The webcomics blog about webcomics

Is Art Necessary? Hell Yes, But Maybe We Can Work Something Out

First up, a quick note from the Energizer Bunny of webcomicdom — Kevin & Kell, which has as good a claim on the title of “oldest continuing webcomic” as any contender I’m aware of, is releasing its thirteenth book next month. If, as they say, half of success is just showing up every day, Bill Holbrook’s a pretty damn successful guy. More details here.

Down to business. Recently received in my email:

Øyvind Thorsby wrote:
Hitmen For Destiny has reached 100 strips.

Short and to the point, I like that. A webcomic I’d not heard of, that’s good. And non-English character in the name? Gold. That was almost as far as I got, because Hitmen For Destiny is, sad to say, damn ugly. Not merely primitive in its art, but really, really, eye-hurtingly painful. Holy Assmaster I thought, it’s User Friendly with freakin’ big heads.

But we’ve talked about this before — the question of whether or not writing alone is enough to carry a strip. We’ve considered situations where the art is as minimal as will get the idea across, or deliberately taken out of the equation, but this is a case of Can writing save a strip where the art is just bad?

I think it might. There’s a clever idea serving at the core of Hitmen For Destiny — a pair of cadaverous (and in at least one case, otherwordly) goons work for Destiny (the proverbial Destiny — the anthropomorphic personification of What Will Be) making sure that prophecies come true, by killing anything that might get in the way. That’s a really interesting idea, but you have to sort of tease it out; it’s not explicitly presented to you. Along the way, a quite normal young lady gets thrown into a mix of prophecy fulfillment (even if she doesn’t realize it), leading to a cavalcade of bizarre monsters and absurd situations.

But balance that against the fact that Hitmen For Destiny contains an installment titled In which my throat inflation fetishist readers are catered for. Be warned: that link contains exactly what it promises.

Despite the visuals (and even if you didn’t click on that link, it’s in your head now — I had to see it, you have to see it, too) there’s a gleeful tone to the batshit insanity of it all, and even if 100 strips later the art hasn’t significantly improved from the first strip, damn if I couldn’t say I was curious to see what happened next. The story meanders, and the central conceit of an army of goons making sure Things Happen is only rarely addressed, but I wanted to see just what kind of whackjobbery Thorsby would come up with next.

If nothing else, a series of three different sets of antagonists fighting out in three-and-a-half different places in a house (there’s these portals, see, and they skitter around, and … nevermind, just read it yourself), with quick cuts from one confrontation to another, and space becoming not just where the action takes place, but an active component of the scene — it’s obvious that Thorsby is really trying to show us something that we haven’t seen before, and if the visuals don’t match up to the concept, I’m finding myself not entirely caring about the visuals. Except for the throat-inflation thing. That’s just — ew.

I’ve been following this strip for a while, and yeah the art is pretty terrible. (You can see similar stuff on things Thorsby did for Whispered Apologies: But the story is really pretty engaging, and I find myself brightening up whenever I see a new update pop up in my RSS reader.

Of course writing can carry a comic. If it can’t I’m royally screwed.

I hope you know you will be charged as an accomplice to the crime of eye-rape for showing that to people.

[…] may recall: Øyvind Thorsby; creator of the nearly 600-installment Hitmen for Destiny, which upended the notion that art is necessary to a webcomic with its weird, compelling story. Thorsby is back with a new webcomic — onewhich features […]

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