Webcomic of the Week – KIWI BLITZ

wotwcardHey everypeoples, it is the middle of the week and time for a new webcomic. I’ll confess, I’m going to cheat a little with this one because I didn’t have time to binge through anything this weekend, so I’m going with one of the webcomics I’ve been reading for a while. No judging, this one has an extensive archive, plus I’ll be throwing in a few extra recommendations at the end.

With that out of the way, this week’s webcomic is Kiwi Blitz, by Mary “Cube Watermelon” Cagle. Set in a futuristic sci-fi version of New York City, the story follows Steffi Frohlich, a 14-year-old girl with a passion for battling giant robots and far too much time on her hands. While initially satisfied with dueling other mechs in the arena, Steffi takes her piloting skills to the next level when she receives her birthday present: Kiwibot, which is exactly what it sounds like i.e. a giant mechanical kiwi bird. Fed up with being confined to the junior Robot League, Steffi adopts the moniker of “Blitz” and takes her new mecha out onto the streets to fight crime as a superheroine. To aid in her daring-do is Ben (short for Benzene) who is totally not her boyfriend (surreptitious wink) and the cute yet incredibly creepy robot girl 42 (yes, that’s the only name she has). Along the way, Steffi encounters a variety of foes such as master burglar The Raccoon, the psychotic cyborg girl Gear, and a shady group called Alter who have their own conspiracy within the police force…

Kiwi Blitz is another comic where I have to gush a little about the artwork. It’s heavily inspired by anime and manga style, but is drawn with a cutesy charm and vibrant colours that make it truly unique. Even the most badass of characters have an almost huggable look about them, which provides a sharp contrast to many of the things they are capable of (watch out for flying limbs, yikes…). It also manages to be incredibly detailed without overwhelming the eye, something I’ve always had trouble with and envy. Add to this the range of stylized facial expressions taken right out of a Saturday morning anime and it’s practically begging to be an animated series, which I would watch religiously, by the way. Art aside, the characters are fun and have great chemistry; Steffi is headstrong and reckless, taking to the role of a superhero with gusto, even though she doesn’t really think the whole process through. Once Ben gets wise to her activities as Blitz, he helps to be her voice of reason and mission control, and their friendship grows stronger for it.

Kiwi Blitz has just recently started its 20th chapter and has been running for more than 400 pages, so take a day out of your busy schedule and dive in. And while you’re at it, Mary Cagle has two other webcomics running as well: Let’s Speak English, an autobiographical Yonkoma strip about her life as an English teacher in Japan, and Sleepless Domain, a recent collaboration with artist Oskar Vega starring a team of Magical Girls!

That’s all for this week, go check out Kiwi Blitz and the Cube Watermelon’s other projects, she’s a fantastic writer and all-round nice person so show her some love, and don’t forget to leave suggestions for future comic recommendations in the comments.

Ciao for now.

Webcomic of the Week – DEMON HUNTER KAIN

wotwcardHappy Wednesday everybody, if you are the sort of person who holds a special place in your heart for the middle of the week. The true significance of it to me is simply to refer you all to a newly discovered webcomic. Going to slap a warning on you right now: this week’s webcomic contains scenes with violence, gore, disturbing twisted monstrosities and strong language. Mature readers only, folks!

This comic with a disturbingly diverse range of deviance is Demon Hunter Kain, by Burrell Gill Jr. It follows the story of two characters: Zandalee, a high school student plagued by terrifying hallucinations despite her medication, and the titular Kain, a boy with a tragic past and the power to battle demonic invaders. Match made in heaven, right? The scene is set with Zandalee attending her first real day of school in four years, having spent the intervening time hospitalised and medicated for her schizophrenic visions. It isn’t long before she starts seeing things lurking around her school, and her less-than-subtle reactions to them immediately brand her as weird and disturbed. But when the supposed hallucinations start attacking her, only the intervention of Kain saves Zandalee’s life, and helps her understand that she isn’t insane.

The first thing I really want to praise regarding Demon Hunter Kain is the artwork. For a story as dark as this, one could easily have done it as a stark, dramatic, tonal piece with plenty of shadows. On the contrary, the pages are fully coloured in a western-manga style, allowing the reader to see every horrific detail of the gruesome abominations that Kain fights, and the intense emotion on the characters’ faces. Gill Jr. has a flair for the monstrous, and while the demons never reach a Clive Barker level of horrific, they will easily make your face crumple in disgust. The human characters are equally well designed, everyone has a distinct look that is recognisable at a glance. The two leads both have tragic backstories that feed into their current lives; Kain’s guilt over past mistakes and his relative inexperience with demon hunting make him driven to prove himself to his superiors, while Zandalee seeks to learn more about why she is able to see things no-one else can and, for the first time in her life, have a real friend.

