Webcomics Weekly: Endtown

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s spotlight on webcomics, where we take a look at one of the many comics available online every Monday: Webcomics Weekly (but don’t be fooled by the “weekly” part of the title; the feature may happen more or less frequently than that). We’re defining webcomics as any comics published online for free consumption by the general public that doesn’t require a  subscription service.

This week we’re taking a look at Endtown. The strip is created by Aaron Neathery, who was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the webcomic below.

Graphic Policy: In a nutshell, can you tell us what the strip’s about?

Aaron Neathery: Depends upon the size of the nutshell!  Frankly, one of the biggest hurdles Endtown has had is that every synopsis makes the strip sound like something it isn’t. The TV Guide blurb would read something like “Mutants v. eugenicists in a post-apocalyptic battle for the future!” which, while roughly accurate, sounds awful, and I assure you that Endtown isn’t (or, at least, I don’t think it is).

Briefly, there has been an epidemic of sudden, spontaneous human mutation followed by a six-minute World War fought almost entirely with disintegration weaponry.  The world, or what we know if it, now consists mostly of a lot of dust, the occasional ruin, and two warring factions of survivors; mutants who mostly resemble Terrytoons background characters and humans who live the entirely of their lives sealed in hazmat suits for fear of contracting whatever it is that made everyone else mutate.  The humans, termed “Topsiders” by the mutants, rule what’s left of the surface from within domed colonies and are sworn to exterminate the mutants as (presumed) carriers of a (presumed) mutagenic virus. The mutants hide below ground in their own colonies, of which Endtown is one, and just try to survive the Topsiders’ extermination campaign, and that’s if they don’t kill each other first.

And even *that* doesn’t sound quite right..  I think the four biggest words in an Endtown word cloud would be “Walt Kelly”, “Lovecraft”, “politics” and “canned beans”.  You’ll probably just have to read it in order to get it…

GP: How often do you update?

AN: Three days a week, M-W-F.  I’d been producing five a week until 2015, but the workload helped land me in the hospital. I wish I was joking about that.

GP: How long have you been producing the strip?

AN: Since March of 2008.  There are canon precursors to Endtown dating back to the early 90s.

GP: Where did the idea for the strip come from?

AN: An attempt at having my cake and eating it, too.  I’d spent years trying to get a syndicated strip off the ground while watching in dread as the newspaper industry dried up.  In the end, I decided to forget syndication and just try to please myself by devising a webcomic that had room for pretty much every last thing I’ve ever found interesting; science fiction, funny animal characters, classic film comedians, relationships, politics, war, sex, mechanical television, etc. etc.. TheAsterix comics were definitely an inspiration, with Endtown the equivalent of the Gauls’ village and the Topsiders as the Romans closing in on all sides.  Roy Crane’s Wash Tubbs strips from the 30s were also occupying a big chunk of my brain at the time because they’re so fantastically freewheeling.  I love the idea of simply sending characters out into the unknown and seeing what happens.  Another inspiration was Peyo’s original Smurf comics because I love the social and political satire. “King Smurf” in particular was in my thoughts; Papa Smurf has to leave the village for a couple of weeks and the rush to fill the power vacuum results in a dystopic monarchy and a violent uprising that nearly turns lethal! I love that balance between disarmingly cute and funny and deadly serious and, during the first several months of Endtown, I made self-conscious effort to replicate it without much success.  Most of the initial strips were written with the idea in mind that Endtown would be a funny adventure strip with dark moments, but once I stopped overthinking it, Endtown evolved into whatever the heck kind of thing it is now.

Why it’s awesome: Well… because it just is. I can’t pinpoint why, exactly I enjoy this comic so much, and I think that’s the beauty of it. If the strips below whet your appetite even a little, I urge you to follow the link above and read some more of the fantastic Endtown.

Below you’ll find a selection of Endtown strips. Enjoy!

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