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 Old Souls. The strip is created by Liam McKenna, 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?
Liam McKenna: Termination Shock, specifically, is about a small group of people on board a spaceship. The narrative is told through a flashback, and the story tries to explain the fallout of the story’s driving event on the characters that survive it. It’s a heavy twelve pages.
In the flashback, the characters realize they are carrying some illegal cargo that has a homing beacon on it, and they get attacked by a ship that tracks it. They escape, and debate how they will discipline the guilty crew member. It’s sort of a space-age psychological drama told as quickly as possible.
My other strips can vary pretty wildly – sometimes veering into sci-fi, like Termination Shock or Flunderbot. Other times, I’ll do quick New Yorker or The Far Side-style single panel strips. My home base – where most of my work is focussed – is the classic three or four-panel strip, which I offered under the title Old Souls. That’s more standard comic fare, but I like to play around with different formats a lot.
GP: How often do you update (or how often do you hope to update)?
LM: I’m sure anybody that doesn’t work in comics full-time will tell you that they want to update more often, and that’s certainly the case for me.
I spent the last year in school full-time, working towards my Bachelor of Education, and I was lucky to incorporate a lot of comics into my lessons in history and English. I think it’s an important form, and it was nice to be involved with comics even if I wasn’t actively creating.
That’s my way of saying I’ve barely updated in the past year. At the time Termination Shock was released, in 2013, I was updating about once a week. I ran a successful Kickstarter and tabled a few shows at the Dartmouth Comic Arts Festival and the East Coast Comics Expo in 2014. Those were awesome experiences. I’d like to do that again. I actually had to look up the years I worked on the strip and I can’t believe it’s been so long!
That means I’ll want to have a lot of new material for convention season in 2017. I should be back to regularly scheduled programming this month. Once a week is likely for updates, and you can check in on Facebook or Twitter.
GP: How long have you been creating the strip?
LM: I drew my whole life, but I didn’t really start thinking seriously about comics – or working at it with dedicated practice – until about 2012 or 2013, I think. I was 24 or 25, working a lousy job and I wanted to vent. It was an outlet. It’s a familiar origin story, I’m sure.
I really enjoyed making comics from the outset, and what surprised me most was how much I enjoyed the patience of the process. Dedicating yourself requires a one-step-at-a-time mentality. Those early strips were ugly, but I could see progress. I still do.
GP: Where do the ideas for the comics come from?
LM: The dreaded question! The flippant answer is I wish I knew, but it’s also the most honest.
It’s probably some combination of my influences, inspirations, emotions. My environment, too. Sometimes I’ll pull something from a conversation and say, hey, that’s a strip.
I like being ambitious with my work, and that means trying to chase ideas that are probably too big. I’ll start with a theme in mind, and I’ll try to invent characters or situations that communicate the idea in an interesting way. That was the case with Termination Shock, where I wanted to show the fallout of a death in a genre that doesn’t always lend it the gravity it deserves.
But to get back to the question, and the source of ideas – any time my mind can wander, it’s probably a good thing for me creatively. I seem to have a lot of good ideas in the shower. You can really collect your thoughts in there, you know?
Why it’s awesome: I first came across Liam’s comics in my local comic shop when I read a print version of Termination Shock; the four page comic was one of the better stories I had read all week, regardless of whether it was a webcomic or an actual comic. The comics posted on Old Souls are all fantastic, whether it’s the fuller length stories or the short snippets of humour (of which you’ll see an example or two below).
As good as the longer strips are, Old Souls has a great selection of newspaper style cartoon strips that truly shine when you just start hitting the random button on the front page; you never quote know whether you’ll be laughing or finding yourself quietly thinking about what you just read.
Old Souls is so much more than a typical webcomic, and by not constraining himself to a set format for the strips, Liam really allows his creativity to flow freely, which is only going to be a good thing for us readers as he explores the longer form web/comics.
Below you’ll find two strips that were originally posted to the site. Neither of these are from the longer comic stories.
And the second;
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