- Posted by Johanna on January 27, 2013 at 10:02 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
I’m really enjoying reading Johnny Wander, a mild-mannered slice-of-life webcomic.
Anyone can do — and many have tried — a comic about themselves and their friends, young people out on their own in the big city. What sets Johnny Wander apart is the skill and heart with which it’s made.
Ananth Panagariya writes and Yuko Ota draws the strip about the two of them and their buddies Conrad and John. Ota’s art is particularly impressive, with great expressiveness and a real sense of character. I feel as though I know these people, and I want to spend more time with them.
What they get right is capturing the funny or odd or inspiring events of daily life in such a way that you don’t have to have been there to share the feelings and be entertained. There are some recurring themes: Yuko is mistaken for a boy or a kid. The cat Rook (later two cats) do cute things. Someone sees something weird and shows it to the others (and us). The gang cooks and/or eats. They take care of their house. Simple activities, all very common, and thus the more well-observed.
There are three books so far. The first, Don’t Burn the House Down, reprints strips from September 2008 and October 2009. The extras in the back show try-out strips, when they were putting the comic together, with some insightful comments on why they didn’t quite work.
Book two, Escape to New York, covers October 2009 to January 2011. The third, Ballad of Laundry Cat, goes from there to July 2012. It was funded through Kickstarter. Pledge reward versions have gone out, so I’m expecting the book to be available in their online store any day now. The version I have opens with color pages, a nice touch, featuring jokes where the punchlines work better with color. This is also the volume where the kitten Cricket joins the gang.
I like the hourly comics sections (one in book 3 and two in book 2), as it’s neat to see the specifics of how someone spends their day. Of course, much of it involves “making comics”, but still. The details tell the story, which is the strength of this series.