Saturday, 23 June 2012

Digital Canvas - Back To The Books

Following on from one of my previous articles, lets go back and finish reviewing the novelisations of webcomics on my bookshelves! I may not have a full and complete collection of all my favourite webcomics, but I do have a few gems to be treasured.

Problem Sleuth: Vol 1-3, and Homestuck: Vol 1
Andrew Hussie’s oeuvre is published independently via Topatoco. Each volume has a cover featuring gorgeous exclusive art by Hussie, its just a shame that they’re not chunky hard-covers. Each Problem Sleuth book contains on average about 5 chapters of the story, meaning that only a third of the overall story has been novelised so far.

In contrast, the first Homestuck volume covers the entire first chapter of that story, with the promise that later chapters will have to be spread over several books! I will say that certain panels in the book that are meant to portray a moving GIF from the website aren’t particularly good. Usually one or two frames of the animation are chosen to illustrate what’s going on, but invariably, those frames always seem to be the wrong/awkward ones.

As far as extra content goes, there’s a footnote on every page providing commentary on the action, with Hussie stating that he feels the books act as a “study guide” for the webcomic, providing additional trivia and depth. This seems to be especially true regarding the focus of the footnotes since he started novelising the Homestuck story. Certain volumes also have extra material at the back pages, a particular highlight being Problem Sleuth Vol. 3’s collection of additional scenes brought about via special request by fans providing website-upkeep donations.
Available through Proud Lion? NO

Cyanide & Happiness: Volume 1
Published by Harper Collins no less, the book itself is much like the comic strip: unassuming from afar, amusingly vulgar when paid attention to. Take heed, this series of strips may cause offence. This book was actually a gift from a relative; at the time I wondered what impression I was giving off if someone buys a book like this for me without prompting (it is full of very un-politically-correct humour after all)! Needless to say, I laughed uproariously upon reading it.

Alongside 120 regular strips, the authors have generously included 30 new strips created especially for the book, including the continuing adventures of Seizure Man. As well as this, at the back of the book each of the four authors gets their own short bio along with their own humorous self-portraits.
Available through Proud Lion? YES

Wondermark: Dapper Caps And Pedal-Copters
Published by Dark Horse, this is easily one of my favourite books. It’s Volume 3 in the series, but stands up perfectly on its own without context (note to self, seek out Vol. 1 and 2). Every effort has been made to make it look like a Victorian publication, both inside and out, including technical drawings of deliberately strange contraptions in the introduction margins, parody adverts for things like “H.W. Johns’ Asbestos Dressings” on the front and back pages, ad use of florid Victorian slang and conventions throughout.

Wondermark is also easily one of the most generous books in terms of extras! At least one in every ten of the black and white strips have been painstakingly coloured by Carly Monardo, and several strips have had their concepts expanded upon via related reading material; various forms, diary entries, criminal records, etc. Also included is a section entitled “Abandoned Efforts”, filled with strips that didn’t quite work for whatever reason and were never put up on the website. And on top of all that is a completely new, fully coloured, large-scale story strip that covers 12 pages! And a section on how the strips are put together at the back! AND a selection of fan-art depicting bears in ill-fitting hats! AND I could go on, but suffice to say, this book is crammed with “good stuff”.
Available through Proud Lion? YES

So that’s my webcomic-book collection in its entirety! Needless to say, I already have plans to expand it with missing installments and tasty-looking additions such as the Gunnerkrigg Court novelisations. If anyone wishes to help me expand my collection, particularly towards Christmas time, I wouldn’t say no!

Todd Marsh is also an avid reader of Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde novels.

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