“A power pad is not a thermal blanket!”-Tim Weeks’ furry video game webcomic, Savestate!

anthro, anthropomorphic, artist spotlight, comic, Comic spotlight
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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.

 
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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

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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.
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Savestate is updated every Wednesday. Tim also has a gallery of his other work over on his deviant art page and can also be found on twitter.

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“Why build one when you can build two for twice the price” First contact with fandom in Associated Student Bodies and Fur-Piled

anthro, anthropomorphic, artist spotlight, comic, Comic spotlight, Uncategorized

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It was at a convention, talking about comics that a friend of mine suddenly declared to some dismay, “Wow, there’s probably furries now who didn’t start out by reading Associated Student Bodies”. It was funny at the time but since then I’ve heard a few people echoing the sentiment. It made me wonder if with the constant influx of new and younger furs if the things we held dear are even still relevant? It’s the way it should be and new ideas, books and shows are the lifeblood of any community to keep it thriving. Everyone has their own story of how they discovered and engaged with the fandom. For myself after finally stumbling upon the fandom and discovering that this strange collection of interests had a name, Associated Student Bodies was one of my first experiences of anthropomorphic fiction that wasn’t connected to a TV show or a movie. The college based coming of age story told from the point of view of Daniel, a young lion away from home for the first time and discovering himself and reconciling his faith with his sexuality. In the early days and the rush of finding this new community it felt thrilling, exciting and deliciously naughty to read. I’d be the first to admit that it seems innocently and oddly quaint by today’s standards as well as indulging in a lot of tropes. It’s a little dated and my fondness for it stems from mostly nostalgic reasons and it doesn’t help that is once again out of print.

 

Leo Magna’s Furpilled and recently the more launched Perception feel like the natural, modern successors to Associated Student Bodies and definitely present a more updated take on the slice of life style it was famous for. Furpilled itself was completed and is a few years old by now but despite winning a few awards, I feel like it didn’t get the attention it deserved at the time and that Magna isn’t as well know as he should be. His comics almost always centre around LGB relationships with Furpilled following the escapades of a group of such friends, revolving around Arthur Husky and his burgeoning relationship with the mysterious Saetto. Through five volumes Magna charts the ups and downs of LGB life in California and while other works featuring a lot of the cliches that come with the genre would have put me off, it’s his strong grasp of characters and their motivations that takes them beyond this, slowly revealing the casts deep and rich inner lives.

His latest comic Perception is once again concerned with LGB relationships, but whereas Furpilled starred a group of out and proud character’s, Perception is the opposite. Joe is a frat boy, in deep turmoil over his sexuality and constantly on edge over being discovered by his homophobic, hyper masculine fraternity brothers. Both comics have LGB lives at their core, while approaching them from two completely different perspectives. While it’s not as instantly likable as Furpiled ,perhaps because of it’s uncomfortable subject matter and so far dislikable frat boy cast, it is showing itself to be a little more broad and complex. Dealing more overtly with the homophobia still experienced by many even now, it already feels like it’s the perfect companion piece and thematic sequel to his Furpilled run.

Since writing this Leo has restarted Furpilled and did a wonderful interview with me . It’s still free to read in it’s entirety online or available in five volumes from SofaWolf Press. The print versions to lose points for not reprinting a colour element on one page of the comic, taking away lot of it’s impact. Trust me you’ll know it when you see it. Perception is being funded exclusively through Magna’s Patreon site from as a little as $1 per month.

“Our World” Touching and heartfelt story from Zdarsky and Fish

anthro, anthropomorphic, review, Uncategorized

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last issues surprising finale saw the unexpected arrival gender swapped counterparts of both Howard and his one-time cell mate Rocket Raccoon, this along with the success of other gender swapping titles such as the hugely popular Spider-Gwen made had me expecting writer Chip Zdarsky to take a few well intentioned and light hearted jabs at this popular but not unwelcome recent trend in Marvel comics. Instead he continues to constantly surprise, this month crafting the most heartfelt, touching and utterly captivating issue of his Howard the Duck run so far. Instead of the titular fowl, Zdarksy instead centres the action on his new creations Shocket and Linda and delves into the pair’s back story.

