At the very start of the year I wrote about my favourite webcomics of ’08 on my old LiveJournal and to end it I’d like to tell you my Top 5 for 2009. I ended up writing quite a lot so I’m splitting it into five posts. I’ll post a comic a day counting down from 5. Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts.
5. Anders Loves Maria by Rene Engström
This Swedish webcomic about a couple having a baby will finish before the year is out. For over 3 years Engström has been crafting this story, improving as an artist and writer, gaining a large and loyal following and making a name for herself as one of the best webcomic artists around.
The single narrative of Anders Loves Maria is, as you might imagine, a modern love story about the two titular characters. It begins with Maria finding out she is pregnant and though Anders is a spoiled, philanderer she decides to keep the baby. Over the course of the pregnancy and through many flashbacks we learn about the complicated love lives of Anders and Maria. Other characters come to the fore throughout the story such as Björn, Maria’s older ex boyfriend and Johan, Maria’s older brother among others. Of course it all gets very tangled and there’s a lot of crossed paths which leads to many awkward and hilarious moments but the focus is on revealing who these people are and why they make the choices they do. Oh, and I should mention it’s NSFW, there’s boobs and sex all over the place.
This year, Engström has thrown in another couple of flashbacks and thrown Anders in jail. All leading brilliantly to the impending conclusion of Maria giving birth. The most touching moment for me was finally seeing when Maria met Anders for the first time at Art College. She’s nervous and out of place, speaking in thick northern Swedish dialect (written excellently) but her cheeky, likeable character comes through, toying with Anders from the off. It feels like coming full circle as we near the end, witnessing the moment from which all the turmoil begins.
The art this year has been thoroughly gorgeous. Engström has become superb at the balancing her fluid linework with rich colours for the story in the present. For flashbacks she’s been creating full watercolour pages for some and overlaying drawings on paintings for others. And her layout and keen sense of composition has been staggeringly strong.
I’ll be sad to see the end of this comic and hope that she sends the characters off with a little of the security their lives have been lacking so far. I hear that there’s a book of the whole story being put together right now and I can’t wait to see how it comes out. There’s no other webcomic out there (that I’m aware of) which presents one long story as real, witty and as clever as ALM. It’s a treat to read such a well written and involving story, for FREE, and I feel privileged to have been along for the ride. Go and read it while you still can.