New England Webcomics Weekend
was this past weekend in Easthampton, MA. It brought together many top names in the art of webcomics -- a form that may have at last grown distinct from its print-comics progenitor. A fine excuse to introduce you to (or remind you about) the sites of these hilarious, daring and innovative artists. Hyperlink omnibus enclosed...
The weekend con fit about a thousand attendees per day and featured sixty artist exhibitors. Small cheese compared to San Diego, but still more than I can walk you through in a single post. I'll just show off the strips I know best -- each of these is indispensable if you love comics and want to keep track of where the form is headed.
makes Octopus Pie
, an character-driven longform sunday-style about a stickler and her stoner roomie in Brooklyn. It is touching, funny, beautifully rendered and always strangely familiar. Find the start
of any chapter
to get hooked.
is the creator of Overcompensating
, a diary comic detailing the real-life happenings of a fantasy world that he very nearly actually inhabits. He also wrote and drew the long-running WIGU
(the moment-by-moment adventures of the Tinkle family, in which each action-packed day takes many months to unfold), and is the proprietor of Topatoco
, a thriving web-based publisher/clothier.
uses his Diesel Sweeties
strip to spread life-affirming pixelated cuteness with a fleeting bottom note of misanthropic cynicism. He is top brass at Dumbrella
, a carefully branded loose association of these webcomics makers. You may have seen one of r stevens's skull tees
in the Scott Pilgrim movie.
Gran, Rowland, Stevens, and Holly Post (aka Tallahassee Econolodge
) put the NEWW weekend together at Eastworks
, a mall/warehouse/factory/artists' lofts complex that houses both Dumbrella's and Topatoco's offices. I will list the rest of these NEWW exhibitors in no particular order:
John Allison creates the elegant and twee Bad Machinery
. His beloved Scary Go Round
ran its course from 2002-2009 and remains available in full.
Kate Beaton explores history and literature in Hark! A Vagrant
, often as a series of gag strips on a single topic (eg presidents
. High and low brows furrow together to hilarious effect.
KC Green's Gunshow
is kind of intense. I always feel like the chuckles are squirting out of some sort of shrapnel wound. Topics range from slander in furry animal land
, to snorting dad ashes
, to the adventures of the anime club
. His now-defunct Horribleville
was also a treat for lovers of paranoia, loathing, and comedy.
Chirs Hastings has taken his Doctor McNinja
from a one-man B&W line-art page into a book-form full-color extravaganza (with the help of cover illustrator Carly Monardo
and colorist Anthony Clark
). The story arcs are long, briskly paced, accessible, silly, and grand. Begin at the beginning
, or with the latest issue
Anthony Clark's Nedroid
charts the uneasy friendship of potato-shaped bear Beartato and humanoid bird Reginald. It is a gag strip, and you can poke your head in anytime, but I found myself getting weirdly attached to the duo and paging through the archive for hours. Start near the beginning
, or in 2007
(by which point Beartato and Reginald had pretty much taken over the comic), or bang on the random strip dispenser
Andrew Hussie creates MS Paint Adventures
with our help, developing each panel as a direct response to reader input. Ostensibly, we are all playing an illustrated adventure game, cutting each other in line to type the next command for the characters in the strip. Updates come to a story up to thirty times in a day. Wildly funny, deeply interactive, and possibly the best example of what separates webcomics from other sequential art forms. Hussie explains his process and links you
to the various completed and in-progress adventures.
Sam Brown draws, several times a day, an Exploding Dog
image based on a phrase or fragment of text (or explicitly suggested title, though that's less fun) taken from readers' emails and twitter posts. The results are rough-hewn, dreamy, and evocative.
Jon Rosenberg's new Scenes From A Multiverse
is bite-sized amusement refracted through unknown planes of existence. Plotlines in each revisited universe have started to emerge, but any day's four-panel strip is rewarding on its own. Rosenberg's Goats
was a sprawling
, ridiculous sci-fi epic that wound down this past April and is now getting an anthology treatment
from Random House.
Ryan North drew one Dinosaur Comics
comic in 2003 and has been re-publishing it with new dialog text each day, ever since. It becomes a meditation on static action, on comics, on itself. It somehow never wears thin.
Joey Comeau and Emily Horne whittle down the weight of being alive into one A Softer World
strip daily. It looks like it is made with scissors, a typewriter, and a darkroom, and it reads like a haiku. It inhabits that space between smirking and shuddering. Be careful with it.
Dorothy Gambrell draws Cat And Girl
about an overeducated young lady and her gigantic feline companion who eats paint
. The strips protagonists grapple endlessly in their search for a satisfying way to hold onto meaning, and stumble into a pun more often than an epiphany. Gambrell also illustrates her spending
of all reader donations.
...and there's plenty more. Check the NEWW guest list
for gems I've neglected.