I wasn't going to do another online comic for a while, and I keep mentioning that backlog of strips I want to mention), but Eight snuck up on me with the new strip replacing Roadwaffles on Keenspot. It's more like an alternative comic book than an online strip -- very dark, not at all humorous, and very, very well done.
Roadwaffles was goofy fun in the Tarantino vein, full of gratuitous violence and insane black humor. This is something different. Because I don't watch much TV, it took me awhile to realize that there is a bit of that same mordant humor here in the name of the strip. The central character and her stituation are, I guess, supposed to be an inversion of the television show "Felicity," certainly her life can be summed up by saying it's the very opposite of "great happiness," which is my dictionary's definition of "felicity." This didn't occur to me until recently, and I haven't the faintest idea whether there are deeper parallels, 'cause I don't watch the show. Maybe this strip would be hilarious if you knew the show. But probably not.
Nadia is a junkie. She lives for free in Vince's apartment building in return for letting him use her, both sexually and as an attractive escort at parties. Attractive is a relative term, of course. She's far too thin and obviously strung out, but that look is "in" these days, at least to a point. One imagines in a few more months she will cease to be attractive and Vince will boot her out on the street. Vince is not a nice guy.
The strip moves Monday, Wednesday and Friday and it's only three weeks old, so there are only nine episodes in the Archive so far. It'll be easy to catch up, and I'd advise you to jump right to the first strip and not even read the new one until you get to it. It's a story. Again, it's not like most online strips. The individual episodes even have the shape of comic book pages, and my guess is that he was thinking of doing it in that format first. I hope he's just lazy and didn't do a good job of shopping it around, or maybe just prefers to do it on the web, because if this really got turned down by Fantagraphics and all the other small press comics publishers, they're all idiots. Reading this comic is a harrowing experience. I haven't felt like this reading a comic since From Hell.
Is the mysterious Eight, whoever he is, as good as Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell? My first inclination is to say, "Well, no, of course not. He can't draw as well as Campbell, and nine pages are hardly enough to display formidable writing talent."
But the leap he has made from Roadwaffles to this is so extraordinary, and what I've seen of this story so far is so good, I hesitate to write him off that easily. His drawing is loose and "cartoony," in the sense that he uses simplified lines rather than meticulous rendering, but his art is expressive and effective. It perfectly fits with the story he's telling. His characters dialogue rings true.
OK, I'm exaggerating a bit comparing it to From Hell. His writing doesn't have the intellectual depth of Moore's, and his rendering is not as effective as Campbell's. But this story does have the same raw emotional power. If he has a ways to go to catch two of the greatest lights working in the medium, he's already head and shoulders above many people better known and better paid.
I read a lot of online comic strips. More than I should, more than I really have time for. I need to cut down, but I probably won't. But I'll be following this one as long as Eight keeps doing it, no matter what other strips I have to drop. This is better than an awful lot of comics that get printed and sold in comic book stores, and although you only get three pages a week you can read it on the Internet -- in limited color no less, which costs way too much for most alternative comics -- for free.
If you love comics about believable characters in situations that, while hardly everyday life, don't involve super powers or aliens or supernatural beings from another plane, you should be reading Infelicity. If you can take it. It's probably not for everybody. The first day we say Felicity shoot up, she's referred to her loveless sexual relationship with Vince (we haven't seen any nudity yet, but the strip's only three weeks old), and we've already seen several people get shot and it's quite clear there's more violence to follow. If you're the squeamish type, maybe Infelicity isn't for you. If those things seem like a lot of fun, forget Infelicity and read Roadwaffles instead. This doesn't make violence fun. Not at all. But it doesn't flinch away from it, either.
Roadwaffles showed a lot of promise. Infelicity is the real thing.
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