5 Favourites: Webcomics

Web Comics have been an amazing concept to me ever since I was in my late teens and really came across my first ones. I wouldn’t really class myself as ‘into’ comics. I enjoy the history of comics. I love hearing about what Marvel and DC characters have done over countless volumes. Me and my Dad managed to get together a pretty reasonable manga collection. But I’ve read surprisingly few. And I’m a pretty casual reader by a lot of standards. With all that said, I still have a massive crush on comics. Webcomics in particular. I have attempted to start web comics a bunch of times and even managed one for all of two months. To me they lowered the barrier to entry that the big comics had, the price. It’s a little haven of the internet where exceedingly hard working and passionate people developing wonderful ideas exist. They’re not all gems. But I’ve often lost sleep upon finding a new great web comic and not being able to stop clicking the next button. I’ve been known to writhe in a little bit of anguish when I get up to date with a great one.

That’s why I thought I’d write a blog showing off some of my favourites. I’m not saying they’re the best on the web (because that means different things to different people and the comparison is kind of weird y’know?). They’re also by no means my only favourites, but they are a few of the ones I check every day, excited for the next nugget of goodness. So! In no particular order here are:

5 Favourites: Web Comics

Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques

Questionable Content is a view in on the lives of a group of friends in a now-like alternate universe where there are also sentient AI’s and anthropomorphic computers. But the whole thing is wonderfully ‘normal’. It’s just a group of people with their own problems and histories trying to work out how to live happy lives. It ranges from innocent fart jokes all the way up to handling serious issues like mental health, sexuality and how an alternate form of intelligence would be treated when integrated with human society.

For me, QC has a special place. When me and my Dad were getting into comics, this was the one he sent me to read and we’d talk about it when we met up. Even more, it’s an example of how hard work can lead to so much improvement. The complexity of the comic, both in terms of art work and story are wildly different to what they were at the beginning of the comic and you can watch both evolve as the pages go by. It updates every day, unless Jeph has real world issues that prevent it, and it’s been a staple of my mornings for a two or three years. If you’re looking for something with a bit of depth, wonderful characters and relatively close to home this may be one for you!

Modest Medusa by Jake Richmond

Modest Medusa follows the life of Modest, a young gorgon who ended up living in the toilet of a man named Jake who’s in the midst of an upheaval in his life. Jake adopts Modest and together they try to lead normal lives until people from the land of Yeld, Modest’s homeland, begin to encroach in the normal world. A lovely mix of the father/daughter dynamic with Jake and Modest and the might and magic of the kingdom of Yeld (and all the complexities it introduced between the two) have made this a regular read of mine for many years.

I originally found Modest Medusa on The Drunk Duck, where I hosted my own web comic at the time. The drunk duck was a site where any web comic could be hosted and updated (the website has since become The Duck Webcomics). The quality on there ranges across the whole spectrum but there are a huge number of gems to be found if you’ve got time to look. Modest Medusa, like Questionable Content, is one of those comics which grows along with the skill of the creator. The story and art have come a long way since the first pages and it’s wonderful to see it come so far and continue to improve. Modest updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If you’re looking for an adorable, laid back read which still manages to throw some hefty emotion and excitement at times then Modest might be what you’re after.

Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Sidell

Gunnerkrigg Court drops you right in the middle of the story of Antimony, a young girl going to Year 7 at school in the mysterious court. What follows is years worth of alchemy, magic, technology and puberty. This story is wonderful. Mysteries introduced early on are peeled back layer by layer over scores of chapters. The characters and story are lovingly crafted and again you can follow the art changes from the beginning to the end. When I started reading Gunnerkrigg Court I found it incredibly hard to stop reading each and every night until I made it to the end. I’ve read it through twice and the second time was just as enjoyable because of the nuance and the foreshadowing that you can pick up on.

Gunnerkrigg Court is dramatic and mysterious and wonderful as well as being innocent and joyous in places. Am I gushing? I’m gushing right? It’s a really great read so I highly recommend it! It updates Monday, Wednesday and Fridays!

