“Runners” by Sean Wang

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I know, I know, I know: you don’t like online comics. Their publishing schedule is unpredictable, their art is frequently rather spotty, and most of ‘em are fairly poorly written. There’s a reason that web comics are generally regarded as a lower-quality version of the stuff you find in the back of your local newspaper. Only with more sex and dirty words.

There are exceptions, however. Well, one exception, anyway: “Runners” by Sean Wang. Mister Wang is a comic artist *and* writer par excellence, and his all-too-brief tenure working for New England Comics “The Tick and Arthur” in the late 90s marks - in my opinion - the high-water mark for the Tickiverse as a whole.

His art is clean and detailed without being distractingly ornate, his characters are fluid, his panels flow together, and his dialog and images never distract from each other. He’s both a very solid writer and a damn fine artist, with a very economical and unique style, and I always enjoy his work.

Thus I was understandably overjoyed when I learned he was doing “Runners” as an online comic. It shows all his trademark wit, his style is in full form, and we’re dropped in to the middle of a well-thought-out universe that is refreshingly exposition-free. I like that we’re shown the action in progress and left to ourselves to work out the rules and backstory by context. It’s good storytelling all around, and it matches his - I’ve already said it - economical style.

The premise is superficially similar to Firefly, but only superficially, and in fact Runners began in 2000, quite a bit before Firefly hit the airwaves. I suppose it would be more apt to say "Firefly is superficially similar to Runners". You’ve got a bunch of semi-mercenary “Runners” on a freighter who do jobs of questionable legality. But there any comparison ends. Most of these characters aren’t human, and none of them have any particular corresponding personality to the Firefly crew. This universe plays by different rules than the completely-unrelated TV show did, and it’s kind of a lot of fun getting a worms-eye view of how it all works out.
Best of all, it’s a straight-ahead science fiction comic. There’s no superheroes in sight, which is a welcome relief for someone like me who loves comics, but loathes superheroes (The Tickiverse notwithstanding, of course).

Definitely check it out. Here’s today’s entry

And here’s where the whole story begins