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Establishing Sense (Of Scale) And Sensibility

Many of my favorite webcomics are science fiction stories, and especially stories set in space.

Some of those you would call Space Opera. Others are of the type X IN SPACE, where X can be just about everything imaginable: Crime, drug trafficking, law enforcement, scientific research, pest removal, system maintenance, romance (with varying degree of explicitness), politics, and of course many different styles of military operations.

Comics that are set in space need to convey a sense of space, of being in space, of having left Earth-That-Was, in addition to everything else that a comic needs to convey: The experience of dynamics, of motion and emotion, that transcends the comparatively static nature of the medium.

This sense of space is to a large degree a sense of scale: The hugeness of moons, planets and stars, the endless void between those, the small or big (or gargantuan) spacecraft traveling. And the emotion instilled by all this has to fit in with the tone and style of the story: Cheerful, adventurous, mysterious, or dark and dangerous.

In theory, establishing a proper sense of scale for science fiction comics set in space should be impossible. The TV Tropes article called SciFi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale explains why. However, I find that there are many webcomics that excel at Etablishing Sense & Sensibility. My examples in today’s post are Space Pest Removal, Drive, Greasy Space Monkeys, and Space Mullet.

Since today the focus is on visual effects and not on plotting, there will only be minor spoilers, but I still want to give you the opportunity to get up-to-date with them.

Now, if you are back, or if you don’t mind the MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD, click for more, read on, and discuss (that’s what the comments are for, duh).