The internet age has provided an opportunity for cartoonists and illustrators to share their work with a much larger audience without having to rely solely on newspaper syndication. Fan favorite webcomics The Oatmeal and xkcd have enjoyed tremendous success that may have eluded them prior to the internet age. Perhaps due to the bite-sized consumption of social media, most of the popular webcomics are of the one-and-done variety, and many of them are adult-only. That’s why it is refreshing to see a webcomic that takes readers on an interactive, multi-day journey. Simple and deeply therapeutic, Story Town is just such a series.
Although the cartoon artwork may appear geared toward kids, the target audience is actually a mature reader. That’s not to say the comic is adult-only. No, Story Town is kid-friendly, but written for adults who can better understand elements of weirdness and some occasionally heavy subject matter.
“Mertie,” the most recent story from Atlanta-based artist Jason Albin Thomas, is the story of a lonely snail who must overcome adversity when tragedy strikes. Like the previous Story Town installments, “Mertie” was launched on the first Monday of the month and will reveal several new pages each day to keep readers company at home or work. Billed as an interactive story, there are often some “choose your own adventure-” style elements where the author asks for reader feedback. Red Rocket Farm explains:
Thomas uses the medium of the internet to create a story that actively involves its audience. The experience of reading a Story Town live with other Story Town fans is like watching a thriller movie with friends. There’s constant virtual arm clenching, hugging, celebrating, and grieving. In his story “Something in the Woods”, Thomas asked readers to post pictures of their cats to save a character from freezing in the cold. In “To Lumber Home,” fans wrote in letters to comfort an anxious bear named Pilot. Then Pilot began responding in a strained, child like hand writing. Thomas gave fans the ability to talk directly to the characters and have them talk back.
“Mertie” is the fifth installment in the Story Town series, so check the Red Rocket Farm for previous compilations such as “A Place in the Sea” and “The Cat With Brown Eyes.” If you’re looking for some quality storytelling that can sustain you through several days, look no further than Story Town.