Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Cthulu is my homeboy: Lovecraft is missing

H.P.Lovecraft shouldn't need an introduction but I can certainly offer a lobotomy to the fecklesss pikers who disdain our lord and master. Lovecraft was Kafka with the insanity turned up to gleeful abandon. So, a webcomic with a focus on H.P.Lovecraft should be enough to make every horror geek drool an ocean but you would certainly have seen the blatantly overused Cthulu memes online and thought twice about this strip.

Lovecraft is pretty well harrowed ground and this could either be a total munted conspiracy theory overfiend godzilla-with-tentacles goof-up or something exciting. it's more intriguing than anything else, like a slow boil, not dizzying or spectacular but a real good take on the subject. It starts at Lovecraft's career as a amateur journalist and writer in the classic New England setting of his mythos. As the title suggests he has disappeared and the story now continues...

From what I've seen so far in this strip, Lovecraft is used as a symbol, rather than an anti-social punchline. I'm not sure how the gruesome ethereal horror is going to be subtly embedded into this narrative so far but the overall mystery we've seen experienced is by our plucky heroine. At the moment Lovecroft is a character in absentia so it will be interesting to see where this goes. I'm very interested in this strip and if you have even an inkling of gleefull bloodlust in your veins you will be as well.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

In space no one can hear you bark: Pug Davis

Pug Davis is certainly a labor of love, while ostensibly it looks like sci-fi the artwork veers between primitive sketchiness and squidgy detail. This strip is breathtaking in its consistent insistence on long-term infinite canvas within its somewhat slow paced strips. Guided by a stoic warped pug dog as its hero accompanied by an uh....odd sidekick, Blouse.

There's a tragic back story here that gives what could be a throw-away space opera cowboy bebop riff a certain level of poignant, there's little fables popping up here amidst the minimalist scrawl and they are easily matched by the painterly subtlety on display here. The relationship between the two characters is not outlined at first so this is a discovery and finally this becomes a meditation on growing friendship.

At first glance though this looks like a mishmash of disparate angles and the off-level sections add to the erratic flavor of this strip, the shading and linework certainly helps the stream of consciousness story-lines present here stretch out into the ethereal nothing of outer space.

 This strip is willing to mix science fiction and surrealist tropes mix-up, there's a lot of wordless emotion here and Rebecca Sugar is quite willing to let the artwork alone convey the narrative, a concise use of silence to direct the action, but more awe and empathy than undercurrents of Pinterersque malice, this is a strip about the occasional downsides and the endless oddity of space exploration .

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Cloverfield also caused epilepsy: Blip

Looking at Blip I'm guessing this is the second generation Japanophile convergence strip that finally works. This strip has enough of the structural/artwork background to qualify as manga influenced but has none of the cultural dependency that cripples a strip like Megatokyo. It is seriously funny though, talkative snide and heartless type of funny and a talking cat that gives lil' Nyet a run for his sordid roubles in debonair ranting.

Blip is also quite rare in that in veers between an emerging narrative & some goofball slice of life strips, the artwork certainly has enough manga in its origin to skip between chibi and serious epic heaven & earth , subtle enough as it progresses from a schlep to a viable long-term narrative strip in a way that Sore Thumbs no longer is.

Don't let the initial cartoony vibe put you off, there is a long term lovelorn storyline here beneath the sarcasm but the manga influences are more than mere skin deep chibi-fetishism, the western slacker vibe is mixed up with with the standard scattergun Japanese epic engagements between good & evil fought by hidden heroes. Luckily the typical schoolyard antics anime & manga chooses has been replaced by a more adult twenty-something world. The title itself is telling, later taking on more significance than one would automatically think, there is a theological basis for this strip and Sage can change from goofy to estachalogical in a split second.

The little angels & demons present here are initial comic relief but overall the pacing allows enough klutzy goof-offs to make this entertaining on a weekly basis, the reason this strip works is because the (decidedly grumpy) heroine, K, is fully grounded in the uselessness of modern western existence and this makes her role within this divided world that gradually emerges , a focus point for all the haphazard craziness, giving the strip more emphasis. Enjoyable and worth sticking with for the long haul.