Willie Hewes’ Webcomics

(Mole note: all relevant website links are at the end of this column – enjoy!)

Willie Hewes' 'The Toll'

Willie Hewes is ‘a girl who likes sad things, but sometimes they are funny’.  In fact ‘Willie Hewes’ is the pen name of a comicker who currently lives in Bristol but hails originally from the Netherlands.  She has been making comics for about six years now and is showing no signs of stopping, having created the anthology website ‘Webcomic Shorts’ in 2007 and the small press publisher ‘ITCH’ in 2008.

Willie Hewes has collaborated with other small-press artists as a writer in the past, but mainly takes on both writing and art duties for her comics.  Several short comics, many with an otherworldly twist, can be found online nestling together on a page of her website.   Therefore today, instead of investigating one comic in depth, the Mole will be sweeping the ol’ magnifying glass over each short comic in turn for a brief review. Read on…

First up, ‘The Suckiest Angel’ is a funny little 5-page comic about an angel that doesn’t feel he’s as good as the rest of the heavenly host.   The art style is simple and in pure black and white, which gives a graphical feel to the pages.   It might have looked better with a little more detail, but in general this is a solid short comic offering.

‘Free Z’, another 5-pager, hits home because it is based on a true story and it has a message of acceptance to impart to its readers.  The main character is a teenager whose parents send him away to a therapy camp to try and ‘fix’ his homosexuality, and he wonders whether he will have to live a lie forever.   As well as the message, another stand out point about ‘Free Z’ is that the text is in the form of a poem, which is rare in the world of webcomics.   Art-wise, it is one of the artists’ older comics on the website so the drawing is less polished, but its well worth a read for its uniqueness.

‘The Toll’ is a beautifully coloured 4-page comic about a troll guarding a bridge – you can’t pass without paying a toll… I especially liked the way the troll was drawn, and the way the pages are coloured is imaginative and worth checking out.

‘White Saints Day’ is an 18-page comic which is a little sad, in a gentle way.   It is about the one day in a year when the statues of the ‘White Saints’ come to life to bless the people of their city.  However not everyone considers this a blessing… The art style used for the backgrounds, ink wash and hand-drawn linework, perfectly suits the medieval atmosphere of the comic.  The character designs don’t fit in quite as well, but the page layouts are effective with a good balance of pure black and white as well as shading.

Comedy 10-pager, ‘Hero/Villain’, is an amusing glimpse into the life of a terrible villain who meets a noble and pure hero.  This has ‘just a bit of fun’ written all over it, and a slightly more cartoony art style in the backgrounds complements this nicely.   Characters are a bit lacking in detail (especially round the hand area) but as this is a simple comedy it doesn’t impact on the reader’s enjoyment of the comic as much as it would on a more serious piece.

And last but not least, Willie has uploaded online versions of her 4 Gothboy mini comics, for our comic-reading convenience.   The characters appearing in these were introduced in her previous Gothboy webcomic, an older comic that no-longer updates, but has a large archive still online.   The 4 short stories are entitled: ‘Normal’, ‘The Thingy’, ‘Just Dance’ and ‘Ghost in the Machine’. In ‘Normal’ lead character No gets happy, and there is also a random happiness in the air in ‘The Thingy’ and ‘Just Dance’.  To contrast, ‘Ghost in the Machine’ is a gripping cyberpunk thriller about disembodied spirits in artificial bodies!  The artwork is a bit more unpolished in these comics – they’re mainly drawn with ink and sketchy charcoal.  However, the inked faces and hands and smudgy charcoal bodies of the characters are often really endearing and cute.

All in all some interesting comics to sink your teeth into, and most are short enough to read easily whilst relaxing with a cuppa!  In addition to these comics, Willie Hewes keeps a profile page and a blog on her website, as well as an interesting links page where she recommends some different webcomics and writes a little about each.

In my next post I will be quizzing Willie Hewes on the role of webcomics in the genre of sequential art, her inspirations in both writing and drawing comics, and whether she’s a fan of ice-cream… or maybe something completely different?  Catch you next time!

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Useful links:

Willie Hewes’ webcomic page

Start of the older Gothboy webcomic

Webcomic Shorts

ITCH Publishing

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