“Everybody feels beleaguered at some point, That’s the universal truth of punk, that you are going to feel, in whatever role you’re living, that everybody is against you”
– John Darnielle
Say what you like, Jessica Jones is a character who is at her most compelling when beleaguered, set upon and troubled. Alias reveled in seeing her overcome great odds and her own actions and although her appearances since her own title had her finding some semblance of peace and happiness it’s clear that on returning and picking up her story after over a decade away, Bendis isn’t interested in a happy Jessica either. With original artist Gaydos back on board as well we find our reluctant heroine, with a few tweaks here and there, pretty much back where they left her all those years. This issue finds her fresh out of prison and stubbornly dodging questions about the mysteries mounting up in her own life, her marriage, her incarceration and most importantly what, if anything has happened to her daughter, Danielle.
Barely skipping a beat, Bendis drops us back into her world weary frame of mind as if we were picking up the story from last month, never mind over ten years ago. His characters voices are all distinct and sharp, never more so than when they are giving a knowing wink to the changes in the Marvel landscape since Alias wrapped up. Although it’s comforting to once again to hear Jones’ jaded inner monologue, this time we can most definitely see where it might trip her up. Over the years she’s tussled with superheroes and seen incredible things, but when her new client mentions her husband’s unusual behaviour and outlandish claims of having lived another life, started “eight months ago”, dismissing the obvious answer and leaving us on the edge of our seats as Bendis teases us with a mystery of a character who is either on the con, or an unwitting casualty caught up on the wrong end of Hickman’s recent cosmic reshuffling. Reminded in part of the classic Astro Cities storyline, “The Nearness Of You”, with average citizens caught up in universe altering events they can scarcely comprehend, let alone react against, it sets up one of the books many, many mysteries.
Gaydos’ art for the first issue is as despondent and melancholy as it ever was. His tired and worn out characters set against his un-superheroic, washed out New York City managing to feel both fresh and familiar, emphasising just how unusual his style and tone is to comics even on the second time around. It’s thrilling to see the recently formed Champions striding through New York in Gaydos’ gorgeously grimey and downbeat style as Jessica sits on, suitably nonchalant at the public posturing and heroic antics around her.
“Is she a big deal or not?” asks a prison guard early on in the book, with some firmly tongue in cheek Bendis dialogue, daring the reader to answer. While the more cynical might point out his earlier remarks on having written everything he wanted with Jessica, or the success of this years Netflix show for his sudden return to the world of Alias Investigations. Let’s face it comics are based on “never say never” and this issue seems almost genuinely reluctant to trade on the success of the TV show or even show off about getting the band back together, so to speak, lest the book stray too far from it’s scrappy underdog roots and with a subtle first issue might have just pulled it off. While some might be put off by Bendis’ deliberately slow pacing or knocking Jessica down once more for the sake of restoring her status quo somewhat, the first issue sets up some intriguing conflicts and mysteries, all with the chance of her coming back stronger than ever.
“America. If I was your president I’d have the guts to lie right to your face..and you’d love it!”
In between the twitter fights, promises of wall building and genuinely terrifying calls for the other nominee to be hacked, or shot, whichever, that the actual US Election is still a month away. One. Whole. Month. Easy to see then why we now have writer Christopher Hastings and artist Langdon Foss boldly striding into the oddly familiar political landscape of the Marvel Universe with the satirical, Vote Loki. Like Howard the Duck in ’76, the trickster god throws his horned helmet into the ring ,announcing his intentions to run for leader of the free world.
With the real run up to the elections fresh in everyone’s mind you might think setting a showy, media friendly , rabble rousing Loki right in the centre of things was a bit on the nose, then you’d be right. Broad swipes at the current political climate, general mistrust of politicians and the distracting circus surrounding it all run through the entire series. However for a while this works in it’s favour drawing the obvious parallels between the two and the ridiculousness of both and for a while manages to explore new elements of what at first seems like a simple one joke satire. Part of this is that despite his good looks and sharp tongue, Hastings and Foss have made the former agent of Asgard into a secondary player in his own book. Told from Nisa’s point of view it definitely helps the story seeing it through her eyes in much the same way that Marvels gave us a glimpse of the dawn of the greatest heroes from a street level. Ultimately though it feels as if Nisa isn’t given that much development and even her speech in the rushed final issue can’t help shake the feeling that Nisa didn’t get a lot of agency and like the main story, hers just doesn’t really go anywhere interesting.
