Oh my goodness. How to start a post about the very first webcomic I ever read? How to talk about a comic that skillfully blends elements of shoujo manga, action, sci-fi, video games, and romance?
I must warn you that what follows is less a review than admiration. Megatokyo has played a large part in my artistic and story-telling development over the past decade.
I’m not sure how I found Megatokyo, but it was in the summer of 2002. It took me about two months to catch up on the two years that were already completed. I was immediately attracted to Fred Gallagher’s art style and quirkiness, how he manages to find the perfect balance between cute and seriousness, and his obvious affection for manga. I bonded with the characters Miho and Kimiko, and I came to appreciate the deep questions about emotional connection that comprise the core of the webcomic.
I also continue to be impressed by how he handles female characters: although it may seem that the main character Piro has amassed a harem, I feel that each character is well-developed, distinct from the others (both in appearance and personality), and has her own concerns apart from Piro. The ladies feel like real people. (The image above, from strip 527, is a good example of the inner lives they lead.)
Gallagher’s art – which is in pencil – helps me in my own art. I have a hard time tracing over pencil lines with a steady hand; drawing in pencil allows me to be more free and results in more natural images. Gallagher remains one of the very few webcomic creators who works in pencil, and his success is encouraging.
His perseverance through the breakup with his webcomic partner, being laid off his 9-to-5 job, depending on Megatokyo to support his family, and just the regular challenges of being an artist who needs to be producing on a regular basis is admirable.
Although Megatokyo is available to read for free online, I highly recommend purchasing the printed volumes. Reading them in quick succession is much better for keeping track of the many subplots and characters; I’m always making new discoveries and saying “Ohhh, now I see why that happened!”