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!


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.

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.

I’m working on the tail end of Bybloemen’s first update tonight, but figured I’d take a quick break for WBW to sort out a few stray thoughts about Basil here.

Inexperienced devils tend to produce flawed glamours with anatomical defects that require creative costuming or make-up to conceal, and even skilled tempters capable of shifting into a dozen different glamours at will carry at least one distinctive ‘flaw’ across forms. Unusually sharp teeth or unruly fingernails, for instance. An extra pinky toe. An unsightly port wine stain on the noggin. Trying on a new glamour is kind of like walking around in a pair of stiff, leather shoes, in that pinching, chafing and clumsy footwork should be expected until you break them in. It might take half a dozen incarnations to properly adjust the fit. 

Basil’s glamour is unusually convincing in spite of his magical-deficiencies. It probably helps that he’s opted for a innocuous, rather forgettable second-skin as opposed to something flashier, and one which closely resembles him. Since he’s used the same one for the entirety of his career he’s had plenty of time to perfect it, and he’s gradually (and unconsciously) aged up his glamour with each progressive incarnation. It looks a bit more, say…lived in, than what most tempters might opt for.

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.

YU+ME: dream

Like a lot of long-running webcomics, YU+ME’s art and story evolve over time, a quirk which the author works into the narrative itself. Described as “a surreal love story”, it follows Catholic high school student Fiona as she befriends and eventually falls in love with a classmate named Lia. But all is not what it appears, and soon both Fiona and the reader are taken on an unbelievable journey filled with mind-screw around every corner. The ending even took us by surprise!

Wildly imaginative, YU+ME does a good job of taking the familiar premise of a high school romance and taking it to new and interesting places. Even while going through some wild turns, it never manages to lose sight of its story or characters - which always manage to outgrow their initial impressions and grow into people with complex motivations.

The author’s later works include the charmingly pulpy I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space (if you can find a copy!), and her current comic, Meaty Yogurt.


Web Crush Wednesdays: Kamikaze
Though I try and recommend lesser-known webcomics here, I only just found out about today’s webcrush when its fully funded Kickstarter tumbled across my Tumblr dash one night. Intrigued, I cl…

ICYMI this week gave us a surprise review from the find folks at @ladygeekgirl-and-friends! Thanks so much y’all! Here’s one of our favorite quotes from the article -> 

Cristine Smith’s colorful, all-ages comic The Princess is one of our favorites, and another Prism Comics Queer Press Grant winner! Princess Sarah has creativity, confidence, and a paper crown. This comic is as cute and full of life as its protagonist.

The Princess is character-driven, and each of Sarah’s friends, family are unique and memorable. As a young transgender girl, Sarah doesn’t always face acceptance or understanding – her relationship with her mother is particularly poignant  – but even her bullies are lovingly (if that’s the right word) imagined. Things can get downright ugly, though never too dark. Nor do events ever appear unrealistically optimistic. People are often at their best in The Princess when they admit they don’t understand each other, but they love them anyway. The identities, relationships, backgrounds, and opinions of the characters are some of the most varied in webcomics.

At its heart, The Princess is still about a little girl with an indomitable yet carefree spirit, and while it can be somber and serious, most of the strips express the wonder and imagination of childhood. Play, treehouse clubs, and schoolyard crushes.

Her highness updates on Mondays and Fridays