The webcomics blog about webcomics

Wha? Oh, Right, Posting

Today, I’m going to talk about some of the books I got in San Diego — two of which were provided by the authors for free, so feel free to take that into account as you read my impressions.

  • First up, Wapsi Square book 3, The Timekeeper’s Daughter, has convinced me I may have to stop reading Wapsi Square on a daily basis. Because holy crap you guys, it’s so much better in collected form. This is where the mythology and universe-building of the strip really takes off, and Paul Taylor’s story (of which I suspect we’re getting to see maybe 20% of what’s in his head) just doesn’t have the same impact on a day-to-day basis as it does reading a couple years worth at once. We’re at that midpoint to the story, where the heroes (who are all heroines) finally realize what they’re up against, but do not yet have any idea how to achieve their goals.

    Understand, I’ve been reading Wapsi for more than half a decade now, and it was only on finishing TTD that it really hit me: for the world to be saved, there are going to be casualties. Sacrifices. Bubbly Monica and flaky Shelly will bear the costs of the universe getting to continue, and that’s a pretty big tab to settle. Taylor only has about three years to wrap things up before the Mayan calendar resets in 2012 and everything we know … just … stops … and starts over again a few dozen millenia ago. I liked Wapsi Square in small doses, but I really like it in big chunks.

  • Next, the first collection of Punch an’ Pie, and understand: here be spoilers. What we have heah, is failure to communicate. Angela loves Heather. Heather loves Angela. They bite the bullet, move in together, adjust to each other, meet families and co-workers and never quite get into the habit of talking to each other instead of past each other. The tension of unresolved (even unacknowledged) issues ramps up so slowly at first, and then just becomes part of the background noise of who these characters are, that when the in-retrospect-inevitable breaking point is reached, it hits like a punch in the gut with the added insult of a pie to the face.

    And that’s how far creators Aerie (words) and Chris Daily (pictures) planned things with Pa’P — nearly eight months of strips to get Angela past the first grownup relationship to the first grownup crisis so that the strip could really start documenting the process of actually becoming a grownup. It’s slightly cruel to end the book there, where the crisis that breaks down Angela will hang with the reader until the second (and later) volume(s) can tell how she gets put back together again.

    It’s a hell of a cliffhanger, and anybody that reads through to the end will doubtlessly want to know what happens next. It’s online, Bunky, but if you read the book then rush to that link, you owe it to the creators to set aside some money for the purchase of the next book, when it becomes available. Many thanks to Aerie and Chris for providing the review copy.

  • Lastly (but not leastly), I’d like to talk about Randy Milholland’s second comic book presentation of Super Stupor (so far available to those that pre-ordered it, hopefully available to all and sundry soon, ’cause it’s really good). The first SS strips made me laugh, as Milholland (who’s simultaneously one of the sweetest, funniest guys I’ve ever met, and the possessor of maybe the evilest sense of humor ever) brought his skewed worldview to bear on the cliches of superheroics.

    Then came the fourth strip, and with it the definitive rebuke to one of the laziest, most disturbing cliches in modern capes comics (and more broadly, much of the popular arts) — that’s when I knew that something special was bubbling up, and it prompted me to hound Milholland until he agreed to sell me the original art.

    But while the dissection of supers worked well in short, mostly-disconnected one-shots, the comics really pull them together. And surprisingly to me, the most prominent theme in SS #2 isn’t about turning the cliches on their heads; it’s one of the most honored (and poorly used by lesser writers) traditions in the world of capes: redemption. A villianess wants to change for the hero she accidentally loves. A hero wants to make up for his derelictions while in the arms of a villianess. A third- (if he’s lucky) or fourth- (if he’s being honest with himself) string hero wants to do what’s right, no matter how much of a fuckup he thinks he is (which is nearly as much as some of his colleagues believe).

    It’s remarkably well done, with a depth of character that caught me by surprise but shouldn’t have. After all, Milholland is the master of presenting us with characters that should be rightly loathed, then organically dragging them kicking and screaming (and us along with them) into people that we can’t help but like. They’re trying, in both senses of the word: trying to be better than they are, and often trying our patience at the same time. SS#2 is a nice, fat comic book, and the best use of five bucks I could have had at the convention had Randy not gifted me with a copy.

    Beg, borrow, or steal it, and if you like capes comics and want to see them do well, send copies to every editor you can find at the big publishers — this is how superheroes should be done (and they’ll really like the back-up story, a nastily hilarious bit about a sentient, evil tumor that provides weak-egoed types with sentient, evil cleavage or a sentient, evil package; very, very funny, and very, very wrong, especially Arch-Angela’s last line).

RSS feed for comments on this post.