Some readers of ComicsAlliance claim to have observed a pattern by which I invoke in my posts what could be described as overtly portentous language with an overwhelming sense of both futility and mania in the face of a perceived doom.
Well, they are wrong!
Apropos of nothing, I'm happy to tell you I have discovered what might be my most favorite webcomic of all time, Romantically Apocalyptic. Written and lavishly illustrated, photographed and manipulated by Vitaly S. Alexius, it is a genuinely hilarious comedy about life after the end of the world, the hopelessly imbecilic dictator who destroyed the Earth, and the one surviving minion he has left to command and irritate.
Zee Captain is a brainless and eccentric fascist in the best tradition of Futurama's Zap Brannigan or BlackAdder's Prince George. He comes from an unidentified nation and speaks with a vaguely German accent, which is of course the funniest accent. Zee Captain lords over a desolate, nuclear winter future that's populated only by himself, the occasional mutant zombies and other horrible beasts, and his one surviving lackey, the ever suffering Mr. Snippy.
With Romantically Apocalyptic, Alexius has created what must surely be the most technically ambitious webcomic of all time. According to the series' website, the beautifully filthy images are just as expensive and time-consuming as they look.
Photoshop, live actors, dead actors, sexy assistants, greenscreen, a camera, and a Wacom tablet. Each comic page is meticulously digitally painted and contains 6 years worth of textures: 1 terabyte of stock footage, shot in real abandoned, forgotten places of our world.
Beyond the plainly wonderful visuals, Romantically Apocalyptic is simply the funniest new webcomic I've read in recent memory. The first "issue" consists of 36 one-pagers and is now complete and free to read. Obviously just the beginning of a grander saga, this first chapter finds Zee Captain and Snippy wandering through what's left of the planet with a kind of perverse childishness -- possibly a consequence of madness -- where they try to engage in normal activities like going to the movies and riding subways as if nothing ever happened. Zee Captain is particularly anarchic in his manner, and some of the text suggests that he himself may indeed be responsible for turning the world into the awful wasteland that it's become.
The comedy is only heightened by the incredible seriousness of Alexius' grim visuals. Everything about the way Romantically Apocalyptic looks is just so overtly filthy and gross and broken and polluted and sickening that the glee with which Zee Captain prances through life seems all the more insane, particularly as he and Mr. Snippy encounter religious doomsday cults, mutagenic monsters and sardonic alien invaders.
Romantically Apocalyptic is an uncommonly ambitious comics project. Aside from the tremendous amount of work that goes into producing it, Alexius has also created a deluxe 100-page glossy comic book that includes the first three episodes, some kind of prequel as well as other bonus materials. A calendar, t-shirts and prints are also available, and Zee Captain has his own Facebook page, complete with cosplay photos from fans. Readers can also donate to Romantically Apocalyptic via PayPal, which will net them signed posters and books. All the money of course goes to creating additional chapters of this darkly comic masterpiece, as well as the live action web series.
That's right, Alexius is actually working to turn his own webcomic into a web television show. A preview clip is available on theRomantically Apocalyptic website. We'd show it to you here, but it contains naked women and we hate those. Nevertheless, you should check it out to see Zee Captain singing "Que Sera" in his outrageous accent. A second clip is also provided, featuring what seems to be a completed special effect based on one of my favorite scenes from the book.
I must confess that I had long ago grown weary of this particular video gamey, gas-masked, gothy, grim future, wastelandy aesthetic, but the textures and renderings of Romantically Apocalyptic work so perfectly for this idea. Surely, this is the best comic book that Radical Comics is not publishing. I read all 36 episodes in one sitting, and I think you will too.
Alexius tells ComicsAlliance that the next issues have already been mapped out and that it's only a matter of finding the time to complete them as he continues his day job -- which is, unsurprisingly, as a digital artist, album art designer and book cover illustrator. However, he hopes that issue #37 will be published sometime next week. I will definitely be checking the website to find out, and I strongly recommend that you do so as well.
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