Several months ago, there was a completely new comic that debuted on Graphic Smash.
It was called The Tenth Life of Pishio the Cat. Other than having an incredibly long title, it also had something many other comics didn't... a refreshingly original plot for a webcomics and non-human centric characters.
From the very first few pages, I fell in love with Zack Giallongo's amazing art and set-up. This comic, I knew, was something special, and did something very few comics manage to do within their first few pages: Get bookmarked immediately.
I would have written about Pishio long ago, but seeing that the comic had barely started, I resolved to wait a while for a substantial archive to build-up. (My magic number is 20 pages).
However, in that time the comic had managed to get a WCCA nomination and recently went independent, moving from Graphic Smash to WebcomicsNation.
A perfect time to start writing about it, since the archives are free now. ;)
The premise behind The Tenth Life of Pishio the Cat is simple. Pishio the Cat has been carelessly squandering his nine lives. When his luck finally runs out one day and he finds out that he's dead, he strikes a bargain with the powers-that-be for a last chance. Unfortunately, that involves risking his life-on-loan doing a dangerous task that even the powers-that-be cannot do. Can a cat find redemption?
With the recent NYT article and it's subsequent Slashdotting, a number of complaints about webcomics surfaced. While I am rather skeptical about the NYT article's viewpoint due to the writer's position, the discussion on the Slashdot thread I found more interesting, as a lot of them were from the viewpoints of the actual audience webcomics target. But anyway, one particular complaint was the lack of good-quality artwork in the webcomics.
Personally I think there's plenty of stunning artwork in webcomics. But because webcomics are learner's medium, the masterpieces get drowned in a lot of practice works, so the means the skill level of art is dragged down. It's a price we pay for not having editors.
All that said, the art Pisho is what you get when the comic artist in question is a professional illustrator from the start.
(Cat and Cock fight! (Yes, I'm aware how dirty that sounds) Click the thumbnail to see the original page).
The art speaks for itself, and in many cases, the writing as well. Zack is obviously from the the school of "show, not tell", so dialogue and narration are kept to a "need to know" basis, and never so much that the reader feels info-dumped. Instead, he prefers to let his composition and illustration skills do the talking and you get page after page of silent panels, where the reader is let to decide for themselves what they are seeing. Most of the time it works pretty well.
Those who need dumbing-down of their reading material and the main character narrating exactly what's going on so the reader gets it probably won't like Pishio. But those who like doing their own interpretation, a little bit of thinking, and lightning-bolt casting squirrel shamans will love Pishio.
All in all, Pishio is good from the get-go, and continues to be good so far. I'd even go so far as to call it a completely original, less-whimsical and more-violent cousin to Ursula Vernon's Digger. Given that Digger is one of my favourite webcomics ever, consider that high praise indeed.