This being a Howard-less issue is perfectly conveyed by regular collaboratorJoe Quinones beautiful cover, and with the artist on a break this month art duties fall to Veronica Fish who will also be lending her considerable talents for two issues of Robbie Thompson’s Silk in February. Coming in at a point in the story with new characters and a flashback in makes perfect sense and feels like a natural move to include a guest artist and her cartoony style is a lovely fit for both the characters and the story. Bold and expressive she draws an achingly cute Shocket and Linda in all their short, adorable glory and small moments like Shocket reassuring her sister, muzzle full of corn on the cob make for some amazingly cute and emotional moments. Just when the pages start to seem too regimented and strict in their panel layout, some subtle tricks and touches such as skipping twenty-five years over three panels and literally breaking the borders of the panels shake things up. Although next month marks the return of Quinones, I hope it doesn’t mean the last we will see of Fish on Marvel titles in the future.HOWARD2015B002-int3-3-d8bf5HOWARD2015B002-int3-4-05089Steeped in Marvel lore and featuring clones and time travel this is pure comics. Inventive, silly and funny but with a real heart and emotional pull, in equal parts from Zdarksy’s writing and his new created characters. Introduced last issues for a brief single page shock ending, Linda and Shocket are a big reason that this book is so wonderful. The pair’s entire back story is told in this single issue and yet it never seems rushed or cluttered, despite the number of things thrown into the mix. Taking time to define them as unique characters in their own right he develops the sister’s personalities and fleshes them out beyond their seemingly simple gender bent origins, emphasizing both the similarities and differences to their male counterparts. A lot of the issues sweetest moments are to be found in the girl’s unusual but loving family unit with initially reluctant father Dee, who quickly falls for the strange duo. I found myself completely invested over the course of a handful of pages and was left looking forward to seeing their interactions with Howard and Tara next issue. As a writer Zdarsky has become more ambitious in his storytelling and writing. Later in the story, on meeting a younger, angrier Silver Surfer Dee calms the Herald with an impassioned and honest speech about his future, some of the best he has ever written not to mention the issues heart-breaking conclusion.

Between them Fish and Zdarksy have put together an amazing and sweetly touching issue filled with perfect character moments. Howard the Duck continues to be a series I am completely in love with. Both funny and smart, Howard and companies adventures continue to consistently strike the perfect balance between humour and heart.

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Also posted on Graphic Policy

“Fashion is for fashion people Get out there now and break the rules”-Leon Rozelaar’s “Sick Threads”

anthro, comic, Comic spotlight, Uncategorized

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Sick Threads is a delightful little eight page, done in one comic by Leon Rozelaar. Described as “a short comic about aesthetics”, I was lucky enough to pick one up at Thought Bubble earlier this month. Part comic, part fashion spread it stars a style tribe of hip young animal characters in adorable and stylish outfits out shopping as they trawl the racks, hunting down the perfect ensemble.

It’s a really cute, clever little comic and Rozelaar conveys entirely through images the importance that clothing can have, what they say about a person and the importance of finding something that’s just right for many people to either express their individuality or declare their alliance with a certain subculture. His figures move between clothing displays, the rails running along the panels as he deftly incorporates them into the layout. He has an eye for detail in both the items of clothing, detailed with patches, buckles and spikes as well as the way they are shown in close ups on high end shop displays. Later, our fashionistas are shown customising their finds and wearing them in distinct ways. Cutting up jeans and rolling up sleeves for unique details, rather than sticking to the generic off the peg look. As with the comic itself, little touches say a lot.

Rozelaar has a style that instantly reminded me of two other artists who use both use anthropomorphic characters and street fashion into their comic work, Jim Medway with his story of bored inner city kids, Playing Out and Louis Roskosch, creator of the aimless duo Leeroy and Popo. The full comic is still available to view in it’s entirety online for free, but its well worth your time and money to contact the artist to check if he has any copies of the wonderful printed version he produced for Thought Bubble.

More of Leon Rozelaar’s work can be found over on his art blog and he is currently available for commission work.

