Sunday, March 25, 2012

Webcomic Review Month 2012: Sfeer Theory, Snow by Night, Spare Keys for Strange Doors

Tonight's reviews reminded me that I'm always amused when I come across really similar settings in webcomics especially since it never seems like creators are copying each other. Such as the example tonight, every time I come across a comic set in colonial times there's always an element of fantasy to it (such as characters who are cats or time-traveling), although I'm also curious why I find so few straight up historical settings these days (in both comics and YA books) so that might be the case here. Again, I'm pretty sure none of these creators are copying each other, or possibly have seen the other comics, so it really makes me wonder if somehow our current, overall pop-culture is somehow inspiring all these people to do similar stories/settings, I find it interesting to muse about in any case.

Last years Ss (which I accidentally linked to yesterday, changed that) and the other part (since I had to split it in two last year).

Sfeer Theory by Alex "Muun" Singer and Jayd "Chira" Aït-Kaci
Luca Valentino is a foreigner to the Empire of Warassa and as such cannot apply to be a student at it's schools for magic and instead works as a technician in it's premier school, Uitspan Academy. And after two years of working there when the empire has reached it's height and his talents as a Cyclist* seem to have finally been noticed....

The artist here is the same one who works on The Fox Sister and again I love fluid motion all of her art seems to convey, for a comic that centers around magic that moves it's the perfect choice. When browsing the site I was interested to see that this part of the comic, called Uitspan Era, is going to be a prequel to an even larger story so I'm quite curious to see where it goes. I already really like the characters that have appeared and the magic system seems rather unique, I haven't seen any ideas quite like it before, so I'm excited for the rest.

*mage, sfeer means sphere and all of their magic is worked in circles hence the term Cyclist

 Snow by Night by Eric Menge and Brittany Michel
In an alternate world and time similar to the early American colonies, Blaise and Jassart are a pair of thieves who are living a rather good life until another thief starts stealing their targets and leave no clues how they did it. The two set out to catch this thief and find out why and discover a very different story than what they were expecting.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I've read a few other webcomics set in colonial times but none quite like this. It has a semi-fantastical setting, and it's clear that the creators have put tons of work into it since they update an almanac with backstory every week in addition to regular pages and have had a number of guest comics with even more backstory, and I like how they've created a mythology of sorts that wouldn't feel that out of place in Trickster. I would like to see more stuff with some of the side characters in the comic since I find them pretty interesting as well but the comic is still young so I'm sure that will happen sooner or later.

  Spare Keys for Strange Doors by Lucy Lyall
Toby Hathaway and Marion Sark are, specialists, at handling the mysterious and uncanny bits of normal life, if your definition of normal life includes ghosts and spells. They take on quite a large variety of jobs, some begin and some dangerous, and life for them is never dull.

While I see plenty of anime that revolve around a central cast dealing with cases that involve the supernatural with story arcs that generally don't overlap I don't see many webcomics that follow that format and, since I enjoy that format quite a bit, this makes for a nice change of pace. Each story has managed to be fairly different so far which is nice and, unlike a number of anime that follow this set-up, the two leads are both rather likeable characters who have their good moments and their grouchy moments. I think these stories never work as well if the leads are good so with solid leads here I think the story is in very good shape.