Writing on Comics: #2

Goodbye to Halos, Honey Crab, Drop-Out

This week, we delve into some magical girl comics, take a look at how modern web technologies can transform a comic into something vibrant and interactive, and hear about a gripping story of a couple suffering in the throes of mental illness.

This article discusses a comic centering on the concept of suicide. Reader discretion is advised.

Part 1, page 57, Goodbye to Halos by Valerie Halla

Goodbye to Halos

illustrated and written by Valerie Halla. updates Tuesdays and Fridays. http://www.goodbyetohalos.com

I tend to reserve the phrase “good and pure” for things that amplify the voices of marginalized people, show off the care and compassion radiated by those very people, and generally demonstrate the subtle sweetness of what life should and could be. Goodbye to Halos, the latest work by Valerie Halla, who you may already know as the colorist of Octopus Pie, so far has these things in spades. Halla’s latest opus is a story about a kid forced out of home and into a strange and unfamiliar world. In time, the kid transitions, taking the name of her mother, Fenic, and settles into a new life with new people — people who don’t look like her, who don’t have her magic powers, and who have never seen her homeland. The story is fully cast by LGBT characters, which isn’t a first for comics I’ve looked at, but is certainly a breath of fresh air when found amidst the widely cis- and hetero-normative leaves of the webcomics tree. The art style is a breath of fresh air, as well — lushly drawn, well-textured, and gifted with color treatment from the gods. It treats mature themes with the respect which they deserve, while not shying away from having too much fun with them. Goodbye to Halos is a classic tale about the empowerment of the marginalized — it shows that, given enough time, anyone can take control of their destiny. Grab your scarf, and get started from the beginning at the link below:

Page 12 (excerpt), Honey Crab by M Harding

Honey Crab

illustrated and written by M Harding. updates sporadically. http://www.honey-crab.com

One of the things I love most in the world of comics is when creators go out of their way to bring aspects of multimedia and new levels of interactivity to their works. We’ve seen this in a previous Writing on Comics with Floraverse, but Teenage Space-Age Magical Gal Honey Crab, or just Honey Crab for short, takes it to a very different dimension. I’m always a sucker for a comic about a magical girl (see: the fact that this is the second comic about a magical girl in this very article), but Honey Crab does some very cool things with modern web technologies that turn it into something like an interactive motion comic. These technologies (GSAP and CreateJS, to be specific) empower Honey Crab to do a lot that traditional digital comics can’t do, like in-frame animation, the addition of a musical score, and, notably, your ability to name the main character as you choose. At only 19 pages in as of this writing, the story is in too early of a stage to really have a good grasp of where it’s going — we have a subtle understanding, from the subtitle, that our main character will be revealed to be a magical girl. Nonetheless, Honey Crab’s stellar use of these new technologies makes it a comic to watch — and that’s not just a pun. Name your character and dive in to the first page below:

Page 34 (excerpt), Drop-Out by Gray Folie


illustrated and written by Gray Folie. updates Thursdays. http://drop-out.webcomic.ws

This comic contains themes of mental illness, overt depiction of drug use, and frank discussion of suicide. Reader discretion is advised.

Of all the graphic novels I’ve read that try to deal with mental illness, Drop-Out seems to be the most accurate portrayal I’ve seen. Author and artist Gray Folie hasn’t shied away from discussion of their own struggles with mental illness, and you can see how their personal experience has trickled into its story and characters. Drop-Out centers around a couple, Sugar and Lola, who set off on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, with the sole objective of jumping off. The comic gives a thoughtful and sympathetic insight into the suicidal mind, touching on themes of schizophrenia, the realities of being gay and intersex, and the perils of medication, and it does a magnificent job of exposing the inner anxieties of two people who have simply been stretched too thin by the eventualities of life. Combined with this is the comic’s striking visual aesthetic, demonstrating a painstaking attention to detail while eschewing the anti-aliased style of most contemporary digital art. As a survivor of a suicide attempt, Folie’s work hits home for me. Drop-Out is the most beautiful and poignant exploration of mental illness I’ve yet seen in the world of webcomics. I think we all have a lot we can learn from it. Rev your engines, and jump into the first page at the link below:

Comic pages are copyright of their creators and used under fair use. Some pages are shown in excerpted form. If you liked what you saw here, please support these creators by reading and sharing their comics, following their social media, and backing their efforts through donations or Patreon (where applicable).

Wil Harris is a non-binary writer from upstate New York. Follow them on Twitter and Tumblr.