In the era of computer technology and the Internet, webcomics have become very popular. This kind of graphic novels is placed on the numerous pages of Internet sites, instead of printing in the books, and is available online for any audience. However, sometimes webcomics do have its printed archive. At first glance, it seems that the form of publishing is the only thing that distinguished webcomics from a classic comic book, but it is not. Webcomics have other features, which make them different from a simple drawn story. For example, online comics are often published by the authors themselves on their own websites or free online platforms. And since most of the webcomics are self-published their content does is not a subject for editing by any commercial publisher, which gives the author complete freedom to create any fictional characters, events and even worlds. Webcomics are also distinguished by a particular timetable for release of the new episodes, the absence of a certain format (for example, the length of the comics is not limited) and sometimes the presence of animation and/or sound accompaniment elements.
As in the world of drawn comics, the genre of fantasy takes a big part among the huge variety of webcomics. In this article, we will take a look at 4 online comics dedicated to magic and non-existent universes.
1. Inverloch by Sarah Ellerton
“Inverloch” is a webcomics series in the genre of fantasy, created by and Australian author Sarah Ellerton. The series started in 2004 and ended in 2007.
“Inverloch” comics describe a fantasy world, where four races (da’kors, elves, magicians and humans) have more and more difficulties getting along in one place. One time a young da’kor named Acheron meets an elf woman in the woods and finds himself on a mission of finding her lost love – the elf Kayn'dar, who has been missing for the past twelve years. Acheron's friends an elf Lei'ella, a thief Varden and a clever magic student Neirenn join the search. As the time goes by, Acheron realizes that the surrounding reality is not quite what he imagined, but his heart remains kind in any situations and his friends can still rely on him. After experiencing many tough trials, the partners come to a conclusion that all of the Kayn’dar’s assumptions turned out to be wrong.
2. A Redtail’s Dream by Minna Sunberg
“A Redtail’s Dream” is a webcomic telling a story about a young man and his dog, who went on a journey to the other side of the Bird’s Path, created in by the dreams. This fantasy comic was first published in September 2011 and completed in November 2013 with total of 556 pages available in English and Finnish.
According to ancient Finnish legends, Northern Lights appear when foxes hunt on the hills and scratch their sides on rocks, so the sparks fly out to the sky. The adventures of the main characters begin with the Norther Lights. Because of the overlook of a fairy fox, responsible that night for the Norther Lights, their native village falls into the world of dreams. And now, in order to bring everything back to normal, the main characters have to correct fox’s mistake embarking on an amusing journey through other people's dreams. They have to bring their fellow villagers back to reality before their souls pass on to Tuonela and the land suffers of eternal sleep.
“A Redtail’s Dream” webcomic
“The Phoenix Requiem” webcomic
3. The Phoenix Requiem by Sarah Ellerton
“The Phoenix Requiem” is a beautifully drawn fantasy webcomics created by Sarah Ellerton, the author of “Inverloch”. The comic was launched in 2007 and fully completed in 2011. During its run “The Phoenix Requiem” has been marked by many experts and in 2008 nominated for 11 awards at The Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards.
Actions of the plot take place in a country resembling Victorian England. A seriously wounded young man was found on the outskirts of a small town. With his appearance, strange things begin to happen: the city is now affected by the supernatural plague and people start seeing ghosts. The main characters are a young medical student Anya Katsukova and her patient Jonas Faulkner – a man with a dark past who either brought a plague into the city or on contrary gave people hope for salvation.
Despite the fact that actions develop slowly, the tension grows with each chapter. Characters start to get to know each other, gradually overcoming mistrust and revealing the secrets of the past, which now return to torment them in the present. Instead of the traditional for the genre of fantasy journey, characters will have to look deep into their souls to find answers to the most difficult questions.
The author carefully writes out every detail in clothes, architecture, human types in order to create a living world with rich Victorian atmosphere. “The Phoenix Requiem” comics may not impress by the scope of the action, but definitely fascinates with its depth. This graphic novel is best for thoughtful reading about humans in search for answers to questions about religion, faith and ethics.
4. Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio
“Girl Genius” is an ongoing fantasy comic, created by a married couple Phil & Kaja Foglio. At first, comics have been publishing by author’s own company called Studio Foglio, but later turned into a webcomics. At the moment comic’s official website contains all of the published issues. The website's content is divided into two parts: “Girl Genius 101” (the early works for those who hasn’t read printed version) and “The Advanced Class” (currently developing story line). Both parts form a single story and a plot. New pages are published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
One of the authors, Kaja Foglio, coined a new term to describe the genre of her work. She didn’t want “Girl Genius” to be considered as a steampunk and called it “Gaslamp fantasy”, which is now a subgenre of both fantasy and historical fiction.
Four families are in the center of a story: Wulfenbach, Heterodyne, Mongfish and Sturmvoraus. Several years ago, the Bill and Barry Heterodyne almost led Europe to the golden age but were attacked by the mysterious Others and disappeared. Their rival friend Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, who has returned from a long journey, found the world almost in ruins and began to restore it. In just a few years he became virtually the supreme ruler of all continental Europe. The story of the “Girl Genius” comic begins with the visit of Klaus and his son to one of the universities in Europe, where at that time the main character Agatha Heterodyne (also known as Agatha Clay: the Girl Genius) has been studying.