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photos by Lara Shipley

Two Spiders and a Pope

August 27th, 2002 · No Comments

In NY this weekend, I stopped into Forbidden Planet — a comic shop — for the first time in a while. Upon returning, I showed up late to the unfolding of a brilliant online comic. So it seems like an appropriate time to vent my supressed comic geek.

Spiders gives signs of being influenced by Scott McCloud’s sharp book Redefining Comics, sequel to the revealing Understanding Comics. It works in part like a familiar left-right comic strip, but also incorporates (or independently generated) some of McCloud’s ideas — use of parallel threads, shifting use of the up-down or right-left axis to follow the story, and, maybe most intriguingly, the incorporation of familiar web-forms as set-pieces: there’s the IM-style window, the personal fansite, the Salon-esque webzine. The story answers the question: what would an Open Source war look like? Very well done.

Ah, but in the immortal words of some one-hit wonder, every new beginning leads to some other beginning’s end. One of the few comics I’ve bothered to follow pretty regularly over the past couple of years, Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan, is just one issue from the end of the story. Transmet followed journalist Spider Jerusalem, a slightly more wacked-out version of Hunter Thompson in an equally psychedelic-slathered cyberpunk future. I won’t give away the story: if you start reading now, you can catch up just in time for the curtain call.

Finally, I’m three issues in to Paul Pope‘s 5-part series 100%. It’s a near-future Manhattan story in his signature style, which is a little like manga, a little like the classic Steve Ditko era stuff, but mostly not like anything else at all. Paul is a constant reminder of how much excellent work it’s possible to do if you’re not as egregiously lazy as I am, for which I hope I will someday forgive him. Check it out if you get a chance; his earlier work’s damn good as well.

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