So it looks like this is going to be a thing now, so let’s talk about it!
With the success of the Starfighter: Eclipse Kickstarter and the previous success of MegaTokyo, it is clear that webcomics have potential to be major EVN titles. I can say, without patting myself on the back, that this is something that has been on the horizon for years now. As I have said on the podcast, between the webcomics and Telltale Games, it is only a matter of time before more developers start looking at this medium as a profitable way to expand their audience and the life of their work. But I have spoken at length on that, so I won’t bore you again. After all, if we’re going to see more webcomic creators make the jump from comics to gaming, then it’s about time some raging Internet asshat begins speculating on when we’re going to see the GOOD ones make that leap.
Ah yes fans of MegaTokyo and Starfighter: I went there. That isn’t to say both are bad per se, however the creme has yet to rise to the top here. There are fantastic titles out there that could easily make the leap: some still active, others on hiatus and still some finished entirely. Regardless, as a fan of both mediums, I figured that now would be the proper time to shine a spotlight on some of my personal favorite webcomics that could also be visual novels. Oh and, to be clear, this is all my opinion and I haven’t read every single webcomic in existence. So, if you don’t see what you like on the list, it’s a problem outside of my department!
With all of that said, let’s take a look at the Top 5 Webcomics That Should Be A Visual Novel!
So…where do we begin here?
My relationship with this family of comics is…testy, to say the least. While there are moments of brilliance that make months of aborted jokes and nonsense story lines worthwhile, there is a chance that the nonsense story line could form its own spin-off (looking at you Dillon). It doesn’t help that many things that the chief creative team find funny, I don’t. For all of that, there are two comics they do that (somehow) avoid the pitfalls that plague their other works and I enjoy. Currently my favorite is a little title called Sandra on the Rocks: AKA Menage-A-3 with a heart and a brain. But, for the benefit of this particular feature, let’s focus on a decent title that could use some more exploration; Magick Chicks.
For those unfamiliar with the universe; allow me to bring you up to speed. Magick Chicks features a stereotypical Mean Girl clique of witches (seriously) who get transferred from their school to an all-girl school of devil hunters led by a horny Knight Templar. From there we have a pretty good action story that shows the girls evolving from the stereotypes they were first presented as. A visual novel set in this world would mostly revolve around Artemis Academy; that all-girl school I was talking about earlier. It would be a nice twist on the familiar high school romance genre as you can work in larger themes and have a wide option of love interests both inside and outside of the school. And the overall lighthearted nature of the comic can allow for a mostly easy-going time while interesting darker elements from time to time that gives it more dimensions than just a straight-forward teenage yarn.
But, let’s be real; I want a game featuring Tiff…because Tiff.
…I’m not quite sure why I’m a fan of this one actually.
The pink-tinted, free-love nether-realm this comic exist in is so far from what my go-to fun zones (as shall soon be seen) that I’m STILL not sure exactly why I like this comic. I stumbled upon GGAR by random chance when an old friend suggested I might like one of the main characters: Lillian. Now, I have a soft spot in my heart for snark masters the world over, so we connected around this moment here. I won’t pretend that I am frequent reader because my body can only handle so much sugar until it lapses into a coma. I just tune in from time to time and play catch up from there. But it never ceases to surprise me just how sincere this story is.
A lot of slice-of-light works can be overwrought and melodramatic, to the harm of both the story and the writer. And while it does have serious moments, ultimately the goal is not for you to drown in tears. Unless you count the threat of the mundane, little actually rocks their candy-coated reality. It wants you to be invested in the offbeat lives of these people and, depending on your mileage, you do care about their well-being. That sort of investment is vital in a visual novel; many of which enjoy dancing along those lines. And, frankly, it is nice not to stare into the Abyss every now and then.
The question for Chloe, if she ever went this route, is whether or not she can capture lightning in a bottle twice. Roomie and Lillian’s relationship is the perfect example of opposites attracting in a way deeper than just infatuation. A yarn out of their daily lives would be interesting, but the risk of predictability is always there. On the other hand, any type of GGAR game that didn’t feature the main couple wouldn’t last very long which takes it FAR from the typical romantic VN. It would definitely be different…although the comic itself is already pretty different.
Of course, if she can make this withered bastard care for those two idiots up top, chances are she can find a way for the same for others to. In that case, maybe all that is needed is for a little bird to give her a suggestion?
NOW we’re getting into the meat of what I enjoy, although sadly we have to discuss a title that was lost way too soon.
