Literally within minutes of reading Trudgingly Oblivious, (the collaborative, comic art, Tapastic exclusive serial) I’m thinking “This is the future of comic art, I must have been oblivious. Trudgingly oblivious. Did you see what I did there?” I actually ask that last bit to myself, it’s not an aside for your pleasure, it’s a plea for mine. Now I am a sucker for a good collaborative project it’s true, but I am a total 1st level elf mage (that’s a thing right?) when it comes to webcomics. Webcomics have scared the hell out of me for years, making me feel woozy at the seemingly endless tides of them lapping at the digital shore, a million sexy hipsters shouting in the wind, what dubstep sounds like for anyone born before 1995, just a confusing, impenetrable monolith that reads, “YOU MISSED IT. MOVE ON.” That was how I used to feel. One of the pieces of webcomic culture that’s helped speed me along in my cultural development is Tapastic, a home for loads of amazing webcomics and presented in such a way that even a nervous neophyte can quickly get the hang of it.
Oh god that probably made me sound 1,000 years old, didn’t it? “Get the hang of it” nobody says that anymore.
It’s the feeling you get right away from something that’s real, something that comes from a place of love and wonder as opposed to movie tie ins and variant covers. You ever get to read a zine? An actual, physical zine? You get these vibes off them because they’re real. They come from that same place of honesty and creative daring, they’re not mass marketed, they can only reach you if you find them. It’s rewarding as hell and makes you feel imbued with that creative spirit, that, “Holy shit I could probably do this too.” That’s gotta be the best thing about good art, that way you leave it feeling more in touch with the parts of you that want to express themselves, Harold playing “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out” on his banjo at the edge of a cliff, you know the feeling. That’s what I got from just a moment in the Tapastic waters, specifically Trudgingly Oblivious.
Now I know there’s many of you who would probably read the first chapter and think, “Yeah, ok, so it’s like the beginning of a Myazaki movie or something and it’s kind of cute but what is he on about?”
The internet has created this environment where we can all feel really, really close to the creators we admire who create the art we worship. But at the same time, you’re not really having a conversation with Neil Gaiman just because you tagged in @NeilHimself and threw your 2 cents in on whether or not you liked his hat. (You obviously did.) So we get this kind of tease of closeness where we can observe creators having these public conversations but never actually get in on them, not in a real meaningful way. But when you read a comic like this, it’s just you and the artist, it’s so personal, even if it’s a fun, funny comic. It’s one degree of separation from the art and that is intoxicating.
I can’t be the only one who gets misty eyed reading early Delano issues of Hellblazer, thinking “Man, what it must’ve been like to be reading these as they came out.” just thinking about that wave of inspiration and that electricity that comes with art of the age within the age. You’re not going to “get” Hendrix from listening to him on spotify while cleaning up your room. You need to be there to really feel that energy from art as it’s made. And that’s what Trudgingly Oblivious is as well as Tapastic.
Trudgingly Oblivious is like one of those writing games where each person writes a sentence down on the sheet and passes it to the next person to continue. So each chapter is brought to you by a different Tapastic artist, giving each chapter a newly imbued sense of excitement and experiment as one story takes on a multitude of forms. We follow a young lady who runs into mean kids, aliens and cats which is just the “bottom line” to get you in the door. I don’t think people read webcomics solely for the “what happens next” angle, I mean I’m sure it’s a huge part of it, especially with serial dramas or sci-fi mysteries, but with a comic like Trudgingly Oblivious it’s the ride that’s the exciting part, the getting there is just an added bonus.
T.O. is a great introduction to the Tapastic universe, as each chapter gives you another jumping off point to one artist after another producing work on the site. It’s also a lot of fun and free, so save your excuses for the upcoming semester and get reading.