Something Awesome: Catching up with comics

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This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now. At first I was worried about revisiting certain comics or artists so soon after I’d first written about them. However I’ve always believed that it’s important to offer continued support and exposure rather than covering something once and leaving it to twist in the wind. So, here are three comics I’ve written about this year that need updated information or other small things that are interesting, but don’t necessarily warrant a full post in their own right.

“The roadside weeds became part of them”- Nonsense’s new home

If you’re looking for Francis Marshall’s comic Nonsense that I covered early this year, then it is indeed back and being updated regularly! The first arc is now complete with Marshal having gone back and redrawn the original handful of pages, with a few tweaks in the story. While it omits a character I talked about originally, it does make the story a lot more focused. Showing the effects of anxiety with an unmistakably dour British outlook, it’s definitely worth catching up on.

Be sure that you update your bookmarks as it now resides on it’s own tumblr rather that the site I originally listed. My previous pieces on Nonsense and the short comic Solstice can be found here and here.

“Something sensed but unseen”- Emily Rose Lambert’s extended Dreamscape

At the start of July I covered a small comic I became quite enamoured by, Emily Rose Lambert’s Dreamscape. In time for the Shake Bristol ‘zine fair last weekend Emily drew and printed an extended version, now eight pages long with a thick cardstock cover.

She was kind enough to send me a copy in the post this week along with a very touching note and a copy of her adorkable teeny-tiny mini comic, Feel Better. This cute little comic stars a melancholy elephant as he seeks the aid of others to, well, feel better. Both will soon be available, so keep an eye on Lambert’s site over the next few weeks.

“Heelface turn. Between the rowdy randles”- Wrestling with Rory Morris and J Bearhat’s new comic, Small Teeth

I have a tendency to over think the majority of my articles or go overboard and write way, way more than anyone would reasonably expect. So with the post about Rory Frances’ “Boys Are Slapstick” I wrote it over an hour one afternoon, said all I had to say about his comic and posted it before I had a chance to worry about it. The post has literally had more views than most of the other posts combined and has been viewed at least once a day since it was posted, go figure.

While I still intend to write about his longer ongoing comic, Big Teeth when he returns to it I’m still thoroughly enjoying the shorter comics he’s producing in the interim. Little Teeth is Frances’ latest comic scripted this time around by ‘zine maker J BearhatI’m reliably informed by Rory that the ‘teeth’ connection in the title is purely coincidental and the comics unrelated beyond featuring another cast loveable, anthropomorphic, unlucky in love slackers. Rendered in reds and blacks it’s another example of Morris’ eye-catching art style.

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Webcomic Spotlight:  Skin Deep and the hidden world of Kory Bing’s beloved monsters

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“All over folklore and mythology you find dragons, sea serpents and ghosts. Nessie, Mermaids, bigfoot, The chupacabra. Did you think people just made those up for fun?”

Shy college freshman Michelle Jocasta is away from home and out on her own for the first time. Quickly becoming fast friends with some unusual residents of her dorm, the unfeasibly tall and green haired Jim, the perpetually sullen Greg and bubbly roommate Merial. Settling into a routine of study, deadlines and essays it’s an encounter with a mysterious hooded figure that changes her life in more dramatic ways as she is thrust into a world she never knew existed, one which is hidden between the cracks of our world, or more often in plain sight. One filled with magic and danger, hidden cities, punk rock pegasuses and rockabilly wolves. With medallions and ‘super advanced magic’ the magical citizens of Skin Deep stay hidden amongst humans. Even within this strange world Michelle is still unique, discovering her ‘turning’ has revealed her to be the last of the sphinxes, a race that along with dragons were once believed to be extinct.

Visually wonderful and filled with fascinating characters and backdrops, Bing’s sense of wonder and love of mythology is clear in every panel as she populates her world with creatures and drawn from every corner of fantasy, and a wide rang of mythologies, revelling in the unique and the obscure. It shows an astounding amount of research and appreciation of the subject as Skin Deep has so far featured a whole bestiaries  worth of mythical beasts ranging from well known ones; your dragons, satyrs and centaurs to the more esoteric such as totem animals of the Native American and African myths or harpies from classical greek legends. Some such as the creepy yet lovable bugbear Alex, whom I was convinced had to be an original creation turns out to be a form of Hobgoblin from English myths, only slightly tweaked  and expanded upon here. The rules of of her setting, with the medallions the characters wear allow characters to use midforms, a form anywhere between their real and illusionary forms which  gives some truly imaginative and unique designs with a combination of features. Many often appear in human-ish forms like Jym, gangly green haired with a gryphons beak and paws.

