In lieu of having anything good of my own to post I think this is as good a time as any to plug two comics that I’ve read recently and that I’ve really liked.
One is Bone by Jeff Smith.
Bone is one of those interesting comics that is not what it appears to be on the outside. Actually a better way of putting it is that over the course of the story it starts off being one thing, gradually ends up changing it's tone completely, and then returns to what it was at the beginning of the journey. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never really read it, but it is a wonderful tale that’s not to be missed if you love cartooning and comics. My respect for the author grew even more after I learned how steadfast he was in defending his story from Hollywood manipulation. The studio that picked up the rights wanted to change the story and the characters to “fit” certain demographics better. Jeff Smith held steadfast to his artistic convictions and walked away when the studio wasn’t willing to budge. I can only admire a comic book artist who thinks that highly of the medium. To often people think of comics as a “lesser” medium than movies or television and, as Scott McCloud put it, view any opportunity to leave comics for these other mediums as a step up. Comics are just as legitimate a storytelling medium as cinema, television, novels, or radio. A comic story doesn't need to pander to Hollywood for the possibility of being adapted to be great in it's own right. Any artist who sticks to their guns like this is to be commended, especially one who stuck with his story until it was done for thirteen years. Even turning down other movie offers.
The other comic is Megatokyo, a web comic created by Fred Gallagher and Rodney Canston but now written and drawn solely by Gallagher. When I picked up one of the collected volumes in the library (Volume 4) I figured it would just be another lame attempt at anime fan/gamer humor. When I started reading I didn’t feel like there was much going on to disprove my assumption. Then about a third of the way through I discovered that I was woefully incorrect in my presumption. I found characters here of an incredible depth, the kind you definitely would not expect from a game/manga focused American web comic. After reading through volume four I checked out the website where every comic from the story's beginnings in 2000 to the present is archived. The most rewarding dynamics, and a testament to just how well put together this story is are the budding romances between Largo/Erika and Piro/Kimiko, truly dynamic storytelling that totally surpassed my expectations for what this kind of comic could be.
Megatokyo is one of the Anime/Manga influenced Western stories that truly “get’s it.” Many people in the West try to emulate the cartooning styles popular in Japan in an attempt to be hip (corporations chasing demographics), or thinking that it somehow grants legitimacy to their work, as if everything western is dumb. MegaTokyo takes what appeals to we anime/manga fans and works it in such a way that it doesn’t feel like pandering. A truly wonderful accomplishment.
I now proudly count myself among the fans of both of these fine comics.