a Bite of Buenos Aires

Two of my favourite comic genres are food comics and travel comics, and a Bite of Buenos Aires excited me because it was both. +Linus Nyström has created a webcomic that brings the experience of being in a foreign city vividly to life.

The comic details Linus’ time wintering in Argentina with a focus on local food and culture. I was pleased to see a couple pages about Yerba Mate, a drink I enjoy a lot. The comic is filled with other small, revealing moments about life in what seems to be a thrilling city.

Linus has translated the webcomic from its original Swedish and it is mostly very clear.

My name is Linus Nyström and I’m an illustrator. At the moment, I live in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and this is my travel diary.

Linus also has a portfolio full of great pieces.

Opplopolis

Kit Roebuck‘s Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life was one of my favourite webcomic reads as it was being published, and I was thrilled when Kit started publishing the followup project, Opplopolis. The comic a wonderful mashup of alternate history, retro futurism, strange happenings and mystery.

An esoteric ensemble of characters scour the city of Opplopolis for clues to the mysterious Marvedyne. 

Kit has brought the cast of characters and their world so vividly to life that the very strange events in the story remain grounded in the superbly rendered environment and well developed characters. Little touches such as having a boy demand a Sega Saturn in exchange for information reveal the story’s time, while clones, shapeshifters and other oddities are fun, surprising and meaningful.

Opplopolis is published twice each week in instalments of two pages. So far, issues 1, 2, 3, and 4 have been completed and issue 5 is underway.

Podcast Recommendations: Fitness, Creation, Technology and Mashups

I love podcasts and enjoy sharing my excitement about them. There is a wealth of wonderful audio content being created and freely shared on the internet, so it can be easy to not be in the know about excellent talk on a wide range of . Here are four of my favourite ‘casts.


Technically Fit and Healthy

Tony C. Smith has been one of my favourite podcasters for years through his StarShipSofa science fiction ‘cast. When he started a podcast about the use of technology to improve health and fitness, an interest I share with him, I was on board from the start. Technically Fit and Healthy looks at new health-related gadgets, the lifestyle changes that can come along with using technology well and emerging technologies that can improve health. Tony and his guests bring a very grounded perspective to a growing and exciting field.

Welcome to Technically Fit and Healthy, a weekly podcast/blog dedicated to exploring the topics of health and fitness and the latest cutting-edge technology related to both. If you want to get fit and stay healthy, check out Technically Fit and Healthy to discover the ideal technology to help you achieve your goals. Join host Tony C. Smith as he provides news updates, product and app reviews, and interviews, and welcomes expert guests. If technology can assist your health and enhance your fitness, then Technically Fit and Healthy will cover it, from Wi-Fi scales and wearable activity trackers to health and fitness apps and the latest tech trends and fads in the wellness industry. You don’t have to go it alone! Let technology be your partner and Technically Fit and Healthy be your guide.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know began about a year ago and features interviews with a diverse group of creators. The interviews usually take listeners behind the scenes of the creative process and the business aspects of delivering creative works. The guests have included Faith Erin Hicks, Eric Skillman, Jasdeep Khaira and Mike Mignola, among other notable artists. The insight provided by the hosts —who are all respected creators in their own rights— fosters interesting discussions each time. If you are at all interested in creative work, I can’t recommend this podcast highly enough.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know is an interview podcast by Jim Rugg and Jasen Lex. We like to hear how and why people make the stuff they do, and we thought you might like to hear that too.

TMSIDK is produced and hosted by three talented cartoonists and illustrators:

Jim Rugg, a Pittsburgh-based comic book artist, graphic designer, zinemaker, and writer best known for Afrodisiac, The Plain Janes, and Street Angel.

Jasen Lex is a designer and illustrator from Pittsburgh. He is currently working on a graphic novel called Washington Unbound. All of his art and comics can be found at jasenlex.com.

Ed Piskor is the cartoonist who drew the comic, Wizzywig, and draws the Brain Rot/ Hip Hop Family Tree comic strip at this very site, soon to be collected by Fantagraphics Books.

Spark

One of Canada’s great threatened treasures is our national broadcaster, the CBC. Spark is one of CBC Radio’s best shows, and its focus on how technology works in our lives is important. Spark brings the big ideas and advancements in technology into a personal scope by putting an emphasis on how people live with emerging and existing technologies in daily life. In a recent episode, “Get it, Keep it, Fix it“, the discussion was around keeping and reusing gadgets over time, a view many of us enthusiasts don’t take often enough. It’s that kind of attention to overlooked aspects of our world that makes Spark so valuable.

