pallas_athena: (tarot)
There are many more urgent things I should be doing right now than writing about how much I love Saga. But Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have reached in and grabbed my cerebellum in one hand and my heart in the other and twisted until telling the Universe of my fierce passion for Saga is all I can do right now.

First things first: Saga is not safe for work, children, or those easily offended by nudity, sexual content, gore, foul language, and so on. Saga has all these things in abundance (and the nudity is fairly evenly spread across genders and species.)

There are very few comics I buy in single issues; usually, no matter how great the story, I'm happy to wait for the collections to come out. Saga is different. This series has given me such a burning, visceral desire to know what happens next that I may as well cable-tie myself to the rack in my local comics emporium till the next one comes out.

The heart of the premise is simple: Alana and Marko, members of two perpetually warring species, have run off to get married, quitting their respective armies. Now both sides have agents in hot pursuit of the two deserters and their newborn daughter.

The creative team do a particularly good job of depicting what happens when two cultures have been at war for a time stretching past living memory. Cynicism and black humour among the forces on the ground are matched by the callous, calculated ruthlessness of those in power. No side is portrayed as 'right'; nobody on either side believes their own propaganda any more. Both armies are composed of draftees who'd rather be anywhere but here.

In addition, we have aliens speaking Esperanto; an assassin with the torso of the Venus de Milo and the abdomen of a giant spider; a rocket ship that's really a tree (or possibly vice versa); a friendly teenage ghost who floats around trailing intestines; and a large hairless cat who can tell when you're lying. In Saga the beautiful and the disgusting lie cheek-by-jowl from the very first panel, and the story they combine to tell is believable and utterly human.

So: if this sounds like something you're up for, then go buy the first collection and await further instructions from Vaughan, Staples, Alana, Marko, The Will, The Stalk, Izabel, Lying Cat and company. Issue 9 is out in two days, so you know where I'll be cable-tied to. Bring scissors, will you?
pallas_athena: (Default)
Time, I think, for another webcomic roundup. (Last one's here.)

Widdershins by Kate Ashwin explores several interlinked tales set in a city where magic exists cheek-by-jowl with myriad other legal and illegal ways of making a living. Harriet Barber and her magic-detecting dog are on the case, along with half a dozen other engaging characters.

Al'Rashad by Chris "Mightygodking" Bird and Davinder Brar is the slightly more serious saga of what happens when the heir to a Northern kingdom becomes lost in a huge, sprawling quasi-Middle-Eastern city with its own seriously entangled politics. Swashes are buckled, witticisms are exchanged and an intriguing world is gradually revealed to the reader.

There's also some quality worldbuilding going on in Der-Shing Helmer's The Meek. Three different peoples are forced to share too little land-- could the strange green-haired girl be the key to everyone's salvation? She's off climbing trees naked, so who knows. (There is nudity in this story, but it's amusing cartoon nudity rather than exploitative nudity. Nevertheless, your boss might not catch the distinction, so NSFW.)

O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Our protagonist awakens one day, surprised because the last thing he remembers is his own death. He finds that his body is now artificial and identical to his former, organic one. Now to find the love of his life, with whom he did such pioneering work in robotics all those years ago...

Where O Human Star is romantic and futuristic, Chester 5000 XYV is retro and splendidly pornographic. NSFW, obviously. Drawn with decorative Art Nouveau splendour, this wordless comic effortlessly conveys humour, drama, genius and a truly vast amount of robot sex.

Speaking of sex, if you're not religiously reading Oglaf, you're missing out. And by "religiously" I mean ON YOUR KNEES, COMICS SLAVE.

Till next time, true believers!

Inventory

May. 16th, 2011 04:19 pm
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Things I have today that I did not have before last weekend:

- Two married friends. Congratulations, [livejournal.com profile] monochrome_girl and [livejournal.com profile] evilmattikinz!

- The memory of a truly amazingly excellent wedding

- The experience of singing Tudor songs in a Tudor priory surrounded by bubbles from a bubble machine

- Some hula hoops (sparkly). Started off with 3; gave 1 to a hen party encountered on the train, which caused much joy

- Some comics

- A Tenth Doctor sketch by Mike Collins for [livejournal.com profile] speedlime

- A page of Captain Britain and MI-13 by Paul Cornell and Mike Collins

- A sketch of Nightcrawler by Alan Davis

- DUDE. A SKETCH OF NIGHTCRAWLER BY ALAN DAVIS.

