By Jason Karlson
Rapper Scroobius Pip once bemoaned “journalism is lazy in the need to be first” about music bloggers, and the scrabble to constantly find something new. Well it’s not just musos, but comic fans too. I’m not sure about lazy, but there is a buzz about being the first to catch onto something. I’ll admit to feeling a rush after being the first to say “I spotted this first!” and planting my flag, so to speak. The smug “told you so!” when everyone else finally catches up. It’s one of my least likable qualities if I’m honest. Pretentiously name dropping and quoting cooler than thou musicians is another. What can I say? Nobody’s perfect I guess.
So here we are; two webcomics that have caught my interest, and while it’s far too early to really write anything substantial about them, hopefully you’ll be able to see the beginnings of some new and exciting webcomics as they develop.
Nonesense, by Francis Marshall
At present there isn’t really much to go on with Francis Marshall’s Nonesense, the dozen or so pages that are up right now introducing us to a young owl and his Grandma on his first day of school, skipping forward quickly to his first day of university. Marshall has described the future outline of his slice of life comic as focusing on “mundanity, adulthood and two awkward students, who are almost-opposites, forming a tentative relationship with each other”.
I can only vouch for Nonesense as a one to watch after encountering the artists work in another comic short story featured in the anthropomorphic anthology comic, rruffurr. Also entitled Nonsense, this sweet little story find a a couple speculating on infinite realities, string theory and relationships. Oh, I forgot to mention; the couple are an owl and a cat, obviously. It’s really sweet, and an inventive little take on a familiar yarn.
The artwork is scruffy and immediate with a ‘zine like quality to it, described by Marshall as “my scratchy, messy baby”. Being his first regularly updated website it suits the ‘just get it out there’ immediacy of such a project. He’s also producing more artwork on his personal art tumblr that shows a more refined painterly style with some truly gorgeous avian character designs.
Terrible Terrible Terrible, by Lauren Monger
Terrible Terrible Terrible is Lauren Monger’s comic featuring her scuzzy anthropomophised crew of gutter punks whose days are filled with getting drunk, listening to music and ironically visiting shitty theme parks, all the while wallowing in that sarcastic, self destructive aimlessness that manages to grip even the best of us at some point in our lives. While the general slacker attitude and theme has almost been done to death at this point, Mongers comic which is mostly focused around the Opossum Clementine, still has something fresh to add.
Rendered in scratchy, punky paints and inks Monger’s skill with this project is in capturing the small, seemingly inconsequential events of her characters’ day to day lives as they manage to one way or another shirk or avoid becoming “responsible adults”. Even at their most sarcastic and destructive her cast of opossums, badgers and ‘coons always have a warmth to them as they slowly find their place in the world and push against the complicated transition to adulthood. Whether it be wandering around aimlessly, getting high or rattling off fictional punk band names she somehow gives these insignificant events gravity, showing the minutiae and humor in the fag-end, empty days of unfocused youth.
Like any up and coming artist online Monger partly supports herself with a Patreon site, where in return for a few bucks towards the making of her comic, offers rewards delving into her creative process such as studio pictures and livestreams. She is also working on a print project, Sleepwalking for indie publisher Space Face Books.
We know only two things for certain of Jason Karlson; that he was born on the wagon of a traveling show to Latverian parents, and that tales of his orgins are wholely fictional. His writing style is pithy and insightful, with hints of oak and red berry, finished with earthy tones and somber notes. If he were to describe himself in a single word it would likely be self deprecating. He occasionally tweets over at @marfedfolf