We used to think of technology as something outside of our daily lives. Now, it is part of everything we do – our work, our schools, how we spend our downtime, and the way we connect with others.

Spark reflects life in 21st Century Canada. With one eye on the future, host Nora Young guides you through this dynamic era of technology-led change, and connects your life to the big ideas changing our world right now.

The Night Air

Public broadcasting is dear to my socialist heart, and my last recommendation comes from Australia’s public broadcaster, ABC. The Night Air ended broadcast in January, but still is a testament to how good audio programming can be. The show consisted of incredible mashups of content from other broadcasts into a surprisingly coherent but undeniably eclectic whole that was more beautiful, moving and informative than its constituent parts. The show highlighted topics as diverse as “Mermaids“, “Noir“, “Space Doubt“, “Library Music” and “Egypt“. The Night Air is an experience that makes years of archives worth exploring.

Animated by dub versions of ABC Radio National’s distinctive programming, obliquely connected material is re-assembled with sonic glue allowing the listener’s imagination to build a new story. The Night Air is a space to find the music in speech and the poetry in ideas, a show that invites you to take time to unravel the usual media tangle.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant‘s adventure grabbed me immediately. It’s full of the oversized danger and excitement that the best pulp adventure stories hold, and is expressed through pages of dynamic and beautiful art. What really makes the comic special is the expressive cast, especially the delightful title characters. Tony Cliff has created a lighthearted comic that is a joy to read.

The full book is available to read on the website, and will be published in print this year through First Second. A second volume, Delilah Dirk and the Seeds of Good Fortune, is not yet available digitally and its print version does not seem to be available as I write this.

In 19th-century Turkey, an officer in the Janissary army must struggle to repay a brash adventuress for saving his life, even though she was the one who endangered it in the first place. The webcomic unfolds with four or six new pages each Saturday. The number of pages varies each week in service to the story, usually determined by which page would make a more cruel, heart-wrenching cliffhanger.

The Abaddon

I first encountered Koren Shadmi‘s work through some superb illustrations he did for a number of magazines. Pieces such as “Summer Reads” blew me away when I first saw them and I followed his work for a while. I was thrilled when I discovered he was working on the webcomic The Abaddon, which maintains his high quality of art work.

The comic follows an amnesiac protagonist who arrives at a strange apartment building, interacts with its strange inhabitants and stumbles through mysteries. What he uncovers is bizarre, shifting and riveting.

The Abaddon updates twice each week and can be read as an RSS digest through Comic Rocket.

The Abaddon is a bi weekly web comic series, which started in January 2011. The comic tells the story of Ter, who finds himself trapped in a bizarre apartment with a group of ill matched roommates. He quickly discovers his new home is really strange type of prison – an ornate puzzle he needs to solve in order to escape. Ter also realizes that he is missing a crucial part of his memory and identity and decides he must try and uncover his obscure past.

I’ve always wanted to make a comic in which I could draw and write almost anything without restrictions – The Abaddon turned out to be that comic. Loosely based on Jean Paul Sartre’s existential play ‘No Exit’ – The Abaddon became a place where I could push characters to the extreme and experiment with a new kind of narrative.

Moon Town

Steve Ogden‘s Moon Town has the feel of a classic pulp science fiction story. It features a space pilot and miners on the moon, and is peppered with oversized characters and situations. The art has a sketchy feel but is still very polished. It’s an utterly absorbing and charming take on space adventure.

Steve is currently re-releasing pages weekly as he updates the original strip that ran from 2009 to 2011 and plans to continue the story on into a full graphic novel.

The first print issue of Moon Town is available now and the first 39 pages of the remade comic can be read online. An interview with Steve about his work on the comic and elsewhere was published as “Steve Ogden: To Moon Town and Back” at Don’t Pick the Flowers.

The year is 2087. Earth has been mined into a shell, so mankind is mining the moon. But when ore shipments begin vanishing amid rumors of pirates, a new sheriff comes to town in the form of rookie security guard Cassandra Quinn. When she meets a hallucinating lunar miner and discovers a race of aliens living in the shadow of the refinery, can she solve the mystery of the missing ore? Or will she find out too much? Some secrets can get you killed…

Something Positive

I’ve been reading Something Positive since its early days, starting sometime in 2002. It’s been the one webcomic I’ve stuck with and which continued over the past decade. I think that much of that commitment is owed to Randy Milholland’s obvious work ethic, irreverent humour and a cast of characters that reflect the best and worst traits we can have.

