The first thing people think of when they talk about Comics are thin books full of colourful pictures that tell the story of different Superheros. What they usually forget is that it all originated from mere monochrome, one panel Comics – alternatively called Cartoons or Comic Strips – in newspapers.
With the rise of the Internet these kinds of Comics have become a rarity in print, but more and more available online. The format changed greatly, as Comics were no longer bound to size and the two achromatic colours. They now have up to three or more colourful panels to tell the joke (though there are still newer Comics following the old pattern). Depending on the series the panels and Strips are now also used for continuing story lines instead of trying to simply reach a punch line each Strip.
I never bought a classic Comic Book (the thin ones); though I do own a few issues from Free Comic Book Day, a couple of Graphic Novels and Comic Anthologies/Trade Paperbacks, as well as quite a bunch of Manga.
Still, my interest in Cartoons and Anime – Comics’ moving cousins so to speak – are what first drew me to its immobile counterparts.
An unfunny tale
I can’t really remember how it happened, but I think that on one of my trips to the Book Store to buy a new Manga, I discovered a book-like collection of Comic Strips that I just had to look at.
But who wouldn’t do that with a bright red book that had a clown on the cover, who had just cut off his own leg with an axe, while its titled claimed the content of the “book” to be “Notfunny”?
I certainly couldn’t resist picking it up and I still do not regret that I did.
Notfunny or Nichtlustig as it is originally called, are one panel Comics by German Cartoonist Joscha Sauer, telling the stories of his various characters. These include a Professor, his assistant and their strange experiments (check out one of my favourites: Cat & Jam); Yetis; suicidal Lemmings, a killer-robot aspiring to become a kindergarten teacher, Mr. Riebmann, who lives in the wall beside his constantly annoyed neighbour and of course Death and his Poodle, who are the not so secret stars of the Comics. Each Comic portrays a different situation and manages to tell you with just a few words and gestures what exactly is going on and this without having to give you an actual punch line most of the times. If you like strange Humour this series does not live up to its name and is on the contrary quite hilarious.
This series was my entrance into the world of Comics and I haven’t started looking for the exit yet. Quite the opposite. Since I started using the Internet more frequently, I discovered many more Comics to enjoy (Including new Notfunny-Comics posted on Sauer’s Website).
Webcomics for everyone!
The more popular the Internet became, the more common was it for artists to start their own Comic series online, thus creating Webcomics. By now the list of the ones I read on a regular basis is relatively long, though it could be longer if I continued reading some of the stories I’ve already bookmarked.
But this is the good thing about Webcomics: You can start from the get-go, see the first steps the artist took (and some of them were quite horrible to be honest), take a break from reading and continue where you left off without fear of the old Comics falling out of print and the whole series being rebooted with different content – though a few artists do re-draws after the story is finished.
One of the first Webcomics I ever came across was about a philosophical, and frankly adorable, bat, with a rather long alliteration in his name, which reads: Fledermaus Fürst Frederick Fon Flatter (Prince/Fürst of Bats Frederick of Flutter) or short: Fred (English versions can be found on Tumblr.)
On a daily basis [Note: By now the rhythm has changed to Monday-Wednesday-Friday] German Comic artist Bastian Melnyk presents up to four panel stories starring the round bat and his friends. Each Comic is dedicated to a random every day topic and always includes a quip or pun. If you understand what is being said, the silliness of the Comic just leaves you with a smile, as the message of the Comic is always positive. Besides his “filosophizing” (philosophizing) about all kinds of things Fred loves eating cookies. On occasion he dresses up as “Batfred” to rescue his friends from different situations and even more seldom he does indeed break the Fourth Wall and talks about “The Creator”.
I guess I could keep going all day, but I stop with this minuscule look into the vast amount of Webcomics that I myself have yet to explore completely.
If you have any recommendations feel free to let me know, as I enjoy checking out new stories.
© For the portrayed picture belongs to Bastian Melnyk and was simply used as example.