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The Comics Alternative

The Comics Alternative is weekly podcast focusing on the world of alternative, independent, and primarily non-superhero comics. (There's nothing wrong with superhero comics. We just want to do something different.) New podcast episodes become available every Wednesday and include reviews of graphic novels and current ongoing series, discussions of upcoming comics, examinations of collected editions, in-depth analyses of a variety of comics texts, and spotlights on various creators and publishers. The Comics Alternative also produces "special feature" programs, such as shows specifically dedicated to creator interviews, webcomics, on-location events, and special non-weekly themes and topics.


Apr 18, 2016

For April, Sean and Derek look at three very different webcomics, each a standout in its own way. They begin with Der-shing Helmer's The Meek, the fantastical story of Angora, a young innocent -- even feral -- girl sent on a quest that could save her world. But Angora's isn't the only narrative thread making up this webcomic. We're also introduce to Luca deSadar and his family, rulers of the Northern Territories, and to Soli Areni, a mercenary with a secret to hide and whose jobs aren't always on the lawful side. In the first five chapters of this webcomic, Helmer subtly weaves these storylines together in a way that should become more pronounced as the narrative develops. Next, the guys check out O Human Star, a science fiction tale that's more about relationships and the way we choose to identify ourselves. Blue Delliquanti, its creator, deftly teases out her cast so that they're fully developed individuals whose lives, and dilemmas, become the scaffolding upon which everything rests. The world of O Human Star is a futuristic one, where robotics and artificial intelligence integrate almost seamlessly into human exchanges. And the boundaries between identities is not only limited to that between human and robot. Finally, Derek and Sean consider Stuart Campbell's These Memories Won't Last, a webcomic unlike anything else they've ever discussed. With the help of Lhasa Mencur (on sound design) and programmer Vitaliy Shirokiy, Campbell tells the story of his grandfather as he develops dementia. Whereas both The Meek and O Human Star contained layers of meaning, The Memories Won't Last is primarily defined by its visual layering. As the guys point out, Campbell and company layer the narration of the experience on top of the grandfather's actual story, and then these are overlaid with a ill-defined cloud that can obscure the visuals, much as the grandfather's growing dementia eats away at his memories. This is a short and poignant webcomic, and one that is nominated for a 2016 Webby Award in the NetArt category. And it's something you have to experience yourself to get the full effect.