Webcomic Wednesday: Pim & Francie by Al Columbia

Despite their tangible handmade quality, the comics and art of Al Columbia feel less like work someone made and more like transmissions. Faded and aged, torn up and re-assembled, smudged and erased and even burned, the adventures of his two childlike characters Pim & Francie are related in deliberately decontexualized images – covers for comic books that don’t exist, panels from stories without beginnings or ends, sketches for pieces that were perhaps never intended to be finished. It’s as though the evil being depicted – being channeled, perhaps – corrupts the very stuff of the artwork itself, forcing Columbia to commit some of it to paper but preventing him from going any farther than he does for fear of drawing too much of it into being.

But it’s okay – as you can see in this selection of rare full-color Pim & Francie art from Hi-Fructose Magazine, he goes plenty far. A lot of what’s scary about Pim & Francie speaks for itself, Columbia’s facility with gore and rictus grins and the suggestion of much much worse things lurking around the corner and so on. But Pim & Francie as characters, as opposed to just classic-animation-style avatars, are emotionally compelling because of their seeming inability to not plow headlong into horror. At times they seem like siblings, at other times like lovers, but they’re kindred souls either way, and they appear to thrive in the darkness. The more time you spend with them the harder it gets to envision them in a setting outside haunted forests, spooky old mansions, menacing alleyways, and fields of overgrown and malevolent flora. They’re the tongue that can’t stop poking the hole in the tooth. They’re right where they belong.

Last week, hazeldrop and bellhasabat visited Out on the Shelves to generously donate the first print volume of their webcomic Always Raining Here! (Check out our review from a few weeks before that.) They are amazing and lovely and their snazzy book collects the first full arc of the story along with some fun extras, now proudly shelved alongside great queer graphic novels like Dykes to Watch Out For and Wet Moon.

Come check them out and next week we’ll be back to sharing great webcomic recommendations with you lovelies!


okay cool I guess I’m doing this now! because webcomics are great. people should read more webcomics.

the first one I wanna feature is monster pulse by magnolia porter!

I think I’ve briefly mentioned it before but I wanted to fully acknowledge it because it’s a little lesser known and really does have a super unique and compelling storyline. the basic premise is that these 4 kids have been afflicted by a sort of lab-created spirit/ghost that essentially leaps into them and possesses a body part/organ, turning it into a full-fledged monster that exists independently of the body. the scientists who started these experiments obviously want to quarantine the kids as to get the situation under control again and conduct more research, but quickly find that it won’t be that easy, there are unexpected consequences of these creatures being on the loose, lots of other disturbingly morbid twists I can’t mention, etc etc etc.

it’s sort of on the newer side, I guess (not even a year old) so it’s only barely past the exposition and finally getting into some action, but the characters are fantastic and lively and instantly likeable and just look at this adorable lineup

the comic itself is in black and white, but there’s plenty of texture and awesome linework to still make it VISUALLY EXCITING? this is the author of bobwhite’s (which I was raving about back in like december) third project so they’re pretty experienced with the whole comic-writing thing.

so I’d really recommend it! it’s rare to find a comic whose action scenes are every bit as enticing as the character interaction and plot details/explanations (it’s also not overwhelmingly hard to follow, which is….a relief sometimes). it’s a great read.

Webcomic Wednesday - “The Ghoul Man” by Jaime Hernandez

Even a minor work matters when it’s made by someone major. One half of the comics-making team known as Los Bros Hernandez, Jaime is best known for his long-running “Locas” saga in the pages of Love and Rockets, the series he shares with his brother Gilbert. That story started out sci-fi but grew into a grippingly realistic portrayal of a gaggle of friends and acquaintances with shared roots in Los Angeles’s Latino punk scene. Still, Jaime likes to flex his genre muscles from time to time, and “The Ghoul Man,” originally a limited-run minicomic now up on Jordan Crane’s webcomics portal What Things Do, demonstrates why that’s worth doing.

The spitting image of Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera, the titular ghoul arises and shambles around town looking for flesh to devour, only to be put off the chase by a series of encounters with other monsters – werewolves, mummies, a Frankenstein’s monster, and in the memorable diner encounter above, a vampire. When the ghoul first approaches her, we and he consider her just another potential victim. But her tear-streaked face indicates right off the bat that she’s got a story of her own, something that narcissists like the ghoul fail to take into consideration when dealing with other people. Sure enough, she’s in the diner for the same reason she is, and she’s got the power and the guts to scare him off and commandeer this chapter of his adventure for her own.

