Time for my favourite post of the year: the one where I decipher which comics I discovered at the Small Press Expo (SPX) that are worthy of getting animated adaptation 🙂
This year’s visit to SPX was a lot shorter than in times past, yet the quality of comics on display were of equal or greater than ever. Each iteration of the annual event continues to demonstrate that comics is a growing business in more ways than one. Stories are getting better, creators are embracing the moneymaking tools available to them (to their immense benefit), and the overall positivity of the event leaves everyone with a noce warm fuzzy feeling that even an empty wallet can’t temper.
This year sees only three comics on my list. There are various reasons, but the primary one is that my tastes have become every so slightly more discerning since last year. A little bit more thought has gone into this year’s selection as a result of the concurrent effort to produce a series of animated shorts. Consider this list the first with a real eye to the future.
One aspect of SPX that I have become aware of is that while there are a lot of great comics to be had, there are relatively few that constitute a ‘meaty’ story. Mini-comics, ‘zines’, sketchbooks and artwork abound in every corner of the hall, but the number of actual, readable comics is not quite as much as you might expect from a convention as large as this one.
Part of the reason that I attribute this to is that SPX does not cater particularly well to webcomics insofar that artists and vendors are almost wholeheartedly focused on print! Far be it for me to suggest that print is dead, but rather that a convention focused on independent comics has so little ability to display the best of the web. Artists are left to their own devices (no pun intended), or must undertake the effort to get their comics into print in some form or another. Ultimately, this means that a great webcomic can be reduced to little more than a business card; an item that’s all to easy to gloss over on an otherwise busy table.
Anyway, that said, here’s the three comics that I would adapt (if I had the money.)
1. Check Please!
Ever wanted to read a story about a young, southern figure-skater-baker-vlogger leaving his hometown to play hockey at a northern university? You have! Well Check Please! is the comic for you. Creator Ngozi Okazu has taken a seemingly incoherent starting point, and has sculpted a rather entertaining story out of it. The comic’s strengths lie in it’s gorgeous artwork and characters. Throwing a protagonist into the lion pit is a common trope, but add in his other traits and there is the potential for a lot of comedy and inter-personal friction. Thankfully Okazu is also a terrific writer who was able to put a smile on my face. PS Did I mention the insane amount of things I learned about ice hockey?
Check Please would work well as a web series.
Although there is only one story of this in existence (dubbed surprisingly enough ‘Pilot’), Timeshock is a comic with large ambitions. It tackles the story of what happens when boy from the 1870s is time warped into the distant future. That sounds pretty straightforward, except that time travel is not only possible and legal, it’s also controlled by a monopolistic corporation. In Timeshock, our hero Ilyas must be assimilated by middle-manager Nikhil who’s been foisted with the responsibility whether he likes it or not.
Creator Myken Bomberger has done a wonderful job with the illustration and style of the comic that would lend itself very well to animation. Besides the futuristic setting, the character interplay is dispersed with humour of the kind that animation excels at.
Timeshock has the potential (with additional story) to be TV series.
Last but certainly not least is Henchgirl, and before you get any ideas, this is definitely not you usual evil genius sidekick comic. Creator Kristen Gudsnuk takes aim at the lighter side of things but doesn’t forget to add a good deal of frustration and drama. It’s a refreshing take on the superhero scene and in common with the other two concepts, it’s the characters that really drive everything home.
Henchgirl would make a great web series!