Unsounded: Way Better Than It Sounds

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Ben, my housemate who hooks me up with many fine comics (along with the many other things they do), has pointed me towards Unsounded, a most excellent webcomic.  In addition to offering beautiful eye-candy (check out the designs for the covers of Chapters 2 [left] and 1 [right] above), this is a comic that already feels like a window onto a deeply thought out and well crafted world.  Maybe it’s only skin deep, but I doubt it.

Admittedly, I recommend this webcomic to you on the strengths of the printed collection of the first three chapters.  It’s remotely possible that there is some difference between the book and the webcomic version, perhaps simply in the act of holding the physical book in my hands, that changes how I feel about the comic.  Actually, if anything it would have to be the collected early sketches and two short stories added to the end of the book that would change my opinion.  But those only make me feel more certain that this is something deep and complex that I don’t yet know enough about to be able to appreciate fully… and I say that knowing that I already plan to read the rest of Unsounded’s archives.

So if you’re at all interested in reading about the stories of a young thief on a quest to prove herself to her crime lord father, and her magic-using zombie escort who’s been blackmailed into protecting her, then I suggest that you get reading.  Still not sold?  Let me put it this way: I have examined nearly every page I’ve read so far, looking at the little details, searching for another little hint, because I cannot kick the lurking feeling that I’m missing something that signals far more yet to come.  Ashley Cope has done a marvelous job so far of building a story world that all feels like it holds together, revealing new treats around every corner and hinting at far more yet to come, all without ever falling into the classic expository trap of telling instead of showing.  It’s worth reading just to see the quality of her craft.  Check it out.

p.s. I was planning to write up another flash fiction piece from the excess prompts that I generated before, but I haven’t gotten around to watching True Grit yet, and I really wanted to try combining The Matrix and True Grit.  Some other time.

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Gravity Falls: X-Files for kids, Comedy for adults

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I just spent much of Saturday evening blazing my way through Gravity Falls, Alex Hirsch‘s absolutely wonderful cartoon series.  Gravity Falls was first described to me as “like The X-files but with kids in rural Oregon,” which does a decent job of introducing it.  That also puts it dangerously (tantalizingly?) close to Twin Peaks territory, but fails to convey just how damn funny the show is; I was chortling the whole way through, and would happily watch many of the episodes again (a rare experience for me with most TV shows). There’re still many more episodes for me to watch, and I honestly can’t wait.  I might take a break from writing this just to watch the next one.

So yeah, Gravity Falls is what would happen if you mashed Twin Peaks and the X-Files together in a hilarious and intelligent kids show.  It chronicles the summer adventures of Dipper and Mabel, a pair of twins who’ve gone to spend the summer with their great-uncle (Grunkle) Stan.  They live with him in his house / Mystery Shack tourist attraction, and have the dubious pleasure of working for him while they try to enjoy their summer in the bizarre town and its even stranger environs.

They must face boredom:

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Beasts:

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And popcorn-machine math:

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What’s not to like?  And yes, I did just watch another episode.  Honestly, if you’re at all interested in smart animated comedies, you should give Gravity Falls a look.  It’s definitely a kids’ show, but like the best kids’ programming it uses that as a vehicle to go deeper than you’d expect, instead of holding back.  Despite the innately fantastical nature of the show, it still feels like a very real depiction of the emotional lives of its protagonists, and it doesn’t shy away from the realities of social pressure for impressionable youngsters.  Now, if you’ll pardon me, I really want to watch another episode.