It’s great fun just to watch an artist at Jaime’s level draw a cast of characters straight out of a black-and-white B-movie – I mean, no one in comics uses big black swashes with as much graphic impact or storytelling clarity; just look at how the blacks in the sequence above move your eye around the page. But he’s doing it in service of saying something, too, and that’s the kind of treat worth browsing around for.

Wednesday Webcomic Spotlight: This Is Not Fiction

Part of a special Holy Trinity of webcomics with BFF and Todd Allison and the Petunia Violet, I bring you the wonderful This Is Not Fiction by artist Nicole. 


THIS IS NOT FICTION is a story about desperation in love–or something like that. Julian Drees is experiencing his first love with the extremely popular, dreamy, wonderful, yet completely anonymous romance novelist Sydney Morgan. In an effort to make Julian’s life easier, his best friend Isaiah Holloway hires the strangely-all-knowing class troublemaker (and self-proclaimed “Godfather of High School”) Landon Addison to help them find the true identity of Sydney Morgan. Unfortunately, the hired “help” is more the hired “complete-opposite-of-help”… but maybe all the trouble is worth it to meet the author of Julian’s dreams.

On the exciting Mission: Identify Sydney Morgan, Julian learns who his true friends are, what love is (the real, not-based-on-obsession kind), and that there are more important things in life than Sydney Morgan (gasp!). (Summary from thisisnotfiction.com)


I am ashamed to say that I was hesitant to read this, largely because the art is a little shaky in the start. I wouldn’t say it starts off BAD persay, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. This is, however, one of those comics where the art progresses over time. It goes to color in chapter 2 as well as getting a little neater and it really only gets better from there. Though it loses it’s color in chapter 10, by that point the art style has since hit it’s peak and it wonderful and original and everything you could hope for. Landon has circle eyebrows and a Dorito head and it’s absolutely wonderful. Jules looks like a fluffy little marshmallow you just want to squish. Most importantly, however, the art style is crisp and neat with good shading and everything is clear. 

What did finally get me to read it however, besides all the praise it was getting from others, was the fact that it promised cameos by the characters of BFF. As you may have seen in my review of BFF ( HERE) I am completely in love with it and everyone in it so the chance to see them in here was a big incentive. Even better was that they’re older here, in their late 30′s, so it’s kind of like a glimpse at their futures. While Nicole is considerate and avoids BFF spoilers, it’s still fun to see your favorite characters and I’m totally using the cameos to support my current BFF ship.

But seriously, focusing on the comic itself, despite my initial reservations This Is Not Fiction is great. It’s adorable and funny and it has me completely hooked right now. I absolutely love the art style that Nicole has settled on and the plot is getting especially juicy. it’s the perfect blend of silly humor with actual emotion and it’s balanced wonderfully. Julian is an adorable little cinnamon roll, Landon is completely adorkable and Isaiah and Selby just equally rock my socks. In fact, I think Isaiah’s “nope” face might just be the best this ever. 

If the way to my heart is through lovable well-rounded, well-developed characters than Nicole has managed to freaking pave the way. Or, you know, break a hole through the wall, leap over a hedge and quickly weave a shaky rope out of rolled up T-shirts. Whatever works. (What does any of that even mean? I don’t know. She just has really great characters okay? I’m attached. it’s a good thing!)

Plot: 8/10

Writing: 10/10

Art: (Eventually) 10/10 


Read this. You won’t regret it. Maybe it’s not crazy with the world building or the wide expansive pastoral scenes, but it’s quirky, original and lovable. It’s got a fun, unique art style that resembles a beloved cartoon and the emotional intrigue to keep you hooked. I need to know what happens to these guys.

Also, Nicole has a wonderfully active web presence, often responding to comments left on the site, as well as answering questions posed to her on both her her TWITTER and her TUMBLR. She frequently posts little silly doodles and stuff and it’s really just a lot of fun.

Lastly, there is a song about gay strawberries. Do you have a song about gay strawberries? No, I don’t think you do. 

This Is Not Fiction is currently a WIP and updates on Tuesdays and Fridays on thisisnotfiction.com.

Check it out:  http://www.thisisnotfiction.com/index.php

Did you think we forgot it was Wednesday? (Yes we did.) We’ll be honest that part of the reason we like Always Raining Here is that it’s set and drawn right here in the Lower Mainland. The comic, by writer Bell ( bellhasabat ) and artist Hazel ( hazeldrop ), is vibrantly drawn and cheekily written. It’s a funny, slice-of-life story with a dash of drama and drama club.

