Friday, March 22, 2013

Webcomic Review Month 2013: Penny Dreadful, Polterguys Prince of Cats, Princess Princess

Whew, got the biggest batch of reviews for the month here, even though I'm a little sad I don't find as many great webcomics every year I have to admit it's nice that I don't have to make as many huge posts as this. Oh and the ComicMix March Madness tournament is still going on so if that's your thing make sure to go out and vote, think they've reached the quarter-final round as of writing this so it's going to finish up pretty soon!

Penny Dreadful by Maggie G Vicknair

The 20th century is barely a decade old and Penny Hart has found herself lost and alone in it. Through a series of strange events she finds herself in the employ of the Harker Institute of Super-Natural Studies and while she finds herself starting to enjoy her new life of adventure it's still a bit much to simply take in a stride.

As a heads up, this is one the webcomics which has a fairly dramatic art shift early on, apparently Vicknair completely changed the way she drew it starting in chapter two, so if you don't like the art very much in chapter one be sure to look at a later chapter before writing off the comic for that reason (and of course the art style does change and become more sophisticated as the story progresses as it does in practically every comic out there). As for the characters and plot I'm really fond of this one since the characters are just a touch sarcastic (well, more than a touch at times) and being a sarcastic person myself I occasionally wonder why characters aren't commenting on how strange their lives are. Despite this little extra self-awareness the copious supernatural elements of the story manage to feel just right for the story without anything out of place (although a little more exposition about how magic works in this world would be nice, I'm assuming that's simply coming later) and the story seems to be slowly revealing that there is a greater plot lurking behind the events of the individual chapters, can't wait to see what's going to happen!

Penny Dreadful can be read online and does not have a print version as of writing.

Polterguys by Laurianne Uy and Nathan Go

Fans of shojo manga will undoubtedly find something familiar about Polterguys but in a fun, enjoyable way. Like many a heroine, Bree finds herself living with a bevy of cute guys under strange circumstances but her's are a bit stranger than normal. While she's simply moved out of the dorms for a bit of piece and quiet the five guys living in her old house are all dead, none of whom can remember how they got that way, and there are demons out there who will happily hunt down a lost soul and send it off to wherever those souls go. In a moment of impulse Bree puts her own life on the line to give the boys a chance to find peace before they move on but can she really do anything to help? 

Bree is a likeable heroine whose relatable, has spunk, and also has a rather realistic experience of having college turn out to be different than she expected (although most of us didn’t have demons and ghosts to make the shift even harder). This first book neatly wraps up one plot while leaving plenty more for future installments and introduces a new one which might prove even more interesting in the end. I'm not sure when the comic is going to start updating again (as far as I can tell, from twitter and tumblr, I think Uy and Go have started outlining it but haven't gotten much farther so it's likely to be a while) but even if it's only as consistent as this first installment then I think it'll be worth the wait.

Polterguys can be read for free online or purchased as a book.

Prince of Cats by Kori M. Handwerker

Lee might be able to talk to cats but frankly that isn't a really big problem or concern in his life currently, high school is. In a small, conservative town where you can be rich or poor but never anything but straight and that certainly doesn't help when his relationship with his best friend Frank starts to change and neither of them feels quite sure where they want, or even expect, it to end up.

Yep this is another story with queer characters in it and, while there hasn't been anything that would be considered graphic by anyone so far, the about page does indicate that there will be some non-graphic sex scenes later on, readers with delicate sensibilities or a habit of reading webcomics at work be warned. Funny enough this is also yet another comic done in watercolors which I'm seeing more and more of these days and I rather like it. Obviously this has no impact on the story but I still like the feeling it gives. Getting to the actual story, it's a little slow moving and awkward but honestly that sums up a lot of high school as well. I am happy to hear that there are going to be other gender/sexual identities present in the story as well (since it always seems odd to me whenever you have a large cast of characters and every single one of them is straight and Prince of Cats is developing a pretty large cast of background characters), although a bit sad that it sounds like there will be an asexual character but they won't even recognize what they are in story. I can certainly relate to that, and it sounds like they'll be a minor character in the story anyway, but I at least hope I can recognize who it is.

Prince of Cats can be read online and the first few chapters are also available in print form.

Princess Princess by StrangelyKatie

I know I said that I wasn't covering any finished comics this year but I completely missed that this one was in fact finished so I'll just slip it in here. Princess Princess is a rather quick tale about a princess locked up in a tower whose recused by, well, another princess. The story is based on that simple idea but fleshes out its two princesses quite well into distinctly different people with their own problems and lives, it doesn't just change one of them from a prince and call that a day. It's cute, quick, funny, yes the two girls do like each other as well, and smarter than you'd expect so I recommend everyone to check it out over here if you have some time. And while you're there I'd also recommend another of Katie's comic's, which I've seen around on tumblr before but hadn't realized it was hers, which is even shorter and nicely bittersweet.

2012 "P" comics

2011 "P" comic (which weirdly enough also finished up within hours of me writing about it, I'm amused by the similar timing anyway)

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