“Died Again” was just brought to my attention earlier today and I’ve already read the first twenty comics and decided to write up a quick recommendation… this means I’m pretty damned impressed.
Died Again is lovingly made by the creative duo of artist Chris Bourassa, and writer Matt Newman. Keep in mind, this is definitely a narrative webcomic, so please, do not repeat my mistake of reading comic #20 first and wondering what the hell just happened. You have to start from the beginning to get up to speed with the story so that by the time you naturally make it back to #20 you get the joke(s).
The set-up is simple yet pretty damned brilliant- the characters and story exist inside of an online RPG, self-aware and meta-contextualizing their game world and the outside player’s roles. We follow a self-proclaimed “Death Knight” on his personal journey through what amounts to his own Inferno, suffering through what is a seemingly endless string of humiliations and beatings while being degraded by rules, players, level bosses and other ‘virtual’ characters (not to mention all the bird shit that seems to land on him “accidentally”).
We’re treated to some really great writing through all of this which manages to come off as sophisticated even through its’ juvenile toilet humor. Seriously; this is a world where you may very well get squidlubed for the tentamolester to, well… you get the idea. However, don’t think that is some sort of critique, because believe me, the real trick to all of this is the surprisingly wry tongue-in-cheek gravitas that the dialog is imbued with. I’m actually convinced the writing is even more clever than I’m giving it credit for; being an MMO novice I’m sure I’m probably missing plenty of subtle (and not-so-subtle) jokes, suffice it to say there are certainly layers I’m blind to. In any event, for a simple web comic, the writing is much more intelligent than it deserves to be.
The art tying this all together is fantastic as well, Bourassa’s inks are succinct and gorgeous: sharply kinetic and stylized in an utterly unique way. Characters are oddly proportioned and designed, and the aesthetic works very well in the skewed world we find ourselves in. The story is affording Mr. Bourassa plenty of opportunities to stretch out and add in a lot of surreal, Lovecraftian flourishes (MOAR Tentamolester!).
All in all I can’t recommend this comic enough; smart, funny, subversive and beautiful to look at.
Before I go, allow me to posit the one lingering question I have: When is the world going to grow too big to be contained to a webcomic alone? How long until we see a full, Died Again mini or one shot graphic novel? Plush toys?