Always Raining Here relates the incredibly awkward “romance” of two queer teens in high school, Adrian and Carter. It starts when Carter, recently come out, decides that Adrian is the best hookup he can find in school. Adrian rather comedically rebuffs Adrian’s advances, repeatedly. Still, a relationship between the two eventually develops on its own terms and it’s fun to see a queer romance that is more embarrassing fumbling than anything. It’s also great that the creators explore facets of their lives and personality that go beyond them being gay subjects of a romance plot; video games and internet humor make an occasional appearance.

Things seem to be heating up, so it’s a good time to catch up from the beginning! ARH updates weekly, usually on Saturdays.


hey time for this again huh

today I want to feature gunnerkrigg court by tom siddell! I actually had not even heard of it as of monday, and then…no less than 24 hours later, I had caught up on all 1014 pages in the archive. I mean, I can say a lot of things about this webcomic, but I think the fact that I utterly devoured it sort of speaks for itself. that might have more to do with the fact that I suffer from a chronic webcomic addiction, but whatever.

I have to give a really general summary here to avoid giving away surprise plot twists, but gc basically follows the life of an orphaned girl who winds up at a very bizarre boarding school, and finds herself caught in the schism between science/logic/humans and magic/nature.

anyway, this is one of those comics that seems like it started as a pretty casual side project, then gradually spiraled into this fantastic, utterly complex and enticing plot web. so I do have to admit: at first glance, it seems like one of those cheesy comics about a goth girl who encounters all sorts of ~spoo00o0ky~ supernatural phenomena and is completely unfazed by it. you know the ones. it seems that way for maybe the first 20 pages or so, and then it becomes clear that maybe something bigger is in store here. it becomes less a collection of random anecdotes and more a clear, cohesive storyline with character continuity and massive conflicts. I have a lot of respect for artists and writers who can create such seamless and interesting fantasy worlds - and yet don’t fall victim to overexplanation. there’s plenty to leave you guessing.

of course, the art is pretty impressive too. by now, the people are just as technically sound and fluid as everything else, but what’s really staggering about this comic are the environments. dude draws a lot of machinery and robots, and he does it really well. there’s something pretty sweet about the gigantic beasts and creatures, too:


and finally, the characters are charming and believable. with the exception of the protagonist, who from the very beginning is set up to be weirdly stoic and emotionally oblivious (probably for a good reason), the dialogue is genuine, and more often than not, pretty entertaining. it really is the complete package.

fantasy might not be your cup of tea, and it usually isn’t mine, but this is…this is pretty addictive. I warned you.


Webcomic Wednesday - Memory Palaces by Edie Fake

What you’re looking at was not created digitally. Sure, the buildings in Chicago cartoonist Edie Fake's Memory Palaces series look like what would happen if you artificially evolved the pipes and castles in Super Mario Bros. forward about 2,000 years, but they were made with pen and paint, not pixels. A ballpoint pen and gouache was all it took Fake to make structures so vibrant it can almost hurt to look at them.

Perhaps that’s the point. Mad Men‘s Don Draper once famously pointed out that “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” In Memory Palaces, Fake depicts landmarks from Chicago’s queer history – gay and lesbian bars, bookstores, bathhouses, nightclubs, political HQs, you name it. Many no longer exist. But in their heyday, all of them had the power to change the lives of the people who visited them. With his inventive, intense, eye-melting art and videogame design sense, Fake is turning these perfectly normal places into the science-fictional vortexes of freedom and transformation they became in the minds and hearts of their patrons. The paintings capture their power in a way a black-and-white photo just can’t.

The purpose of Webcomic Wednesdays is to highlight science fiction, fantasy, and horror comics in an alternative/underground style. Memory Palaces, strictly speaking, is neither a comic nor fantastic fiction. But you don’t need multiple panels to tell a story, and you don’t need swords and lasers to show something astonishing.

Webcomic Wednesdays!

What up Scoobies!

For those of you who don’t know (a.k.a. anyone who hasn’t talked to me for more than 5 min) I love me some comics!  It started at a young age with Archie comics (which fyi has gotten with the times and not only has a gay cis-male character but also one who is in an interracial relationship.That’s right conservative America, they got you right in the feels!) and has grown into a love of comics both in print and online (these lists will often feature some kind of Batman comics: 1. Because he’s awesome and; 2. Because. He’s. Freaking. Batman.)

