Questionable Content Volume 1
My favorite young adult soap opera webcomic, Questionable Content, has finally been collected! The strip by Jeph Jacques has been running since 2003, publishing more than 1700 comics so far. I don’t remember when I started reading it, but it was long after its beginning, so I’m thrilled to get a chance to see the start.
The book is available direct from TopatoCo; Questionable Content volume 1 is $18 (plus shipping). It collects the first 300 strips with artist commentary — usually just a line or so — under each one.
The size is bigger than I expected. It’s about a half-inch taller than your standard comic book, and a good two inches wider, making it almost square. Since most of the strips consist of four panels, stacked vertically, that allows for two comics per page, except for the rare five-panel strip. Jacques’ art has drastically improved since he first started, and that’s easy to see, since the very earliest strips have been redrawn. Jacques explains in the introduction that he lost the original high-resolution art for them and had to redo them. He chose to do so in his current style, which allows us to see how he has advanced a good deal from when he started.
The original low-res versions are also included, for then-and-now comparisons. AnthroPC Pintsize is almost the same, but Jacques’ treatment of people is radically improved. Their heads are now oval, instead of squared-off triangles, and their necks and limbs seem more functional than the sticks they were originally. That said, even the earliest art has charm, and it’s more skilled than some webcomics running today. It’s a treat to see the characters begin to metamorphosize into their current forms and how much Jacques’ work has grown.
Speaking of the cast, I enjoyed meeting Martin and the others from the beginning, when he was just a working stiff griping to his talking computer buddy. He meets grumpy and violent Faye relatively quickly, and they become friends and roommates, bonding over indie rock. They were more normal then than now, since more exaggerated personalities are funnier, and Jacques made them more unique as time went on. We’re also introduced to Dora, Faye’s boss who owns the local coffee shop, and Raven, a goth-turned-emo employee.
One of my favorite author notes comes early on, when Jacques admits that he didn’t remember a particular strip at all until he assembled the book. He also points out how the characters have changed, how they are now compared to the early versions we’re reading, and which ones are soon to disappear, never to be seen again. That history and the fun of getting new (to me) Questionable Content comics makes the book well worth reading.