Its worth saying here and now that I don’t happen to follow all that many webcomics. At one point I had been following something around 80 or 90 webcomics. It was utter madness. There was the benefit of having a new comic ready every day, and it was enjoyable. But it was just too much to try to keep up with.
How did I ever find so many damnable webcomics? The crazy thing about so many of the webcomics is that they will often post to webcomics that they happen to follow themselves or are friends of. So, if you look underneath of the links section, you can typically find something like a half dozen or so artists that they link to. This is how I came across the few I continue to follow. I am pretty sure that the only comic I ever found on via word of mouth was just Manly Guys Doing Manly Things.
I don’t remember exactly how far down the rabbit hole I was when I found Serenity Rose. Yet, I am so happy that I managed to come across it.
Dear Diaries Are Stupid.
All I do remember was finding this comic and immediately wondering why somebody would want to create an entire comic like that of Jhohen Vasquez (think Invader Zim.) I had read and custom ordered JTMH by him now I believe 3 or 4 times. I have dropped at least 80 bucks into that book (what can I say. I love the book… But look up what the name means.) Which is just insane. That is the only real way to get a hold of it though, because of the contents of the graphic novel. Yet, it…. It kind of declares a firm reason as to why we don’t see season 2 of Invader Zim or perhaps another series of his transformed into a readily available format. At least with Jhonen at the helm, and he wrote a whole graphic novel about his feelings in regards to that.
Anyways, so I was wondering what was with the art style but I was definitely willing to give it a chance. And Aaron Alexovich delivers.
Serenity Rose: Dear Diaries are Stupid is honestly incredible. The entirety of the first book was a tough read. Not in the vain of where it hits you like that of Jessica Jones which is incredibly dark, but it is a tough read due to the almost preachy nature of it. More on that shortly, first I guess I should tackle the story. And sorry if this is fragmented. This is a novel I love and I want to do it justice.
Okay, comic book 101… Tell the story in ten words or less. A witch gets drawn into the spotlight against her will.
Sweet…. Oh wait, you may want an actual summary of the story right?
All you know going into the novel is the main character is one of a small bakers dozen (by Red vs Blue standards…. So like 57,) witches on the planet. Due to some instance involving her powers going awry when she was 16 she hijacked a bus full of kids and caused a terrible accident. The result of this action means that she is court ordered to see a doctor and the doctor suggests she fills out a diary. Which is the start of the comic. All of that is covered in like the first maybe 3 pages.
The story quickly turns into a introspective into the life of this young witch and the insanity she has to deal with living in the spookiest town in the world. She goes from being the shy outcast who is feared by all, to somebody dragged into the spotlight by a chance. Serenity Rose honestly decides to attend something and it just goes down hill.
Before she knows it she is stuck deciding her own future. She is offered a chance to join up with another witch, something that she had been looking forward to doing her whole life. And finds herself dealing with potential cringe-worthy levels of issues there in or would she decided to finally forge out on her own to find the witch she actually admires.
The story has a lot of beautiful parts of somebody coming to age (like actual age. She is around 20 or so in the comic,) and dealing with the hand that was dealt to her at birth. The art style is a little off in the book and yet fits the first introspective on it.
Of course, I guess I should talk about what makes the first novel tough. Yes, I am going to refer to the first book as a novel. It has chapters and deserves to be called a novel. No, I don’t care if you disagree. A graphic novel is still a novel and this one probably had enough words in it for it to count as a novella.
What makes it tough, is the way it was constructed. The novel feels very… preachy. Alexovich clearly has a point of view that he wishes to dictate out. There are entire paragraphs talking about his particular views of the government, statements about the press, manifestos written against major corporations. The text is rather small and tightly packed in. It almost echoes that of some of the best parts of JTHM combined with the worse parts of JTHM. The structure of it all is unrelenting, to the point where I just stopped reading entire pages worth the second time around because it was just too much. It is worth a read the first time around, however, it is tough to want to sit through it a second time around. Let me end this bit with, I like his points of view. I quite like the arguments made by a whisper instead. Yet I respect and agree with quite a few of the views put forth. It just feels like a sledgehammer instead of a lovetap with how it is written.
The Light at the end of the Tunnel.
The second novel features not a gradual change and evolution in the art that you might see with other webcomics. This was a radical change. It was like you weren’t even reading the same webcomic. Hell, there was a novel way of showing color through out the novel, a change over in the way the characters looked. The characters still retained a lot of their original looks, it was just like Alexovich’s art morphed into this new style that in my opinion was so much better. They had faces, they had details, they possessed a clear sense of character that was befitting of who they were and who they would become throughout the second book. Also, beyond some short questions written to Vicious Whisper, there is little to none of the over the top preaching against the capitalist machine or general preachiness. Which is incredibly welcomed.