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On Webcomic Wednesdays I’ll be sharing some of my favorite comics from the interwebs as well as the occasional print one ( because I’m too cheap and lazy to have a pull list).  So let’s dive on in!

First up is one of my favorite web-comics of all time Bayou.  Bayou takes place in 1930s Charon, Mississippi and follows Lee Wagstaff, the daughter of a black sharecropper.  When Lily Westmoreland, her white playmate, is snatched by agents of an evil creature known as Bog, Lee’s father is accused of kidnapping. Lee’s only hope is to follow Lily’s trail into this fantastic and frightening alternate world. Along the way she enlists the help of a benevolent, blues-singing swamp monster called Bayou. Together, Lee and Bayou trek across a hauntingly familiar Southern Neverland, confronting creatures both benign and malevolent, in an effort to rescue Lily and save Lee’s father from being lynched.

Bayou features amazing artwork, an incredible storyline and the blending of America’s history of violence and slavery with Southern folktales.  Bayou is no longer available for free for reading, but you can buy it online for electronic reading or hardcopy volumes.

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If your looking for something on the lighter side you should check out Friendly Hostility.  Friendly Hostility is the story of two best friends who happen to be dating each other: Fox, a reporter, and Collin, a megalomaniacal would-be dictator and former kid’s show host. They have friends, family, and occasional run-ins with the law, pirates, and other monsters. The comic features queer couples, a multi-racial cast, wacky hijinks as well as non-traditional family and relationship structures. And the best part is the story line finished in 2009 which means you can read whenever you want without worrying about updates! (or you can be like me and read them all in one night. Yay college insomnia!) To start at the beginning of the archive go here

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And lastly I leave you with a comic that displays one of Batman’s lesser known skills.  This comic comes from Shortpacked (which I will cover more next time!)

Happy Reading!

Lisa E.

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Remember that time we forgot it was Wednesday? Well, we also forgot that our post last week was supposed to celebrate Asexual Awareness Week! (We’re so good at this.) So, we’re making up for it by bringing you guys Ignition Zero, an urban fantasy comic with two asexual protagonists!

Noel Arthur Heimpel’s comic is a fun, weird, journey navigating college life, fairy court politics, and what happens when the fallout over a bad breakup involves mystical beings with powers to alter the universe. There might be a slice of romance, too. There are definitely slices of cake. On a stick, even! Where it really stands out is the art, done in vibrant watercolors that seem to bring the fantastical to life.

We like that the friendship between the protagonists in Ignition Zero started online, and the diversity of it’s cast, which includes many people who are often underrepresented, if they can see themselves in stories at all. The faerie cast are just as diverse and imaginative. Our favorite is Hugh❣ So far there has been a big emphasis on the theme that no mythical creature is innately “good” or “bad,” which we think might parallel the spectrum of identities that the characters themselves portray.

Ignition Zero updates Mondays.


hey let’s do this again

this is cucumber quest by gigi d.g.! if you’ve never seen any of gigi’s mindblowingly lively and inspiring art, I feel bad for you, BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS I’M HERE TO HELP YOU OUT

cucumber quest is about…well, it’s about bunny people! and epic journeys, and ancient artifacts, and fearsome beasts. you know how it is. it’s almost downright satirical though, in that the main hero is chronically timid and meek, while the little sister is the more aggressive and courageous character. together, though, they make a great adventuring duo and run into plenty of other anomalies. it’s very lighthearted and never takes itself too seriously, and every page reads like some kind of vivid storybook chock full of outrageous fantasy landscapes and charming, eccentric characters.

of course, by and far the greatest hook of cq is the insane use of color and lighting and simple, but mesmerizing, environments. see look

I’m pretty sure my jaw literally dropped when I saw this page. that’s a thing that happened.

see there’s nothing extraordinarily detailed or complex about it, but it’s just so effective with the color choices and contrast and composition. gigi is a master of using a little to show a lot, and it makes the whole comic really pleasant on the eyes. it’s hard to think of someone more talented as far as use of color goes.

anyway, it’s been around for roughly a year, but it’s a quick read, and it more or less speaks for itself. it’s nothing that’s gonna strain your brain or throw any incomprehensible mysteries at you, but there’s a lot of really good art packed in those little pages and it’s a huge source of inspiration (for me personally anyway).

(basically if you like pretty things it is completely worth your time)