I don’t normally draw anime fanart, but I really just couldn’t let this idea pass.
Happy anniversary, Super Paper Mario! Here’s to the dorks who would undo the universe.
Just a little something for one of my favorite games! I’ve been doing off-and-on fanart of it for seven years now.
Hello everyone, and welcome back to Courtney’s webcomic reviews! (Also known as “Courtney’s extensive recommendations!”)
In my first review, I stretched my rusty writing muscles by highlighting one of the most popular and beloved webcomics I know of, Gunnerkrigg Court. This time, on the other hand, I’ll be talking about a comic that you probably haven’t heard of, but that personally makes me very happy:
I don’t remember how I first found my way to this comic, but it caught my attention for a few reasons: it had an interesting name, it happened to be on a page with some awesome-looking dudes, and it seemed similar to my own comic: a light-hearted look at the fantasy-adventure genre, that of video games in particular. Last year I read through the whole thing, enjoyed it, then got busy and only caught up with a full re-read about a week ago. I can say this comic is getting better and better all the time and that I won’t let it go by the wayside again! And so, with the story fresh in my mind, I’m poised to do a review of those reasons it kept me reading.
As mentioned above, BSF is one of those affectionate genre parodies/deconstructions. It has your standard young hero (Seb Fuller, a boy of 12), the healer/mage (Lina Motscoud, a girl around Seb’s age), the more experienced mentors who nonetheless must leave the adventure up to the youth, a mystical sword and a menacing villain.
But two things must be said here: the first is that these archetypal roles are filled out with characters that seem real and that you just can’t help but love (even when they’re being annoying). Seb in particular really feels like a stubborn, immature, and somewhat clueless kid. If you’re tired of running across people in adventure stories who seem to have it all together and are capable of flawlessly completing their destiny at an age when you were just kind of floundering around, Seb will resonate with you. He’s earnest and has a good heart, but his stubbornness and desire to live up to his heroic role and be the center of attention, doing and seeing things that are “so cool,” often get him (and his friends) into trouble.
He also really acts and talks like a 12 year old. Trust me.
Seb is just one example; all of the characters feel real, despite the colorful video-gamey setting. But the second point: In addition to these archetypal characters are some really outstanding original creations. If there’s one character who sells this comic, it’s the Slime King. This adorable blob of wannabe-villainy has a simple but effective design, and strikes that perfect balance of trying to be tough and coming out adorable. His interactions with Seb (which I can’t fully expound upon, because I would ruin a great surprise in the story) provide some of the cutest, funniest and most realistic dialogue in the comic. (He also has a cat that lives on his head. It’s fantastic.) That’s not to say the King isn’t without his shining moments of badass!
(Bowser’s Inside Story reference? Just another reason this comic is great.)
But the interesting characters are certainly not exclusively on the side of heroism. The main villain has created and employs a number of Golems who burst with personality. In general, they work as pairs, with clever and complementary names (Brick & Mortar, Hookline & Sinker, and so on). Plenty of time is spent with the Golems themselves, getting to know their personalities via the way they interact with the heroes and with each other.
As for the story itself, at first it may seem to be the standard tale of a villain (re)appearing and heroes questing to various locales to make things right. However, deeper mysteries underlie the story and have only been hinted at. To give one relatively spoiler-free example, the comic’s title is more than just a cool-sounding name. It appears that some “blasphemy” is indeed integral to the plot, but it has only been given the vaguest of nods so far.
Overall, while I feel there are a lot of comics or stories out there that treat this kind of fantasy-adventure stereotype (with a greater or lesser degree of self-aware parody), BSF still feels fresh, interesting and original because of the memorable characters. They, as well as the questions underlying the story, keep me eagerly wanting more.
(…Man, I didn’t even mention that this comic is funny. It really is.)
Blasphemous Saga Fantasy is another comic where you can really see (and be encouraged by!) the improvement in art. The comic started out extremely simple, with each chapter reflecting a certain color scheme. However, in mid-2011 (relatively early on), the comic moved to full-color and has been getting more and more appealing to the eye ever since.
The first (non-intro) page to the most recent, at the time of this writing:
(By the way, the above page is part of a play, so it’s not extreme spoilers or anything!)
In particular, Zack has done some really cool things with color and lighting to set the mood of a certain area. The magic and glow effects really add force to the pages without being obnoxious or imposing. In addition, he’s quite good at comedic timing, expressions and visual gags. One thing I can be sure of is that BSF’s art will continue to surprise us, and I’m excited to see it evolve just as much as the story.
If you already enjoy the types of tropes parodied by this comic, I encourage you to give BSF a try, and not only that, but give it a chance to really get going. It doesn’t start out bad or anything, but it gets so much better. I think it was after Chapter VIII (the first full-color chapter) that I knew this story had captured my heart.
So yeah, every Tuesday and Thursday! Get over there!
This is my second entry for the Banjo-Kazooie collab hosted by Jaxamoto: Bill & Dilberta, prospecting partners from Glitter Gulch Mine.
I’m super happy with this, because I used to draw Banjo-Tooie fanart all the time, years back, and as I was working I could feel the massive amount of progress I’ve made in both drawing and coloring since I last attempted to draw these two.
Go join the collab!
Hi everyone, and welcome to the first of Altermentality’s webcomic reviews!
"Reviews" may be a bit of a strong word; I don’t feel qualified enough to really pick comics apart for things they could be doing better. "Extensive recommendation" might be a more appropriate term. At any rate, I’ll be using these reviews to go into detail about some of the comics that have moved me, made me smile, and inspired me.
I’m going to stretch my wings with one of my very favorite comics, Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell. It should be an easy place to start because there are just so many things to praise!
Gunnerkrigg Court has been online for almost 9 years now and is, in my experience, one of the most well-known story webcomics. So you’ve probably at least heard of it, and if you’re not already reading it, I aim to tell you why you should!
Gunnerkrigg Court starts out with a familiar concept: a kid starts off alone at a new school, a strange school, where she must not only deal with trying to make a friend or two, but learn to accommodate the eccentricities of her new environment. It might sound a bit hackneyed, but this familiar storyline is only the canvas upon which the real intensity of the story is painted.
The comic overall centers on Antimony (or Annie), a quiet girl with much more to her past than is first apparent, and her more outgoing and scientifically-minded best friend, Kat. But there are countless other characters, from schoolmates to spirits, ghosts to gods, monsters to machines. The comic doesn’t have one main plot so much as many threads which are woven together; sometimes we diverge to follow one in particular, sometimes they converge, and sometimes we take a detour which may seem like a totally unrelated character development arc but could end up being very relevant later.
Gunnerkrigg Court is one of the most thematically deep and demanding comics I’ve read. I feel that a great story is one that moves the audience and makes them think about the macroscopic issues, philosophical questions, drives and desires that have defined humanity throughout our kind’s existence, while simultaneously providing characters who feel real, fleshed-out and deal with their own personal issues while being caught in these larger currents. Gunnerkrigg certainly delivers.
The comic deals with such huge themes as nature vs. technology, the power of consciousness and imagination, the significance of mythology, and more, while also exploring the direct person-to-person themes of friendship, love, and our individual fearsome duty to face death - both of those we care about and for ourselves. The characters seem real, and the more you read, the more they become like friends and less like distant symbols on your computer screen. Why do I say they seem like real people instead of cartoon cut-outs? They grow and change over the course of the story, they can surprise us, they can make mistakes, they can be weak, they can be surprisingly strong, they themselves are not always sure of what they feel. But we love them.
The story is told in a chapter-based format. The comic has been around a long time and there are 46 chapters at the time of this writing! Nevertheless, the chapters are for the most part self-contained, interconnecting stories, and this format really lessens the intimidating prospect of catching up on the whole comic, because it’s easy to read chunk-by-chunk with clear stopping places. (But when you start reading this comic, you may not want to ever stop!)
Each chapter has a bonus page or a few at the end, which are anything from cute little side-stories to illuminating surprises. Scattered throughout the archive is other material such as handwritten letters from Kat to Annie and drawings by various characters in which their personalities and various styles shine through.
One of my favorite things about GC is how much the art has evolved. As a webcomic artist who has experienced some obvious evolution myself, it’s encouraging to know that a comic can undergo such a significant stylistic shift and still be so beloved. In fact, I think it’s encouraging for any budding artist who may be doubting that they’ll ever improve to read through Gunnerkrigg and see what practice and dedication can do for you.
Now, I’ll be the last person to say there’s anything wrong with a cartoony style, but I do think Tom’s shift from a look that I might describe as “Tim Burton-esque” into more realistic anatomy and sophisticated coloring and layouts fits with the maturation of the characters and story.
His layout, coloring and texture skills have developed to a really impressive level and combine to create some of the most absolutely gorgeous comic pages I’ve seen.
With outstanding art and writing, Gunnerkrigg Court is a treat for the eyes and mind. What’s more, the story is vast enough, and there are so many characters, that it’s truly a comic with something for everyone.
One secret to Gunnerkrigg Court’s success, I believe, is that it’s one of those tales - and Tom is one of those creators - that taps into the spirit of an age and is able to communicate things that many of us really want and need to hear, both on personal and broader thematic levels. It addresses the confusing and often-proclaimed antagonistic roles that science and spiritualism hold in our lives, with great respect for both, and explores the terror, hope, healing and satisfaction that both technology and nature can provide humanity. The vast and mazelike technological behemoth that is the Court itself symbolizes how we can often be trapped by technology lost and listening to our own echoes, while the nature of the forest represents a dangerous freedom from which we have become distanced.
But that’s just what I get out of it. What will you learn in Gunnerkrigg Court?
Cody requested Pamela wearing the Goron tunic (just about the only thing she can wear) a few days ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish it in time for it to be officially a part of the OC Art Challenge Week 1. But oh well, I had fun!
One of the lesser-seen, but most fun to draw, characters in my webcomic. I’m really happy with how this turned out and think I’m getting better with choosing and using color.
OC Art Challenge, Week 3: Memory
Things change… I stay the same.
Some of my beloveds with roughly a 25 year gap.
I liked the lineart of my Yarne from last night on its own, so here you go!
I wanted to draw some Fire Emblem characters tonight, but this one alone took me like an hour and a half to figure out. Oh well, it was fun!
Yarne, a character from Fire Emblem: Awakening for the 3DS. I really got immersed in that game, so I’m going to attempt to get some fanart out of my system in the next few weeks.
Favorite Mega Evolution: Mega Kangaskhan
This was one of the easiest decisions in this project. Helped out by the fact that I think most of the Megas are over-the-top and silly.
Probably the most nonsensical thing the Pokemon developers have ever done is invent the concept of baby Pokemon and not have Kangaskhan’s baby be one of those Pokemon. Seriously, why?! And why do they keep not doing it?! Do they think it’s too far gone by now? With every generation that comes out, are they always like “Y’know I think we’re forgetting something… uh… well, I’m sure it’s no big deal.”
At least we get this.