Strong Female Protagonist Written by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Drawn by Molly Ostertag

I found Strong Female Protagonist more recently, when I was doing a search for comics recommended for feminists. It follows the life of a young woman named Alison who has super strength and invulnerability, as she tries to live a normal life after publicly giving up the mantle of being a super hero. It touches on issues with great depth and it doesn’t try to hide the ambiguities involved with those issues behind jokes or with the typical cure-alls found in classic super hero media. In fact it goes head on with those concepts and shows how hard it is to come up with solutions to complex moral problems.

I think that depth is pretty fantastic. The characters are similarly complex and the whole thing is drawn in a consistent and expressive way. Check it out! Strong Female Protagonist updates Tuesdays and Fridays.

Minor Acts of Heroism by Adriana Ferguson and Kristen Van Dam

Minor Acts of Heroism is a more classic feeling super hero comic than Strong Female Protagonist, with the exception of having a much more diverse cast of characters backed up by a knowledge of anthropology that adds something intangibly real to them. It follows 3 young people, each having super hero adult counterparts, who become friends whilst dealing with their own extraordinary circumstances.

One of the creators, Adriana Ferguson, played the character Trelle the Elf in the popular Dungeons and Dragons 4E podcast Critical Hit (to be featured on the upcoming 5 Faves: Podcasts post). It was through this that I discovered this great comic. It’s beautifully drawn and the interactions between the characters are lovely. It’s just this very day come out of hiatus and will be back with updates in March! The perfect time to jump in and get up to speed then!

Special Mention: Princess Love Pon by Shauna J Grant

I said 5 right? I know, I know. But I couldn’t not give Princess Love Pon a mention. I was searching for Black Web Comics and this gem appeared to me. It is unabashedly a magic girl comic through and through. The power of love. The cutesy helper character. It’s all there in adorable pink tinted glory. But with a black girl as the main character! The comic is very young, so if the backlog on the other comics were intimidating this one might be a good choice. It’s lighthearted and low stress. And sometimes you just need that you know? Princess Love Pon is currently on a break as the next chapter comes together but I check back every day just in case.

So there you have it! Five of my favourite web comics and a little bit about why I think they’re so good. Check them out if any of those interest you and feel free to let me know of any web comics you think are great.

City Academy – Singing Taster Session

Last night I found myself sitting in a studio in North London next to three people, softly massaging our faces and humming, and realising how much fun I was having. This was the moment during my singing taster course where I made the conscious decision to let go of my inhibitions, quit being nervous and just give it my best shot. And I’m glad I did.

Singing is something that I do for fun around the house or in particularly noisy places where I’m unlikely to draw attention to myself. Apart from a few internet videos and a day of having my friend impart some of her knowledge from previous singing lessons on me, I’ve never really been instructed. It was just something I liked to do. Back in my teen years I was the singer in a couple of makeshift bands. The kind that got together for 3 hours, spend 45 minutes doing music, an hour working on the band website and the rest of the time playing video games. But still. There were some local gigs and things like that and it was all good fun. I’m not great at it but I’m not awful, though my song selection is pretty limited as my friends can attest to. It’s been something I enjoy doing for a long time and recently, as part of the Edventure mentality, it’s been in the back of my mind to try and get better and maybe meet some people along the way.

I searched online for local singing lessons and found a few sites. The one that stuck out to me most was that of city academy. They have a range of courses starting with one off taster sessions, through beginners and up to advanced, genre specific courses. It looked friendly and they were group classes, which sounded like a perfect way to maybe meet some new people as well! I mulled it over for a few days but eventually I dove in, ponied up my £15 and signed up. A week of nervous excitement ensued and then it was the day in question. I hopped on the train from Weybridge up to London Bridge and then onto the 341 up to the Sadler’s Wells Theatre near Angel tube station. A quick wander up to the high street to see if I could find a USB plug (as my phone had died and I wanted to get some pictures.). No luck! (darnit). And then I found my way to stage door where the classes were being held. Signed in and then walked into the Kahn Studio to begin my adventure into the world of singing.

