Webcomics Capsules — Horror, Feminism and Sex Toys
Webcomics Capsules is a conglomerate of short webcomics reviews. What’s on the menu today? Supernatural horror, feminist superheroics, slice of life storytelling, and sex toys. What a mix!
Christina Strain and Jayd Aït-Kaci
Updates: Thursdays (coming back soon)
Yun Hee was nine when she woke up to find her sister missing and the rest of her family bloodily murdered. With a mysterious supernatural help she managed to survive, only to awaken in a hospital bed and see her sister possessed by Gumiho, the Korean Nine-Tailed Fox. From this day on, she studied to become a mudang, a shaman in the traditional Korean Muist Religion, gathering knowledge to look for and take vengeance upon her “sister.”
The Fox Sister was inspired by a traditional Korean folktale. A father wanted a daughter so bad he prayed to be given one, even if she was a fox. I don’t want to ruin the mystery but, well, it ends in blood.
It isn’t known yet if Yun Hee will find a similar fate, but she is trying. Scared and traumatized, she grown up to be lonely and bitter, but she finds a Christian missionary called Alex in an alley. In the 1960’s, Korea was going through a Christianization process. Alex is somewhat of a complementary force for Yun Hee. Maybe only the two of them together can defat the Gumiho.
The webcomic is entering its climax and should be coming back soon from a hiatus (the author was moving). It is expressively drawn and beautifully colored. My only complaint is that the website layout is hard to read. When printed, as the authors say it will, it may be an even better experience. Anyway, it is a thrilling and fast-paced adventure that makes it hard to put away.
Political & Feminist Cynicomedy
Updates: Mondays & Thursdays
That title is a mouthful, so forgive me for just calling the comic by the name of its titular heroine, Gyno-Star. She’s a soft-spoken type who doesn’t shy away from a fight when someone needs to stand up for women.
Gyno-Star is a true feminist — not just a lip-service feminist who upholds part of the ideal of equality between the sexes. Her powers grow stronger as needed, and she recently acquired a sidekick: Little Sappho, whose gaydar helps her fight oppression for that marginalized group.
Together they have a rogues gallery of recurring miscreants including Vlad Deferens, the king of chauvinism, and Stay-At-Home-Mom, who wants all women in old-school “traditional” roles.
The comic doesn’t take itself too seriously, adding sophomoric humor to its bad guys, and tossing puns around freely; but it does shine a light on a lot of the problems with the way women are treated. Ms. Cohen does not pull her punches on whatever topic she’s lampooning, either! The current arc (May 2014) is guest-drawn by Dave Barrack of Grrl Power!, but my favorite arc is the one about the irresistibility of iPads.
The comic has been running from 2010, but as Ms. Cohen’s schedule permits: there’s enough for a decent archive binge. Dive in and have fun in Gyno-Star’s world. Let your rage over dudebro culture lend strength to our heroine! Fair warning: the politics of this comic and its creatrix lean decidedly left. Oh, and speaking generally — this comic is very much not kid-friendly fare.
Really, really NSFW educational comic
Oh Joy, Sex Toy! is drawn by Erika Moen with input from her husband, Matthew, and a bevy of guests. They cover all aspects of the sex industry with sex toy reviews, interviews with porn stars, and contraception information, as well as intelligent, sensitive discussion of alternative sexuality. Erika employs a legion of gender neutral stand-ins called the Masturbateers to showcase the different toys and positions, and they are the most amazingly diverse group of people I’ve ever seen in a comic.
In addition to providing comprehensive, nonjudgmental information on all the things to do with and to your fun bits, Oh Joy, Sex Toy! is drawn in a cute, engaging manner. Erika uses a simple black, white, and pink palette, and both toys and genitals are drawn accurately, with ample diagrams and examples to showcase a wide range of options.
Did I mention how much fun this comic is? Both Erika and her husband are not shy about their likes and dislikes, and there’s real enthusiasm for a subject that can be a little embarrassing to discuss with your closest friends. It’s a great resource for sex toy shopping and information in an environment where everyone is welcome.
Yeti 4 Hire is an all-ages comic about — well, a girl and her yeti. Veronica, the little girl, is the enterprising sort, but thinks much bigger than lemonade stands or cookies. She and Yeti fight crime! The vibe is sort of old school comic meets Saturday morning cartoon (there’s a retro sort of Hanna-Barbera Jonny Quest vibe somehow). It’s brightly coloured and friendly looking but still full of sinister characters — colorful themed supervillains and mad scientists who rub their hands and laugh evilly.
Veronica is a dark-haired cutie, which automatically endears her to me since so many cartoon and comic heroines are blonde. She’s also firmly straddling the line between spunky and obnoxious, which makes her a fun read. Yeti is huge, blue, and good-hearted, and almost childlike himself. She’s obviously the brains and Yeti the brawn, which is also a refreshing thing to see — a girl as the brains of the outfit, even though Yeti is mostly the star of the show.
The Terror of Taco Tuesday is my favorite arc so far, but Fugitive Yeti is a close second. Jeff Crowther is a personable guy who is happy to talk to fans of any age on Twitter.
Embellished Slice of Life
Updates: Tuesday and Friday
Imy (pronounced “Eee-mee”) is a young, redheaded woman in a happily committed relationship; but that doesn’t stop her from embracing her inner child, and communing with it through hanging out with her niece. In between, she works at a coffee shop, has duel of wits with her goldfish Mick, and enjoys a good rock-out on her iPod or anywhere, really. Word to the wise: it must be rock, though; Imy’s a bit of a classicist and a snob where music is concerned.
Imy’s supporting cast includes her boyfriend Jay, her coworkers at the coffee shop, her sister Mia and niblings Zoe (and her baby brother), and her best friend Kat; all of whom are alternately charmed, amused, or perplexed by Imy’s optimistic and unabashedly enthusiastic reaction to life and everything she encounters.
Imy is usually a good read for when you need a cute, easy-on-the-emotions comedown from something drastic or horrible you just read in another comic. The colorful and cartoony art isn’t too complicated, and the strips are designed to bring the reader a smile… though sometimes at the expense of other women. It tends to be more gag-a-day, but there is the occasional storyline thrown in to keep things interesting. Fair warning: Imy’s not a kid-friendly person. The comic, though, remains kid-friendly for the most part.
Randall K. Milholland
This long runner is not kid friendly, nor is it for the faint of heart. Author R. K. Milholland pulls no punches, and no one is immune from being a target of his particularly cynical and dark form of humor.
The comic, over a decade old now, follows main character Davan, his best friend PeeJee, and a rotating cast of friends, acquaintances, enemies, miscreants and others between Davan’s old stomping grounds in Boston and his current home in Texas where he lives with his father.
The comic is a winner with representation: there are several marginized people among the cast, and they are represented correctly — each as a person with their own thoughts, feelings, personalities, hopes, dreams, and flaws. They all fully developed people in their own right. They’re not just “diversity tokens:” Jason’s not just “the fat one,” Jhim is not “the gay guy,” Monette “the lesbian,” nor Kim “the godless pagan.” They all have unique and intertwining stories, backstories, and interlocking relationships. We know what their foibles are, we know who their families are, and the drama and craziness that family can bring to their lives.
Milholland’s lack of patience for politics and religious hypocrisy is the only subject he doesn’t seem to have much character building on, but some of these stories are based on his real life experiences, so hard to blame him if he has only one kind to draw on.
Despite it being mostly a humor comic, take warning: Milholland does know how to weave stories so well that these people become almost real to a reader. There are a couple storylines — it’d be a spoiler to say which — that are going to come with blind emotional gut punches. You are going to want to keep your Kleenex handy.