- Bounce bounce bounce yaaaaaaaaay
pallas_athena: (Default)
The first ten days of this year have been so harrowing that I thought I should post about things that generate happiness. For me, webcomics are a major source of joy. Here are a few of my favourites:

(Some of these will seem obvious to people who know webcomics, but I'm addressing this to an audience of varying levels of geekery.)

Long-form stories

Rice Boy by Evan Dahm. Dahm has a lot of comics up on his site, and they're all very good, but I keep coming back to Rice Boy. It's an intensely colourful tale of a young creature who is called upon to fulfill a prophecy and is, frankly, not too sure about this. Part of the joy of reading this comic is discovering its world, Overside; it's also got a rich cast of supporting characters whose destinies are interwoven with Rice Boy's. If it's wrong to be slightly in love with someone who's got a cathode-ray screen for a face, I don't want to be right.

I'm also eagerly following Dahm's current comic, Vattu.

I've raved about Family Man by Dylan Meconis before, but I will not be silent on this topic. It's just so beautifully done. If comics about the life of an eighteenth-century scholar pique your interest at all, you can't go wrong by reading this. Ongoing.

SPQR Blues by Klio: another historical comic, set mostly in Herculaneum around AD 79. Chapter II, which I particularly like, is an extended flashback to the protagonist's days in the Legion. Ongoing.

Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell: As with a lot of webcomics, there's a period at the beginning where the art is sort of ropey, but it improves by leaps and bounds and is now excellent. I was iffy about it at first, but I'm now hooked on this story of two girls studying at a mysterious academy full of magic, demigods and robots. Ongoing.

Dicebox by Jenn Manley Lee. Beautiful art, and an intriguing story of two sporadically-employed women kicking around the spaceways. Keeps you guessing, but also keeps you engaged. Also, check out its alter-ego comic, Don't Look Back by Patrick Farley, in which our heroines board a guitarship for some cosmic rock and roll. Both contain nudity, so NSFW.

Short stories:
Giant Days by John Allison. I was a huge fan of his Scary Go Round. One of its protagonists, Dark Esther, heads to university in this short story and dishes out class warfare to the deserving.

City Face by Tom Siddell. Pigeons do extreme things for love.

A Wolverine short story by Faith Erin Hicks. Drawn as a pitch to Marvel, which they didn't pick up, so we get it for free! If you've ever wondered what Wolverine's favourite breakfast is, wonder no longer.

Nothing Is Forgotten by ryan a. A wordless comic, beautifully done.

The Cat on the Dovrefjell by Kaja Foglio. A beautifully drawn Christmas folktale. Contains trolls.

Ongoing silliness:

Two splendidly geeky pleasures: Order of the Stick and Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic. YAFGC has occasional nudity, so merits the NSFW mark. Since it's a daily comic, the archives are HUGE, but well worth coming back to for fun and enjoyment.

A Softer World by Emily Horne and Joey Comeau. I don't know if this counts as a comic, since it's essentially just typewritten captions over background photos, but it's lots of fun to read.

Double Fine Action Comics: I can't really explain my fondness for this exceedingly strange strip. All I know is that I love it, especially the mini-jokes in the top margin.

Too obvious to mention:
Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio and Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton. If you're on the internet and have a pulse, you've already made up your mind about these. Kate Beaton never ceases to be awesome; Girl Genius is going through an annoying patch right now, but is still generally a good story.

Have I killed your productivity yet? If so, my work here is done. Unil next time, true believers!

Gifts

Dec. 24th, 2010 01:20 pm
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Today is INTERNATIONAL LIZA DAY, so here is a gift for everyone, not from me but from the amazingly talented comics artist P. Craig Russell. He's a frequent collaborator of Neil Gaiman and is also famous for his opera adaptations, and he's put his version of the O. Henry story The Gifts of the Magi up on his website for free. 12 pages of beauty start here; click on the picture to go forward.

It's quite a sentimental story, but Russell really makes it sing, right up to the jaw-dropping last page. Enjoy, and do have a happy INTERNATIONAL LIZA DAY.
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I probably won't be able to post tomorrow, so here are my advance Halloween links for your viewing ?pleasure?.

When I was a schoolkid, I (like all my friends) had the shit scared out of me by a book called Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. Thanks to a post on MetaFilter today (whose every comment is along the lines of "I remember that, oh god") , I learned that the illustrations that horrified me so are online for all to see. Galleries One, Two, Three.

