The apocalypse. Everyone seems convinced that it’s gotta happen sometime, and there sure are a lot of theories on exactly how that’s going to go down. Is a comet going to burn away our atmosphere by coming too close to Earth? Maybe an invisible mystery planet will crash into ours, ending all life. While the current consensus seems to be that the end of the Mayan calendar is what is going to do us in (boooooring), one of the long, outstanding beliefs is that humanity will do it to ourselves in a series of nuclear explosions that will destroy society while looking totally sweet.
Romantically Apocalyptic by Vitaly S Alexius is actually more of a production than a web comic. But we won’t hold that against this gem. The comic is produced through a series of altered photographs and drawings using live actors and other props to create a beautiful, artistic story about the last three survivors of the end of the world, lead by Zee Captain, who is simply too awesome to die.
So, the world ended, and now everyone is dead. At the beginning of Romantically Apocalyptic, all we really know is that there are three survivors left, the calm and obviously insane Zee Captain, who is rarely seen without his trademark mug of tea, Pilot, whose blind and crazy devotion to captain sends him off on secret “missions” for weeks at a time, and Sniper (or Mr. Snippy, as Captain calls him), who is quite possibly the last bastion of sanity for the human race.
All we really know about the end of the world is that it happened, and whatever it was caused a hell of a lot of collateral damage, reducing buildings to skeletal skyscrapers and killing everyone who wasn’t in a radiation suit. After that, time passed. By the time we join in with our three protagonists at the beginning of the comic, the dead are skeletons and the cars and buildings heavily deteriorated. Captain himself mentions that he stopped looking at a calendar and now no longer knows what day it is, but he doesn’t let that get him down.
The early comics are about the simple interactions you would expect from three individuals at the end of the world, two of whom are completely insane. But just because the three are the last survivors of humanity doesn’t mean they’re entirely alone. Sniper seems worried about mutants, and that’s not even counting the space aliens who come knocking on the door of our dead civilization. While it may not seem like it from when you first open up Romantically Apocalyptic, does have a story. Figuring out what that is takes a little bit of thinking.
Partway through the comic, we’re treated to journal entries from Captain, Snippy and Pilot underneath certain comics, each which gives us into each character. A couple of well-timed flashbacks gives us an idea of what might have happened to the world, and why, exactly, Zee Captain of all people is one of the only people to survive. Make sure you read those entries. In many cases, you’ll learn things about the world that are never directly mentioned in the main story. The apocalypse, and our three heroes roles in it, are a mystery that keeps me coming back to this comic.
The art is phenomenal in this comic, and the writing is pretty witty. The only problem I have with it at all is that it can be somewhat difficult to determine what is happening from panel to panel. Sometimes the comic jumps from one scene to a flashback, and other times you’ll find yourself wondering how much of what you’re seeing is real. But that could also be attributed to the surreal quality that can be found in the end of the world.
The comic is also peppered with collaborations from other webcomic authors and artists, usually added in when it comes time to switch our point of view from one person to another’s. You’ll obviously notice when this change happens (going from beautiful pictures and art to the hilariously minimalistic art of the Cyanide and Happiness guys can be a bit jarring) but it never stops being a compelling comic. Will we ever find out more? Are there more survivors? Is that junk Zee Captain keeps drinking really tea? And where does he keep getting it? Why is it always scalding hot?
Romantically Apocalyptic is currently in the running in a webcomic “March Madness” tournament over at ComicMix, which is where I originally discovered it. I definitely think it’s worth a vote, even though it’s up against Goblins, which is a solid comic in its own right. Kind of hard to compare the two of them, actually. Not sure what the criteria is for getting into that tournament. Anyway, check that out here.
If I’ve learned anything about you Faceplanters in the last two years (I’ve just decided that the name for our regular readers is officially Faceplanters. YOU ARE WELCOME) it’s that you guys friggin’ love the apocalypse. So what are you waiting for? Zee Captain is waiting.
TANGENT: Oh hey you guys! It turns out Sunday (which… is the day I’m writing this. But this will go up on Monday, so I have to pretend it’s not actually Sunday) is the two-year anniversary of Faceplant! I didn’t want to do a whole post about how amazing we are, especially since we JUST HAD a celebratory post 300, but I wanted to mention it anyway. To commemorate, though, here’s another one of Alexius’ amazing Apocalyptically Romantic pictures, which I thought was extremely fitting for our small blog’s second birthday. Thanks Alexius! And thanks to all of you who come back to read us each week!