Webcomic Wednesday: Stand Still. Stay Silent.

I’m very excited to talk about this Wednesday’s webcomic! Created by artist Minna Sundberg, who also made the webcomic A Redtail’s Dream, Stand Still. Stay Silent. is a post-apocalyptic tale of the first order. Here’s how its creator summarizes it:

“Stand Still. Stay Silent” is a post apocalyptic webcomic with elements from Nordic mythology, set 90 years in the future. It’s mostly a story about friendship and exploring a forgotten world, with some horror, monsters and magic on the side.”

I started reading SSSS last fall so I feel like I’m a little behind on discovering Sundberg’s work. From the initial images I saw from it, I assumed it would be inspired mostly by Japanese works like Trinity Blood, Hellsing, and Full Metal Alchemist, but it is so very much more. While the art style definitely has something manga about it, Sundberg’s technical skill and color choices really blew me away. She also thoroughly creates the world in which the story takes place, with various maps, charts, and illustrations throughout the comic.

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a standard gorgeous establishing panel

In addition to the art being wonderful, everything else about it is wonderful. The story centers on a virus that gives people a little rash before really messing them up. This also affects animals and eventually leads to a world where the only people left alive are the ones who quarantined themselves in Iceland/Scandinavia. There is a long prologue which you should not be scared of in any way! It is as much of a delight as the rest of the comic and also totally necessary to really understand the story. In the prologue we get to see what it was like when the virus first started freaking people out (a la 2014 Ebola), and we get introduced to the ancestors of our main characters. If only we could see more of those funny characters from the prologue, who all have different ideas of what to do about the virus and how much of a threat it really is. Alas, the main comic is set 90 years later, after things have settled into a calm and desolate post-apocalypse… with lots and lots of monsters.

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speech bubble not included…

Yes, it’s clear that Minna Sundberg saw Carpenter’s The Thing, looked at her Finnish surroundings, and found the aesthetics pretty compatible. The monsters in this story are truly gross and scary in a way that I have rarely seen in horror webcomics. Sundberg is excellent at creating suspense and her art is detailed enough to sneak in creepy things you have to look close to find. Like the reader, the characters don’t quite understand the ruined world they explore or its slithering, bloodthirsty inhabitants. All the main characters grew up in small isolated communities after the world as we know it had been reduced dust for a few years. We at least know how things were supposed to go, which makes seeing how they turned out extra creepy for us. I mean, how does the panel below make you feel?

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And inbetween those lovely, creepy moments we get to have fun with a bickering band of misfits. Ah, what a satisfying trope, and executed so well! The band of explorers includes a pampered prettyboy, an enigmatic mage, a sarcastic older doctor, a nervous but adventure-hungry girl, a boisterous viking woman, and a country bumpkin stowaway. They’ve all been hired to head out into the beastly wastelands in search of books(!), which are now in short supply and therefore very valuable. If this isn’t an interesting enough premise for you, most of them also speak different languages (Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish). So they only understand each other some of the time, which is funny. And it means we get awesome extra illustrations like this one:

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Honestly, I’m not sure what else to say if you’re not convinced to give it a try. Oh right, have I mentioned there’s MAGIC?! Prepare your butt for some lovely, folk-lore-based monster-fighting stuff, as well as awesome (and, of course, creepy) dream sequences.

L@@K at this panel design I mean holy whoa

L@@K at this panel design I mean holy whoa

Stand Still. Stay Silent. is one of my new favorite comics. It’s still in progress, so if you read really fast and have a fast enough internet connection, I’m sure you could get frustrated by it. BUT it does update almost every day, which is incredible considering the complexity of the art. And, if you prefer print to online, it is being collected into volumes, which will be available… sometime? In summary, I cannot recommend this comic enough. Please go read it!

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The Strange Sculptures of Patricia Piccinini

The sculpture/mixed media work of Patricia Piccinini speaks for itself. Startling, uncanny, grotesque, and beautiful. She explains that her work addresses things like humanity’s place and fate within nature, and how we are being changed by biotechnology. At the same time, I think her work pretty directly challenges our instincts when it comes to ideas like beauty and safety. I’d recommend looking at her other work to see the real level of skill and variety she’s produced. Here are a few images, just to encourage your curiosity.

Patricia’s Website

Webcomic Wednesday: Prague Race

This is the first installment of Webcomic Wednesday, an effort on my part to start an alliterative post series to help myself update more regularly. I’ll be posting some short reviews of my current favorite webcomic series whether anyone is interested or not, and probably posting some other webcomic-related bullshit as well.

Anyhoo, on with it.
The first comic I’d like to present to you is Prague Race by Petra Erika Nordlund.

The caption on the first page of Prague Race offers this helpful description:

“Prague Race is a comedy horror story, and it offers a softly satirical views of the fantasy genre. It might have some heavy imaginery, and it’s not suitable for minors or sensitive readers!”