I reread some of the Alan Moore Swamp Things recently and yes, they are still as fucking disturbing now as they were during my teenage years. I mean, it's Moore, so there are the philosophical ones and the psychedelic ones and the ones with John Constantine... but the straight-up horror ones still fragment your rational mind and leave what's left screaming, knowing the vultures will come eat it and there's nothing it can do.

Also, the really gory deer-butchering verses of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight have come up just in time for Halloween over at [livejournal.com profile] gawain_project.

On a less frightful note, there's a good article on the BBC's website about people who decorate their houses extravagantly for Halloween. This is mostly a US phenomenon: I remember a couple of houses like this in the neighbourhood where I grew up, and I remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever. The article makes the excellent point that Halloween in the US is basically about personal expression, which people are a lot less shy about there than here.

A UK friend with whom I was talking recently expressed satisfaction that Bonfire Night is still holding out against the inroads Halloween is making into Britain. It is easy to see the two holidays as competing-- but I do rather love the osmosis that seems to be occurring between them. The political backdrop of Bonfire Night highlights the anarchic side of Halloween: the misrule that comes with the masquerade. And Halloween's shadow casts Guy Fawkes in a supernatural bogeyman role, one of the malign spirits to be feared and gleefully propitiated.

Which is as much as to say: Trick or treat?
pallas_athena: (Default)
Today I happened to be in a tell-me-a-story mood, so I booked online to be told one in the crypt of St Pancras Church. The ticket-booking site was one of those which annoyingly make you register, and I tend to exact revenge on those by getting creative when they ask me to fill in a title. This one even asked for a preferred salutation, which I guessed was some sort of log-in thing.

However, when I turned up at the church and gave my name, a bemused box-office lady greeted me as "O Great and Mighty Omniscient Light Source." Which should teach me a thing or two about messing with websites.

The evening itself was, in an understated fashion, extraordinary. A young man with a beautiful voice has teamed up with members of Punchdrunk Theatre for a reading of two M. R. James ghost stories. I'm glad I didn't read them before heading out; nor shall I reveal any details of what was within... but I left the church feeling hyperaware of fleeting details and ambient sounds, with an eye particularly attuned to the movement of shadows. If you have a free evening before 13 March, I highly recommend witnessing this strange-yet-felicitous performance.

Before the show, I swung by the comic book shop near the British Museum and scored a copy of P. Craig Russell's version of Neil Gaiman's The Dream Hunters. Gaiman initially published this as a prose story with extremely fine illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano, but Russell has adapted it into a full-on graphic novel, and it's pretty much everything you'd hope for from both Russell and Gaiman.

Why I Love P. Craig Russell is a topic for another time, but in the interim his blog is full of reasons to be cheerful on a winter's night.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Artist Steve Bissette, justly famed for his work with Alan Moore on Swamp Thing in the 1980s, has begun a webcomic: King Of Monster Isle. Four scaled, fanged, tentacled, multiple-eyed pages so far. Bissette draws killer monsters; click "first" to see more of them. And those 1980s Swamp Things that traumatised my high school years are still nightmarishly scary. *shudder*

On a lighter note, Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series, has put a free short story up on her site: Araminta: or, the Wreck of the Amphidrake. If you're in the mood for mysticism, gender-bending and pirates, go read. (Tentacle quotient: moderate.)
pallas_athena: (Default)
"If you don't know how to make it, it's magic.
So if you figure out how to make it, it's science.
If you figure out how to make it your way, it's art."

Carla Speed McNeil, Finder


This is a comic you should read. (Current story begins here.) I still don't think of it as an "online comic", because only the pencils go online; for the nice inked version with footnotes, you have to buy the books. (Buy the books.)
pallas_athena: (Default)
This webcomic deserves its own post: Family Man by Dylan Meconis. We're in 1760s Germany, and a long-nosed theologian has just been denied his doctorate by the University of Göttingen...

I could go on at length about the understated beauty of the art, the painstakingly researched period detail, the attention paid to simple things like sound effects. But really, all I need to say here is "Go read." Go. Read.
pallas_athena: (Default)
This webcomic deserves its own post: Family Man by Dylan Meconis. We're in 1760s Germany, and a long-nosed theologian has just been denied his doctorate by the University of Göttingen...

