As regular readers of downthetubes know, we regularly post new episodes of our SF adventure strip, Crucible, to the web comics platform Tapastic. The series, written by me, drawn by Smuzz and lettered by Jim Campbell (and which has had an absurdly long gestation period) started out as a creator-owned strip in STRIP: The Adventure Comics Magazine, but when that title went on indefinite hiatus, we decided to keep it going and try and build our own audience.
There are a huge number of comics on Tapastic, which also offers a number of premium, paid for series – but if you’re a fan of US, European or British-style drawn strips over manga, which seems to get more of an airing, and promotion, on the platform, then they might be hard to find.
Here are some gems I’ve discovered since using the service which I think downthetubes readers might enjoy. All the strips mentioned here are free to read, but creators need to achieve 500 subscribers before they can start to reach out to their audience and offer Patreon-style goodies in return for financial backing.
Some episodes of the strips below do have some NSFW content, but this is clearly indicated by the creator if that’s the case.
Gaston by Moreth is set on a train. Mix together an arrogant woman, a talkative and boring man, exasperating robots and a mysterious animal. Gently stir then Bring to a boil. It’s a terrific-looking manga-inspired strip that’s only just started, well worth subscribing to see where it leads, I think.
Grayscale by Keon Tan has mystery and heavy supernatural elements, awesome style and interesting settings. It centres on Thomas Gray, an occult detective who has an obsession that only mystery and danger can fulfil.
Heroes for Ghosts is a sci-fi adventure by Michael Hayden, and his art is simply extraordinary. In a war for mankind’s survival, the most powerful special forces crew in human history just went rogue. The story’s only just begun, but I think he’s a creator who I think is definitely one to watch for the future.
Hominids by Jordan Kotzebue was one of my first finds on Tapastic. It’s complete to read now – a prehistoric action-adventure comic where Neanderthals are at the top of the food chain and humans are struggling to survive. The story follows a small pack of hunter/gatherer Neanderthals who stumble upon a sick human in their territory. They take him in, not knowing he’ll change their lives forever… This deserves to be collected and out in print.
If you’ve ever read Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons heady, paranoid, deconstruction of the superhero genre, well, be warned, Secretman by Stone & Bone is the total opposite of that. It’s beautifully drawn and very entertaining (not that Watchmen isn’t but in a different way!)
British creators Mike Garley (script), Andy W. Clift art) and Mike Stock (letters) are having tremendous fun with Sgt. Steel – Allied Avenger. With tongue firmly in cheek, the British hero Steel must lead his men against a dastardly Nazi onslaught if there is to be any chance at all for old Blighty!
Small Prey by Byron Jackson and Jim Rodgers is a crime story with a hgorror- edged. Black and white, that choice is perfect for the unsettling tale which opens with an awful crime in a suburban house… but what really happened before the police showed up?
Sunward: Bad Influence is set on Helian, a brave new world where everything is possible. A group of young misfits try to find their place in this land torn apart by a vicious struggle between the ghosts of its past and an ever-waning future. This strip simply oozes style and is well worth a look.
Danny Homan’s Starve The Beast, drawn by Sergio Vicencio, is about a dictator who unleashes a genetically-engineered plague and Kasmer Strout, his right hand man – and the only one who might be the only one able to put the country back together again.
On the humour front, there’s plenty to choose from, too. Nick Miller and Antonella Caputo are creating Skid Avenue, a new take on The Really Heavy Greatcoat characters we first devised way back in 1987. Nick also draw the daft Worry Man (above), a one panel gag strip, published daily.
Finally, Romantical Tales is a satirical look at old romance comics from the 1940s and 50s seen with young eyes. Each chapter is a new story, with out of copyright strips gently savaged by two anonymous readers. It’s formatted for mobile reading, like a lot of Tapastic strips, and is a lot of fun.