Saturday, 17 November 2012

Digital Canvas - Truth Is Beauty

Some time ago now, I wrote an article detailing why I thought that the art of a webcomic isn't the be-all and end-all, and that good writing should always come first. With that in mind, lets celebrate webcomics with the most beautiful artwork! I don't pretend to be an art critic by any means, so in this article I'll be letting the pictures do most of the talking. I apologise in advance, this may be a looong stretch of an article!

I've often mentioned Gunnerkrigg Court in my articles, but I feel that I can bear to repeat myself once more by saying what a glorious webcomic it is, especially in relation to the artwork. The muted palette does a lot to establish a wonderful atmosphere throughout, and the Court is a beautifully realised setting that our protagonists have bearly even scratched the surface of, if the following page is anything to go by:

Gunnerkrigg also benefits from healthy doses of surreality and symbolism, especially when dealing with the delightful trickster god Coyote or the troubled reality-altering girl Zimmy:

As you can tell, the creator Tom Siddell has improved immensly since those first few pages, especially since he quit his normal job to focus on the webcomic. Buy some of his stuff guys, and long may his webcomic flourish.

The Abominable Charles Christopher is a webcomic that is both beautiful and moving, with pages ranging from humour to melancholy. The story follows a silent sasquach who acts like a child, slowly gaining perspective on the world in a forest full of funny talking animals that is slowly being encroached upon by the influence of Man. The art is made up of blacks and light greys, and the artist Karl Kersch is particularly gifted in displaying fluid movement:

Throughout the strip, a deeper story involving animal deities is often hinted at, and when one of these enigmatic characters show up it's always a visual treat:

I wasn't surprised to later learn that Kersch has done various work for Marvel and DC, his talent truly shines through here.

The next webcomic I want to showcase, Cucumber Quest by Gigi D.G., is a twist on various boy-goes-on-adventure-to-save-the-kingdom stories and constantly plays/messes with the familiar themes of these age old tales. Also everyone is a rabbit-person! It has a gorgeous soft and flowing style in various pastel colours that gives the strip bags of atmosphere:

The use of light and shade is wonderful throughout, and the settings are beautifully imaginative:

Plus as an added bonus, the strip is truly hilarious throughout! Well worth a look!

And when I'm taking about beautiful webcomics, how can I fail to mention Evan Dahm's truly epic Rice Boy. Rice Boy starts off small and sneakily grows before your eyes to become a huge sprawling tale equal to any Lord Of The Rings or Iliad you'd care to mention, filled with themes of lost innocence and destiny versus choice, but coupled with a distinct storybook asthetic that fits the tone so well.

At times the art is naively simple, but when it calls for it the level of detail can be breathtaking:

Sadly, there are far more beautiful webcomics in the world than words I can use to write about them, so I'll wrap this up with a few special mentions of strips suggested to me specifically for this article by my good chums at the MSPA forums (shout out to the webcomics board!):

Lackadaisy by Tracy Butler, with its wonderfully fluid anatomy and use of greyscale:

Ava’s Demon by Michelle Czajkowski, with its breathtaking use of colour and dramatic lighting:

And finally Unsounded by Ashley Cope, which I can only describe as simply visually stunning:

I’d just like to reiterate that art shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of choosing a webcomic to read, that should be reserved for the quality of writing, whether that be for punch lines or story lines. But often I find that good art goes hand in hand with good writing!

Todd Marsh just voted for Proud Lion in the Gloucestershire Echo Love To Shop Awards

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