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I like to watch the interactions among webcomics. If I didn't have to work, I might waste spend some time mapping out connections, with different color coding for memberships to various collectives, pimping, collaborations, co-authorships, guest strips, links lists and character cameos. It would expand and expand as I added more names, and the connecting cords would multiply even as the existing ones thickened through repetition and addition of connection types. It would be a glorious Gordian net. Since I am not independently wealthy, however (and also not tech-geeky enough to have the 3D rendering software that would require), I will settle for reading, noting the connections - at the very least, the particular ones that led me to the strips - and occasional reviewing/pimping.

In the commentary area of dinosaur comics, creator Ryan North noted sadly that Minus, by Ryan Armand (also the creator of Ribald Youth), ended on July 3rd, and recommended it. I went over and took a look, and I second that recommendation.

Visually, these scanned paintings (they look to be watercolors to me, but I'm no expert) are lovely, vibrant bursts of clarity, artistic without ever falling into the trap of "artsy."

The art is a good match for the subject matter. The strip is a series of vignettes about Minus, a little girl with tremendous magical abilities. It's completely natural to her, used as an extension of herself, and her agenda is unavoidably altered by that - and yet it's still clearly the agenda of a little girl as well, with all that that combination implies: a child's wonder bound with a child's unthinking cruelty, impulsiveness, and the limited understanding of consequence, coupled with the ability to undo consequence, imagination along with the possibility to realize those imaginings. She is always confident, because, as seen in the very first strip, even though her differences cast her in the outsider's role, she is never the one on the losing side of a power struggle.

With such a childhood, one could grow up with a hideously deformed character, but Minus does learn lessons as she goes, about things like the downsides to cheating and the power of choice - the same ones learned by ordinary children, differing only in degree - and there's evidence of an underlying decency in her that suggests that absolute power doesn't HAVE to corrupt absolutely, or maybe at all.

It feels like I have used an ironically large number of words in talking about work that uses so few - a lot of webcomics are as much about the speech bubbles as they are about the art, but in Minus, words are used sparingly, and the visual medium supports the lion's share of the expression.

This is a really beautiful strip, and, complete at only 130 pages (though admittedly some pages do go down aways), reading through it is a small investment of time for a truly great return.

Also, please have this throwaway mention of a laugh-out-loud strip from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
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