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One of the many joys of independent webcomics is witnessing an artist’s skills develop over time. Bing has been nothing more than exceptional over the comics nine year run. While the design of Skin Deep has always been strong as a new artist it’s first arc started out with charming but rough inks. The art style quickly became more refined and polished as she hit her third arc and found her own unique style with more defined lines and gorgeous intricate backgrounds. I liked Skin Deep from the very first page, but it was Exchanges where I  fell in love with it. Set over a matter of a few days and over two years for Bing to complete, Exchanges is a stunning achievement in terms of both art and storytelling. Breathtaking in it’s scope and vibrancy of the characters. As well as the more confident art, with her fluid cartoony style Bing really hits her stride in terms of storytelling and narrative,  finding her own voice which giving each of her characters a distinct one of their own with the funny and witty dialogue.

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Set in Liverpool, an anxious Blanche ‘comes out’ to his long friend Tony, revealing that he is in fact, not gay, but a white stag and after the initial shock introduces him to his home, the Liverpool Avalaon. Concealed within a crumbling Liverpool warehouse, a whole city and it’s inhabitants live away from the human world. Through the first part of the arc, like Tony, the reader is treated to a tour of the Avalon as the perspective drifts between groups of characters following them for a while until it lights upon something more interesting and picks up with that thread, weaving together many ongoing narratives happening in the same places and giving the places a sense of complexity and liveliness.  The device of moving around the Avalon with characters crossing paths feels almost filmic and feels like a natural and flowing way to introduce the reader to such a huge number of characters in a matter of pages.

The arc ultimately culminates in heartbreak, with recently stirred up feelings of rejection as jym prepares to leave for America leaving his long time friend and ex-boyfriend Lorne behind in the Avalon. Lornes internal conflict is played out against the spectacular backdrop of a showy ‘fight scene’ between two of the Avalon’s colourful residents. Forbidden from fighting , they engage in a rythmic, no contact ballet. As a heartbroken Lorne looks across the combatants to a unfazed Jim before walking away. One page shows the fighters in a simplified, almost chibi form before the action explodes back in a flurry of detail and colour. The sense of pacing and pathos is masterful.

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With two main casts and such a complicated lore heavy story Skin Deep could easily become claustrophobic and unwieldy but in her expert hands she uses this all as an advantage giving the world a wonderful fleshed out, lived in feel. The two main casts are only just meeting now as certain storylines begin to converge. It’s all the more satisfying for the time spent with these characters. After all the meticulous development, they feel like old friends and the groups finally meeting is a delight. The relationships between the characters are wonderful as Bing crafts a narrative in parts about friendship, family and acceptance. About being comfortable with yourself and finding your place in the world. With a gigantic cast Skin Deep explores this from several different angles with the recently turned and reluctant Michelle wanting at first to return to normality, those who grew up within the Avalons and even those like Sam who appear ‘normal’ but crave the weird and wonderful life of those around him.

Skin Deep also has some deep and meticulous world building behind it, with a few hundred extra pages of material and lore, with it’s own wiki including a bestiary with details of the myriad of creatures included. Every detail has been thought out yet seems spontaneous and fresh. A particularly memorable example is the Liverpool Avalon’s resident medical practitioner, a peculiar mix of vet and doctor. Glimpsed only in extra material Bing has produced for her eager and inquisitive fans. Even with only two drawings his character is well defined, scared and world weary you instantly get a sense of the responsibility he carries, caring for the Avalon’s magical residents, very few of them alike. The humorous aside of him debating the merits of live gryphon birth vs egg birth, decked out in thick protective gloves all the while, gives us a glimpse into his character and the daily obstacles he faces. Having never appeared in the comics, it’s just another example of the level of detail and depth Bing strives for and lavishes upon her already layered and fascinating world. It’s a comic that rewards it readers and encourages engagement with the creator. With so much backstory and lore to delve into Skin Deep isn’t a quick read but is never less than engrossing, presenting a rich world you’ll find yourself wishing you could escape too.