And the story takes a much darker and twisted route as it continues on. It stops being a matter of a girl getting sucked into the limelight and being made to become part of the world at large, instead the world sets its demands on her and she is forced to answer. She is forced to come to terms with the reality of what will happen if she does as well as what can happen if she chooses not to. The story is dark, twisted, and quite delightfully spooky.
I won’t divulge too much else from there on it. I just recommend you read it. Just remember, it is not particularly safe for work. It has quite a few of the big L’s. Language, Leftist ideologies, Lewdness, Lethality, Lesbians. It is a webcomic I definitely recommend reading at home or on a personal machine. Otherwise HR may wonder should they look into farther than just the namesake.
Pulled from his bio:
AARON ALEXOVICH (who is me)’S first professional art job was drawing deformed children for Nickelodeon’s Invader Zim. Since then he’s been deforming children for various animation and comic projects, including Avatar: The Last Airbender, Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, Disney’s Haunted Mansion, DC’s Fables, Kimmie66, Confessions of a Blabbermouth, the Lovecraftian horror/comedy ELDRITCH! (with art by Drew Rausch) and three volumes of his own beloved Serenity Rose.
Aaron was born and raised under seventeen beautiful miles of ice in Chicago, IL, but currently lives in Southern California, where the bright light makes him sneeze for mysterious reasons.
He is one artist I would love to meet in person and be given a chance to chat with him about his art. It has definitely changed and evolved overtime. I know that I plan on picking up all of his novels in time as well as Kimmie66 and Confessions of a Blabbermouth. The former of which sounds like a little more interesting to me. ELDRITCH! from what I saw would also totally be worth a dive. It is currently available at his site and the first issue is available for a mere penny.
Also, in time I really want to buy a heart shaped skull sadly it looks as if they finally sold out. However, he still lists signed hardcovers of his books, an art book which is a new find to me, as well as a return of Invader Zim comics which has peaked my interest. I remember seeing Sarah of Sarah Scribbles working on an Invader Zim comic and it has peaked my interest for sure. What is really cool is that he is still willing to sell damaged copies of his books that he may have messed up a signature or rather the cover has some minor dents in it. Which for those of you who love deals or prefer books with some character, you can save 10 bucks right there.
What’s it take to draw the way he does:
Well, his evolved style is really stylized and complicated. It has several layers to it interms of the looks. It definitely falls in line closer to that of some disney elements. The limbs are long, the figures are relatively thin, and the necks seem to be kind of classical anime/manga though. Where as the jaw clearly moves in the art and the poses are extremely dynamic in relation to the camera, which in part disqualifies a purist anime/manga approach. Honestly, it was probably a style that evolved from a disney-esque style and came into it’s own in time.
The bigger question may be what does he use to create art. If I had to guess I would say he more than likely creates the characters using a traditional medium like pencil on vellum or some form of hot press paper. This would give him the least amount of trouble for photographing and putting into the computer for digitization. The smoother the paper, the cleaner the lines would remain. He could potentially do a lot of the inking traditionally like that of Run Freak Run. It seems unlikely though.
Again, most of this is me guessing, it isn’t clear on his site as to what he uses. It just seems to me that he would render it in a form that would give him some control and then smooth and polish in PS or Illustrator. As to the heavy pencil shaded look, and the inking on the text. Those are so consistent across the board that I would be very amazed at the idea that he is writing those in himself. It would possess some incredible skill and control to be able to do that. Though he could be doing that and filling in the backgrounds with an autofill or flattening tool that would simplify the process considerably. Not that autofill would make that easy, just easier.
For his art that he creates at the cons… That is clearly pencils, inks, and white charcoal. The white charcoal would give him the ability to give white outlines on non-white paper. Most nicer papers feature a light yellow tint to them naturally. If you enjoy using inks, I recommend a white paint marker. The graffiti ones I mentioned previously are excellent for this. I might have had the company wrong last time, so again I meant Molotow
Where does Aaron Alexovich lurk, should I feel the need to worship the ground he walks on after reading his works? Well, I would recommend not doing that or building shrines to him unless you are going by daedra rules and building far from human settlements. If that is not something you are interested in, he can be found at:
Anyways, I gotta run and get to work. Hopefully my knees don’t give out. However, feel free to enjoy a small gallery of some of the crazy-awesomeness that is Alexovich’s art. Have a lovely day.