Even having a few other Marvel titles to his name it was still surprising to see Langdon Foss, whose art was part of what made his collaboration on Ales Kot’s The Surface so new and exciting. Even with the vastly different styles across their line, Vote Loki still feels like an outlier with it’s very strong indie-creator owned feel. Foss has a unique and style and texture to his work both in terms of characters and settings that feels perfectly suited thematically for a topical, street level title like this. As with “The Surface” and it’s highly detailed and precisely inked surreal landscapes, his work is elevated when drawing the fantastical. Here it’s when the Asgardian’s showboating leads to him using his powers, floating in heroically in issue one surrounded by glowing Nordic knot work. Even when delivering a speech from his podium, Foss’ Loki has a huge and attention grabbing presence. However like the series itself it starts to get very repetitive with the same few locations and the art definitely slips towards the end of the series, with issue four looking noticeably rushed and a little lacklustre.
Vote Loki was a title I really wanted to like, especially considering the team involved, but despite a strong start in the first two issues it really burns through that initial goodwill when the third issue spins it’s wheels telling a story it had already pulled off so well in the previous issue. Once again Nisa brings evidence against Loki, which he spins through the media machine to his own advantage. Given it’s oddly rushed finale that jumps closer and closer to the election every few pages, it’s a shame it squandered the chance to let the story breathe a little or maybe a few more issues to properly flesh out it’s ideas. A fun premise that is let down by a boring repetitive plot, uneven artwork that like Loki’s campaign never really delivers on it’s initial excitement.
Vote Loki is available Wednesday 5th October and collects Vote Loki 1-4 and material from Journey Into Mystery 85 and Avengers 300 (1963)
Even as a kid I was shrewd about my money and quickly learnt that a lot of my passions and obsessions had some truly awful and lazy spin offs, Star Trek being one of the worst offending money grabbing staples of my youth, and one I happily ignored for a decade or two. I’m a fan, but money will always trump slavish devotion to any ‘franchise’, even now. Except somewhere in between then and now licensed properties quietly became, well, kinda awesome. IDW‘s unstoppable Doctor Who or Boom’s magic touch on the seemingly inexhaustible Adventure Time comics, get great ideas and writers and the readers will follow. Even so I’ve been sceptical of my childhood repeat offender until now.
Waypoint is a brand new series from IDW offering up anthology stories from all across the breadth and time of the thankfully lens flare free Prime Universe for all us bitter old school nerds. This time around with two stories, a classic original series story by Sandra Lanz and one that finally got me buying Star Trek comics again, “Puzzles”. Written by Donny Cates and Mack Chater set sometime after the Next Generation, with a mysterious ship appearing, with Data and Geordie sent out to investigate. Not giving too much away, it gives a heady sci-fi spin on Data and Geordie’s unusual but lasting friendship and the preview pages made me smile with where Cates and Chater have taken it and how much they understand the unusual pairing.
Jonesy Vol 1 (Boom Comics)
Collecting all six issues of the colourful, charming and captivating miniseries from writer Sam Humpries and artist Caitlin Rose Boyle. Self described “cool dork” Jonesy, introduces readers to her high school life, spending her time making zines and most importantly, using her super secret power to make people fall in love. A modern day Cupid with converse, plaid and attitude.
Like Allison or Tynion, it’s hard to believe this isn’t written by teenagers. Told from our anarchic math makers point of view the dialogue is snappy and genuine, coupling perfectly with the delightfully brash and vivid cartoon style of Boyle, it would appeal to fans of slice of life fantasy-realism like Scott Pilgrim or Giant Days.
