Here’s a round up of some of the best comics we’ve seen online recently. If we missed something, let us know in the comments below.
So have you been following the Mary Worth drama online? Those aren’t words I ever expected to type, but here we are.
If you aren’t familiar with Mary Worth, it’s a long-running, soap opera-style newspaper comic strip. And “long-running” is no joke; it’s been consistently appearing in newspapers and now online since 1938. And it’s origins go back even further than that, to a strip called Apple Mary that started in 1934. So kudos to the creators, Karen Moy and June Brigman, because here we are in 2022, some 80 years later, and the strip is getting all sorts of attention, kind of akin to Days Of Our Lives having Marlena get possessed by the Devil again.
(And yes, June Brigman, the co-creator of Marvel’s Power Pack and all-around awesome comics artist, is the artist of Mary Worth. Alex spoke to her about the comic Captain Ginger back in 2019).
So the attention the strip is getting centers on a character named Wilbur, who I’ve seen described as “miserable,” a “dingdong” and “a giant mayonnaise sandwich” online. Ryan Bradford, who writes for San Diego CityBeat and Vice, wrote about the last few months worth of strips on Substack, where he talks about how Wilbur is dating Estelle but hates her cat, so he kept making death threats against it. Eventually Estelle broke up with Wilbur, but eventually they got back together, and Wilbur proposed to Estelle while on a cruise. That’s where the story really gets interesting.
[SPOILERS WARNING for recent Mary Worth strips, something else I never thought I’d type]
In the strip from Jan. 9 that also features a quote from Robyn Hitchcock, after Estelle rejects his marriage proposal, Wilbur gets drunk and decides to pretend he’s Leo in Titanic on the cruise ship:
And … splash! Wilbur appears to be gone. Dead. Killed off, which made a lot of fans really happy. The strip from Jan. 10 seems to confirm it, as it shows Estelle trying to page Wilbur while the reader sees the last remnants of Wilbur in the form of a few bubbles in the ocean.
My favorite part is that Comics Kingdom knew how much of a heel this guy was, so what do they do to commemorate his death? Create some merchandise, of course. Both the Jan. 9 and Jan. 10 strips are available as framed prints, and you can also buy a shirt or mug featuring Wilbur’s, um, mug, with the phrase “Where there’s a Wilbur, there’s a Way … bur.”
But is he really dead? Comic readers know that if you don’t see a body, you can never be sure … and sure enough, Wilbur returns, and today’s strip not only wraps up that whole “lost at sea but now I’m back!” story, but gives us more reasons to hate the character.
Let’s move on now, shall we?
Taco Bell Quarterly is a literary magazine “about provoking and existing and the white noise of advertising and capitalism and memory.” They aren’t associated with the fast-food chain mentioned in the name of their publication. In addition to poetry, fiction and essays, they also feature comics, including “Fourthmeal” by Andrew Leamon and Christopher Peterson.
Dave McKean on Dostoevsky
The Locust Lodge
The Locust Lodge is a new comic running on the SOLRAD website by Derek Van Gieson. It’s described as “a supernatural horror noir centered on special agent Bert Arne,” who is a character from Gieson’s Eel Mansions graphic novel. It just kicked off earlier this month, so it should be easy to catch up on.
Congratulations to Joshua Barkman, whose strip False Knees was named “best webcomic” in the 2021 Broken Frontiers Awards. You can see the complete list of winners in all categories here.
Finally, let’s end with Spark #1, a comic from Bad Idea by Ryan Bodenheim, Robert Venditti, Ulises Arreola and Dave Sharpe. Bodenheim passed away in December, making this his final work for the publisher. So they elected to share it for free with the world:
“Ryan had been working with us on a book that we are so excited and proud to share. We are breaking a cardinal Bad Idea rule today and releasing the comic digitally. It’s a work in progress, but we wanted to share it in celebration of Ryan and his incredible talent.”
You can read the full comic here.