Between Skin Deep, cosplay construction, contributions to anthologies and the inking of the excellent Eth’s Skin, Kory found time via email to talk about creatures, world building and her comic.

Marfedblog: So, Why did you start writing/drawing Skin Deep?

Kory Bing: I had been working with the Skin Deep world and characters for years before I actually started drawing and posting it. It was something I started playing with during High School and by the time I finally started drawing it, it had become something I couldn’t NOT draw. Does that make sense?

History, Horror & Sci-Fi Make For Dark Comedy In Jason’s If You Steal

artist spotlight, interview

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For well over a decade now Fantagraphics have published the deadpan comics of Norwegian cartoonist John Arne Sæterøy, familiar to many by his pen name, Jason. “I’ve been both surprised and grateful” explains Jason over e-mail at finding an audience outside of Europe “Originally, I expected foreign royalties to be sort of a pleasant bonus. Maybe enough to go on a vacation or something. I’m still waiting for the moment when I have to go back to having a real job”. September will see the release of If You Steal his first book since 2013’s sombre, Chandler inspired Lost Cat. Eleven new tales make up his new book featuring giant reptiles, assassins, ruminations on the JFK assassination and Irish singer songwriter, Van Morrison, his work here presented as a horror comic. This time around Jason is once again returning to the short story format with this book. “If in the middle of twenty page story you discover it doesn’t work that’s one thing” says the artist on the shorter French album books he is most well known for, “If it’s in the middle of a 200 page story, that’s something else. Luckily that hasn’t happened so far”

Historical figures, horror favourites and sci-fi classics are all fodder for Jason’s melancholic stories. This time around one of his short stories stars Mexican Painter Frida Kahlo, here recast as an assassin for hire. “Some I draw just because they are fun to draw as animal characters” he divulges on his inclusion of historical figures in his work, “Take Frida Kahlo, Her iconic quality”. Others he admits have more significance for him. His literary heist comic The Left Bank Gang has a group of the 20th century’s greatest writers, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Pound and Hemingway re-imagined as struggling cartoonists. Attempting to pull of a high stakes bank heist the book is equal parts biography, revisionist history and hysterical crime caper as well as being one of the few books Jason has expressed an interest in revisiting. “For Hemingway it was an interest in his life. I read a lot of biographies about him” says Jason on the writer “The idea for a comic about him came later. I want to draw another album with Hemingway. It would take place during World War II, it’s a totally different story so I wouldn’t call it a sequel”.

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Known for his solitary, often silent anthropomorphic protagonists his stories are often characterised by high concept ideas that combine the high brow with pop culture staples. First encountering his work through the silent, text free Sshhhh! I was immediately impressed with how deceptively simplistic Jason’s ligne claire style is on the surface, depicting the deep melancholy and dark humour within. Even in his other books his characters are often silent for a lot of the time, their dialogue clipped and to the point. Throughout his comics small gestures and silences speak volumes, portraying his characters more than masses of text ever could. Stories are expertly told through facial expressions, action and more often than not, inaction. If You Steal, as with his other books finds the absurd humour arising from the comics high concepts. Time travelling to kill Hitler, zombie apocalypses and musketeers in modern day are all hilarious in their pitch black delivery but often serve more as frameworks for him to hang deeper stories over. Jason’s work predominantly explores themes of isolation, loneliness and the difficulties of human interaction through his trademark dry wit and offbeat mastery of dark comedy. Some stories leave you smirking and laughing, others heartbroken and devastated. The majority of them, both.

If You Steal is available to order from Fantagraphics books.

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Graphic Novel Watch: Ian King’s: Pies

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“Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders”

There was an unexpected surprise waiting for me on my doormat today…

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At first I thought it might be a kick-starter reward, but felt a little light to be any of the ones I’m expecting. Turns out it was a copy of Ian King’s graphic novel, Pies. Thanks in part to both long international shipping times and my terrible memory I’d entirely forgotten that I’d ordered it.

