The webcomics blog about webcomics

Zhere Wolf. Zhere Castle.

Oh yeah — #werewolfcomics.

  • I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Johnny Wander Volume 1: Don’t Burn The House Down (available at fine online stores starting next Monday), and I couldn’t put it down. What Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya have created is nothing less than a more modern, authentic-feeling, young-adult (in the sense of being out of college, not in the sense of a “Young Adult” reader) version of Archie.

    Bear with me a moment.

    The thing about Archie comics (and JWV1:DBTHD approximates the size and feel of the Archie digests) is, you don’t need to have been reading for the past 70 years to know that Archie Andrews is Everyteen, Reggie’s a jerk, Veronica’s a snob, Jughead’s most likely asexual, and Betty is freakin’ insane. You can pick up literally any Archie story ever written, and by the end of the story (frequently only six or eight pages) you know who these characters are and what their typical behaviors will be. It’s self-contained, self-explanatory, and above all, as accessible to the first time reader as to the obsessive fan.

    And that’s what maybe sets Johnny Wander, essentially an autobio webcomic, apart from most of its contemporaries. No in-jokes or mythologies, no history that’s needed to read the current update and get a laugh-chuckle in return. Whoever these people are, they’re funny. Reading from the beginning makes them funnier and more “real”, but the barrier to entry is nil, and that is a significant accomplishment. As Yuko and Ananth (one rarely sees them referred to singly, except as a merged hybrid creature) note in the back matter, this c’mon in the webcomic’s fine approach was deliberate:

    Comics like Yotsuba&! have a universal appeal that doesn’t require an ecyclopedic geek knowledge, and that’s what we began striving for.

    Not only did they hit what they were striving for, Yotsuba&! may be the only short vignette model comic that is guaranteed to make me smile more than Johnny Wander. Next time I see Yuko and Ananth (mecha or otherwise), the Beard Papa’s is on me (that sentence actually is grammatically correct, and the shop is right around the corner from my office, yay). Now, exactly do I have to pour ants on to get Volume 2?

  • Puppets! Moviemaking! Progress! Steve Troop’s Melonpool photo set (with video coming soon).
  • Quite a bit of discussion of some various It Moves! type webcomics; I got tipped off to one that’s particularly implemented in HTML5 (although somewhat hilariously, it doesn’t like my use of HTML5-compliant Opera and recommends I install forbidden-from-my-computer IE9). I’m deeply torn about these (and let me stress I’m not talking about any particular comic right now, just the idea of semi-interaction within the comic offering).

    On the one hand, webcomics, should be open to things you can’t do in print, push the boundaries, I get it. On the other hand, when there’s so much going on, characters moving around, panels shifting and fading, it’s like the comic is driving the reading experience instead of me. It puts me almost irretrievably in mind of an old Life In Hell where young Bongo the one-eared rabbit was asked why TV is the coolest invention ever: When you’re tired, TV does the playing for you. As always, your thoughts are welcome.

You say Johnny Wander has no in-jokes? Have you been reading the same JW as me? 50% of JW is inside jokes, then 25% is quite nonsense and the other 25% is non-inside joke nonsense that you might laugh at. It’s an autobio that’s main audience is Yuko’s real life friends.

I have to disagree, Goatu. I am a purely online reader – the only contact I have had with the cast of Johnny Wander is in merchandise related e-mails. Johnny Wander isn’t made of inside jokes, although I’m sure there is quite a bit going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. But it has a universal appeal and a identifiable parallel to EVERYONE’s life that makes it a winning webcomic – and one that has won MY heart.

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