Demon Hunter Kain was initially a title I found on a list of webcomics that I thought sounded just corny enough to be good, and I was right, albeit for the wrong reasons. What I thought would be an over-the-top, angsty drama turned out to be an intense, character-driven urban fantasy that I am thoroughly enjoying. The comic updates on Mondays and has archives dating back to 2011, so set aside a few hours and prepare your stomach; it’s a wild ride.

That’s all for this week, go check out Demon Hunter Kain right here, and if you can recommend any webcomics for me to binge and review, let me know in the comments.

Ciao for now.

Bottom of the Deck – 15/08/11

botdcardGood evening everypeoples, Tuesday night again, and time for me to talk about stuff that’s been happening… even when nothing is happening.

We’ve just come out of a long weekend, which is a phenomenon that I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with. On the one hand, it’s three days off, uninterrupted and relaxing to allow one to get their head clear. On the other hand, it’s also a convenient excuse to get nothing done. It’s something that I’ve always been very guilty of, but for all my intentions to use this kind of free time to be productive, I tend to fall back on procrastination. Obviously, if a deadline is looming and I have no time to waste, then I will work my ass off to get my work done, but if there’s no immediate hurry, then I get lazy. This is especially a problem when I’ve had a busy week (which is every week, near enough) and my brain is a convoluted mess that keeps firing off random ideas even though I’m exhausted and trying to sleep; I use my down-time to slow my brain down so that it’ll give me peace and quiet. In the process of trying to make my brain shut up, I lose track of time and miss out on getting work done. I’m not proud of it, consider this a confession of sorts, though if you know me well enough already then this is old news.

However, as a storyteller (even a mostly-unrecognised one), a lot of my personal distractions tend to involve some kind of story-building element. If I’m reading something, it’ll likely be an article on character development or defining how effectively a plot twist can work in certain situations. If I’m playing something, it’ll usually be a game with a good plot, or at least have a situation that I can project my own personal idea for a plot onto; have you ever stopped to think just what the story is behind the randomly named and generated special ops sniper you just sent to blow an alien’s head off? Or if I’m watching something, it’ll be a show (or more likely, a cartoon) with characters that I can easily identify and follow; I’ve been watching a lot of teen comedy anime lately, and I wish my high school days had been half as hilarious as some of these…

One particular thing I often find myself turning on to kill time, is a panel done by one of my favourite webcomic writers, Micheal “Mookie” Terraciano. The creator of Dominic Deegan and writer of Star Power, he has done a panel on the convention circuit called Writing Unique Heroes and Memorable Villains. Mookie describes it as not being a be-all and end-all way to write characters, but he does provide some very insightful thoughts into how we as creators can craft stories that we as readers find meaningful to us. There are a couple of recordings of this panel on YouTube, the most complete and comprehensive one being here; I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make their writing a little more quirky and interesting.

That’s all for this week, maybe by the next one I’ll have actually done something.

Ciao for now.

Webcomic of the Week – PENNY BLACKFEATHER

wotwcardGood evening, everypeoples. It is Wednesday and therefore time for me to espouse my views on a newly discovered webcomic.

This one is another chance find that I made during my vacation, and it goes by the title of Penny Blackfeather. Written and drawn by Francesca Dare, who describes it as a “regency-punk adventure”, this comic follows the story of Penelope Blake, a young noblewoman living in 1812 England. While her mother and older sisters are obsessed with increasing their social standing and enjoying the finer (read: frillier) things in life, Penny longs for the sort of adventures her late grandfather Nathaniel Blackfeather would go on. This is exacerbated by the fact that Nathaniel, once a famed pirate and sorcerer, is still around as a ghost and Penny is the only person who can hear him that he knows of. Penny’s wish is finally granted when she sneaks away from a ball to search a haunted library, and through a series of mishaps meets a fellow adventurer and his bright blue parrot, and a world she could only dream of opens before her.

With a tonal, stylized art style with occasional colour for dramatic effect, Penny Blackfeather derives much of it’s humour from character expressions and interactions. Running gags like Penny’s terrible sense of direction and the Adventurer’s name never being revealed crop up constantly, and the fact that all of the characters are incredibly stubborn means everyone is always butting heads; Penny demands to be taken on adventures, Nathaniel insists on talking to anyone who will listen (when he can’t find anyone to hear him, he’ll settle for narrating to the reader), and the Adventurer steadfastly refuses to believe that magic exists, even when it’s happening two inches from his face. Behind all the humour is a compelling mystery adventure involving monsters from another dimension, the secret behind Princess the parrot, and a mysterious man named Rook whom Nathaniel is sure he used to know…

Having started in 2012 and updating only on Sundays, this webcomic’s archive is not overly-extensive, and is easily binged in a day. This isn’t a bad thing though, because you’ll want to keep reading until you run out of pages, which just makes waiting a whole week for another page a foot-tappingly impatient affair.

That’s all for this week, go check out Penny Blackfeather, show the creator some love, and if you know of any webcomics I should binge for future posts, let me know in the comments.

Ciao for now.