Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Horror comics get vicious: Agnes Quill and Revenger's tragedy

I only occasionally look around at all the decay that the webcomic community has to offer and it occurred to me that my viewing habits weren't as broad as they could be, we always put up various biases between ourselves and new experiences and it's sometimes hard to get out of a webcomic rut, so I went looking...

The multi-authored approach to
Agnes Quill creates a sense of the underlying character, the artists that Dave Roman works with all operate using a lush template that suits the particularly baroque world-view of the writer.

I usually don't read adventure webcomics, even though I was brought up on various Francophone Ligne Claire style adventure comics I've felt that nothing has ever lived up to Tintin and I thereafter neglected the genre. Either that or I saw the usually shit selection Keenspot has and that turned me off for life (That or
Everything Jake got way too emo and tainted me for life.)

But AQ doesn't use the usual static clean lines I'm used to and regardless of the artist, there's always a sense of movement here. The artwork is a stunningly rendered black and white rendition of a complex world and the creator's own cartoony version set out in story-lines such as , 'Invite only', add another dimension to the strip. So, it's horror and mystery mixed up together and once you get past the initial unsettling acceptance of the undead then it becomes a good plot-driven read. Slave Labor Graphics is putting out a AQ anthology and I'm going to try to pick it up if at all possible.

The gothic aesthetic in webcomics usually exists in a morass of linework and that's usually a good thing, thus, I additionally like the way
Revenger's Tragedy uses various typefaces, for example:

As it stands, horror seems to add an edge to artwork, it adds vistas that would otherwise be unseeen, it can also go all Poe and stifling on us but the majority of horror webcomic writers look like they know what they're doing, horror might not have the cachet of arthouse webcomics like Cat and Girl and a lesson is learned... but these two webcomics impress me mightily. RT takes off where Dante's Inferno left off, it's an ambitious examination of how an underworld would work in practice and if Smith isn't as crash-hot at human bodies, his backgrounds have an expansive feel to them that carries the whole work, his artwork doesn't look like anything else, it's sometimes more like art connected to a story. It sometimes looks sketchy but sketchy can be good sometimes, some webcomics have too much of a polished sheen to them. The early exposition is heavy but you can hardly explain the geo-political scheme via pictures, overall, a good solid webcomic.

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