Three appreciations for comics on the web

Two very short, one very long. (The comics themselves, I mean.)

(Considering everything else going on in the world in these past weeks, it seems unreal that I can sit down to write a blog post about comics.)

His Face All Red was Emily Carroll‘s comic offering for this past Halloween, and is one of my favorite works in any medium, ever.

…EVER.

From the first panel onwards, the comic’s atmosphere is one of unspoken strangeness and menace, backed by Carroll’s psychologically acute storytelling. (I always love the simple humanity of Carroll’s characters, whether narrated or purely illustrated; here she creates as much sympathy and pity for her downtrodden, haunted protagonist as she does trepidation.) Add in the fact that the wickedly clever layout turns the physical act of reading a webcomic – every stretch of scrolling, every click to the next page – against the viewer, and the suspense and anxiety build to unbearable levels. The last, horribly silent pages had me unnerved to the point of physical discomfort.

I’ve also been trying to find the time to catch up on Carroll’s more recent comics work: a mythical love story for Valentine’s Day, and a series of dream journal-snippets – many of them just as eerie as His Face All Red, from the looks of it.

Ryan Andrews’ Nothing is Forgotten hit me in much the same place that Studio Ghibli films do. With the same sweet, thoughtful gravity, and edged with that frisson of the inexplicable, the comic offers a glimpse at the life of a grieving boy, and an odd encounter he has in the woods.

Every wordless, monochrome panel – just ink and soft-grained, digitally applied textures – is so beautifully composed that you could frame it. They’re perfect compressions of action and emotion, light and shadow. This one in particular had me tearing up. (It’s an emotional “spoiler,” so don’t click till you’ve read the whole comic.) Like Carroll, Andrews also turns the process of scrolling into a means to establish pacing and mood.

I originally found the comic via Andrews’ blog post detailing his artistic process, which really gives you an appreciation for the care put into each panel.

Finally, Digger, Ursula Vernon‘s epic yarn of a no-nonsense wombat transported by an errant tunnel to a land of territorial hyenas, oracular slugs, and veiled warriors in the service of a talking statue of Ganesh, concluded this Thursday after a run of over 4 years.  I’d been reading since sometime in 2008, and I did NOT see that coming. Raise a glass! I’ll miss having Digger to cheer up my Tuesdays and Thursdays.

– E

2 thoughts on “Three appreciations for comics on the web”

  1. “is one of my favorite works in any medium, ever.

    …EVER.”

    Wow. That is some high praise. I’ve been looking for some good webcomic material, thanks for the links!

  2. Glad to share; hope you enjoy/have enjoyed them!

    Yeah, my love for Emily Carroll’s work is great. Beyond my enjoyment of the visuals alone, I think she has a rare combination of storytelling ability and a knack for creating characters with (for lack of a less cheesy word) heart. Even when they’re archetypal, her characters feel real and solid to me, never clichéd. Partly it’s the visual details – the facial expressions and body language and stray hairs and scuffed-up clothes and so on.

    /spewing admiration!

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