Like many people I know, I follow webcomics. Not a surprise, really. There's so many out there, and newspaper comics have such a strong internet presence these days too, there's few people who don't follow at least one comic online anymore.
Among all the entertaining ones I've found over the years, there are a few comics that I feel have truly become something great. These are comic strips that as an author I stand in awe of their storytelling, and as a reader I have never been disappointed. That list is small, I'll admit: Girl Genius, Schlock Mercenary, a handful of others...
For those who don't know this story, it's one of the best comics I have ever read, and Time Magazine put it on their top ten best graphic novel of 2007. It's currently on book two now, and for those who haven't heard of it before, it follows the adventures of Parson, a wargame enthusiast sucked into a world that follows wargame mechanics after someone there casts a spell to summon the "perfect warlord." And for those who think this sounds silly and stupid, it's silly yes, stupid no. This story does things I never could have imagined, and takes it's concept to places that leave me in awe.
The first book was good, yes. Takes a while to pick up, but definitely a good story with solid storytelling. But now they're in the second book, and I can officially call this series not only an amazing story, but also a true work of art.
Literary and Narrative-based art is a subject that interests me a lot. For one thing, I'm an actor and author: making art is kind of what I do. For another, my wife studies art theory and scholarship in school (comparative literature,) and she's good at it. So I can say with some authority that there are certain things a good story needs to do before it can be considered truly artistic. To put it simply, it has to do something more with the hearts, minds, and intellects of its readers than just entertain. (For the record, it's hard to make a book entertaining without making it artistic. Just having a good unity of theme means you're exploring an idea throughout your story.)
As for Erfworld, the story just explores human psyche so well I feel like I'm truly seeing the world through someone else's eyes. It plays with the definition of game, royalty, and the consequences of games and wars that I don't think I've ever seen before. That's what I call art in fantasy. Giving us a world that doesn't exist, then using the mechanics and circumstances of this new world to give us insight into our own. And just to make things even more awesome, not only is the storytelling solid, but every other post is an example of excellent prose. It's almost always from a new point of view each prose post, and each character's voice is unique and engaging.
This story isn't just good for authors wanting to learn, it's good for everyone and I highly recommend it. To me, that's the true definition of a good story: It stretches you as a person, expands your intellect with deep probing concepts, and keeps you completely engrossed in it the whole way through.
See you in print and pictures,