A little bit of a cheat this one given it came out weeks ago, but this second printing is perfect for certain people who despite regularly singing the praises of Boom for the likes of Giant Days and The Spire, Still somehow manages to miss out on delightful new titles like The Backstagers. Written and created by current Detective Comics scribe James Tynion IV and artist Ryan Sigh, it takes the Lumberjanes template of adorable art with an everyday setting with magical elements.This time the magic of the stage that turns out to be very real for the private school theatre crew of the title.
With two openly queer creators at the helm, Backstagers boasts a strikingly diverse queer cast it’s the kind of book I champion, and it’s refreshing already to know it’ll explore the kind of identities and personalities beyond the tired and tested. If ever there was a safe bet, then The Backstagers would be it, already released to rave reviews and praise, it looks to be every bit as heartwarming and welcoming as it’s camp based cousin.
Rumble 14 (Image Comics)
At the risk of repeating myself, this months issue of Rumble is another regular returnee onto my weekly picks, and deservedly so. Aided by the enthusiastic but idiotic Del, Rathraq must face off against his own earthly remains and an impossible decision. With a unique and engrossing mythology, Arcudi and Harren continue to develop their mystical brawl-em-up’s cast of complex and conflicted characters. The question of “what colour darkness” is increasingly “shades of grey” to Rathraq as he faces the consequences of his life long vendetta. Action and intense visuals you can only find on the printed page, Rumble is constantly at the forefront of what makes comics so exciting.
More widely know as the mind behind the winningly inventive self destruction of lapins in the hugely popular Bunny Suicides, Andy Riley also charted the minutia and obsessions of the world as it stumbled blearily into the early noughties in the weekly comic strip Roasted and the venomous wit of reluctant Barista, Karl. On cold Sunday mornings delivering papers (good lord!) it was the one strip I’d read, before eventually chancing upon the neat little collected hardback. It’s an overlooked gem that I’d been looking for an excuse to write about for a while now. Riley’s new book and a recent craving for cereal finally gave me the perfect one!
Originally running in the Observer Magazine for a whopping eight years, Roasted follows the lives of three “coffee shop wasters”. Karl, sardonic, beleaguered and firmly on the wrong side of his thirties and his long suffering co-workers the dim but amiable Nev and the overly anxious Lottie. All three work, or more accurately, have found themselves stuck in a boring but comfortable Coffee Shop gig as they work their way through the early 2000’s zeitgeist with it’s complicated coffee, charity wristbands and iPod inadequacy.
The excuse for this little look back at Roasted is the main reason I finally got around to writing it. It’s funny, I mean really funny. Going out for cereal recently I was encouraged by a health conscious husband to buy Muesli, Bran Flakes or Weetabix, basically anything that wasn’t “choconut choc frosted sugar nut choc loops” in reference to Lottie’s shocking choice of breakfast foods and my own struggle to stay on course and act like an adult in the cereal aisle. It’s unsurprising really, with Riley having worked on Black Books and a number of comedies that Roasted has all the punch of a great sitcom and the same instantly memorable, laugh out loud quotability. For me at least they have wormed their way into my brain alongside all the TV, film and pop culture references and after years of living on my coffee table a lot have become in jokes with friends whenever confronted with similar situations as Riley’s trio.
While it’s only been a scant six years since Roasted ended a lot of the strips are almost cringe inducingly perfect time capsules. “It looks like some mind control device from some nightmare future society” comments Karl on Nev’s Bluetooth headset “It makes you look like an agent from the Matrix” and he’s right. Looking back on these strips in particular it was particularly hard to remember a time before all of these devices became ubiquitous and became socially accepted rather than looking, you know, weird? Ultimately it’s the reliability of the characters and their situations from the bad jobs, terrible life choices and bewilderment at popular culture that still makes it so funny and darkly humorous.
While working on screenplays, pilots as well as his second book in the more kid friendly and brilliantly titled, King Flashy Pants and the Creature from Crong, Andy found time to answer a few questions on the days of Roasted.
Are you ever tempted to revisit the Roasted cast and see what they are up too, or do you think it’s better to leave things rather then revisiting them?
