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A Month of Webcomics – American Barbarian

All throughout May, I’ll spotlight a different web comic. Like with the month of independent comics and the month of LGBT comics, I figure I will let you web comic creators out there suggest your comic for spotlight during this month. So if you want me to spotlight your comic, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

Today we look at Tom Scioli’s American Barbarian, a post-modern riff on Thundarr the Barbarian, done in that wonderful Kirby-esque art style that Scioli employs on the excellent series, Godland, that he does with Joe Casey. Here, Scioli takes control of the writing as well as the art and it is an enjoyable, offbeat adventure series with great artwork.

The post-apocalyptic adventures of Thundarr the Barbarian were likely a riff on Jack Kirby’s Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth (at least I presume it was – I guess the similarities of the two series could be coincidental), so while Kirby did not do the design work on Thundarr, his influence was still quite present.

It is obviously present here, as well, with this story of a post-apocalyptic world where a man and his seven sons work as the protectors of a small kingdom.

We are introduced to the sons as they are about to embark on a sacred ritual that will reveal to them each of their individual paths in life…the tangle of swords!!!

Things get weird, though, when the youngest, Rick, pulls ALL of the swords out of his brothers’ hands! Truly, Rick is something special – something that his older brothers resent him for (heck, one of his brothers even leaves home to go off on his own).

We fast forward a few years, and we see the father of the brothers trying to argue with the king of this little kingdom that there is a dangerous tyrant, Two-Tank Omen on the rise, and the king needs to team up with the other smaller kingdoms to unite as one to be able to defeat this new big bad. His pleas fall on deaf ears. Scioli pulls out of a great trick out of the ol’ comic book bag o’ tricks by slowly showing Two-Tank Omen’s army gaining steam as the argument goes on…

and as we see Rick spar with his brothers…

then, the big reveal of Two-Tank Omen…

Pretty bad ass, right?

During his sparring with his brothers, Rick’s brothers lock him up as a prank, just before the kingdom is invaded, so Rick spends the entire invasion trapped in a locked room. He misses the slaughter of his family. When he escapes, he vows revenge, in all of its gory trappings…

But first he vows fidelity to Two-Tank Omen to get close to him. How well handled is this page?

Awesome stuff by Scioli.

Rick tries to prove himself by taking out the next kingdom (who go about in a traveling tank) all by himself…

However, his attempts at sparing the lives of these folks does not go so well (the above is one-half of a two-page spread of Rick taking out the entire rolling fortress – very cool stuff).

After Rick’s true colors are revealed, he is doomed to be eaten by robosaurs…

but eventually becomes free, along with the family heirloom he was destined to inherit…the starsword!!

Now Rick is ready to take on Two-Tank Omen along with all the other free people in the realm.

Scioli is up to Chapter Six of his epic, which is about 100 pages long so far. As you can tell, this is some trippy, over-the-top but exhilarating stuff, along with amazing artwork by Scioli (I’ve shrunk everything to fit on to our screen here – these pages are all larger on Tom’s site). As you can see, the action is getting even more frantic at this exact moment – so be sure to read what happens next!

Here is the link to the website for American Barbarian.

14 Comments

This is could quite possibly become my favorite webcomic. Ever.

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 4, 2011 at 5:32 am

Soooooo, this is the reason why, Scioli has been so late with Godland for the past year or so.

definitely have to check it out, one fine day.

The Crazed Spruce

May 4, 2011 at 6:13 am

This is one of the ones that I need to catch up on. I’m only as far as Rick taking down the tank.

I’ll probably work on that after I catch up on Order of the Stick.

It looks amazing! Man, if I didn’t need to change my computer, I’d buy the printed version of all Scioli’s work!

Kirby worked on Thundarr. Alex Toth designed the three main characters, but Kirby designed all of the others.

Yeah, but the only guy that Scioli is really outright riffing on is Thundarr himself, which was by Toth (almost certainly based on Kamandi, though).

Ah. Gotcha.

Whoah…it’s like a Moorcock pie with American cheese melted on it…

I have always depended on the kindness of dinosaurs.

I need a print collection of this.

You know a guy is serious about REVENGE when he carves three exclamation marks!

“Robosaurs! I’m fucked!”

Tom and I are both Pittsburghers, and he did a talk at a city library a few months ago. He brought his AmBarb pages with him, and it’s super awesome to see them in person. His working size (I think this is it but don’t quote me exactly) is 18″ x 24″. Point is, he’s drawing these things at a much larger size than usual, and it’s incredible to see the line work up close.

Alex Toth did do character designs for Thundarr, but Kirby also did production design. It’s like awesome and awesomer had a baby barbarian.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thundarr_the_Barbarian

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