Another week and three more short reviews of topical webcomics including In Contempt by Kevin Moore, Xoverboard by August J. Pollak, and Debt On by Scott Morris.
In Contempt by Kevin Moore
Moore is an angry guy and In Contempt packs a loud punch. He takes on undecided voters, outsourcing, the Abu Ghriab prison scandal, Ronald Reagan’s legacy, and gay marriage. (Apologies again for linking directly to the image files but currently Moore’s website archives page has links to nonaccessible html files on Moore’s computer in error.)
Moore started off the year by noting the birth of his son but even that moment was part of a strip on the Iraq war. It’s clear that the Bush presidency, particularly 2004, has been tough for Moore to take, but it has been good for his sense of outrage. He even turned his anger into a cartoon called the "Beware the Bile Glot." Moore is in the tradition of editorial cartoonists and employs a detailed style that would not be out of place on the newpaper editoral pages but he has made an effort to update and rethink the tropes and icons of traditional editorial comics. Instead of donkeys and elephants we have 800 pound gorillas. For the most part it works.
Moore was featured in Attitude 2: The New Subversive Social Commentary Cartoonists. You can also keep up with Moore’s cartoons and commentary at his blog, KevMoTown.
Xoverboard by August J. Pollak
Xoverboard is as much a blog as it is a webcomic. But perhaps that is one way to make the web a more integral part of a political comic. Pollak has a cartoony style, but is no less harsh in his approach to politics and news than Moore’s In Contempt. If anything, the simple, slightly goofy art style lulls you a bit before you read the punchline. And in contrast to some other explicitly political comics, Pollak does take more time to set up a solid punchline, like this one concerning the war on Iraq and a certain thread of litigation against manufacturers or this one theorizing about how George Bush has really spent the last four years.
Some of Pollak’s comics really need the context of the week they were published in as well as some familiarity with the world of political blogs. This one is a heck of a lot funnier if you have some sense of the blogs versus "old media" theme that has played out on the blogs during stories such as the recent "scandal" over Dan Rather’s report on George Bush’s service in the Texas National Guard and this one requires one to have some familarity with "warbloggers" (aka, "The Fighting 101 Keyboarders"). Pollak also takes some obvious swipes at current events including, 9/11 and the war on terror, xenophobic Americans, fair and balanced reporting, and how we got from 2000 to 2004.
Debt On by Scott Morris
Debt On is a different animal than the other two webcomics simply because it is not always "political" in an explicit sense. Instead it’s a webcomic with a storyline, where it only sometimes touches on news and politics. Its first storyline is typical poor student drama: the guys spent their money on booze and can’t pay their bills. But their answer is for one of them, Ben Bounty, to run for President so they can engage in some fundraising to pay off those bills. Frankly, maybe I’m reading too much into the entire webcomic but the boozy, irresponsible Ben Bounty often reads as a parody of a young George Bush. And there are plenty of pokes at politics including the war on weather, and this one about George Bush’s recent address to the United Nations.
The loose style of art is serviceable and although Morris often skimps on background, the main characters are given enough life to make this a bit more than a simple "talking heads" strip. Morris is also pretty good at working in the financial state of his characters into the strip as a whole with a couple of decent riffs on the standard "rich guy meets homeless" cliche. And for the most part it’s just funny, like this one about looking for a job, this one about fundraising on the corner and this one about applying for the Disney CEO vacancy.
Xaviar Xerexes is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of Comixpedia.