Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Paul Duffield
Available: Right Now, Bitches!
Price: Free, MutherF*er! Click This!
Ah, webcomics… the red-headed stepchild of the funny book world. Practically anyone can throw one together and set it loose on the wild waves of the interwebs. And maybe it’s that simple fact that has kept the webcomic from finding the love and admiration it so desperately craves. Or maybe it’s the fact that 90% of what’s out there is utter crap. Either way, webcomics are not typically looked upon with fond eyes from the readers of its 4-color printed cousins.
But things may be starting to change. The pendulum might be on a forward swing and webcomics may be finding its web-legs after all. Why? Because people like Warren Ellis are jumping into the game and giving it a level of legitimacy it has not yet seen.
Yes, Warren Ellis, who is currently taking over the writing reigns of Astonishing X-Men for Marvel.
Today marked the launch of Freak Angel, an episodic webcomic that looks and feels more like a printed comic than most other webcomics. Once you also take into account the beautiful artwork by Paul Duffield, it’s no wonder this webcomic is going to stand out. His manga-influenced art, textured background, and washed-out looking colors create an instant mood and atmosphere that is simply stunning.
We learn a few things right from the first panel:
23 YEARS AGO, TWELVE STRANGE CHILDREN WERE BORN IN ENGLAND AT EXACTLY THE SAME MOMENT.
6 YEARS AGO, THE WORLD ENDED.
THIS IS THE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.
If that doesn’t pique your interest my friends, I’m afraid nothing will.
This first installment is six pages long. In it, we see London in shambles and mostly submerged in water. What happened here? What brought about the end of the world six years ago? Why does it look so desolate? Are there any people left? These questions are raised in the very first panel! That is a sign of some good setup, if you ask me. Then we get to meet KK, the beautiful, haunted-looking female lead of the story (or at least this first installment). I won’t get into the details of our introduction to her, but I will say that it’s a fairly safe bet that she is a complex character with what appears to be some sort of psychic or telepathic ability.
These first six pages feel a bit like a teaser trailer… beautiful woman, post-apocalyptic world, extra-sensory abilities, luscious artwork, manga and steampunk influences, and a myriad of questions with no easy answers. Yep, consider me hooked.
The other great thing about Freak Angel is its web presence. The site is devoted solely to the comic, complete with message board, news, toolkit (RSS feed, etc.), links, archive, and search. In in a really cool bit of extra functionality, every page of the comic has a link that opens up the page transcript. And with another simple click of a link, the transcript can instantly be translated into German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, or Chinese. Talk about not limiting your audience!
Webcomic creators take notice. This is how you do it. How this will effect webcomics in the future remains to be seen. But right from the start, Ellis and Duffield have thrown down the gauntlet. And I, for one, can’t wait to see the results.