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There is a whole online-comics scene going on right now that's producing some amazing stuff, such as Tatsuya Ishida's smart and funny SinFest, Christopher Baldwin's philosophically tormented Bruno, and Jonathan Rosenberg's sick but fiendishly compelling goats. Any of the above might find a place in an alternaweekly beside Red Meat, but otherwise have a popsicle's chance in the Sahara of seeing newsprint. That these guys can self-produce and self-distribute stuff like this is the real payoff of the web.
And then there is the cinematic King of the Hill of web comix, Sluggy Freelance, where Pete Abrams is producing a sprawling marvel of wit, style, and panache.
It steals from pop culture at every turn. The world certainly does not need another parody of teen slasher movies, for instance, but that's what Sluggy is doing right now (``Bun-bun's Theatre of Horrors!''), and doing with claustrophobic intensity:
Check out the way Abrams blurs focus in the second panel above (``mew'') to produce depth. At its best, the strip matches the SFX of Hollywood at its most big-budget -- and these jewel tones and subtleties would never survive newsprint.
Abrams' parodies are not line-for-line Mad Magazine hacks, but thematic; wonderfully tight, intricate plots that careen around in seemingly well-trodden territory, joyfully massacring cliches wherever they can be found. Sometimes the plotting is very wordy:
and sometimes it's not:
Oh, who the heck am I kidding? Even when it's not wordy, it's still wordy. But it's cool.
(Yes, you're seeing through the eyes of a zombie spiked to a wall with a longsword, and yes, the last thing it does is flip Zoe a double bird.)
It's free. And there's nothing else like it out there. Go read.
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