Welcome, wide-eyed web wanderers, to another installment of my humble, little column. I've tried my best this week, as always, to illuminate the pathway toward some the finest sequential art that the internet has to offer. Read on and perhaps you'll find a new favorite webcomic, or at least something worth killing some time with.
This week's selection is Paul Reveres, by Tina Pratt. This delightfully whimsical comic asks the question that all historians have surely been wondering for ages - “What would the American revolution have been like if were a battle of the bands?” Imagine if one were to mix the John Adams mini series with Scott Pilgrim and you might have some idea of what to expect.
Pratt's story focuses, naturally, on a young emo version of Paul Revere, complete with tight pants and silly hair. Instead of being a silver smith and propagandist , this version of the legendary founding father is an overly shy guitar virtuoso with a fear of talking to women. After the tragic events of the Boston Massacre (where the colonists covered a Hanson song vs. the British going with a Beatles cover) young Paul decides that his band, The Paul Reveres, must sign on with Sam Adams and his Sons of Liberty to stand against the British invasion. And who is at the forefront of the British offensive? None other than The Union Jack-offs, fronted by a miniscule and effeminate Benedict Arnold.
Brilliant re-imaginings of some of the most important figures from American history and folklore add an extra dimension of creativity, humor and plain old fun to this webcomic. From Paul Revere with his Flock of Sea Gulls hair cut and timid emo demeanor, to a portrayal of Johnny Tremain as an obsessive groupie, Tina Pratt shows displays a truly impressive talent for creating colorful, fun characters. For me this aspect of the comic makes for a great sense of anticipation, as I eagerly look forward to seeing how Pratt will portray future historical figures. It's the same kind of feeling that Marvel's Ultimate comics used to give me, but instead of wondering what “Ultimate Longshot” will be like, I find myself speculating how “Ultimate George Washington” will take form.
Before I start talking about the art I have to admit that, in general, I am not a fan the typical cartoony, manga style. In some cases though, that is just what the story calls for. This is one of those cases. More importantly, Pratt manages to take a style that is all to often abused by amateurs and infuse it with a sense professionalism that many manga style webcomics lack. In addition to the high quality of the line art, Paul Reveres employs a brilliant sense of color that subtly imbues the project with an extra dimension of aesthetic appeal.
Another cool aspect of this comic is how well it lends itself to merchandise, and how well that is taken advantage of. Fans can order patches for “The Paul Reveres” as well as “The Union Jack-Offs”. Even a plush version of Paul Revere's pet dog, Snickerdoodle, is available. There's something to be said about making a cleverly marketable comic, and there is no better way to celebrate the American revolution than through good, old fashioned capitalism (I'm not being sarcastic here at all. I love capitalism. Try writing comic books for a living under communism.)
I do have to warn you that I may be a bit biased here as Paul Reveres combines some of my very favorite things into an entertaining story presented in my preferred medium. As a comic writer/nerd, history buff, musician and native Bostonian this bizarre punk rock retelling of the American revolution instantly stole my heart. I do firmly believe however that this a well crafted webcomic which most people can enjoy, even if they haven't walked the freedom trail while listening to Earth A.D.
Sadly I only have time to examine one webcomic again this week, as the demands of fatherhood, comic writing and working a day job have been a bit much this past month. As promised though I have a little something new to introduce which I hope find useful, oh faithful readers. Each installment from here on in I'm going to attempt to talk to some other comic creators and inquire as to what webcomics they think you should be reading. And if you guys have any suggestions as to what people should be reading or a comic I should talk about, don't be shy! Leave some comments!
Tyler James (Over, Superseed, Tears of the Dragon):
I don't want to call out favorites, but I will share some new webcomics I've got my eye on.**
DynaGirl*- Cary Kelley & Harold Edge's new online, ongoing superhero comic spin-off of his critically acclaimed self-published series*Fallen Justice.* Just started, but already looking like a winner.* Updates a few times a week.**
Escape From Planet Nowhere*- Breathtaking digital art by Otis Frampton in a fun story that just launched recently.**
Pink Parts*- (NSFW) Here's a new comic I discovered because they were advertising on*Over.* It's about a chick starting her "career" as a stripper.* Well drawn, well written, boobs, strippers...what's not to like? (Okay, maybe I've been listening to too much Akon, but "I'm in love with a stripper (comic.)"
Steven Severt (Rival Comics, CAPTive):
Well I haven't been reading much... but Down the Stairs in Bethany Hospital by Bella Roi and Fusion from Essay Bee Comics are always awesome, and, naturally, I do love me some Curtis Lawson's Grindhouse!
Curtis Lawson is the owner of Broken Soul Press and the writer of the webcomics*Divis Morte*and*Curtis Lawson's Grindhouse.