Something Positive has followed the lives of a core group of friends and the people who encounter them through nearly 3000 pages. Through all of this time the characters have grown —or not!— and have provided a rich ground for funny situations and genuinely touching moments. Through it all the biting sarcasm,  irreverent jokes and comical meanness have remained to temper the growth characters have undergone. Through it all, it has always been fun to read.

It’s easy to jump right into reading Something Positive with new strips, but it is available using Comic Rocket for RSS serialization from page one. Randy also publishes the very funny Rhymes with Witch and Super Stupor on the same page.

Something*Positive is the story of a few friends – namely Davan, Aubrey, PeeJee, and Jason – and their daily lives, struggles, and the occasional mass catgirl cataclysm. The story began in Boston in 2001. Since then, it’s expanded to Texas, California, and a few other nightmares along the way.

These are people you know, although you may not admit it. It’s just a comic about trying to live you life and bringing a few friends with you so you don’t kill anyone. At least, not anyone you might get in trouble for.

Elfquest

Wendy and Richard Pini’s ElfQuest was one of the formative works of fiction from my youth. I was drawn in by the fantastic art and epic adventure contained in the Marvel back issues I first encountered but stayed for the rich storytelling and challenging relationship forms. Years later I still appreciate it as one of the best crafted series of comics I’ve read.

Elfquest was first published in 1978 and was one of the first big successes in independent comics publishing. Over the years more than 6500 pages of the comic have been published in a variety of formats through several different publishers, including both Wendy and Richard’s own WARP Graphics, Marvel and DC.

When I was a teenager I collected ElfQuest comics, short story collections and novelizations at every chance I had. By that time there was a huge number of releases from the series and I devoured them. I had hundreds of issues by the time I finished high school and have continued to read each new release that Wendy and Richard have released.

ElfQuest was the first place I encountered both pansexuality and polyamoury —though neither were named as such and I didn’t yet have any notion of the terms. Exposure to both terms helped to shape my understanding of both sexuality and relationships over time. In a very strong way, I feel I owe a great debt to the kindness and expansiveness that Wendy and Richard imbued into their stories.

Every page of the comic can be read online at Digital EQ Online Comics, and I recommend reading The Original Quest as a starting point. For the past 5 months, a page of a prelude to the final ElfQuest story has been published each week at Boing Boing and the art is as beautiful as it ever has been. Finally, after many attempts at making an ElfQuest film, creators of a fan short based on the comics have been granted the rights to produce a film, and that may go into production in the next few years. As a preview, watch ElfQuest: A Fan Imagining.

Next Town Over

As a kid I was enamoured with many flavours of speculative fiction mixed with westerns and that love for genre mashups has continued to this day. Erin Mehlos‘ Next Town Over takes a western setting and infuses it with steampunk and fantasy elements to create a fast-moving adventure story. I was drawn in immediately by the superb art and stayed for the unfolding mystery hinted at through the unfolding narrative.

The story follows a chase through towns in the wild west as the protagonist and antagonist fight and leave ruin in their wake. The tone carries a lot of the feel of pulp stories and the pacing is perfectly matched to the action.

Next Town Over is available to read on its website, as well as in a print and digital editions.

Next Town Over is a weekly paean to the western, with some steampunk and fantasy splashed in, updating at the stroke of midnight on Saturdays. There’s some twists lurking a little deeper in the story, but it’s a bit early to tip my hand talking about those; as of this writing the comic is pretty newly-minted.

Girls with Slingshots

One of the earliest forms of comics I encountered while growing up was slice of life daily comic strips in newspapers. I understand now that most of these were horribly unfunny, but the format is still appealing. Danielle Corsetto‘s Girls With Slingshots is what those daily strips could have been if they were reliably funny, uncensored and about the kinds of people I actually have around me.

Girls With Slingshots‘ greatest asset is its strong cast of characters. Diversity of background and life situations make the stories created around the characters feel rich and realistic while allowing for the absurdities necessary for comedy. The appearance of strange plant and animal characters are often used to great effect in contrast to the more mundane relationship and daily life dramas that are usually the focus of the series.

The comic has more than 2000 pages, so I recommend either starting with recent strips or using Comic Rocket for RSS serialization from page one.