart with basic shapes for the figure – think Men in Hats with more texture fills and gradients. Webber seems to be using clipart word bubbles, and they sometimes point the wrong way, but one can figure it out through context pretty easily. The story’s been goofily entertaining, but it largely revolves around running gags wherein Adam destroys things. Now’s the time for the comic to make a few shifts.
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So there’s a pretty broad cross-section of some of the new blood, based on purely random perusals. This is, of course, a small sampling of what we have out there – the Web is constantly evolving, and webcomics will rise and fall like the tides. It used to be an annoyance, then a running joke, but now it’s simply the way things are.
However, there are more than a few glittering treasures that have emerged from the inky depths, whether or not they started out that way. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere after all, and even the most distingushed artists get a slight sinking feeling when looking at their early work. What’s more, we’re certain to see even more treasures wash ashore. Every newbie comic has the potential to be where some of the Old Guard stands today.
It all begins with the first step.
Justin is a staff contributor for Comixpedia. More Details.