The Meek had a great premise and featured a style similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender. A young, naked girl is sent on a holy mission to save the world JUST as the proverbial fecal matter hit the proverbial orbital rotation device. War is looming, evil spirits are invested in turning mankind into a mountain of bones and time is running short for Angora to do her thing. Unfortunately, just as business was about to pick up…it didn’t.
Poor Der-shing is probably one of the most talented artists that have come around in the past few years and this title had a great deal of potential. And while it had a lot of fun with itself, Der-shing also knew a little something about Mood. When it went dark, it went DARK. Side note: CLEARLY Chapter 2 was my favorite. This great balance of darkness and light made The Meek unique because, unlike many of its cousins, it pulled it off. There is still a great deal of its story it can tell, but first it has to be risen from the dead. So, a visual novel spin-off/revival would be a great way to rekindle the promise that was seen in it so many years ago. And with the entire premise focused on the adventures of different characters, a new character falling into the mix would be perfect if the adventure resumed.
It is also the only entry on this list to be done. Here’s hoping for the best though, as I doubt we’ve begun to see the best of Der-shin Helmer.
So many writers and artists try to make war stories and end up making Gundam Seed…and my hatred of Gundam Seed is only rivaled by my hatred of Code Geass. Need I remind you of my eternal hatred for Code Geass? Character-driven war stories are hard to pull off because A) Most people want at least one side to root for and B) The urge of showing the ‘evils of war’ rather than just showing a story during a war. In the end we get a mess that’s only real purpose is advocating pacifism, but thankfully Rose Loughren kicks those tropes in the balls.
Red Moon Rising is a war story properly told: from the top of the cast down. At the top is Adrianna (seen above) who is on the hunt for her brother who has gone rogue. In between that are magic powers, intrigue and no clear cut good or bad: just a web of interests all connected to Adrianna. This went well as we went deeper into the web of the early chapters but it didn’t hit home until recently, when the author went George R.R. Martin on us, how depth the writing of this comic really is. There are no superheroes or idealists to stand behind: just human beings and whatever motives you are sympathetic with this week. They make mistakes, those mistakes cost them, and you can only hope that it won’t be their end as all sides have no issues cutting down anyone in their way.
Like the Number 1 choice on this list, the world of Red Moon Rising is so vast that any timeline in the world would work for a story. However, unlike the Number 1 choice, I really enjoy the cast as is and cannot imagine a game without any of them. Any game would have to be connected to Adrianna or Lethe (her brother) in order to get the full impact of the tale. But with so many space operas and war stories coming to the EVN community, this steampunk fantasy is one that could easily challenge for the top spot.
Prepare yourselves, because once again I am going to utter A CONTROVERSIAL OPINION! In my opinion, Sarah Ellerton is not only the greatest webcomic creator of all time but also one of the best comic artists of the current generation. Currently she is working on the award-winning Finding Gossamyr books, but before crossing over she was getting attention for a little titled called Inverloch. And while that series was good and I enjoyed every minute of it, it was The Phoenix Requiem that set the bar for me.
In a word, it’s amazing.
The art is amazing. The characters are amazing. The way the story weaves itself and deepens at a moment’s notice puts every other webcomic to shame and many mainstream pieces of fiction and entertainment as well is bloody amazing. And I’m fanboying now so let me try to get to a cohesive point. Outside of being a steampunk Walking Dead, why would The Phoenix Requiem be a perfect visual novel? Because there is literally no way it can fail as long as it adheres to the mythology set up in the story proper.
A prequel before the events of the comic could go as far back as a thousand years while maintaining relevance to the source. A sequel immediately following the events of the series would be tough, if only because it ended in a way that fit all of the characters. But in another hundred years or so, as mankind continued to progress past the age of mysticism, who knows? On the other side of that coin is the Xenogears route of a spiritual successor: taking the elements of Requiem and transcribing them into a new idea while keeping similar themes. Or, you could have a game that occurs during the same timeline as the game; just in a different city with a different main character.
All of those possibilities and I haven’t even uttered ‘direct translation’ yet.
There is a lot of Earth here to till and, despite Ms. Ellerton’s work in print media; interest in The Phoenix Requiem isn’t completely dead. There is still more than enough interest to give the people what they want here. But then again, what the people want is either a television series or a feature film. I prefer the feature film, but considering how much further we must go to that wonderful day, a visual novel will work just as well.
SO, that’s my five: not all along the same lines but all within my interest. If you haven’t read any of the webcomics above, ESPECIALLY if you have never read The Phoenix Requiem, do it. Take the afternoon or couple of days necessary to read them. It is all great work and the creators deserve all the attention they can get. Until next time!