The webcomics blog about webcomics

Defining Moments

Sometimes, you come across a comic and you’re convinced that this is what the creator(s) regard(s) as their defining work (at least to date). There’s previous stuff from them, and later stuff, but this is where they plant a flag and pour their heart and soul into it even if that wasn’t their original intent.

It can be fairly obvious where that labor of love is (case in point: The Abominable Charles Christopher, running in fits and starts but Karl Kerschl will always come back to it) and sometimes there’s so much work, so good, so invested, that you aren’t sure if you’ve seen it yet (case in point: I’m not sure if Box Brown would regard any of his projects that way, although I suspect either the André or Andy Kaufman bios could come closest).

But I think the key indicator is not only somebody making a great work, but finding ways to return to it, no matter what gets in the way. Which is a long way of saying that for Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh, I think Barbarous fills that role for them. They’ve done plenty of great work, together and individually, and it’s hard to get more personal than an autobio diary strip¹, but I think that the depth of character and sheer artistic skill on display in their story of a magic school dropout and her unconventional familiar pal just may be their defining work.

And lucky for you, it’s at the perfect point to get caught up — five story arcs² comprising Season 1 (with some canon side-stories drawn by pals starting next week), with infinite re-readability (every time I go back, there’s more layers that reveal themselves), and best of all — a beginning, middle, and end such that if we have to wait until never for Season 2 (because they are busy folks, and there’s paying jobs to get to), it’ll still feel complete while making us want more.

Hirsh and Ota have decades of comic-making experience between them³, all leading to this deceptively deep story; they’ll have more in the future, some that may be better known or more widely read, but I really do think this is where they will look back after a long and lauded career and say Yeah, that one could only have been told by us.

Spam of the day:

Dear Valued Candidate,
You were recently nominated as a biographical candidate for the next edition of Who’ s Who In America. We are pleased to inform you that the first phase of your candidacy was approved! Your prompt response is needed to ensure your complete professional information is considered.

I haven’t seen this particular scam since I was in high school. Respect for pulling out the deep cut.

¹ One that, a dozen years on, makes you wonder if you want to keep sharing your life with strangers on the internet forever.

² Including one that was the NCS Division Award winner for Online Comic — Longform for 2018. The first two of which are collected into massive oversized print editions, and the third is in the fulfillment pipeline, and the fourth just completed its funding round. Me? I’m waiting for the inevitable Season 1 omnibus.

³ Also, they are cool people and have been to my house and pet my dog.

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