Saturday, 26 March 2011

Love is blind: Oglaf

Oglaf is a strange sexual beast of a webcomic, at first glance it's a collection of some risqué NSFW jokes based in a fantasy realm. It's certainly a very sleek stylised production with years of skill leading up to it. The archive lists a number of disconnected stories showing the reader what is NSFW or not.

At first glance this webcomic certainly looks like a series of disconnected sexually inflected high fantasy tropes but it has gradually meshed into a world with its own references and peccadilloes. The fact that there isn't a requirement for an ongoing storyline means that the creator can take in as many genre influences and ideas and suit it to the work, as a result there's a very wide scope of themes on display here and lots of fantasy in-jokes that have been re-jigged for a slacker  gen-x smirking appreciation. 

There still are one-shot one page strips but overall the main storyline of the ever-afflicted apprentice is continuing and may even be heading towards some kind of redemption or reward for his tribulations.

The strip seems to be sleazyily confident about the material it is using. If you're looking for a more knowing and perhaps post-modern slant on fantasy then this is certainly a strange place to find it, but this consists of digestible nuggets of sly hyper-stylised japery that is very fluid and readable.

Musical accompaniment: Die Antwoord: $0$.   Sexualised crazy, psychotic boasting,  See 'Evil Boy' on youtube for jaw-dropping magical realist visuals.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Red Dead Dementia: Emily Carroll

Emily Carroll's work seems to be simultaneously luscious & simplistic, cartoony & otherworldly.  The main hook into her work for me was  this ambiguous short story, it feels more like one of Grimm brothers darker fairy tales (certainly not the foppish Perrault).

Literature status isn't something we usually see in webcomics with it being more an ephemeral pop-culture buzz obsessed medium, this is a dreamy landscape with numerous influences coming to the fore. Her main website his down but her blog is packed with pictures & links to other stories. There's definitely a folkloric & fable led verve here and the line work can easily veer between sumptuous complexity &   60's style pop art like Shag. If nothing else this story should make you feel a pleasantly unsettling chill for the rest of the day.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Something wicked this way comes: The watcher of Yaathagggu

I have to say this tongue twister strip, The watcher of Yaathagggu,  is shaping up quite well, at first glance it looked like mere riffing on the Cthulu mythos and would be an aimless appendage on an already well-furrowed meme, but the author, Robyn Seale, has a plan here and this looks well thought out. The backgrounds and the shades used give a washed- out dreamy feel which acts as a perfect counterpoint to the crisp, clean line work. The amount of visual information your eyes have to process here is several degrees of magnitude more than your usual webcomic, lots of action and movement. So for 'production values' this is a pretty impressive strip.

The background to this world we're implanted in has been left suitably ambiguous, no clear-cut genre boundaries imposed on the reader, it's semi-modern with lots of squiggle room left for further development. The protagonist watches the seething void of darkness at the edge of town, Yaathaqqqu, a broken fuckery of a place of pervoids and skanks and our hero, Pieta Gaolwynne, is being sucked into something awful.

As for genre, Steam-punk or cosmic horror would be the obvious cop-out thing to say but, frankly, the narrative's open spaces provided and the ambiguity as to what the hell exactly is going on is part of the pleasure of reading this strip. The nameless evil omnipresence feels more like a 'mcguffin' at the moment, and now we're just learning what the mechanics of the world are, what makes it tick. This looks like it we're in for a dense danse Macabre with an injection of gallows humour for piquancy. Good stuff.

Musical accompaniment: Sigur Ros: Takk. Angelic, troubled, wistful and fey. Perfect backdrop to this bleak dreamscape.