Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Horror Webcomics - By Richard Pulfer

Halloween is past, & maybe there's no good scary movies on basic cable, or the ones playing on HBO and Showtime just aren't your thing. Whatever the reason, if your looking for horror you should try something quick, easy, and most importantly, free.

The solution is an emerging trend entitled webcomics. Separated from any techno or comic-jargon, web comics are simply comic book strips which are updated online instead of print. So what, you might say, what's so scary about an online Charlie Brown? But web comics have become largely a product of the digital generation, with influences in such things as manga and video games instead of office work and house cats.

My name is Richard Pulfer and I'm one of them - the writer of the twice-a-week mythical webcomic "Hector!". We've just started our own Halloween interlude, which finds the ever-ill-fated Ichabod Crane eluding the Headless Horseman only to find himself in the sights of the monster who hides beneath the bridge instead of beyond it.

But enough about me. Here are a few other hair-raising web comics to satisfy your thirst for shadows.

"No Rest For the Wicked": Don't let Andrea L. Peterson's manga stylings fool you, as her frightfully frantic fairy tale is certainly nothing like Terry Gilliam's "Brothers Grimm". Instead, her subtle use of color has an eerie spellbinding quality, which gives her a kind of Tim Burton-esque quality. Unlike Gilliam, Peterson isn't afraid to shy off the beaten path of well and known fairy tales. Instead, she uses altered renditions of fairy tales we know and love (Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, Puss and Boots) and launches them onto the path of ones we don't know so well (the Death of the Moon). The result is a bizarre collision of convention and originality. The webcomic just hit hiatus, so you can read Andrea's work before the next storyline starts.

"Flatwood" : Told in black and white, Zachary Parker uses the exaggerated features of traditional comic strip characters combined with the subtle possibilties of Flash animation to tell a tale which is as much Dante's "Inferno" as it is Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining". With a main character plagued by strange demonic characters outside and even stranger figures within his own dreams, "Flatwood" might be a bit hard to understand sometimes, but the result is always an intriguing one regardless. Parker uses Flash not necessarily to tell his story (although he occasionally will depict a strip through a sequence of Flash animation), but instead mainly uses Flash to enhance the reader's experience, showing blinking eyes and moving shapes to play against our own imagination. This is innovative web comic creation at its best. If you do decide to venture into Flatwood, take it a step further and turn off all the lights.

"This Is Gravity": Created by my good friend B.J. Ibeas, "This Is Gravity" tells the story of a girl's descent and return from Hell all in just one prologue. Where the story goes after that is still in question, but I can tell you this much: it involves a depressed young woman named Maggie, her best (and dead) friend Jenny, and Jenny's brother Dexter. Put in a weird-looking frog, an enigmatic goateed pet store owner and a couple demons for good measure, and . . . I have no idea what you have, but it sounds worth reading, right? The art in this strip is fantastic, and so are the characters. The reactions as well as the personalities of all the characters involved, on Earth, Hell, and everything in-between is truly astounding. This is one of the best "under-the-radar" web comics I've seen in a good long while.

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