I have drawn them for my own amusement once in awhile, but after the strip ended, I never considered carrying them on somewhere else. I decided I would leave them there, still in that coffee shop. However! I have adapted the face of Karl for the villain in my new children’s book, King Flashypants and the Evil Emperor. It’s an entirely different character though. But you’d recognise the beard.
Reading Roasted back a few of the strips are almost time capsules. The mention of flash mobs made me visibly cringe! Are there any strips in particular looking back that make you despair at the early 00’s?
When you look back at a different time period, it’s always interesting to see how quickly an amazing new thing becomes an accepted part of life. Maybe the second or third strip that I did – So this would be 2002 – was about camera phones. The observation was to do with how sending pictures around really meant that we were all expected to be CCTV cameras aimed at each other, so we would inevitably sacrifice our privacy. And that is more or less what has happened since.
It was the decade when digital technology became something which surrounded us, rather than something which you turned on and off as and when you needed it. I’m still not quite comfortable with that fluffy digital cocoon. Mostly if I look back at these strips, I keep thinking: why didn’t you draw that one better? It took me about two years to really get the hang of drawing the characters. Even then I seemed to get Lottie wrong more times then I got her right. To my eyes anyway. If I cringe its at my own line work when it gets shonky.
The larger strips not included in the book is one of my favorites, what brought about the idea of doing something more epic in terms of the story and the layout with that one?
The Observer magazine gave me extra pages for Christmas and I jumped at it. This happened a few times over the years, but the first one, where Karl goes home for Christmas and meets an ex-girlfriend, then nearly gets hit by a train, is my favourite. They were too big to fit in the compiled book though, sadly.
Do you still prefer to “kick it old school” now in terms of your comics work or do you find yourself using technology in your art since Roasted finished. Why do you think inking and painting works more for you and why did you choose it for Roasted?
I only got a tablet at the beginning of last year. Until then I had never drawn anything on a computer at all. At a young age I learned to draw with pen and ink – the kind of spidery nib which you dip into a pot of Indian ink. I enjoyed it so much, I just couldn’t understand the impulse to draw on a screen. As time went on I rationalised it in a couple more ways: I noticed that The technology was de-skilling parts of the cartoon business. You know, the kind of web comics where people draw the head of the main character, and then just paste that same picture file in again and again with different speech bubbles. That drives me up the wall. Some people won’t even draw heads any more, just letting the machine draw a circle for them. Ugh. So, I thought: I will carry on drawing by hand, and my characters will continue to be expressive from frame to frame, thank you very much. Anyway, i’m not drawing manga where everything must be smooth: I like my style to be a bit blotchy and rough around the edges. software will militate towards making things clean looking, so blotchy stuff actually takes longer on a tablet because you have to add it in on purpose.
At the beginning of last year I made a concerted effort to learn how to draw using Manga Studio, but in the end real pens and paints were getting me the effects I wanted quicker. And here’s the thing I discovered: digital is not necessarily quicker. When I am doing the grey wash on the cartoons for my children’s book, I just use a single number five brush, and I can get so many different effects with just a split second flick of the wrist. On a computer, I would have to scroll through lots of brushes to get all these variations. Drawing on a computer means you can keep taking back what you do. So it opens up a terrible vista of fiddling, fussing, adjusting. I like drawing in a decisive way where you really commit with each line. It’s more visceral. So I don’t use the tablet much. Except for cleaning up the artwork. Removing unwanted smudges, adjusting a tiny line in the wrong place, that sort of thing: infinitely quicker on a computer. Saves me a lot of time with tippex and white paint.
I’m 46, so old enough to have learnt about drawing when digital drawing didn’t really exist. I was just drawing, using physical tools, the way that people had since the dawn of time. It’s how I learnt, and I like it. Back then it wasn’t something I had to justify. In The 21st-century, just carrying on like that has become a stylistic decision as far as the world is concerned. I knew I was out of step when, a few years ago, I did an email interview for a Belgian comics website which asked me, regarding the Bunny Suicides: “do you draw the whole thing on the tablet, or do you sketch with pencil, then scan it in and just do the inking on the tablet?” The idea that I did the entire thing on a sheet of paper, with no tablet involved, simply hadn’t occurred to this person.
