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Looks like she's married, mm?

(From The Ice Queen, a Trespasser's Mystery. Click on the thumbnail for the subscription required full sized renderings! Or, click on the link for today's free installment!)

Many people know Joe Zabel for his critical work, most particularly as the driving force behind The Webcomics Examiner, which is unquestionably the most ambitious and academic journal devoted to the burgeoning field of webcomics and webcartooning, currently.

What people sometimes forget is Zabel is also a webcartoonist. In fact, he works in 3D modeling (I don't want to say "Poser," because if he can make Poser do the stuff he does, I for one don't want to know it, given how horrendous my own Poser work has been), creating rendered work that's just about the best I've ever seen applied to sequential art.

Well, we're fortunate, because he's just begun a new mystery over on Modern Tales. Which means if you're reading this the same day I wrote it, you can actually see the first "real" entry even if you're not a subscriber. (Yesterday he posted the evocative and beautiful cover art to Ice Queen.)

Now, I recommend a Modern Tales subscription regardless. Because, dude. Narbonic. And No Stereotypes. And now The Ice Queen. And if this mystery proves to be as detailed as today's art suggests, you're going to want to go back and review the clues as they were laid out.

But for today, just look at the art. Just look at it. It's not quite Industrial Light and Magic/Gollum, but neither is it trying to be -- it works within the slightly artificial constraints of modeling to produce its effects, and it blends models to photographs (I assume) very very well. The details on his models are phenomenal, regardless, and his use of light and shadow sublime.

We don't yet know the merits of The Ice Queen's story, but it's looking good to begin with. So have a look. And get ready to follow the mystery.


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I can't be the only one that looked at that and thought it was made up of actual pictures...

I think part of that has to do with the me previously reading a bunch of the archives of Irrefular Webcomic this morning...

Anyways, that rendering is AMAZING. Attention to details thrives in those three panels. This might cost me...


Zabel is also a respected print cartoonist, being one of the regular artists on Harvey Pekar's "American Splendor" (you can see some of his hand-drawn cartooning in the "American Splendor" movie). He's a great talent, and in recent years he's been pushing the boundaries of CG art in truly interesting ways.

Let us now pay homage... to this woman's nose. It's really the nose that does it for me; as much as I love the things that have been done with cg and as much as I love looking at pretty people, the main flaw has always been, to me, the fact that real people are so imperfect. They're beautiful in odd, imperfect ways. The shape of this woman's nose is individual, and it keeps taking my breath away every time I look at it. There are other highlights: the line between cheek and mouth, the skin around the eyes, the shadow that defines her right cheek and jawline... I'm sounding a bit stalkerish (p.s. I'm not crazy), but it's like an unbirthday present that addresses all of the issues I've had with computer-made people. She's stunning to look at! It even made me read that really, really boring text (I'm allergic to business).

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