The Webcomics Weekly is back in your life. This week we have the number of the BEAST… uh actually, that’s one too many. What can I say math is hard which will surely come back in the slice of life comic “6+6+6+6”. Meanwhile, things get nostalgic in “Lavender Jack” and bottom right. The epic romance of “Lore Olympus” also continues as the underworld receives its new intern.
’24, 18, 12, 6′ – ‘I worry about Ena’
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
If you’re looking for a new slice of life comic, “6+6+6+6” is a good place to start looking. Only seven episodes have been released so far, with the seventh and beyond requiring coins to unlock, but it’s already a fun and touching example of the genre. It doesn’t try to do too much too quickly and manages to balance its five main characters well. Well, four out of five. The fifth hasn’t really evolved beyond being “Mom” yet, but there are signs that we’ll grow to see more of her character as the other four begin to see it as well.
The basic premise is that there is a family of five: Mom, Jay, Ray, Ena, and Pat. The four children are six years apart and therefore each live at different stages of their lives. Jay is your typical late-millennium, early-Gen Z drummer, Ray is studious and in love with a boy in his class, Ena struggles with school bullying and self-esteem issues. self, while Pat finds friendship and struggles in his elementary school class. Or whatever the French equivalent of that. Akhts establishes all of this over the course of these six episodes while giving clues in earlier episodes through seemingly innocuous statements or panels that take on greater meaning upon reflection.
The art style is also simple yet expressive. It’s a cartoon, and it’s willing to use it to exaggerate comedic effect, but mostly the simpler, noseless faces help convey an intimate atmosphere that can withstand mild antics and heavier issues. It’s easier to see this in the contrast between Ena’s and Jay’s focus episodes. Although, as I say, Jay’s focused episode gives us a sense of both his state and how his outward actions are far more complex than “the slacker with a bit of a head start.”
Ahtks has created a family that is neither idealized nor demonized, instead reflecting the complicated hardships of life and how good families support each other. The characters are endearing even when they show their flaws. I invest myself in seeing them grow and change, or even fall if that is what awaits me. Everything is great and just from these few episodes I’m ready to read it all and I think you will be too.
By Dan Schkade (writing and art), Jenn Manley Lee (color)
Reviewed by Michael Mazzzacane
Declaring “the game begins in earnest” in the fifth episode of your story’s second act before moving on to a credits sequence is probably one of the last title cards you’ll find on webtoon. It also caps a trio of surprisingly reflective episodes as Mimley and Ducky reminisce about what they did between seasons, Schkade pays homage to Alexx Ross’ “Batman Scars” and reveals in the flirtation and budding emotional vulnerability of weird men. Is there really a lot of stuff going on that dries up the plot? Not really, but that’s not the point. This trio of episodes is an effective mood piece that depends on its readers’ emotional investment in spending time with and seeing these characters. It also offered many opportunities for a zooks to pronounce and that’s never a bad thing.
Jenn Manley Lee’s work on flashbacks is what makes these sequences in the 98th episode. They decrease the value of the palette a bit, but more importantly, change the brush style to one that just adds those random little quasi-chipped marks to everything. It’s not posterization but kind of a similar pixelated feel. It just gives these images a textured quality and one that doesn’t depend on the aesthetic associated with nostalgia. Schkade’s pin-up work in these sequences, often limited to a single panel, is well done as you’d expect. Lee is also pursuing this newfound interest in the texture of the dilapidated remains of Bastrop Manor, which helps sell the dilapidation.
Look if all Schkade had written was the puns and double meanings about Mimley and Ducky having a soundproof secret dungeon where they keep all their toys, I would have really appreciated. On top of that, Lee walks in and colors everything in a pinkish-purple light, which doesn’t make sense due to the power outage, but regardless, he looks fantastic. Plus, this scene suddenly turns into Mimley and Summers being emotionally vulnerable with each other as they try to figure out what they are and now mean that Mimley is a bit more honest gentleman! Everything is so sweet and playful. And ends with a hilarious pun where Summer asks Mimley to come clean with him. Scenes like this aren’t worth advancing the plot one iota.
The emotional subtext of this scene also grew out of an earlier scene where Mimley expresses and acknowledges the emotional and intellectual connection and honest partnership he has with Ducky. Maybe they don’t fit together so well in bed, but that’s beside the point. Schkade does a fantastic job of defining-redefining what they mean to each other in an honest and nuanced way. The kind of relational work and recognition that you don’t really see in these types of stories.
By Rachel Smith
Reviewed by Mel Lake
Underworld’s new intern, Persephone, finds herself in the midst of more drama due to the tabloid photo of her and Hades in this batch of episodes leading up to “Lore Olympus'” first midseason break. She gets chewed out by her “Eternal Virgin” godfather and even becomes a supposed best friend, Artemis, doesn’t trust Persephone’s judgment when it comes to Hades. Which is pretty silly, sinceunderworld is the one who seems really shaken by his presence. But once again, the sexual double standard is at the rendezvous since Persephone is the one who is the most vulnerable to affair rumors between the two.
Meanwhile, Hades grapples with his crush in panels that are both hilarious and related to anyone who’s had an awkward attraction that won’t go away. He talks to his dogs, who are fluffy threats and utterly adorable bursts of brightness and joy in Hades’ apartment. He also lounges around in his underwear and stalks Persephone on Facebook – completely normal behavior for a god. (Facebook in this world is called “Fatesbook” and it’s excellent, I love it, perfect detail.)
Aside from the romantic gnashing of teeth, this batch of episodes also features Minthe’s side of their story, reminiscing about her nervousness about being queen of the underworld and how badly Hera treated her. I doubt most fans care. She’s designed to be the stumbling block in our main duo’s way, but I have to say I find Hades chaining her up pretty horrid. I don’t like Persephone’s naivety and her insistence that she’s going to make her own way in the world when she ignores or doesn’t try to figure out how it works. So even though I know I’m not supposed to be cheering on Minthe, I can have some compassion for her as long as she’s still part of the story.
The other thing that sticks in my head in these episodes are typos. I forgive typos in webcomics, but once you have two editors credited to a title, it seems like they should be less frequent. The art and story ideas have always been the main draw of this series for me, not the writing, and that’s totally fine. But it’s disappointing to come across a typo in an otherwise beautiful panel.