Something for the Weakened

What I bin lookin’ at

Sunday, June 19th, 2011 by Alastair

In lieu of any actual material, I thought I’d instead direct you all to the webcomics I find myself regularly perusing these days. People more talented than I, producing work more regularly than I ever really manage, who you ought to pay more attention to than me. I am worthless. Bathe in some of this glory, why don’t you.

At first I dismissed Jamie Smart as being a British Jhonen Vasquez knock off, but this has increasingly proven to be a down to my own stupidity rather than any limitations on Smart’s part. His earlier works that I have experienced, Bear and Ubu Bubu, are both very funny and well worth your perusal. What the Americans made of his skewed, UK cultural referencing, I am uncertain, but I certainly found them highly amusing. Haven’t seen his work as the current artist on Desperate Dan (I’m not nine any more), but hear good things about it. Corporate Skull is his current project for ‘grown ups’. I use the term loosely, as it is packed with puerile gags and references to knockers – things that I will always smirk at without fail. Smart’s also mentioned that as well as the gags, there is a larger, overarching plot to the endeavour, which is beginning to emerge 40 or so pages in, which is still less than 10% of the projected length of the whole project. Updated once or twice a week, it’s well worth bookmarking.

I’m sure I’ve banged on about Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield’s Freakangels before, but must mention it again. At time of writing, 138 six page episodes have gone up and there are only 6 left to go. I fear that I’m going to be losing an afternoon reading the whole thing in one sitting in a month and a half. Actually it’s no fear. I’m rather looking forward to it. You can buy hard copies too, but I am sadly poor. And or cheap. You decide.

Terry Laban started out firmly ensconced in the underground, but has slowly worked his way into mainstream territories. He first appeared on my radar when he was creating the comic Cud for Dark Horse, which was still fairly counter-cultural and led to my acquiring most of his work from Fantagraphics, under the same name (still some gaps there sadly – one day they will be mine, oh yes, they will be mine!). Moving further into the mainstream, I followed his writing for Vertigo before he dropped off my cultural radar. After a few years of wondering where he’d vanished to, I learnt that he had started a regular newspaper strip, a form of the art form I generally don’t follow, especially strips only serialised in American papers I have no real access to (interwhat? Nah, don’t use it mate). From what bits I’d seen, it also seemed to be fairly family oriented, so of limited appeal to one as puerile as myself (see above). It was with great joy that I recently discovered that Laban had revived one of his old characters for a webcomic. Muktuk Wolfsbreath, Hard Boiled Shaman first turned up in Cud (as far as I’m aware) and later had his own Vertigo mini series, but is now 40 odd pages into this new tale of his exploits. Apparently created by Laban as part of the Masters degree he sounds close to finishing, the series’ mixing of Chandleresque narration with the life of a shaman in the distant Tundra makes for compelling reading, especially when combined with Laban’s skillful cartooning. Updated two to three times a week.

I’ve certainly mentioned James Kochalaka’s American Elf on many occasions. It’s still going, still updated daily and now documents his daily life over the course of 12 years. Amusing, heart warming, tragic, it basically runs the gamut of all human experience, with Kochalaka’s frank and honest openness a fascinating joy to behold.

Roger Langridge has done so many great things over the years that I’m not even going to try listing them. Online he’s recently just finished serializing Mugwhump The Great, an incredible showcase for his impeccable cartooning skills and incredible ability to deliver a perfectly timed gag. Haven’t read it through in one go yet, but I might just have to. Other comics are available through the act-i-vate site, but I’ve not read any (except for the first Lily Mackenzie strip when it ran in the Megazine, which was alright). Some mighty fine creators there, so they’re almost certainly worth checking out. I might when I have a spare week or so.

Tony Millionaire is still producing Maakies on a weekly basis. It is still extremely funny. If you aren’t reading it, you are a poltroon.

Finally, having spent twice as long on this post than I’d planned, I give you Michael Kupperman’s Up All Night. Kupperman’s Tales Designed To Thrizzle is one of the funniest comics I have ever read and Up All Night continues in the same vein, showcasing Kupperman’s surreal flights of deadpannery and skewing of history. Not actually a webcomic, but, like Maakies, the online iteration of a regular American newspaper strip that I read on a weekly basis in direct contradiction to an earlier statement. The ’serial’ (again, in the loosest of terms) Moon 69 seems to be the main thing going on there, but the one offs are well worth anyone’s attention too. Especially Skull Groin.

That’s it for now. I’ve really spent too long banging on about those better than me already. Read their works. They are good. Any further recommendations would be gratefully accepted/ignored, depending on my mood.

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