Guest artist Rob Davis pits the Art Ops team against a centuries old monster, from a legendary artist rumoured to have painted deaths very essence into a painting in “The Boy Who Painted Death”.
My interest in Vertigo’s Art Ops waned for a few issues when Mike Allred’s art was restricted to him contributing covers, and this months inclusion of Warhol’s Silver Clouds means two of my favourite pop artists in one. This might not be a problem for everyone, but I’m a sucker for Allred’s insane pop art style so the change was slightly jarring at first. Even with Brundage taking over full time art duties, bringing a much rougher hewn style to the page, Art Ops continues to be inventive both in it’s storytelling and visuals to bring us a true sleeper hit.
Howard The Duck 10 (Marvel Comics)
The penultimate issue before we have to say goodbye again to the avian detective and Chip Zdarksy’s hilarious run before he heads off to more cosmic affairs with Star Lord later this year. Last issue saw Howard deep in full meta commentary territory, with ratings chaser Mojo addressing his sporadic appearances in the Marvel Universe over the years. Issue ten promises the reveal of the mastermind behind the ducks most recent series of misadventures. A series that’s continued to be both hilarious and subversive, so let’s hope we aren’t waiting as long for another writer to realise Howard’s potential.
All New Wolverine Annual 1 (Marvel Comics)
In the wake of Logan’s death readers saw Laura Kinney, formerly X-23 taking on the mantle of Wolverine, seeking out clones of herself and aiming to help them whenever possible. An exciting series from the start, Marvel have cemented her as the new Wolverine by embedding her deep into the post Secret Wars landscape with Laura joined by a number of allies this year from Doctor Strange, The Wasp and even Old Man Logan as she unravels the mystery behind her “sisters”. The first Wolverine Annual is no exception, with fan favourite Spider-Gwen swinging in for an all new Freaky Friday-esque story with the character find of the year, Jonathan: Actual Wolverine.
One of the biggest pleasures for me reading and collecting comics this year has been the sheer volume of exciting and interesting anthologies that have been released thus far. Between the ones from the major publishers and kickstarters, it’s been really easy to find something inventive and interesting from complete newcomers to more well known names. I’ve sung it’s praises on here before, a lot I know, but for me Image comics Island is still one of most consistently inventive in terms of content and creators as well as being readily available in comic stores. One of the clear standouts for me so far has to be Tessa Black’s“Seawitch” which was featured way back in Islands third issue.A trans Designer, Illustrator and long time artist from Vancouver, Seawitch is surprisingly Black’s first foray into the world of comics and it’s instantly striking in how confident, fully formed and realised the idea and execution is.
Created over the course of a single weekend, this deliciously unnerving and thoughtful comic depicts a woman stood alone on a beach, before entering the ocean as she begins drifting down to the depths and slowly undressing in a slow build of body horror. Clothing and jewellery and even body parts discarded as she descends to the ocean floor.A long dead pilot the only silent observer on this arresting and quietly unnerving, yet intimate scene. Slowly transforming her body to match the environment around her it culminates on the final page with the Seawitch at ease in her new surroundings, undressed and comfortable in the silent watery depths. For me it’s the collection of smaller moments leading up to this. A series of panels depicts a figure gently pulling a pair of socks, each pulled down with the other foot. It’s an every day act but here it is oddly intimate, sensual but uncomfortable.Black reframes this almost crushingly mundane act and make it feel voyeuristic, a far too personal and intimate an act for us to be witness to.
With it’s clean fluid lines and coloured only in minimal blues it captures the solitude and coldness of the sea, adding in alien, oceanic textures to the figures body. Although it works on a surface level as a slow build body horror, after being lucky enough to talk to Black over e-mail she also expertly uses her first comics creation to communicate her personal experiences of being trans, addressing the idea of clothing as performance and how environment and peoples ideas of us shapes both our identity and form to certain extents.
