Welcome back to the blog, all! I hope you had a fun two weeks while we were on our summer vacation; I spent the days doing Pokémon raids and surfing random webcomics online, trying to find a replacement for my dearly departed Always Human. There’s a lot of stuff out there, much of it diverse and much of it superbly creative. The one I found myself most interested in is called The Substitutes, a reality-bending fantasy by games artist Myisha Haynes.
We’ve finally entered the new year! Congrats to all of you for making it this far, and thank you for your continued support of our blog, whether it be by leaving comments or simply lurking. I don’t know about you, but one of the New Year’s traditions that I find particularly hard to keep up with is resolution-making. It’s great in theory, and gets me pumped for about the first three days of January, but then whatever resolution I made ends up getting pushed to the wayside. So this year, I just decided to not make any. However, I did make the promise to myself that I would try to consume much more diverse media this year. If you, too, have always found yourself wanting to support more diverse creators and diverse casts, but likewise found yourself having no idea where to start, today’s web crush may be just what you’re looking for!
Something about the holidays always makes me want to watch a romcom, but unfortunately, almost all of today’s romcoms feature two cishet white characters falling in love, and after years of suffering through these plots, they’re just not appealing to me anymore. Fortunately, in today’s world, there are more and more romcoms featuring queer characters—just not on the silver screen. Today’s web crush is a cute, fluffy webcomic that needs a little bit more worldbuilding but still showcases some fun slice-of-life queer love stories.
This week’s Web Crush is one of those “I can’t believe it took me this long to write about this!” type of deals, since I’ve been reading and rereading and sighing over this webcomic for months now—but let me back up a little and actually introduce it. Today I want to tell you about a sweet little thing called Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu. It has cute art, soft bros, young men falling in love and having a healthy relationship, and for those of you who are into that sort of thing—ice hockey.
But let me elaborate (with some spoilers!) below.
My first introduction to VirusComix.com was via a friend who sent me a one-shot issue of Subnormality. It was a densely packed comic where a space marine is retelling the sci-fi horror he had just experienced to a prostitute at a large commercial chain brothel on Christmas Eve. The story is simultaneously a parable about human resource consumption and territorial expansion and an examination of the little details that make up the human emotional experience through the lens of a brothel conversation. Needless to say, I was hooked.
When I got to the strip that told the story of an atomic cowgirl named Shango and her nuclear physicist mule dealing with gender stereotypes in the Old West… well, whatever’s a step up from hooked, I was that.
The one-shots by creator Winston Rowntree remain fantastic and, as the years go on, they start to become more issues than strips, eventually telling multiple simultaneous narratives happening in the same place to different people. As the individual one-shot comics got longer and more wordy over the years, they started to introduce recurring characters and themes. The current issue is a massive narrative about the lives of several people in a city. We see, for example, the experience of the writer and her friend and the experience of the people moving furniture outside the window or the experience of the band backstage after the concert they’re at. The way the details of these peoples’ lives are presented, often requiring the reader to track multiple independent narratives happening simultaneously in the same place, is an amazing experience. It almost feels fractal in nature; the minute details of how individuals relate to each other forms a sort of meta narrative about humanity itself.
Once upon a time, a friend recced me a webcomic called Namesake. Now, I really like stories that have some kind of “stranger in a strange land” shenanigans, and Namesake, a story about a girl from our world who ends up in the classic literature story The Wizard of Oz, seemed like it would be right up my alley. But I’d already seen enough stories with this same premise—so many shoujo anime have episodes where the female protag ends up in Alice of Wonderland, for example—that I thought Namesake would almost definitely be boring or clichéd. So it took me an extremely long time to actually start reading this webcomic. Once I did, though, I found out that Namesake has way more of a plot than its premise would imply—and it’s definitely right up my alley.
While there are many forms of historical fiction, one of the set-ups that people return to time and time again is that of a more medieval era. Princesses, dragons, references to Arthurian legend; on a surface level, what’s not to like? With the way this era has been romanticized, de-romanticized, and romanticized again, it almost feels natural to be drawn to it, and one of the biggest sources of the romanticization is, of course, knights and the chivalry that comes with them. Knights fighting for their beliefs! Knights, protecting the people they care about! These already make a strong case for me to give a shit about a story about knights, but today’s web crush added one more ingredient to make itself positively irresistible: lady knights who love other lady knights.