Title: Three Panel Soul
Author: Ian McConville (artist), Matthew Boyd (writer)
Start Date: 2006
Genre: Slice of life, dark comedy
Update Schedule: Weekly
Three Panel Soul is the sequel to Ian and Matt’s previous webcomic, Mac Hall (which I’d recommend checking out if you’ve never read it). For those of you who haven’t read Mac Hall, it chronicled a group of slackers–authors included–who resided in MacDonald Hall, a dormitory in Bowling Green State University (a real life college in Ohio). The comic ended in 2006 after Ian and Matt graduated. Three Panel Soul takes place after they’ve left college and are now out on their own in the world. The comic is titled after its format: every strip is no more or less than three panels.
Recommended Age Group: 12 and up. Objectionable content in this comic is minimal, but the subject matter may still be a bit too dark for younger, undeveloped minds.
Ian’s amazing Photoshop skills carry on from Mac Hall to this comic. The art varies greatly, depending on whether the artist wants to be more cartoony or realistic.
The lack of color seems a bit jarring. In Mac Hall, the color made the backgrounds look gorgeous and really pop out like eye candy. Now that his comics are black and white (save for his video game-themed strips), the backgrounds feel rather lacking; the blurriness seems to pop out more than the abstraction (see the below image for a comparison).
I give this comic a wholehearted recommendation. It’s not a requirement to read Mac Hall first, although I highly recommend that as well; the art is especially breathtaking in his old comic. Ian is an artist who’s definitely worthy of your attention.
Title: The Abominable Charles Christopher
Author: Karl Kerschl
Start Date: 2007
Genre: Dark fantasy, comedy
Update Schedule: Wednesdays
Charles Christopher is a mindless, speechless yeti who resides in Cedar Forest, which is under threat of human occupation by a powerful king. From a hilltop above the forest, Charles is sent on a mission by a wind spirit to retrieve the king from the human city. We also see side-stories from the many animals of the forest that Charles encounters on his journey.
Recommended Age Group: All ages.
The art is breathtaking. Kerschl’s artwork captures the beauty of the forest and the gorgeous scenery.
It’s also a well-executed take on the environmentalist man vs. nature story without driving its message into you repeatedly.
This comic has filler. Lots and lots of filler. In fact, it suffers from one of the worst cases of Filleritis I’ve ever seen. Remember when I mentioned in the synopsis that we see side-stories from the animals of the forest? Well, it happens TOO often in this comic. The story shifts away from Charles’ journey much too constantly, usually just to tell a joke. Sometimes the filler lasts for two or three weeks at a time. It’s irritating and it slows down the pacing. It especially doesn’t help when the comic only updates once a week, making it feel like a chore just waiting for the story to continue.
Aside from nearly bringing the comic to a screeching halt, the fillers also have a drastic tonal shift: They’re more comical while the main story is rather dark. It makes for a very jarring experience.
I give this comic a halfhearted recommendation. Reading the main story is a delight, but if you decide to give it a chance, be wary of the fillers ahead of time. You may be skipping roughly half the archive (no joke). This comic has been running for four years, and it’s running at a snail’s pace. The author has just FINALLY gotten into the good stuff as of the most recent update. He recently ended a chapter in which Charles has finally gotten what he needs; now he has to return to the mountain. What peril will await him there? Stay tuned…