BODYWORLD concludes


by

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. If you’re not following the webcomic Bodyworld, then you’re missing out on the most formally inventive comic being made today. I suggest reading the whole thing from start to finish, which you can do now that the thing has ended. Enjoyable for me cuz I watched it turn and mutate over the past year so the finale really hit home. Loved it. You will too. And if you don’t, you’re just a moron who doesn’t know a thing about comics.

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25 Responses to “BODYWORLD concludes”
  1. ULAND says:

    The ending was kind of a let down though, no?

  2. Frank Santoro says:

    nope, not at all. Unbelievable.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It was only a letdown ’cause it shoulda never ended.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It was only a letdown if you could be “let down” by such consistent crap.

  5. Anonymous says:

    you gotta soda on yer roof asshole

  6. ULAND says:

    I just thought it needed another act or something. I thought the mystery , once exposed, needed to play out a bit more, or have some unexpected ramifications.
    I loved a lot about it though.

  7. Frank Santoro says:

    Formalism, Formalism, Melodrama. Repeat. It’s the “game” itself. He showed one “emotional” approach in Bottomless and now he shows a more multi-faceted, INTEGRATED approach. Formalism plus Melodrama plus a lot of funny shit. Great game. Dude can play.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The running joke is back! I felt brought short initially due to my own expectations of the narrative. But once it “settled in” i thought it was great – it was Paulie Panther’s story in the end. I can’t say I’d agree with it being “the most formally inventive comic being made today” but I think it has shown how webcomics could be something of their own, & I'm sure some will take inspiration from that.

  9. Frank Santoro says:

    it’s like someone figuring out how to really use an LP record length back in the sixties. Think about it. Unbound by the format, one can play with extended solos and different structures.

    It’s the best use of the “webcomic” format that I’ve read. And I think it’s a fun read.

    All you haters are just jealous, anyhow.

  10. looka says:

    Well Hell! I love it – so fuckin’ what!

  11. knut says:

    Who is stepping up to the plate next to do something as ambitious as Bodyworld on the web?

  12. Frank Santoro says:

    I heard about this guy who was gonna do a “Gay Native American History” webcomic. Supposedly, he documents every gay Indian he’s ever known.

  13. ULAND says:

    I’m not hating, I just didn’t think it transcended the formula you describe, Frank.

  14. Frank Santoro says:

    Oh wasn’t referring to you, bro, really. It’s directed to those-who shall-not-be-named and anonymouses.

  15. Benjamin Marra says:

    I’m reading it now. I’m half-way through, about. It’s an astonishing piece of work. Not just for it’s use of the webpage format. It’s just a beautiful thing to look at and the characters are great. It’s paced awesomely. I dig the story so far but I’m more impressed with it visually. The mixture of linework, vector color shapes and odd smears is masterful.

  16. Anonymous says:

    “Those who shall not be named?”

  17. Tymmi says:

    Okay, nobody else is speaking to this point. I don’t have a whole lot of time either, but seeing as webcomics formalism is kind of my neck of the woods I’ll step in here for a second.

    First off, I absolutely loved Body World. I agree with Mr. Santoro that Shaw’s work really speaks to the medium of web-viewed comics, and the design and execution is impeccable. And I don’t mean to diminish what Mr. Shaw has accomplished here – it’s fantastic! But to suggest – as Frank seems to – that there is no precedent to the formal play evident in BW is dismissive of some great lesser-knowns and, on top of that a bit arrogant.
    I’ve been hovering around webcomics for awhile, did some writing for the (now defunct) Webcomics Examiner and tried to start up a site focusing on webcomics formalism with a couple of like minded friends (it didn’t work out). Anyway web-formal play in comics presentation is what gets my juices flowing. For the “hypercomics” site, we started a collection of links, which I’ll copy here. All of these are comics designed to work with the formal constraints and possibilities of web viewing (including integration of sound, animation, non linear navigation, etc… which’ll upset a lot of you purists). the brief descriptions are either from me or Neal Von Flue:

    After Days of Passion by Antony Johnston and Ben Templesmith: One of the internet’s earliest examples of non-linear narrative. The reader chooses their own path through the labyrinth of an imploding relationship.

    The Aweful Science Fair by Jasen Lex: Arguably the king of the infinite canvas created with html. This series, while very scrolly, (caused more by the limiting tools of the web 1.0, than by creative choice) includes incredible compositions and a very painterly color sense.

    48 Vignettes about Everything by Colin White: Through a Flash interface the reader is presented with a four panel strip, each panel can reveal a hidden strip about a person, place or thing. The fourth panel leads into the next set of strips.

