New England Webcomics Weekend
November 9, 2010 1:14 PM   Subscribe

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.

Meredith Gran 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.

Jeffrey Rowland 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.

r stevens 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, paperbacks. 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, middle, 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.
posted by damehex (18 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I have always felt like Gunshow and Nedroid come from the same part of the creators' brains and the same kind of raw and forever-stuck-on-the-outside place in the heart, and the difference is that KC Green approaches that part of him with this really wonderful fury whereas Anthony Clark seems to have arrived at a fairly complete peace with it.

And, of course, more eyeballs on Kate Beaton's work is always a good thing.

On the other hand I just read a few strips of Diesel Sweeties for the first time, having been linked from this post, and it appears to be more or less garbage.

On the whole I think webcomics are only just finding their feet as a medium and I'm excited to see what direction some of the creators of the present and future head off into. I remember being a younger MONSTER and finding out there were weekly strips on the internet, back in the day, and how exciting that was as an idea but in execution you got things like Sluggy Freelance. Now we have things like Nedroid and Kate Beaton and that Oglaf comic which is not safe for work but just fantastic from a creative standpoint. These are exciting times.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:34 PM on November 9, 2010

On the other hand I just read a few strips of Diesel Sweeties for the first time, having been linked from this post, and it appears to be more or less garbage.

Yeah, as someone who spends way, way too much time thinking about webcomics, I really struggle with Diesel Sweeties. I love the way it looks, but the writing does nothing for me. but R. Stevens seems like a pretty nice guy who's willing to take criticism.

I don't know. It's exciting, in the big picture, to see all of the different ways that webcomics are starting to flower. Hearing about NEWW makes me jealous; it would've been cool to go.
posted by COBRA! at 1:43 PM on November 9, 2010

I am a total dork for Questionable Content.

There, I said it.
posted by Sara C. at 1:47 PM on November 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

Right on!

I LOVE web comics!

Thanks for this.
posted by mmrtnt at 1:49 PM on November 9, 2010

Nice post!
A few years back i found a webcomic about a barbarian which i can't find now, esp by googling barbarian, there are many. The unique thing was no dialog most of the time. It was simple but sublime. No sidekicks... He met a alien which was random.
posted by uni verse at 1:50 PM on November 9, 2010

Short comics go straight over my head mostly, I prefer Gunnerkrig Court type stuff. There used to be a great one about how terrible the writers of Smallville were though.
posted by shinybaum at 2:01 PM on November 9, 2010

Here is a huge set of photos of the event from Flickr user MagnusApollo, including shots from the MC Frontalot live show and the Quick Draw panel.

If you are a fan of webcomics, NEWW is possibly the most fun you could have at a convention. I did not see anyone there who didn't appear to be having a good time.
posted by Nedroid at 2:57 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am a huge fan of Danielle Corsetto's Girls With Slingshots after a friend introduced me to it by asking me "does this really happen in gay bars?" (It totally does.)
posted by restless_nomad at 3:18 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is great. My weekly reading of webcomics on Sunday mornings is beginning to dwindle. Too many comics stalling, or disappearing, and some times, it's hard to find new stuff. It looks like my Sunday mornings will be full again for quite a while. Thanks.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:25 PM on November 9, 2010

Yeah, as someone who spends way, way too much time thinking about webcomics, I really struggle with Diesel Sweeties. I love the way it looks, but the writing does nothing for me. but R. Stevens seems like a pretty nice guy who's willing to take criticism.

But check out the first comic read a couple to see what it used to be like.

Looking at it now, it seems to have devolved into random wordplay
posted by delmoi at 3:36 PM on November 9, 2010

I don't think the webcomic form will come into its own until they ditch png, jpg, and gif. Occassionally, it's too difficult to read the comics or really enjoy them. They should expand to the borders of my webbrowser or my screen and be vector.
posted by CarlRossi at 5:54 PM on November 9, 2010

restless_nomad, my Dykes To Watch Out For loving heart thanks you greatly.
posted by Sara C. at 7:44 PM on November 9, 2010

Whoooooh!! Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell is a fairly new one that's now on my regular list. It's there in the guest list, but it's never hit the blue.

And it should have, dammit - who else has got stoner angels, a super cute pet basilisk who's friends with Madonna and Bono, and a guy who's going to hell for dropping the Dalai Lama on his head as a baby?

(Probably best to start at the beginning)
posted by Ahab at 8:06 PM on November 9, 2010

Questionable Content really pisses me off sometimes (frequently!). The characterization is just so lazy, especially for the non-central female characters.
posted by kenko at 8:31 PM on November 9, 2010

kenko, I'll grant you that he introduces too many secondary characters he seems to be only half-interested in. But meh. If I were to have an issue with QC it would be that I think it's become a bit of a soap opera, and it's abandoned this very specific sort of voice that made me fall in love with it. I am also pissed that Marigold and Tai could not be a thing! Come ON! That would have been PERFECT!

What ever happened to Wil the poet dude, anyway?
posted by Sara C. at 8:59 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I went to this a couple years ago and had a great time, despite (at the time) not being all that into webcomics (except for Kate Beaton who is not only awesome but lives in my hometown and grew up down the road a bit from where I did, so I am all HALIFAX/CAPE BRETON REPRESENT every time her name comes up). Danielle Corsetto did a caricature of me there that I use as my avatar all over the place now.

Great post. Thanks.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:02 PM on November 9, 2010

Homestuck (by Andrew Hussie) is among the best fiction I've ever read.
posted by Drexen at 9:43 AM on November 10, 2010

So many great new things here, thanks!
posted by Theta States at 12:52 PM on November 10, 2010

« Older 98 year old refrigerator   |   The Canonical List of Weird Band Names Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments