Webcomics: Reviews of Ectopiary, Thunderpaw, and Split Lip Comics

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EctopiaryThis month on The Comics Alternative‘s webcomics show, Andy and Derek check out three intriguing titles. As they usually do, they begin by looking at two current and ongoing titles. They get the ball rolling with Hans Rickheit’s Ectopiary, This is a surreal story of discovery involving a young girl, Dale, whose family life isn’t the most ideal. Sent to live with her aunt and uncle, she tries to come to grips with her parents’ precarious state and does so through a series of unlikely discoveries on her relatives’ property. Fans of Rickheit’s The Squirrel Machine and Cochlea and Eustachia will find a similarly mind-bending, and beautifully illustrated, narrative in Ectopiary. This webcomic hasn’t been updated in quite a while, but the guys are willing to wait hopefully for such a compelling work as Ectopiary. After that, Derek and Andy return to an author they had briefly discussed in a recent review show. Jen Lee’s Thunderpaw is a story with anthropomorphic animals trying to find their way in the wild. As in Vacancy, the protagonists in Thunderpaw are domesticated dogs who must contend with a completely unfamiliar surroundings, and in this narrative that setting is a post-apocalyptic SplitLipworld where humans are nowhere to be found. What distinguishes his webcomic is not so much the premise, as fascinating as it is, but the storytelling strategies that Lee employs. She uses animated GIFs to set the tone and create a sense of urgency, and she utilizes design and panel layout in a way that brilliantly illustrates Scott McCloud’s concept of the “infinite canvas.” The Two Guys wrap up with the completed webcomic of the month, although technically this one is still in the process of evolving. Split Lip Comics is an anthology comprising individual short stories, all written by Sam Costello, but illustrated by a variety of artists. This webcomic’s tagline is “Strange thoughts beget strange deeds,” and all of its stories underscore that tone. Andy likens it to Rod Serling’s Night Gallery series from the 1970s, short vignettes with a macabre twist. The guys don’t discuss all of the stories on the website — there are over forty in the archives — but they do highlight some of their favorites and the ones that particularly stood out to them. In the Two Guys with PhDs’ valiant and ongoing attempt to explore the realm of webcomics, this is another fascinating step forward!


Check out some of the other works from the creators discussed in this episode:


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The Comics Alternative is a podcast and blog focused on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics.

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