Kickstarter for Valor

Do you love fairy tales? Does the idea of a courageous, intelligent heroine excite you?

Then this might be the Kickstarter for you.

Isabelle Melançon and Megan Lavey-Heaton, the creators of the fantastic webcomic Namesake, present Valor “a comic anthology that pays homage to the strength, resourcefulness, and cunning of female heroines in fairy tales… showcasing the talent of some of the top creators in the field of digital comics.”

Promising retold classics and brand new favorites – all by wonderful, highly talented comic creators – Valor has already met it’s pledge goal of $20,000, but it’s not too late to support the book (and maybe snag some sweet rewards, too).

Give their work a read-through and see if it’s something you might like to help happen.

Time for Some Summer Reading

The Reviews are going on a summer hiatus.

However, that doesn’t mean I won’t be busy. I’ll be tearing through my backlog of new and favorite webcomics looking for things to love.

Your mission dear reader, should you choose to accept it, is to speak up for your own favorites, be they up-and-coming talent or old veterans. Any genre, any style, I want to read them.

Just post a link or two to your favorite series down in the comments section and be sure to give a quick description about the comics and what you enjoy most about them.

Hopefully, by the end of the summer, everyone will have found a new reading list.

See you all then. :)

Monstrous Mayhem: Monster Pulse

I am so sorry this is so late. I am such a terrible, irresponsible blogger.

Kids love dinosaurs. They love Godzilla and giant robots and space aliens. If they’re like me, they grow up on franchises like Pokemon, Digimon, and Monster Rancher. They draw fierce creatures and imagine them locked in epic battles for Justice, for the world, for sheer unadulterated awesomeness.

Kids, in short, love monsters. But what happens when a kid actually gets a monster of their own, one that they have to hide and care for on top of all the usual drama that comes with being a kid? What if that monster is literally a part of them?

This is Monster Pulse, by Magnolia Porter.

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About

“Monster Pulse is an all-ages adventure story about kids whose body parts transform into fighting monsters.”

Do you really need to know more?

Cast

Bina is a lonely, thirteen year-old girl who daydreams about dinosaurs. One day she comes across a mysterious “ghost” which flies into her, possessing her heart and transforming it into an enormous creature which she later names Ayo. Initially shy, unassuming, and plagued with self-doubt – exacerbated by her struggling relationship with her mother – Bina is slowly becoming an outspoken young woman with steadfast convictions.

Abel, a detached loner with a flying, laser-shooting eye monster named Rixis. He’s haunted by something from his past and has been living alone on the streets for years as a result, wandering from place to place, never getting attached to anyone or anything. Despite his prickly demeanor, Abel finds himself growing close to and even befriending the other kids, something that maybe he wants more than he’d ever care to admit, even to himself.

mp3page24Julie, a hyperactive tomboy with a hair monster named Kera. Loud, brash, and completely wild, she’s often comes across as insensitive, immature, and selfish, though she is actively trying to become more considerate about others’ feelings. She’s the first other person with a monster that Bina meets and the two quickly become fast friends.

West, a geeky kid with a walking stomach called Guuzy who eats for the both of them. Although originally just Julie’s friend, West is the kind of kid who makes friends with everyone… or at least tries to. He’s insecure and a little sheltered, but his heart is full of good intentions and unlike Julie, he often puts others’ feelings before his own, perhaps even too much. He has his share of problems, but feels they aren’t as real or important as everyone else’s and so he hides them behind a friendly smile.

For more in-depth descriptions of the characters, just visit the comic’s About page.

Art

While at first I found the comic’s art to be a little rough around the edges and somewhat – for lack of a better word – “cartoony”, it grew on me very quickly. In actuality, the art is very charming and the style is perfect for an all-ages story like Monster Pulse, although the art in the first couple of chapters was a bit heavy on the lines. Each character is given a great design that reflects his or her personality perfectly and conveys all the expression that a scene might require.

mppage25The monsters themselves are all well designed with each one clearly resembling whatever organ/body part they sprang from. Some monsters, like Ayo and Guuzy, are heavily based on the overall shape of the organs, while others, like Kera or Rixis, feature key elements that are meant to invoke their origins. The monsters also range from adorable to awesome to downright horrific and terrifying. They no doubt remind people of some of the more unusual Pokemon designs.

With the exception of a few pages here and there, the first eleven chapters of the comic are drawn in gray scale. The first couple of chapters, in particular, feature some rather heavy line-work, but the comic’s overall image smooths out quickly and almost seamlessly, though there are times between later chapters where slight redesigns have clearly been made. Once we get to chapter twelve, the comic shifts over completely to colored pages, with the colors being a pleasant blend of soft pastel colors with a few louder tones thrown in. The pages themselves use just a few colors each, such as warm yellows and oranges for sunlit scenes and cool blues and purples for night time. I can only imagine how nice they’d look on paper.

