Pixels and Panels

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A lot of comic creators have found a home on the web, along with story-tellers from other media. As is the case of manga, a lot of web comics don’t fall under Amazing Stories’ purview, but a lot do. So, from time to time, I’m going to talk about some comics that have attracted my attention. (Let’s see if I remember how to embed links in a story)

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          Perils On Planet  X Christopher Mills (story) and Gene Gonzales (art). New installments on Fridays.

With Perils On Planet X, the title gives you a good idea of what to expect. This is an affectionate tribute to classic space heroes like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, with a bit of John Carter thrown in for good measure.

In the near future, a spaceship from Earth goes through a warp that takes it to the planet that will, in time, be subdivided into the asteroid belt. The only survivor is wisecracking Captain Donovan Hawke.  As of early March, the story is still developing, but, if you look under “Characters,” you  can get a good sense of what’s in Captain Hawke’s future.

Mills’ script is smart and fast-paced.  On the art side, Gonzales’ work reminds me—in a good way—of the animated Flash Gordon TV show of the mid-1970s. The art is in color, and the pages are laid out vertically, like in a comic book.

I should probably note here that I consider Chris Mills a friend and that we’ve worked together on a couple of projects.  But I think I would be recommending Perils On Planet X, , regardless of who was involved.

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Warbirds of Mars Scott P. “Doc” Vaughn (creator and artist) and Kane Gilmour (writer)

Like “Planet X,” Warbirds of Mars is a pastiche,  but this strip combines elements from a handful of different genres, including science fiction, war story and hero pulp. On a parallel Earth, World War II has been rudely interrupted by invaders from Mars.  (Incidentally, these do not appear to be H.G. Wells’  Martians. They’re larger than humans, but they seem to be roughly humanoid in shape.  Although they do use tripods, they’re able to get around under their own power.)

Among those fighting the invaders are pilot Jack Paris; his girl friend, Josie; Hunter Noir, a dark avenger in the tradition of the Shadow or the Spider, and Mr. Mask, who is described as a Martian/human hybrid who hides his face behind a  discarded Nazi gas mask.

Vaughn and Gilmour’s affection for their source material is apparent. The story rockets from mid-air combat to devastated cities to Martian pirates (yes, you read that right) to mild, Margaret Brundage-style bondage and discipline. (Josie is a good fighter, but she does have the tendency to lose her clothes. )  At the end of a scene, they often included a page of pulp-style classified ads,  with a pin-up of some type.

Occasionally, the story logic gets a little fuzzy; I’m still trying to figure out how the human resistance in America  could’ve built a literal underground railroad that goes from the coast to coast. But there’s a lot to like here,  particularly for fans of classic pulps.

There are 40 or so pages archived here,  and it looks like more are on the way. The pages are in black-and-white and laid out horizontally, like Sunday newspaper strips.

(Why am I talking about which way these pages are oriented?  I think it makes a difference since these pages functionally have two borders: the edge of the image and the edge of the screen. Me, I think I prefer the horizontal pages; in general, I think they’re a better uses of space. But that’s only a preference, not a hard-and-fast rule. I might feel differently when I finally get a tablet or an e-reader.)

If you know about—or are working on—a  web comic that you think I should check out, just leave the information in the comments section.

2 COMMENTS

  1. A quick housekeeping note: I heard earlier today (Thursday) that the link to Perils On Planet X wasn't working, but I think it's working now. So if you want to check out the strip, give it a try. The newest page should be up shortly, if it isn't already.

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