I could go on at length about the understated beauty of the art, the painstakingly researched period detail, the attention paid to simple things like sound effects. But really, all I need to say here is "Go read." Go. Read.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Genius.

For those who don't know xkcd, it's one of the more amazing webcomics out there. Go read!
pallas_athena: (Default)
Genius.

For those who don't know xkcd, it's one of the more amazing webcomics out there. Go read!
pallas_athena: (Default)
Today I went, as I'd planned, to the UK Web and Minicomics Thing. This Thing took place at Queen Mary and Westfield College: I haven't been there since the summer of 1995, when I directed a play in their theatre starring the always excellent [livejournal.com profile] mothninja and a host of other talented people. The terrain around there is greener and cleaner, but there still isn't a decent pub for miles.

QMW is a huge campus, and the Thing took some finding. The day got a lot better once I pushed open a door into a room full of interesting people with art to display and stories to tell. Come with me to the Thing... )

We live surrounded by good stories; they hang, like ripe fruit, within easy reach. Occasionally they contain wasps or worms, but part of art is learning to expect the unexpected: to love it, indeed. So verily I say unto ye, support your local webcomic artist. Here endeth the blog entry.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Today I went, as I'd planned, to the UK Web and Minicomics Thing. This Thing took place at Queen Mary and Westfield College: I haven't been there since the summer of 1995, when I directed a play in their theatre starring the always excellent [livejournal.com profile] mothninja and a host of other talented people. The terrain around there is greener and cleaner, but there still isn't a decent pub for miles.

QMW is a huge campus, and the Thing took some finding. The day got a lot better once I pushed open a door into a room full of interesting people with art to display and stories to tell. Come with me to the Thing... )

We live surrounded by good stories; they hang, like ripe fruit, within easy reach. Occasionally they contain wasps or worms, but part of art is learning to expect the unexpected: to love it, indeed. So verily I say unto ye, support your local webcomic artist. Here endeth the blog entry.

Thing

Mar. 13th, 2007 03:56 pm
pallas_athena: (Default)
So I'm thinking of going to the UK Webcomix Thing at Queen Mary and Westfield College in Mile End on Saturday. I go to visit, to schmooze, to hobnob, to blog.

My main motivation for going to this Thing is the presence of John Allison, who does Scary-Go-Round.

So: Londoners, anyone fancy coming with?

Non-Londoners, anything you'd like me to ask John? Or other favourite British webcomicists? The floor is yours.

UPDATE: Looks like Weebl's going to be there too! Note to self: When come back, bring pie.

Thing

Mar. 13th, 2007 03:56 pm
pallas_athena: (Default)
So I'm thinking of going to the UK Webcomix Thing at Queen Mary and Westfield College in Mile End on Saturday. I go to visit, to schmooze, to hobnob, to blog.

My main motivation for going to this Thing is the presence of John Allison, who does Scary-Go-Round.

So: Londoners, anyone fancy coming with?

Non-Londoners, anything you'd like me to ask John? Or other favourite British webcomicists? The floor is yours.

UPDATE: Looks like Weebl's going to be there too! Note to self: When come back, bring pie.
pallas_athena: (Default)
So I've just read Linda Medley's excellent fairy-tale-inspired graphic novel Castle Waiting, and I loved it-- it's full of very human characters doing their best to help each other and make the world a better place. If the castle itself is a safe sanctuary for fairy-tale misfits, then the book provides a similar harbour for the misfit mind. Also, the art is very, very good.

One of the things this book makes me wonder, however, is: how much of my response to it is a product of gender? I'm a firm believer that people shouldn't be expected to fit into boxes marked "male" and "female"; I think that differences between individuals are greater than differences between genders. Still, I wonder if I would feel as much at home in the world of Castle Waiting if I were male. Most of the characters are women; the subjects of the various chapters are things like witchcraft, pregnancy and baby-having, nuns, wives escaping from unworthy husbands, and ... well... feelings. All of which are seen by today's [intensely fucked-up] society as being essentially feminine matters.

I've heard that Medley's plan is to tell the backstory of everybody in the castle. (In the hardcover collection I've read, Sister Peaceful is the only one to get the full treatment.) If that's still the plan, it'll be interesting to see what happens when Medley gets to characters like Sir Chess and Iron Henry. Meanwhile, I'd be interested to hear from anyone else out there, of any gender, who likes Castle Waiting. I ask with some trepidation: is it the graphic-novel equivalent of a chickflick? What do you think?

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