From Pictures to Prose

Webcomic authors are creative people – who can’t always be constrained by the number of words one can fit into a comic panel.

Although Lord knows the constraints haven’t stopped a creator or two from time to time (Rich Burlew, Order of the Stick #282)

As they grate to narrate, more than one webcomic artist has dabbled in the time-honoured practice of the novel – not only for collections of their comics, but for fully-fleshed works of fiction or non-fiction that either tie into their webcomics worlds, or even stand fully apart. Today, we’re going to look at a few webcomic writers who’ve crossed the comic page’s gutters and tested the idiom that a picture is worth… well, you get it!

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Digital Strips Episode 496: Caught In A Web(toons)

A room full of swords and other implements of battle and warAfter hearing Steve’s recounting of a fight with a crane (more to come later?), it’s on to the webcomics! Zach Weiner asked his followers for comic recommendations and they more than obliged (Facebook thread, Twitter thread), Room of Swords and Gosu prove that Webtoons houses some excellent comics (and brings some annoying downsides to the reading platform at the same time), and Business Cat is trying something new.


Digital Strips Podcast 272 – 2011 Year In Review

I always love doing this show each year. It’s a chance to look back at the year that was in comics, specifically those that are published on the web (a classification that you can bet Steve and I will be fighting about well into this year). We took a look at some amazing comics this year, spanning all possible genres and even forging a few new ones. Before we jump into the discussions and winners, we first must mention a few new ones because, hey, it’s what we do.

Best Horizons Watch of 2011: Corporate Skull

We have the Horizons Watch around to help us keep track of up-and-coming comics that show tons of promise but which are just too early in their life to call. In 2011, we found some awesome beginnings, many of which could have been chosen as our favorite, but, shockingly (to us and you) we agreed that Corporate Skull showed the most promise right out of the gate and more than lived up to it in the following updates. This comic by well-Internet-travelled creator Jamie Smart depicts a world than represents both zany fun and imminent peril. Throw in one of the strangest, coolest protagonists of any comic currently being published, digitally or in-print, and you’ve got a story we’re proud to call our favorite Horizons Watch pick of the year.

We’ve got two video game-inspired selections to lead us between segments this week, and the first is “The Life and Death of Kirby” by Insert Rupee (16:42).

Best Digital Strips-Reviewed Comic of 2011: Jason’s Pick: Velia, Dear; Steve’s Pick: Ellie on Planet X

Now is more comfortable. Again, we reviewed an incredible pack of comics this year, and many of them will be on my regular reading list until they decide to wrap things up and try something new. But when it came to surprising and engaging, there was none better than the more traditionally-presented comic strip, Velia, Dear by Rina Piccolo. This look at a middle-aged woman and her struggles to keep everybody happy while just trying to keep herself afloat hit all the right notes in terms of a variety of genres. It’s got heart, it’s got humor, it’s got suspense, and it’s got the modern edge that keeps it relevant when many other strips have gone the timeless and forgotten.

Steve’s pick, the adorably-quirky Ellie on Planet X, is one that instantly curls up in your heart and won’t leave, not with the hottest hatred, not with the most tangible of terrorizing terrors. Creator James Anderson rockets us up, up, and away from the worries of our troubled planet and lands us on Planet X, where anything is possible and the craziest creatures from our childhood imaginations come to life. Ellie doesn’t understand what’s going on, but she makes the most of her new life on a kooky, fantastical new world and it’s a blast to tag along with her on her day-to-day adventures.

Our second segment-leader is “Ebbed Tides and Webbed Feet” by Doc Nano and Evory (35:20). I knew I loved DuckTales on the NES/GameBoy when I was a child, and mixes like this just reaffirm that my affections were not unfounded.

Best Digitally-Published Comic of 2011: Jason’s Pick: The Gutters; Steve’s Pick: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

If there’s one thing that 2011 proved to us, it’s that there is no shortage in our modern world of great comics. Go to your local comic shop, go online, check out your digital delivery device of choice, but they are there and just waiting to be discovered. We try to help with that discovery process and the best one that I discovered this year, the one that kept me coming back for more and wanting more when there just wasn’t any more to be had was The Gutters. Least I Could Do and Looking For Group scribe Ryan Sohmer got fed up with the silliness that goes on beyond the panels of your favorite paper-published comic and decided to do something about it. So he regularly collaborates with the biggest and best creators in the industry on comics that perforate and eviserate, all with a darling love that shows abundant care for the very comics he and his comrades tear apart.

Web-wise, Steve picked a comic that had a banner year in 2011 and which shows no signs of slowing down in 2012. Zach Weiner’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is the most crudely drawn comic for MENSA members that you’re likely to come across in comics. If xkcd is for MIT folks, SMBC is for MIT folks who have side jobs working for a dirty comedy on HBO or Showtime. Those same people also write for the porn industry. It’s not that SMBC is filthy (though it certainly has the ability to go raunchier than even the dirtiest SFW entertainment), but if geeky sex jokes are your thing, then look no further. Also, Batman. As Steve notes, “If you don’t know anything about Batman, get off the Internet.”

And that’s our look back at the best year thus far in comics on the web! We look forward to bringing you even more amazing recommendations in the year to come! Thanks for listening!

Our Rambletron goes South immediately and never really rises again. Listen if you dare (especially applicable to men 30+ years of age).