Webcomics Spotlight: NPC

September 6, 2011 at 23:37 (Blog, Comic) (, , , , , , , , , )

All strips borrowed with permission from the author. Click each one to be taken directly to the strip and view them in all their full-size glory.

Welcome back to a new Webcomics Spotlight. This time we’re taking a look at “NPC” by Mary Varn.

Back at the beginning of 2009 I discovered NPC Comic for the first time. I’m not sure which site led me to it, but I read the first strip and it brought a huge smile to my lips. I quickly devoured the strips already out… All eight or nine of them. Then I promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward about a year and I suddenly came head to head with NPC again when I saw Mary comment on a topic over at the “Ladies of Leet” podcast site and clicked on her website link. Everything looked vaguely familiar (still funny), but it didn’t really click for me that it was the same comic I had read before until I hit the First button. I was baffled by the change the artwork had gone through, and read through the archive in one sitting, utterly entranced by how you could see the artwork improve a little bit every few strips along the way.
As of now, the comic has about 300+ strips and is growing by one every monday, wednesday and friday.

The earlier strips are a little rougher around the edges.

NPC is a true niche-comic, centering a lot of its drama around online-games and other hobbies people label as geeky or “for nerds”. Even the name, NPC (Non-Player Characters), is a term used  in roleplaying games, be they online or the old-fashioned pen-and-paper kind.
The main character is Lisa, a World of Warcraft fanatic, that lives with her boyfriend Mike and their two cats, Chloe and Bink. While there’s a varied selection of other characters, the main action revolve around Lisa and her flatmates.

The humour of the strip are truly fun for people like me, the gamer-nerd type. Someone that’s never even played Pacman and think of Monopoly or Ludo when you mention boardgames will probably struggle to see the funny stuff in many of the strips, despite there being quite a lot that are character-driven rather than based on WoW.
That said, if you do like games of any kind you’ll probably end up grinning as widely as I.

A lose-lose situation.

The art has improved a lot as I mentioned above. The first few strips looks like something I might be able to do now (on a good day), while the later stuff is much smoother and with better control of the pen. Each character has gotten their own iconic “shape” that set it apart from each other (and probably make them easier to draw as well), and the colors are more harmonious than they were back in 2009.
The lettering has also improved markedly, Not just in how Mary’s designing the word balloons, using more white space around the words than in the earlier strips, but also with how she’s editing the text itself to convey the same meanings with fewer words.

As you can see, the art is decidedly better.

One of the reasons I keep on reading NPC is that I like the characters and are curious about what they’re going to do next. Chloe and Bink in particular are unpredictable and funny. But there’s also the nerd-factor that keep on reeling me back in.
Another thing is Mary’s blog that she keeps on the site just below the comic. Here she regularly talk about anything from new tech-devices announced, write boardgame reviews, show off her sketches, talk about  iPhone games or comics in general, and anything else along those lines.

Chloe, one of the two cats from hell.

So where can you find these characters? Simple, head over to NPC Comic and take a peek. I suggest you check out the About page for a quick overview of the main characters as well as a few sample strips that might whet your appetite for more.
If you’d like to know a little more about Mary Varn you can always check out her interview over at the Comics Coast to Coast podcast, or perhaps her interview over at the Tall Tale Radio podcast is more to your liking? Or as an alternative you could go directly to the source and check out the authors blog.


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