Writing

As much as I enjoy the art for Monster Pulse, it’s the writing that never fails to astound me. The writing is heartwarmingly, heartrendingly deep. The characters aren’t just wacky kids having adventures with their organs turned monsters – they are fully developed people, each with their own understandable desires and all too relatable flaws and fears. Not only that, but the characters develop (gasp). Even more amazing is the fact that the children’s parents also act like people (double gasp). It’s unfortunately common in media with child protagonists to portray the adults as ineffective at best, antagonistic at worst. In stories where children behave like adults, it only makes sense that their parents share in their drama and struggle with it just as they do.  This is one of the most highly effective themes a story about child protagonists can have.

mp4page27There’s also the usual fare for children protagonists; fear of their parents finding out their secret, growing romantic feelings, and struggles with self-awareness, to list a few. Each theme is handled wonderfully and the characters that undergo them are written superbly, from their motivation to their dialogue. Add in a plot element about having a monster’s growing out of part’s of people’s bodies, separated but still linked to them, while a shadowy organization hunts them down and you have a great sci-fi/action premise. Monster Pulse is by far one of the more smartly crafted, profound, and emotionally conscious comics I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far.

Run-Down

  • Charming art and fantastic monster designs. Reminiscent of Pokemon and Digimon, yet still unique.
  • Deep, character-driven writing makes every character worthwhile.
  • All ages comic perfect for young adults but readily enjoyable for not-so-young adults.

All in all, Monster Pulse is a great looking, beautifully written series that I would wholeheartedly recommend to veteran or casual comic readers alike, regardless of age. Seriously, go check it out if you haven’t already. It just might get your heart pumping.

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Monster Pulse is written and drawn by Magnolia Porter. This comic, including all images used here, belongs to her. The comic currently updates Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Monstrous Mayhem: Gronk, A Monster’s Story

Monsters don’t always need to be big, or scary, or even horrible in order to be monsters.  So what do you call a monster who’s small, adorable, and uncontrollably rambunctious?

A little kid.

This is Gronk, A Monster’s Story, by Katie Cook

2010-04-30

 About

Gronk was never too good at being a monster. She hates the food, is too cuddly to scare anyone, and the other monsters make fun of her for it. So she decides to leave… and ends up meeting Dale, a young human who lives near the woods with her pets Kitty and Harli. Despite a rough first impression, Dale quickly bonds with the little lonely monster and invites her to come live with her. And so begins Gronk’s life in the human world (and the magic that is pop-culture geekdom).

Cast

I really don’t need to do more than link to the comic’s lovely About page, but in quick blurbs we have

2011-06-17Gronk the eponymous monster. Small and childlike, she loves all things cute and fluffy… well, most things. Despite her own adorable exterior, she has a tendency to revel in morbid humor or imagine herself as a force of inexorable destruction. She’s inherited her love of all things geeky from Dale.

Dale Wilco works out of her home in the woods, with her feisty pet cat Kitty and her large and lovable dog Harli. A music composer who works from home, Dale has a deep love for sci-fi and fantasy, classic films, iconic children’s books, Sesame Street, and animated media. Naturally, she’s the sensible parental figure to Gronk’s unruly childishness, although she certainly has a few quirks of her own.

Art

2013-03-08Simple, clean, and invitingly cute, the art for Gronk is a perfect fit for a comic all about a little monster with a love for plush kitties and all things geeky awesome. Gronk “inherits” her geekiness from Dale, which opens up the door for all kinds of geeky references. I adore Gronk’s squat little body and nubby tail and the giant beanbag chair on legs that is Dale’s dog Harli. Gronk also has some of the most hilarious expressions you could ever find in a comic and it’s particularly great seeing her go over the top.

Writing

Gronk is mostly a slice of life comic and as such, there isn’t really much of an over-arcing story. The closest we get are miniature arcs of two to four that are really just extended jokes. That said, the writing is great for what it is and what it is is a Calvin and Hobbes-esque four panel comic about a wild, imaginative, precocious young monster and the loving parental figure she’s slowly driving up a wall. There are even a few nods to Bill Waterson’s work and others.

2011-10-21The writing itself successfully runs the gamut from sharp social commentary to the most quintessential forms of comedy. A lot of the jokes are derived from situations that virtually every parents knows or hears about; the discovery of cursing, potty training, drawing on the walls. You name it, this comic covers it. Like I said before, the best comedy comes from things that can happen in real life.

Run-Down

  • Adorable art with clean, simple designs and wonderful expressions.
  • Witty, all-ages humor full of geeky references and insights into parenthood a la Calvin & Hobbes and Family Circus.
  • Updates are rather sporadic, but a lengthy archive should tide most readers over for a while.

All in all, an adorable, hilarious series that highlights the delightful craziness (and heart-touching emotion) that comes with raising a child.

2010-07-23

Gronk, a Monster’s Story is written and drawn by Katie Cook. This comic, including all images used here, belongs to her.