City of Reality by Ian Sampson
I pointed out in the Byrobot review that webcomics nowadays need a flare to be seen in the stale sea of the Internet. It takes a flare that is not only bright but also useful. If you shoot a flare that is too flashy and gaudy, it can be ignored for being tacky. Comics that use Flash usually fall into this category especially if they use it as a cheaper form of animation (Note: This does refer to MS Paint Adventures which uses Flash well). City of Reality actually uses Flash well, both creatively and as a device to tell the story.
City of Reality is a comic about a city called Reality which exists in what seems to be part of a vast network of virtual worlds. The comic has revealed only a little about what the entire universe is but from what I can tell it is a bit of virtual reality and video gaming with each section of the world having its own society and laws. The main city is an idyllic place where everyone gets along perfectly, even to that sitcomic level where cats and dogs would shake hands and be friends. This lifestyle of peace and perfection in and of itself could easily destroy the comic but by making it only one world, by introducing the universe and by dealing with actual issues and philosophy, albeit a little light in some areas, the comic develops realness.
The story mostly follows the exploits of three kids as they work to save the world. As a superhero team, they learn about the world and go on missions, learning about life at the same time. It sounds hackneyed and uninteresting but the way the comic is set up, it works. It balances comedy with enough drama to be able to be taken seriously.
As I mentioned in the beginning though, I am a big fan of how City of Reality incorporates Flash. Without giving it away, it allows for time travel, choose-your-own-adventure and a lot of other interesting ideas. Most of all, it feels like it fits with the comic.
The art in and of itself is not necessarily stylistic but it is solid and cartoony at least early on. There do seem to be hints of changes in art style depending on the world. The use of lighting in the comic is also well done and Ian Sampson knows how to create a mood.
The infrequent (bi-monthly!) update schedule could be a problem, but actually works for the comic. "How", you might ask? By posting an entire chapter of about 30 pages or so with each update. It makes the two updates worth the wait. Each section is satisfying and you want to come back. Not to mention you avoid getting lost in long running storylines or by forgetting details between updates.
All in all, the comic is excellent. If the art were tweaked a bit more to be more stylistic (the thin lines art doesn't do too much for me) I would have it on my list of all time favorites for dramatic comics. It deserves a look and a spot on your reading list. A+