TAG manga

Time for some more fan art! I first came across excellent free webcomic TAG when its creator, Nathan Ashworth, was announced as having joined the Halcyon & Tenderfoot creative team and I investigated their previous work.

Reading TAG, it struck me were that it was not the kind of thing I'd usually seek out but that I was really enjoying it. It's a fun tale of action/adventure, a mix of fighting and friendship, all rendered in energetic manga style with dazzling colour. The plot follows Micki, castaway on a tropical island and drawn into a sort of long-running Street Fighter/DOA-style fighting tournament that the island hosts.

The charm of the story is that with its vibrant colour and layouts, as it slips between drama and downtime, it invites you to explore the mysterious tropical island setting and meet its varied (and distinctively designed) inhabitants with Micki.

Early on, Micki meets Whickes, who becomes her companion and guide. He's kinda funny and with a mysterious tattoo and sword he clearly has hidden backstory depths, but at least to begin with, he invokes a great deal of pity. This teenage dude has no family or friends, lives in a grotty alleyway, and fights and loses every day.

Now, one of the great things about TAG is that it retains a light tone throughout and moves briskly through the darker moments of the story without being dragged down by them. Plus, once Whickes meets Micki, things do start to improve for him. However I wanted to do some fan art focusing on the pathos of poor Whickes' pitiable situation.

Subsequently, after I'd started planning the piece, a TAG fan art competition was announced - with an ice-cream theme. Since that fit neatly with my original idea, I incorporated it (not with any hope of winning the competition - it just seemed like a nice idea) Anyway, here's the doodle I came up with:


As mentioned, that interpretation is not exactly representative of the real TAG. You should go and have a look at it. There's well over a hundred pages! Read it online! Or get a print copy!



I enjoy a lot of small press comics and think many deserve more overt appreciation. I also like doodling. Thus, I'm intending to do a few little bits of fan art with short reviews for stuff I like (and feel like drawing).

I'm going to start with Yggdrasil by Tom 'Panda Funk Team' Boyle.

Here's a picture I did of the Valkyrie in it:

Yggdrasil, as you may have gathered, is based on Norse myths. It's clear Tom has knowledge and enthusiasm for this setting and this comes across in the details of both plot and art. However, this authenticity contrasts, in a very positive way, with his distinctive art style (with hints of manga and street art) that gives the traditionally-rooted story a fresh kinetic feel.

The story rattles around up and down Yggdrasil (the 'life tree') at a fair pace - and a couple of readings and a careful look at the Yggdrasil map are recommended to properly appreciate it; however, if anything, this jumpy pace helps it feel more authentically mythological (deities of old were always up to some kerrazy shiz).

The energy of the artwork pops off the page and it's a pleasure to read. The ultimate story, for all the complexity of the plot, is fairly straightforward protagonists fighting antagonists, but it works - and there's a nice metaphorical twist in there to give it a bit more contemporary context, heightened by a very moving afterword.

This is a great book - AND all proceeds of the first printing went to charity. You should investigate getting it by contacting Tom via his Panda Funk Team blog (it might be out of print but he has other fine comics for sale, including new work 'Zpace' available from his etsy shop)