Thursday, March 14, 2013

Webcomic Review Month 2013: The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal

WELL it's been an exciting 24 hours in the in the comic-reading section of the internet and sadly I don't mean the fun kind of exciting. Last night google announced that they would be discontinuing their RSS reader, google reader, come July and I saw a lot of webcomic artists going "but wait, I use that to read comics!" I never used google reader, found the interface a little too clunky, I use feeder which is a plugin for Chrome which works for me since I subscribe mainly to webcomics feeds and I want to look at every single update that comes through. But after seeing what some alternate feed aggregators can do I think I'm going to try out some of the alternates that people were suggesting for following blogs, hope everyone finds a good fit before July!
And then this morning I woke up to an email in my inbox saying that JManga was shutting down by the end of May and absolutely no explanation for that. Manga fans can imagine the conversations that followed on social media/various websites (hell they may have been part of it) and as per usual one of the factors was blaming pirates/scanlators/people who want to read comics for free for it. It was the phrasing of that last group of people, people who think that comics should be free, that irked me a bit since, while I agree with the statement, there seemed to be an accidental implication that if you don't have the money you can't have access to fiction and to suck it up. As someone who is now on their third year of promoting free-to-read webcomics and gets most of their other material from legal streaming sites and libraries I think you can guess what my opinion on that is. There's not much more to say on the matter that hasn't been said elsewhere, constructive or mocking, so I'm just gonna continue doing what I've been doing and tell y'all about some pretty cool comics that are out there, for free, no DRM, and this one in particular is also available in print!

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by EK Weaver

Amal has had a bad day, he's called off his arranged marriage and come out to his traditional parents in the process and can't even remember what he did that night. But when he wakes up he realizes that he's agreed to go on a cross-country trip with a complete stranger, TJ, paying for the way. It may be crazy but Amal needs to get to Providence anyway to see his little sister graduate which is coming up soon so why not?

I'll admit it, I started to read this comic once before but got a bit worried by the mature readers sign and backed off*. Thankfully I did give it another shot and from what I recall there is implied sex but nothing on screen. Suggestive scenes, enough to for me to easily see why Weaver warns people about importing the print copy, but this story is not "porn with plot", the mature warning page lays it out rather well. That said, this story has fantastic character development, vital considering the story is entirely character driven, and the story gives it's setting much more detail than I see many realistic fiction stories do. Sure many of them will consider the importance of the location on the character but I haven't seen one take the year into consideration so much and I love when stories do that. The art is great (yet another reason your run of the mill yaoi manga feels like a slap in the face after this, the characters look completely distinct, all of them!), it's paced well, stays on schedule, seems to be a good chunk of the way through the story already, I'm saying people should check this out even if a story about two guys, who happen to have sex with each other, isn't really your thing because this is a pretty good thing.

As noted earlier, TJ & Amal  is available for reading online and the first two of three planned books are in print and it's also been translated into half a dozen other languages, all of which can be found on the right hand sidebar of the front page. 

2012 "L" comic

2011 "L" comic

*I just don't like reading sex scenes, kinda not relevant to my interests, see the Ignition Zero post from a few days back.

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