Before Islands and Seawitch, had you ever considered producing comics before? If so what ideas did you have and what prevented you from making them?
I’ve been around comic artists for a few years, but always felt the burden of their expectations or opinions of certain genres and approaches in the medium. I still don’t consider myself a comic book artist or even an avid reader, but it’d definitely something I’d like to explore.
Did you find yourself changing your approach to drawing a comic rather than single illustrations? How did the idea for the minimalist color palette come about?
I think you can definitely see the change in approach when you compare my regular art with the comic. I was pretty pressed for time, so I would have coloured it with flats in a limited palette if I’d had more time. I still intend to do so when I get some time, so I can re-release it anywhere else. I’d probably add in illustrations on the side, similar to to the work of William Stout, which inspired me greatly as a kid.
On your tumblr, have a run of insect girls, or people with insect parts. What about insects appeals to you? Is it there bodies mostly or also behaviours?
I really like insects for a whole host of reasons. Their anatomy is so different from ours, more similar overall to the things we make than the way we see ourselves as humans. Despite drawing sexy bug ladies, I’m more interested in conforming the layers and segments of insects to conform to a more familiar silhouette.
Also a series brightly colored goo-girls. What attracted you to draw them, the malleability of them or some other aspect?
I like goo girls and shape shifting in general. I’d like to play around with the idea of being able to fluidly present your own body based on subconscious thought. Having a form decided by the subconscious, without being predisposed by genetic or environmental (physical) pressures.
You also mentioned you went through a phase of drawing yourself, what broke this series of drawings, or was it just a desire to move onto something else?
I think I started drawing who I wanted to be just after starting my transition. A lot of folks recommended that to work towards feeling comfortable with my body or thinking about clothing styles. I tried being pretty realistic with how I expected to look, and that shape formed the basis for a lot of my exploration of erotic art.It all started with a fairly simple and cartoony bodies but adapted to become softer and more varied as I experienced changes in my own body. I also get bored of things pretty easy and dislike seeing repetition in themes or processes in my art. I never really had much of a signature style and I’m always much more interested in trying new things than sticking to old ways. It feels like the best way to learn is to shake things up and tackle new directions in art, but that’s just me!
Delivering emotional gut punches and shocking moments, King and Walta’s and heart achingly tale of family, conformity and identity hit’s it’s sure to be devastating endgame. The Visions mission for normality and a places in the world falls apart and promises the violence and inevitable confrontation with his fellow avengers that has been lurking in plain sight since the very first issue. Continually gripping and equally shocking, I can only imagine what the last three issues of what is sure to be known as a classic will bring for the Vision and his family.
Spidey: First Day (Marvel Comics)
Marvel hasn’t exactly left fans desperate for Spider-man related titles in the last few years with readers able to get their arachnid fix in Infamous, Amazing, 2099, Silk and Gwen flavors to name just a handful. Hearing about this new title I was skeptical at first especially in the high school setting the films still obsess over even now. The truth is despite the enduring Image of Peter, he only spent about thirty or so issues actually in High school, which makes it the perfect place to get some old school, no nonsense webslinger stories. This first volume collects writer Robbie Thompson (already a Spider-vetron having written Silk and Venom: Space Knight) and Wolverine and the X-Men Artist Nick Bradshaw. With Peter back in high school and his early career as the wallcrawler, the pair have been creating an essential re-tweaking of this time in our hero’s life. Even within the confines of a soft re-imagining they succeed in thrilling at every turn with the mix of high school drama and updated canonical appearances of classic Spidey villains like Doc Oc. The super detailed work on Bradshaw gives a much needed youthful energy to the book as he did with Wolverine and the X-men.
While I’m thrilled with the major character development and changes Peter Parker has had over the last few years it’s still great to see a book out there for an audience who wants fun, exciting old school Spidey tales.. With Peter back in high school and his early career as the wallcrawler, the pair have been creating an essential re-tweaking of this time in our hero’s life. Even within the confines of a soft re-imagining they succeed in thrilling at every turn with the mix of high school drama and updated canonical appearances of classic Spidey villains like Doc Oc. The super detailed work on Bradshaw gives a much needed youthful energy to the book as he did with Wolverine and the X-men.
