The webcomics blog about webcomics

Review, Preview, Recap, And Commerce

This day in Great Outdoor Fight history: I think it rests in the heart of every person — some deeply, some closer to the surface — the desire (if not always the opportunity, or the inclination) to make the metals kiss and the fuel turn lively. This time it is Ray that has the plan, and he has set Beef down and pointed him in the direction of victory.

  • There’s probably no indie creator with as recognizable a style that can be put to as many different contexts as Sophie Goldstein. Her artwork is slightly cartoony, and in the bright, colorful expression that you had in Darwin Carmichael Is Going To Hell you got the world’s cutest Apocalypse with a subtle, existential melancholy underneath. The environmental degradation of The Oven made use of her tendencies towards stark iamges.

    Her sense of blocky color is at its most Kochalkaesque in The Good Wife, providing a startling contrast with the body horror of the plot. Comics as different as Strands and Coyote clearly come from the same artist — and the very cynical undercurrent of the stories from the same writer — but have very different feels. Everything she does is at once the same and different.

    And most same and different of them all is House of Women, the first part of which garnered Goldstein an Ignatz Award in 2014, and the second part of which has been recently released in Goldstein’s store She was kind enough to send me a PDF copy recently and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

    Because that same style — that simple, clear style, no more lines than are absolutely necessary — is working overtime in House of Women, tackling such themes as colonization, homogenization, appropriation, gender (the males we see may as well be separate species from their corresponding females), and the breakdown of a sororal religious order as women lose the roles they chose for themselves (maiden, mother, and crone are there, but so is a fourth, a combination of the other three) and find themselves at odds.

    At first it seems to have a dim view of the titular Women — they land on a planet with the express purpose of capital-c Civilizing the poor, benighted, unenlightened, stupid natives for the benefit of their Empire — blundering about, sure of the rightness of their cause. The local advance agent — a male from Back Home, but alien in his own way — seems to be more in tune with the local planet and its natives, but he’s exploitative in his own way.

    The Women, in turn, are motivated by such noble impulses as Seeking Knowledge, Duty, Sacrifice, and Kindness, but not all those impulses turn out to be benevolent. Meanwhile, their notions of What Is Right clash against the implacable reality of biology on their alien world to tragic ends.

    Everybody’s convinced that they’re doing the best most sensible thing possible in whatever circumstances present themselves, and that’s the cause of all the troubles — nobody’s asking Do you need help? when Here’s what you need to do is available as an alternative. There’s greater tragedy coming in Part III, no doubt, and while some of it is beyond anybody’s control, a great deal is down to thinking that frontiers and other cultures are things to be messed about with. It’s an affecting, lingering read.

  • For those of you that missed the news, the newest Girl Genius book collection — The City of Lightning¹ — has gone up for pre-order on Kickstarter; as of this writing, more than 800 backers have contributed in the past three days, bringing the project to bout 75% of its US$70,000 goal. Which, granted, it a heck of a lot of money, but Kaja & Phil Foglio put together heck of beautiful books, on heavy paper, with eye-popping color (by Cheyenne Wright) on every page, and plenty of extras. Given that they historically see 3000-4000 backers, expect this one to go to the 2.5x to 3x funding level over the next three weeks.

    And look, this is the fifteenth Girl Genius collection², plus all the other print collections that the Foglios have done over the past couple decades, so they know this game. The art will be done (the strips in question ran from January to November of last year), the production work will be submitted on time, and the finished product will be in your (my) hands on time in July. The only reason not to pledge now is because you expect to see Professoressa & Professor Foglio some time after July and want the visceral thrill of handing them money in person. Me, my luggage is gonna be full enough at San Diego, so I’m pledgin’ now.m There, I just pledged.

  • If I were to name one person that I never would have met but for this blog, one person who I cannot imagine at this date being absent from my life, it would be KB “Otter” Spangler of A Girl And Her Fed. I discovered her strip in the summer of 2006 and got hooked pretty instantly; one AGAHF collection³, four tie-in novels, multiple minicomics, several terroristic threats against my person and sanity, numerous Thin Mints, and one trampling by her bear-sized dog later, Spangler and I are great friends.

    Oh yeah, her comic and her novels are stronger than ever. So there’s nothing for it but a retrospective:

    The comic will be ten years old in April! What better time to start releasing the archives on tumblr with occasional snide remarks?

    Keep in mind that Spangler’s art has come a long way in ten years, and that she’s done multiple passes at old strips to improve the art from its original state, but that her redos stop just shy of 100 strips in so pretty quickly we’ll be back to the no-eyes style that I still think of fondly (albeit with occasional snide remarks of my own). S’gonna be fun.

  • Oh, and did I mention up top that it’s Sophie Goldstein’s birthday today? And that to celebrate, she’s letting original pages from The Oven go for US$85 each, domestic shipping included? It’s her first sale of originals in years, so check out what’s still up for grabs before you miss out.

Spam of the day:

While we don’t know what the smitten Instagram star will wear on her big day

I know, I know, context is for the weak, but trust me — that sentence made absolutely zero additional sense in context.

¹ You didn’t think sparks were going to stop at mere Light, did you?

² In fact, there is a backer level that will get you all fifteen books if you’ve slacked off until now.

³ Disclaimer: I wrote the foreword.

RSS feed for comments on this post.