This post took a couple of twists in my mind – I need to get back to my Flash recaps, and I really have an all-ages round-up review that I need to get to you all, but inspiration wasn’t coming on those fronts. Then I realized I hadn’t written my now-annual webcomics recommendations, and I have three more that are drawn and written by women. So boom! More suggestions of fun comics I think you should check out and which are freely available to you on the internet-enabled device of your choosing.
Lackadaisy by Tracy J. Butler
Update schedule: Erratic, I guess? But there’s a pretty big archive built up, and they are always worth the wait.
Plot: In 1920’s Saint Louis, a gang of misfits and ne’er-do-wells attempt to help young widow Mitzi May maintain her once prosperous speakeasy, the Lackadaisy, after the untimely death of her husband. Her competition includes gangsters, voodoo-practicing twins, and former employees, and her allies are lunatics, drug addicts, and young men with an unhealthy zeal for firearms. Oh, and did I mention that all of the characters happen to be cats?
That conceit could be annoying, but Butler pulls it off beautifully – her artwork is gorgeous, and she takes advantage of the cartooniness of anthropomorphic animals to allow her characters to express a full range of emotions. Slapstick zanieness? Yeah, we got that, but we’ve also got some real poignant moments, too. The writing is also top-notch, and has me really caring about what happens to the Lackadaisy and its denizens.
Bonus: The Gallery This little round up of extras has a ton of amazing content, from silly mini-comics to some drop-dead knockout illustrations of the cast as humans. Plenty to keep you occupied while you wait for the next post.
The Meek by Der-shing Helmer
Plot: A young girl with green hair and mysterious powers makes a promise to her dying mentor to travel to the heart of the empire she lives in to find “the center.” Meanwhile, the emperor himself is plagued by border disputes with the neighboring country – and by visions of a tiger only he can see.
I’m not gonna lie – this one is hard to explain. Think epic fantasy quest with a bit of an environmentalist theme, although I feel like that doesn’t do the story justice – it sounds like I’m talking about Ferngully. The truth here is far more complicated and subtle – Helmer has put a lot of thought into the rituals, religions, and political structures of her fictional lands, but manages to weave them into the narrative in a way that feels natural. (Although the comic does have its own wiki if you want to do further reading.) The art is masterfully colored, and shows an understanding of movement and flow that I really appreciate.
Bonus: For a while, The Meek was on hiatus – so she started another whole comic called Mare Internum. It’s about life on Mars and it is getting seriously creepy and beautiful right now. She is also responsible for this. I don’t know how to tell you to feel about that.
Sakana by Madeline Rupert
Updates: T, F
Plot: Jiro and Taro Sakana work in their uncle’s fish stall – Jiro is a salesman, while Taro is a rather too good butcher. The comic follows their adventures trying to figure out women, excessively cranky co-workers, and navigate adult life.
While all three of these recommendations have occasional jokes and levity, Sakana easily has the lightest heart. The title is a big clue of what you’re in for – “sakana” means fish in Japanese. Full of silly puns and cartoony art that favors Chuck Jones-style overreaction over subtlety, at its core Sakana is still about a family and its problems, and the emotions are real and gripping.
Bonus: Rupert writes and draws for Boom! Studio’s KaBOOM licensed kid’s comics, including Adventure Time, Regular Show, Bravest Warriors, Bee and Puppycat and Steven Universe. If you like those properties I can almost guarantee you’ll like Sakana.
So what else should I be reading? Have any of you followed up on my other recommendations and what did you think? To the comments, friends!