While I’m thrilled with the major character development and changes Peter Parker has had over the last few years it’s still great to see a book out there for an audience who wants fun, exciting old school Spidey tales.
My relationship with games could be described as patchy, at best. As I kid I all but destroyed my much loved Megadrive from constant play, but beyond the warm nostalgic 16-bit fuzz I’ve rarely picked up a joypad since. I even had to ask my husband if ‘joypad’ was still a legitimate gaming term just now, deciding on it over ‘controller’. Having played only a handful of games since; Max Payne, Starfox Adventures, and Bit Trip Runner, a video game per generation give or take I’d defiantly not fit anyone’s idea of a gamer. Which is weird, considering that Tim Weeks’ Savestate is currently one of my favorite furry webcomics. In case the name didn’t give it away, the motley crew of Savestate really, really love their video games! Centering around siblings Nicole and Kade regularly joined by their friend Rick ,Elder god Harvey and the demonic entity, Ness on their gaming misadventures. Weeks’ artwork really shines when he draws his characters in the game worlds themselves, showing off well known favorites like Mario Kart in his own charming and polished style, even incorporating animation, such as his crossover with gaming webcomic, Gamercat.
Last year saw another major milestone for Savestate when it was nominated for the comic strip category of the Ursa Major Awards, which are voted upon yearly and intended to award and highlight “excellence in the furry arts”. Although Savestate ultimately came in second it was to Housepets, a comic that has itself been running four times as long and won the category for seven years, consecutively. Moving up from third place the previous year and vastly outstripping much more established furry webcomics, it’s a testament to how well the mix of humor, positivity and gaming culture has built up such a strong and loyal fan base in it’s first two years.
The very first strip found Kade porting over the now infamous glitch Pokemon, ‘MissingNo’ (the easiest glitch to catch, an integral part of Pokemon lore although still considered by Nintendo as simply “a programming quirk”) proving from day one how deeply passionate Weeks is about gaming culture and how central it is to his comic. This last months strips have seen Savestate returning to it’s roots somewhat with the rewed interest in the now 20 year old franchise that came the release of Pokemon GO has started, rekindling the franchise once more. As you’d expect Kade, the consummate gamer lives up to every online scare story by getting himself into places he shouldn’t in order to catch them all!
Again, the highest praise I can personally give Savestate is that even as someone who isn’t a gamer, at all, it still has me engrossed and eagerly awaiting a new strip every Wednesday. Playfully incorporating pop culture and gaming staples in new ways, the comic exudes Week’s passion for video games and why it has quickly become and furry favorite.
Okay, so some basics first, what is your favorite game and console?
Game: Ocarina of Time. It was the smoothest transition from 2D to 3D ever and had a huge “wow” factor in terms of graphics and gameplay. Console: Either the Genesis or SNES, I love 16-bit games. If I had to pick one then SNES, with classics like Star Fox, Final Fantasy III (VI), Chrono Trigger it edges out the Genesis.
How did it feel to come 2nd place in the Ursa major awards, especially very close behind a comic that is now in it’s 8th year? Does it help knowing you’ve built a strong fanbase like this in such a short time, what do you think has captured furries and gamers about your comic?
That was crazy! I thought Savestate could avoid last place, but never to come in second on it’s second year. Now I’ve got to work extra hard to keep that second place. I don’t think anyone is going to dethrone Housepets until Rick chooses to decline his nomination. It’s amazing how quickly the Savestate fanbase grew. When I started the site I was getting something like 300 hits every time I posted a comic which seemed like a lot. What’s most impressive, to me, is that before Savestate I had never really posted any of my art online; so all the hype was generated purely by the comic itself.
