A few more little reviews of webcomics today.
In the past I have mentioned Narbonic, by Shaenon Garrity, and her strip Skin Horse that was new at the time. She collaborates with Jeffrey Wells on Skin Horse (they co-write it, and she does all the art), and now that it’s been running for a few years, I can say a bit more about it. The strip is basically about a secret government agency that helps nonhuman sapients cope with the world (in short, they’re black ops social services). Where Narbonic was about a mad scientist, Skin Horse (that title, BTW, is a reference to the Velveteen Rabbit) often involves the main characters taking on the products of mad science as their clients. The situations and plot lines in the strip are generally silly and imaginative, such as one that involved the ongoing discovery of various creatures having created their own clashing civilizations in the basement archives.
Clockwork Game is a historical comic, dramatizing the history of a real device – a seemingly chess-playing automaton known often as “The Turk”, for its decoration as though it were an Ottoman figure from a certain period. Jane Irwin is the creator, as well as having written and drawn earlier the fictional Vögelein graphic novels. The strip covered much of the life of the device’s inventor, Wolfgang von Kempelen, and his displeasure with something he built as an amusement coming to overshadow his more practical creations. Currently, the story is concerned with the work of the man who acquired the automaton after Kempelen’s death, what he did with it and other technologies. The comic is really neat as an interesting look at some history of technology that I wasn’t aware of, and several famous personages are encountered in the strip.
Finally, for a few years I’ve been reading Octopus Pie, by Meredith Gran. I may have mentioned her briefly in my NEWW posts, but I don’t think I talked specifically about the strip. OP follows the lives of several friends/acquaintances in Brooklyn, and is generally a humorous comic, though it has had its more serious stories. For the most part, it’s a slice of life type of comic, but the art style is quite cartoony, and occasionally it gets out of the realm of our usual reality. Gran has a great gift for dialogue, and often the characters say hilarious things, or at least say things in a funny manner. The strip pokes fun at a lot of aspects of modern urban life, such as hipster culture, organic food stores, bike culture, drugs, etc. The main character, Eve, is an excellent cranky protagonist, and she has a great foil in her really laid-back roommate Hanna.