There are two things I look for in a webcomic: good art and good story. I’ll forgive questionable art for a good story, and I may forgive questionable story if the art is really well done. If they’re both good, bonus!
When I first got to the Dead Winter webcomic site, I wasn’t sure if I liked what I saw. Then I realized what was up on the main page was a guest comic. In general, I dislike guest comics because they’re filler for when the artist is busy and it interrupts the story. Sometimes they can be amusing, but for the most part my impatience takes over and I demand story continuity! Though really, the guest comic didn’t matter as I started reading from the beginning.
Dead Winter started in March 2007 so I had a lot to catch up on. A few hours later I was sucked in and thoroughly annoyed at the guest comic I saw at the beginning. Needless to say, Dead Winter is wonderful.
Dead Winter is somewhat typical – there’s a zombie apocalypse and the story revolves around several characters trying to survive. Some people are sick of zombies stories but not me. Among the many characters that come and go, there are four main protagonists: Liz Cooper, Alice the nurse, Lou the plumber, and Black Monday Blues who seems to be a hired killer of some sort.
Liz is the main character and narrator and she’s likable. She confesses her weaknesses but tries very hard to work through them considering her life and others are on the line. She spends the majority of the time bruised and battered so you gotta give her kudos for that. Alice seems about the same age as Liz but is motherly towards everyone since she seems to be the only one with any sort of medical expertise. She doesn’t handle herself very well concerning the zombies at first, but later holds her own and she’s got some surprising skills. I was completely unsure of Lou and thought he’d be a throwaway character, but he’s become integral and super reliable. Monday is the badass needed to round out the group. Full of secrets and guns, of course, he’s awesome. They’re the perfect Left 4 Dead team (video game).
This unlikely foursome have banded together to not only fight the undead but are forced to fight some unsavory living folks as well. Monday also has a side story that’s still not fully fleshed out. He’s not just there to help with survival, he’s also an unwilling participant in a bloodsport going on in the city. While I want to like him, I’m not sure the group can completely trust him.
The art starts out a bit rough – a bit gritty, but that works for a zombie survival story. It’s fun to see the art evolve over time – the styling is the same, but now it’s lot more polished. It’s a black and white comic for the most part with hints of red, and there are dream sequences in full color to contrast the dark reality of the zombie world. It has a very noir feel to it. The character designs are a bit cartoony for my taste, but there’s a bit of humor in the strip as well so it all works very well together.
This comic isn’t without its flaws though. Sometimes the story bounces around and it can get confusing. I’m definitely confused about all the groups of “bad guys” and what is up their butts. I’m sure with time there will be more explanations, but sometimes a bad guy shows up, shoots, and leaves. Okay? Monday’s side story with the bloodsport businessman named Domingos Santos is vague and confusing as well. I prefer the focus to be on the main characters.
Other than that, I highly recommend this webcomic. It’s a great zombie survival story with likable characters and very un-likable characters. When a story gets me riled up, you know it’s good. There are even some animated strips thrown in here and there which impresses me all the more.
You can read Dead Winter at the website: http://www.deadwinter.cc/