Greetings fanboys and girls! Welcome back to yet another edition of Webcomics You Should Be Reading! Your humble guide has once again searched far and wide in an attempt to bring to light the best webcomics hidden throughout the white noise wasteland of the internet. Now please take my hand and allow me to show you the sequential wonders that await the bold virtual-explorer.
A lot of the comics I've tackled thus far have stood out because of their superior artwork, the unique voice with which they are told, or a sense of exceptional creativity. Anatta, by Wei Li and Anise Shaw, not only displays of these previously mentioned merits, but ups the ante by providing social commentary that is relevant today as well as exploring ethical dilemmas that humanity may very well face in the future. Unlike many other socially relevant “smart” comics, Anatta does not sacrifice one bit of readability for the cause of exploring the intellectual and moral questions that face the people of today or tomorrow. Like all great sci-fi, Anatta puts the story first and drives the reader to think about important issues with such expert subtlety that one may not even consciously realize it.
The story takes place in the not so distant future. There is a strong sense of familiarity to our won world with one glaringly large exception – people can upload their entire intellectual self into other bodies. This is a fairly strong hook for a sci-fi story as it is a technology with so much real world potential, not something reserved for space explorers and super heroes. Imagine the possibilities for a moment. A person who is bound to a wheel chair could control the body of an athlete temporarily. Cancer patients whose bodies are riddled with pain could find solace in a healthy body. The elderly could experience once again what it is to be young and beautiful. Of course there are morally gray and downright evil uses for such technology. Where should the line be drawn? These are the questions that Li and Shaw tackle in their brilliant webcomic.
The main protagonist of the story is Alex Lee, a young woman who finds work in the form of body hosting. Basically she rents out her body, temporarily exchanging corporeal forms with her client. The ingenious part of focusing on a character who does such a thing for a career is that it offers almost limitless plot directions. In the very first story arc Alex finds herself tied up with Triad gangsters after going through with an illegal inter-gender body exchange. Tying down the nearly infinite directions in which the story can go, Li and Shaw have placed Alex in the midst of a conspiracy having to do with her father and his corporation.
As for the voice of the comic, you'll find that it is fiercely original. The thought provoking writing and excellent characterization melds seamlessly with the unabashed and fearlessly indie style of the art work. Putting the needs of the story first, Li and Anise show that they are unafraid to take chances, including effective and daring use of visual storytelling. You'll find more than a few pages in Anatta with little to no dialogue, a move that can run the risk of ostracizing an audience when it comes to webcomics. I can't help but admire the boldness of such story telling, especially since I'm afraid to do too much of it in my own work. Even more admirable is how effectively they pull it off.
Another cool little dash of flavor that you'll find with Anatta is some fictional news stories from the world it takes place in. Though there are only two such articles up as of now they go a long way to draw the audience deeper into the world. Extra content like that is also a great way to show your readers that you value them and want them to have the fullest comics experience possible.
With Anatta what you end up with is an eerily credible vision of the future – a future that many of us may live to see. Furthermore this future that Li and Anise have created is peopled with relateable and believable characters. Not only do we get an interesting look at our own possible future, Anatta takes us through the emotional ups and downs that such a world would throw at us. In addition to examining the societal effects of such technology this webcomic also considers how such power would effect the mind and soul of the individual. Hands down this is one of the most impressively entertaining and socially meaningful webcomics you will come across.
Unfortunately I have to cut it short this week as I've been working out the business side of a project of my own, so no second review. I do have a couple of little news snippets and reminders for everyone though.
First off, some of you may remember my review of Dead Heaven. Well creator Christopher Steininger, has announced that he's unhappy with both the quality of his artwork on the comic and the time it takes him to draw in that style. Christopher has changed to a style that looks more like painting and will be redrawing the entire series to match. I myself think that Dead Heaven has always been possibly the most gorgeous comic on the net, but ultimately it's the artist who has to live with his own work. If you are interested in hearing Christopher's complete explanation it can be found in the blog underneath the newest page of Dead Heaven.
My second piece of news is just a reminder that the new chapter of Lovecraft Is Missing has begun. Starting off just as strong as the rest of the book it promises to be quite the wild ride. If you haven't checked it out yet, I'm suggesting it again. Iak Sakkath!
Well that's it for now folks. I'll catch you again in 14 days with a longer column and little something new.
Curtis Lawson is the owner of Broken Soul Press and the writer of the webcomics*Divis Morte*and*Curtis Lawson's Grindhouse.
Last edited by CurtisLawson; Monday, April 26, 2010 at 04:33 AM.