In the few articles I’ve written over the last half a year I’ve already mentioned rrufurr and the artists involved quite a lot. With my particular interest in the anthropomorphic side of comics and the sheer amount of talent on offer with these guys, I doubt this will be the last time either.

Webcomic Spotlight: Nonesense And Terrible Terrible Terrible Are Two To Watch

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Last year I started to make a concious effort to start writing more and try and get myself out there, this is the second article I wrote just for the sake of highlighting some amazing creators. Also, no one else seemed to be focusing on webcomic creators that much which seems like a nice little niche to put the spotlight on.

Here for the sake of keeping everything in the same place, you might not have seen it over on bleedingcool the first time around.

Webcomic Spotlight: Nonesense And Terrible Terrible Terrible Are Two To Watch

Rapper Scroobius Pip once bemoaned “journalism is lazy in the need to be first” about music bloggers, and the scrabble to constantly find something new. Well it’s not just musos, but comic fans too. I’m not sure about lazy, but there is a buzz about being the first to catch onto something. I’ll admit to feeling a rush after being the first to say “I spotted this first!” and planting my flag, so to speak. The smug “told you so!” when everyone else finally catches up. It’s one of my least likable qualities if I’m honest. Pretentiously name dropping and quoting cooler than thou musicians is another. What can I say? Nobody’s perfect I guess.

So here we are; two webcomics that have caught my interest, and while it’s far too early to really write anything substantial about them, hopefully you’ll be able to see the beginnings of some new and exciting webcomics as they develop.

Nonesense, by Francis Marshall

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At present there isn’t really much to go on with Francis Marshall’s Nonesense, the dozen or so pages that are up right now introducing us to a young owl and his Grandma on his first day of school, skipping forward quickly to his first day of university. Marshall has described the future outline of his slice of life comic as focusing on “mundanity, adulthood and two awkward students, who are almost-opposites, forming a tentative relationship with each other”.

I can only vouch for Nonesense as a one to watch after encountering the artists work in another comic short story featured in the anthropomorphic anthology comic, rruffurr. Also entitled Nonsense, this sweet little story find a a couple speculating on infinite realities, string theory and relationships. Oh, I forgot to mention; the couple are an owl and a cat, obviously. It’s really sweet, and an inventive little take on a familiar yarn.

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The artwork is scruffy and immediate with a ‘zine like quality to it, described by Marshall as “my scratchy, messy baby”. Being his first regularly updated website it suits the ‘just get it out there’ immediacy of such a project. He’s also producing more artwork on hispersonal art tumblr that shows a  more refined painterly style with some truly gorgeous avian character designs.

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Terrible Terrible Terrible, by Lauren Monger

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Terrible Terrible Terrible is Lauren Monger’s comic featuring her scuzzy anthropomophised crew of gutter punks whose days are filled with getting drunk, listening to music and ironically visiting shitty theme parks, all the while wallowing in that sarcastic, self destructive aimlessness that manages to grip even the best of us at some point in our lives. While the general slacker attitude and theme has almost been done to death at this point, Mongers comic which is mostly focused around the Opossum Clementine, still has something fresh to add.

Rendered in scratchy, punky paints and inks Monger’s skill with this project is in capturing the small, seemingly inconsequential events of her characters’ day to day lives as they manage to one way or another shirk or avoid becoming “responsible adults”. Even at their most sarcastic and destructive her cast of opossums, badgers and ‘coons always have a warmth to them as they slowly find their place in the world and push against the complicated transition to adulthood. Whether it be wandering around aimlessly, getting high or rattling off fictional punk band names she somehow gives these insignificant events gravity, showing the minutiae and humor in the fag-end, empty days of unfocused youth.

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Like any up and coming artist online Monger partly supports herself with a Patreon site, where in return for a few bucks towards the making of her comic, offers rewards delving into her creative process such as studio pictures and livestreams. She is also working on a print project, Sleepwalking for indie publisher Space Face Books.

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