Thursday, October 11, 2012

Graphic Novel & Webcomic Review: Sick and Year One

So, these two comics are polar opposites in tone and topic. In fact, I was planning on writing only about Ramsey Beyer’s “Year One”, but I just saw Gabby Schulz’s Sick today thanks to a Facebook friend and was blown away. It’s a webcomic that, well... Let’s just say that it’s not just an attempt at gazing down at the abyss, but rather a jump down to the deep, dark pits of suffering, self-doubt and loneliness. You know what’s the worst part? It’s all true. Time to man up, folks. Life blows. Hard.

Everybody pretty much assumes that this is autobiographical and, I’ve got to say, you’ll end up feeling pretty sorry for the guy. He gets severely sick --think a fever for days on end and all sorts of fluids coming out of all sorts of orifices-- but is broke and without health insurance. More than a few of us have been there to a lesser degree, yes? Yes. All he can do is lay in bed and go into some pretty dark fever dreams and rants. Fortunately (?) for us, he didn’t die and decided to commit all of this to paper.

But, every cloud has a silver lining... or so they say. Word on the street is that Schulz will be writing a part 2 and 3 later on. Since “Sick” was a guided tour through the wonders of personal anguish and disease, things can only pick up from here. Right?

Seriously, though, Gabby Schulz --who also goes by Ken Dahl-- has some fantastic webcomics (such as the awesome Sexism or, for the depressed existentialist in you, Art). Check out his site.

Now, moving on to warmer and fuzzier things (think vegan, punk-rock unicorns), I’ve got to say that I absolutely love Ramsey Beyer’s pretty black and white world: her
illustrations, webcomics, and graphic novel (you can view it online!) Year One --recently printed thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. The book tells the story of her first year living in Pennsylvania. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that at first I thought this would be yet another navel-gaze epic of an indie chick with First World problems. Yes, thank you, I will also admit that I initially checked it out because I identified with the First World theme of moving to a new city and its related existential, relationship and social crises. Whatever!

Personally, I think the initial pages of the story are ok. After the first ten or so, only the art kept me going, but as it moves on, it all takes a turn for the better. It’s interesting to note that Ramsey was writing and drawing the pages on a pretty much weekly basis, so reading the graphic novel is like seeing her evolution as a writer over a year. After a while, I was hooked and ended up really digging her book.

Kudos, Ramsey, you make vegan navel-gaze not just readable, but awesome. Since some folks pre-ordered the book, the last twenty pages are not online yet. You can either buy the book or just keep on checking out the other webcomics on her site until she posts the remaining pages.

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