    Ray Murphy Detective of Dreams by FuFu Frauenwahl: The artist describes it best: “Structurally it’s quite different from the most other webcomics, for it’s not a linear story, but more like a hermetic circular continuum without a beginning and an end. There’s a central roundabout of panels, with several paths branching out from them. But every path eventually leads back to the centre.“

    E-merl.com ~ New Experiments in Fiction by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey: Once considered webcomics’ premier mad scientist. Creator of the Tarquin Engine and Pioneer of Flash techniques, his comics are challenging and irreverent. Merlin now focuses his skewed perspective more on (formally) standard fare, but we love him none the less.

    I am a Rocket Builder by B. Shur: Restless innovator of web-based storytelling techniques. Known for packing all sorts of interactive goodies into his strips. His current project, Coming Home is presented with a mock operating system interface. Updates are unfortunately infrequent but worth the wait to see what he comes up with next. Put it on your RSS.

    Music Comics by Jonathan Altschuler and Colleen Macisaac: Original comics work with original sountracks, an experiment in sonic synergy. Macisaac pens the comics while Altschuler composes the score. The creators work in tandem – each element affects the creation of the other. Makes for interesting effect – if you allow yourself to take it all in together.

    Exit Music by Kean Soo: A pioneer in presenting comics and music in tandem on the web. Each comic is paired with a specific pop song for reasons of theme or emotional resonance. Kean’s new work (done for print) is published by Disney, which is interesting considering both their litigiousness and his early experiments in intellectual theft.

    There’re more, but that’s all we got typed up before the whole deal fell through. I’ll quickly add to the list John Barbers old flash stuff and repeat my link to Neal Von Flue – whose work is almost strictly concerned with webcomics formalism. Well, hell… even Scott McCloud pulled off some similar techniques to what Shaw applied to BodyWorld.

    Wish I had more time…

  18. Frank Santoro says:

    Thanks Tymmi. Glad this topic and my own brand of elitism got your juices flowing to write such a comment.

  19. BVS says:

    I enjoyed the ride but I felt like he Bunted the ending.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The style at the end is beautiful. Although, it wasn’t as real or believable as Bottomless Bellybutton.

  21. ULAND says:

    Hey Benjamin- What’s crazy is that- as I understand it- Dash paints all that vector art with gouache.

  22. WAL says:

    Bodyworld has been my primary and almost only reason for making a weekly journey to my public library for my one hour of public internet. It’s been so sweet. Big Congratulations and Thanks to Mr. Dash. I cannot wait for whatever is next from him…
    As for this discussion:
    I’m not particularily well versed in webcomics, and this comic was a revalation for me. The compostion and color were spectacular, and Dash’s drawings always always stun.

    (conclude my gushing)

  23. Tymmi says:

    Looking at “webcomics” as a whole, there’s a ton of crap to sift through to find anything worthwhile. Most cartoonists build their names through gradual increments, built on daily posting of strips. Gag-a-day tends to emphasize the formulaic. In that way most webcomics stick to a fairly well established comic strip format borrowed from a hundred years of print (actually, it’s worse – more like the last thirty years of print). It’s the model that works, though. Gotta sell shit to keep the work going, and the gag-a-days sell shit if nothing else. Formally ambitious works have not yet found a sustainable model (it’s the way nature of the work goes somewhat counter the nature of the web-medium itself… yadda yadda… I won’t get in to that…) On top of all this, the majority of webcomics creators and readers have been ambivalent to formal play at best, and downright antagonistic at worst. It’s not surprising that people would find Bodyworld revelatory in a “good-use-of-the-medium” sense.

    It just sucks that whenever a work like this comes out and gets some notice, it’s like we’re all starting from square one – nobody knows where to look for more of this stuff and these other guys get lost in the shuffle. Work like this should cast some light on the similar (or like-minded) work that’s come before – but it doesn’t. I mean, is WAL really gonna come back to the comments on a week-anna-half old post on the Comics Comics blog to find out the Cat Garza has re-archived all his old (brilliant) experiments in webcomics form? Is anyone interested going to read this? (is anyone even reading this at all?)

    Coming at this discussion from a different angle, it’s great that Dash Shaw is opening people’s eyes to the potential of the form. I can only hope that others do end up following his lead. In my eyes that can only be good for webcomics in the end (and good for me as a reader). It’s just sad that the rest of this stuff is forgotten in the process.

    All right. I’m off my soapbox now…

  24. Frank Santoro says:

    Tymmi, I hear you, but, it’s not forgotten, or lost.

    Just you posting about all the stuff that you love to read here is a help to those who would like to know…

    so, don’t fret, it’s ALL good for the form in the long run. It’s an exciting time despite everything.

  25. jake says:

    dash shaw always rocks the house.