Going away to college is often touted as one of the defining times in a young person’s life, a period in which they are no longer under the supervision of their parents and placed in an environment that can’t help but change them. As cliche as this vision of academia seems, that’s exactly the situation of freshman Joyce Brown, one of the leading players in David Willis’s slice-of-life dramedy Dumbing of Age, which is set entirely on the campus of Indiana University.
Joyce (like Willis himself) has been raised in a loving but sheltered and strict fundamentalist Christian home and is attending school to, in her own words “hunt down the wonderful, godly man [she] will someday marry.” But Joyce’s worldviews will be tested and turned upside down by a widely diverse and intricate cast of characters. These include Joyce’s misanthropic roommate, her Yale-bound new best friend who happens to be an atheist, her rebellious convicted felon neighbor, their despot of an RA, and an emotionally unstable girl masquerading as a caped crusader (or is it the other way around?)–and those are just the people on her floor!
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Monday, September 14th, 2015||No Comments »|
Anyone who’s spent time in a foreign country can tell you that culture shock is a real thing. While perhaps not as romantic and alienating as moody cinema might have you believe, there’s a never-ending adjustment period in which you find yourself faced with situations you never would have considered before your arrival (ask anyone who’s had to use a Japanese squat toilet).
Nowhere is this more obvious than the adorable and irreverent comics of Mary Cagle, who has for the past two years been chronicling her time as an English teacher in a small-town Japanese primary school under the title Let’s Speak English. Cagle, who in addition to teaching also works as an illustrator, writer, and colorist on a multitude of comics, illustrates Let’s Speak English in the traditional Japanese comic format called 4-koma (ie: four black and white panels stacked atop each other) and makes full use of the medium to tell short, witty, and only slightly embarrassing stories of her daily interactions with her students, coworkers, and neighbors.
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Friday, August 21st, 2015||1 Comment »|
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you combined the rollicking, fantastical aesthetic of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, the subtle homespun creepiness of Roald Dahl, and all the zany characters and bad decisions of a college road trip movie, then you need look no further than Prague Race.
From the delightfully twisted mind of Finnish cartoonist Petra Erika Nordlund, Prague Race is the story of three friends (eccentric slacker Leona, neurotic rich kid Colin, and affable powerhouse Miko) who are unexpectedly thrown into a world of magic, danger, and intrigue when they cross paths with a group of interdimensional smugglers and their ambulatory pet shark (whose name is, I kid you not, Fishsticks).
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Monday, August 3rd, 2015||No Comments »|
There’s no arguing that there’s a pretty big culture of toxic masculinity in a lot of our media today, especially when it comes to our action heroes. While intelligent, earnest discussion is necessary to changing this reality, it’s also admittedly very satisfying to make fun of these tropes and characters, and nowhere is this more obvious than Kelly Turnbull’s satirical and aptly named Manly Guys Doing Manly Things.
The popular comic parodies, and routinely takes the piss out of, the overwhelmingly macho protagonists of video games, comics, TV, and film, while also following the everyday adventures of the long-suffering Commander Badass (yes, that’s his real name).
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Friday, June 26th, 2015||No Comments »|
We’re all familiar with the stereotypical fantasy quest. A group of adventurers go out to seek their fortune, slay a monster, and meet their destiny. Too often though these kinds of stories are anything but entertaining, favoring overdone tropes, unwieldy plots, and boring exposition over what initially drew us to fantasy in the first place: exploration of the world.
Which is why I’m head over heels for Aatmaja Pandya’s latest work, the sweet and subtle Travelogue: A Fantasy Diary Comic. Instead of a cast of aggro adventurers, we have a small band of travelers who get by doing odd jobs in what might be one of the loveliest settings I’ve seen in a comic.
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Friday, May 29th, 2015||No Comments »|
If you’re looking for something fun, colorful, and clever to read this lovely Spring, look no further than Victoria Grace Elliott’s charming comic, Balderdash! Or, A Tale of Two Witches.
Set in the lush countryside of a fantastical country, Balderdash! follows two young magic users, Georgie and Afia, in their quests to learn their respective crafts and grow into accomplished women in the process. Georgie, a rustic and determined witch, has traveled far from home to apprentice herself to the master baker Fausto. There’s a catch, though–neither the curmudgeonly Fausto nor his town seem too keen on having a witch among them, and Georgie (while being talented and driven) doesn’t have much experience in doing things without the aid of magic.
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Thursday, April 30th, 2015||No Comments »|
Perhaps my favorite aspect of webcomics is that it is within their nature to showcase the growth and improvement of their creators. Often pet projects and experimental in design, webcomics are the chance for young or inexperienced cartoonists to find their voice and practice their craft on their own terms. But it’s a special and beautiful thing when a webcomic brings together multiple talented creators who can take a simple premise and nurture it to blossom into a great story.
Which brings me to Sister Claire, originally conceived by cartoonist Elena Barbarich (online name Yamino) as a school project that has since taken off with great success thanks to time, patience, and the brilliant collaboration between Barbarich and her writer wife, Ash. In its early stages, Sister Claire was a comical farce about an innocent but bumbling nun named Claire who, after receiving a visitation through the toilet by a mysterious blue angel, is immaculately impregnated with the savior of the world. Along the way she must save her mentor Catherine from a terrible curse and learn the art of nun-fu, all while keeping her pregnancy a secret from her fellow nuns–and that’s just the start.
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Friday, March 27th, 2015||No Comments »|