I walked into a small room, with wooden floors and a set of chairs facing a small piano in the corner. Behind the piano sat a bright looking young man; our teacher, Elliot Clay. He was talking to a couple sitting in two chairs who were to become my peers for the next hour. I found Elliot to be exceedingly warm and friendly, the perfect person to have teach a taster session for something which can create anxiety like singing. He greeted me as soon as I walked in and we had a quick chat to make us feel comfortable before jumping right in. I won’t go into huge detail, but Elliot’s teaching style is very much grounded in the science behind the voice. What creates sound. How to train the appropriate muscles to produce better sound. For me, this is perfect. The combination of the exercises with the knowledge about how and why those exercises are done was pretty great.

It started with a full body warm up. Loosening of the joints and the muscles by swinging and massaging. Rotating and light stretching. Slowly Elliot introduced sounds into the movements. But no real singing. Just the creation of sound to loosen the body and relieve tension. Tension is the greatest enemy of singing was one of the main sentiments Elliot imparted on us. The movements were wide and unnatural feeling but after a while I made a choice to relieve my mind of the tension it was feeling as well and just went with the flow. After that, there were vocal exercises with the piano intermixed with knowledge about how the voice works and why the exercises are important. The most interesting was the sirening exercise. Essentially running through a scale in a smooth arc using the ‘ng’ sound to focus the movement of the larynx. I found it tough at stages but it really helped make my voice smoother and clearer. Eventually we came to applying the vocal techniques to part of “Do You Hear The People Sing” from Les Miserables and we ended in a quick cool down.

All in all, I really enjoyed the experience. The class wasn’t quite as large as I was expecting, just the three of us and the teacher and I was kind of hoping for a few more and some conversation. But actually the class was all content, so there wouldn’t have been much time for chatting. But it was engaging, interesting and I felt it was a really nice introduction into trained singing. If you’re interested in learning to sing, I recommend Elliot’s class and I presume the other taster classes will be pretty similar. Check it out at the link below. I really enjoyed it and the hour flew past. I’m still considering the beginners course. We’ll see!

City Academy Taster Session

Into the World!

Writing a blog has been something in the back of my mind for a long time.
You can probably still find, scattered about the recesses of the internet, my previous attempts. In every attempt so far the aim was just ‘to write a blog’. I wasn’t sure why or about what. It was just a thing that people do and I sort of wanted to do that too. All those blogs fizzled out, as lots of things we try do. But it’s been in the back of my mind for a long time and now feels like a great time to give it another try.

If you’ve read this far I give you a wave, a smile and “cheers”! My name’s Edmund Lewry and I’m a software developer from London, England. I spent my formative years in Surrey with my family but moved back to London to go to university. I love things like comics, videogames and sports. And I’ve tried my hand at all of them with varying degrees of success. But pretty much everything is interesting! Expect to see a fair few blog posts on those kinds of things.

On that note, I want to talk about what this blog is about. I think it’s unabashedly about me. That sounds a little narcissitic to begin with but I’m starting the blog as a way to try to structure being more exposed to the world. I have struggled with mental health issues a fair amount and one of the things that I love seeing in the internet is self care. So in a way the blog is a form of self care. A way that I can share my experiences as I try to experiment and experience new things whilst adding a bit of structure and removing a bit of the fear from that. Now in terms of what you can expect to see, all sorts of things! Hopefully you’ll see me get better at writing blogs for one. But I want to try my hand at writing about experiences I’ve had so that people who find them can also try them if it sounds like fun. I want to try analysis and opinion pieces and videogames, comics and cartoons. I want to try to put my actual writing on here for advice and critique. And I’d love for other things to naturally grow out of it too. So it’ll be pretty varied but hopefully pretty interesting.

The name Onwards to Edventure kind of let’s you know what you can expect. It’s super cheesy and that’s something that I like but would never have chosen before out of some weird embarassment or fear of ruining my internet street cred (what the hell young me? That’s not even a thing). But it doesn’t make sense to try to build a reputation by ignoring stuff that you think is fun or cool or has merit. Right? Right. Time to be unapologetically me and get into the world.