So, Prague Race, in short, is a story about three friends, one of which is hungry for adventure and winds up inadvertently getting them all into a big mess of trouble. Leona, the ringleader, is living in a run down (abandoned?) apartment building with her (undead, maybe, although she doesn’t know it) cat, Gabriele.

“Mau?”

One day she and her nervous friend Colin visit a weird-looking curio store where she buys a poster that infects her with an otherworldly unpatented crop harvester. This manifests itself as a bunch of creepy arms that burst out of her back on occasion and do helpful things–although it kills her a little each time. Their friend Miko, a mild but tough-looking fella rounds out the team.

Colin, Miko, and Leona

So, from the very beginning, I was impressed by how entertaining these three can be. In many instances, they behave as stock characters, but they are also portrayed in a way that is thoughtful and even complex. Unexpected things are constantly happening, and you just kind of roll with it and look forward to seeing what’s next. The story structure has involved a cold open and a flashback already. The fantasy world the team enters has a huge variety of fantasy races, and a seeming aristocracy, government/military bureaucracy, and (corporate? government?) paid trials for horrible new technologies.

Sela and Toska

In addition, there’s a big cast of side characters which I assume will continue to grow. So far, they’re all interesting and distinctive. Oh, and that includes a pet shark with legs called Fishsticks.

This comic is still in progress, which, for once I find really exciting because it means I’m not going to race to the end and get depressed when it’s over! It also updates with impressive regularity on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The style is gorgeous and consistent. And, it’s quite funny and creepy. Please check it out! I’m sure you’ll find it as charming as I do.

Karl Blossfeldt’s Gorgeously Creepy Floral Photography

Karl Blossfeldt was a photographer and artist who invented a camera/photographic technique that could magnify its subject to show its texture in impressive detail. His main subject was plants, and the new technique, combined with his knowledge of composition, resulted in some of the most fascinating, beautiful, and creepy photographs of plants ever. A botany professor introduced his work to me and I’ve loved it ever since. Here are some examples of his work.

I love how architectural, animal, alien, and brutish his photographs make the plants look. It’s a vaguely threatening new look at something very ordinary. The fear of nature is something we all seem to possess, but typically forget about in our highly urbanized society. Then again, being removed from nature is the foundation of our fear of it. (This also happens to be a founding theme in the Folk Horror genre.)  Also, the idea that we will never be able to overcome or outlast nature. If we leave our house for too long, nature will take it back. If we leave our bodies for too long, nature will reclaim that too (associated with the modern philosophical notion that the human mind and body are separate from both nature and each other). As for plants specifically, they’re completely essential to our existence as sources of oxygen, food, clothing, and shelter, but we actually seem to think of them less than we do the animals we slaughter for food. I love Blossfeldt’s photographs because they give us a new and unsettling view of something ordinary, while removing its utility by highlighting its aesthetic quality and visual form. (And, I really like plants.)

Throwback Thursday and the Truth about How I Learned to Art

I’m going to tell you all a secret, something very very important that I sometimes find hard to explain… I’m not ashamed, no, not even a little. I might be crazy, and you might not understand, but I can’t deny my love.

My love… for Supernatural.

But seriously, I would never be at the artistic level I am now without my years of devotion to the Supernatural fanbase. Say what you will, but say it to yourself on the other side of your screen where I don’t have to hear it. To prove my point, I sorted through years of an old blog of mine to collect the Supernatural fanart I’ve made. It’s been a long time since I switched my focus to other things, but I still feel like this artistic period (think Picasso’s “Blue Period”) was one of my most fruitful and rewarding. And I made the most amazing friends beyond that black rainbow (plug: creepy awesome movie that must be the LSD baby of THX1138, Daft Punk, and Altered States). So, full disclosure, here’s my formative work, from 2011 to 2013, and don’t skip over Supernatural just because it airs on the CW. It might have gone totally downhill after the 5th season and be possibly or accidentally a bit sexist, but it’s a little gem.

Ah, good good times. Thanks for everything, SPN. One day I’ll finish the show. If it ever goes off the air…

Hello!

Just a quick intro post and I’ll be off. Hi everyone, I’m Kim. If you’re here you probably already know me so I’ll be quick. I’ve been trying to start this blog thing off for a while and had to remake it a couple of times because I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. So yes, I have gone by Barracuda in some places, as well as Art by Nite, and really briefly right before this Flowers and Phantoms. If only I could accrue all the usernames I really really would. I love them. If you want to find me on another platform, check out the links at the bottom of my About page.

The first bunch of posts on here is just going to be a collection of old things from other places. This is for my sanity and archival purposes, and so I can buy more time with the new content. In any case, welcome and please enjoy!