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!

Webcomics Wednesday

Monster Pop! by Maya Kern

Monster Pop! is a comic about two best friends and the slice of life adventures they share! Monster Pop! is set in an alternate Earth where monsters coexist with humans; sometimes they integrate well, sometimes they clash. This comic is heavily influenced by shoujo manga. Monster Pop! includes musical and interactive elements: Every now and then there will be a page with animation and/or music and most of the main characters have their own blogs (which you can find linked on the cast page).

Kern’s Tumblr

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.


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.

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.


Webcomics Wednesday

Maddy McGee, P.I., written by Britt Baker

Follow private investigator Madison “Maddy” McGee and her team as they attempt to solve cases for which the proper authorities don’t have the time. In Maddy’s world robots walk the streets alongside humans, and crime is still as rampant as ever.

They’ve only known each other for a few years, but these three college grads are almost like family to each other. They all grew up very differently—financially, psychologically, socially—but the chemistry between the trio is perfect. So when Maddy suggested the idea they travel to a new location every year or so as small-time private investigators, the other two didn’t hesitate to agree.

You can follow maddymcgeepi right here on Tumblr. Britt Baker has also has a short story being made into a movie! Subject 1 ”is the story of an almost genetically perfect human…re-stationed to Mars as her one human flaw threatens to destroy her chances of survival on Earth. There she battles her inner demons, and others imprisoned in the station’s cells, known as ‘Subjects’.” Awesome.


Webcomic Wednesday!

Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell

Antimony Carver starts attending Gunnerkrigg Court, a strange school that combines magic with technology. Annie finds herself embroiled in Court politics, navigating between the technology minded Court and the nature loving forest. She makes friends with a robot, a shadow, a couple of fairies, the Coyote, and some reality bending kids.

Early on in the comic the friendship of Annie and Kat are established. Kat is really the only person Annie opens up to, and their relationship continues to grow closer. Intimate friendships continue to be a theme with Gamma and Zimmy, who might be together (it’s never confirmed in comic, but treated as fact amongst characters). Shadow and Robot as well are very close, though as a shadow and a robot their relationship doesn’t exactly fit human definitions.

Spoilers for most recent arc

Recently Kat received a love letter from Paz, a girl who’d caused her to do some questioning earlier, and they’re relationship is only starting to be explored. Paz and Kat as well are both women of color (Latina and Romani respectively).

If you are into scifi, fantasy, stories about female friendships, mysteries, stories about myths, or just general good writing, check it out.


Webcomic Wednesday [Thursday Edition]: Cold Heat by Ben Jones and Frank Santoro

One of the few comics ever created that should be included gratis with your purchase of any My Bloody Valentine album like a Happy Meal toy, Ben Jones and Frank Santoro’s Cold Heat is a pastel explosion of emotion and sensation. It’s also arguably the great unfinished alternative comics masterpiece of the ’00s, since its double-sized final issue, promised in April 2010, has yet to materialize (and its penultimate installment is both offline and out of print). But its lack of resolution doesn’t matter a bit, I promise you. The first time you sat and listened to your favorite album as a teenager, did it involve a story arc with a concrete ending? Probably not, but the intensity of that experience remains — and it’s that intensity that Cold Heat mines for all it’s worth.

Keep reading


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.

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.

Webcomics Wednesday

Connie to the Wonnie, by Connie Sun

WELCOME! This blog is a personal project I started in August 2011 with the goal of drawing and posting an illustrated status message a day - I haven’t stopped since. Every weekday morning, I get up, draw a cartoon, and post whatever I can manage to get done before going to work. I began cartooning daily to let go of perfection and figure out if I had anything to say. What I’ve learned in the process is that we all do. What’s your status message today?


Webcomic Wednesday: Road of Knives by Shawn Cheng, Matt Wiegle, Nick DiGenova, and Zak Smith

Equal parts collaborative comic and arty party game in which the sole Calvinball-style rule is “create mayhem,” Road of Knives is less a story than an ongoing event.

Back in 2006, artists Shawn Cheng and Zak Smith (likely the only artist who’s both exhibited in the Whitney Biennial and maintains a must-read RPG blog, Playing D&D with Porn Stars) began battling one another with art. One artist would draw a monster, the other would draw a new monster attacking that monster, the first would draw the progress of the battle, and so on. And so on. And so on. It’s now 2013, artists Matt Wiegle (replacing Smith as Cheng’s main opponent) and Nick DiGenova have been drafted into the fray, and the battle continues.

Taken a page at a time, Road of Knives is easily enjoyed as a showcase for the detail-driven art of its participants, for their inventive and almost fractal approach to creature design, and for their shared facility for both eerie atmosphere and kinetic combat. But when read as a “story,” tracing the drawings from one artist’s contribution to the next (that’s Wiegle and Cheng in tandem above, for example), new values emerge: a wild sense of humor rooted in totally unexpected shifts in the action (you never know when we’ll be whisked away to another region or even dimension, where some new creature or character is observing the action through dark sorcery, only to be attacked itself and start the cycle anew); a perhaps unintentional but still inescapable sense that life is governed by the arbitrary and capricious whims of a “Duck Amuck”-style demiurge; and the meta-message, expressed through the implicit trust between the participants, that the way forward is to have faith in your fellow travelers not to fuck things up.