I think gamers enjoy the comic because Kade embodies a more child-like sense of gaming. Back when it was more about showing your friends your Pokemon rather than trying to beat them in a battle.I think furries are drawn to the comic because of the art style. I tend to draw things in equal parts cute and cool. I also hope people are enjoying that the comic is PG (or maybe PG-13 when Harvey gets angry). There’s just so much adult material in the furry universe that it starts to drown everything else out. People seem to forget that the furry fandom really started with children’s characters like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny.
Is there any direct analogue of yourself in the comic in terms of characters, if not who do you think you identify with more?
Kade and Nicole are a split of my personality. Nicole was based on our family dog, Mandy. Any personalities I shared with Mandy went to Nicole and what was left over went to Kade. If you combine the two you basically get my messed up brain
.What drew you to using anthropomorphic characters in Savestate?
I’ve loved anthro since Rescue Rangers! Games like Sonic and TV shows like Swat Kats further embedded that fandom. I actually wasn’t even aware “furry” was a thing until I randomly found Havok, Inc in my local comic shop. Even then I thought Chester was a girl for the longest time. :3
A lot of comics like yours heavily reference video games to the point of the characters being shown in the game.Visually are there any game genres of games you wouldn’t include in Savestate or would be too difficult to accomplish?
I won’t do anything adult, so AO rated games are out. If I ever used something violent like Gears of War 4 I’d just limit myself to blood and leave the gore out. I suppose the only other thing I wouldn’t do is a game with extremely simple stylized graphics, like Limbo.
What are your favorite game elements or characters to draw?
Sonic. I could never count how many times I’ve drawn Sonic.I also like drawing the Savestate characters in different game character outfits. It’s fun to try and modify clothes to fit a furry build.
How did including animated elements in certain strips come about? Was it something you were familiar with before or learning as you went?
Animation has always interested me. Mostly traditional animation or the old hand drawn 2D sprites. I love doing facial expressions and animation let’s you really play with that. I’ve dabbled with various forms of animation over the years, but the idea to put in a web comic came from GaMERCaT. That’s why I had to make sure the guest appearance with Gamercat was animated.
What was your experience like working on the recent Starfox strips for Nintendo Force? Nintendo Force is the spiritual successor of Nintendo Power and that comic was a lot of fun. Since the magazine is done by fans I could really do anything, like mention characters from the canceled SNES Star Fox 2 game. The original plan was to print the comic in the December issue which was going to be Star Fox themed to go along with the release of Star Fox Zero, but Nintendo pushed the game back a few months. Since the magazine is crowd funded we decided to print in the December issue anyway since there was no guarantee it would continue. Regardless, it was a lot of fun and I’m really excited that I got the chance to do it. My favorite part of EGM was reading Hsu and Chan. I really miss that comic.
She Wolf #2 (Image Comics) – Last month Rich Tommaso’s gorgeously illustrated and written take on the horror genre, She Wolf introduced us to gabby (her of the title) as her life was thrown into turmoil and intrigue after she is involved with the death of her boyfriend on the schools grounds. Reluctantly returning to classes under the cloud of the entire schools suspicion and fear, she tries to hide a bigger problem and the truth behind that night, lycanthropy.
That is if we are to believe the newly turned teenage shape shifter, as issue one delivered a story that blurs the diction between waking and dreaming, truth and lies. Tommaso’s She Wolf has a completely compelling narrative and structure as he begins to tell Gabby’s story through a dreamlike feverish flow of flashbacks and horrifying imagery. Soon neither reader nor Gabby can tell between the two, demonstrated by the beautifully drawn chase scene that incorporates this slip between states effortlessly. Hopefully issue two will build upon the first foundations as we begin to peel away the layers and discover the truth at the heart of the She Wolf‘s Tale.
Rumble #12 (Image Comics) – Arcudia, Harren and Stewart’s frenzied tale of the undead barbarian Rathraq rolls on into its third arc with its trademark nonstop action and it’s onslaught of punches both physical and emotional. Rumble is the sleeper hit of the year for sure with its frentic fight scenes and deep mythology, with Rathraq finding the modern world filled with shadows and grey moral areas as he fights on for his body and soul.