Jack (first strip) (MWF, anthropomorphic, nudity, extreme violence, extreme gore, death, perversion, anything offensive you can think of (including the occasional misspelling)). Every update is a full page, although color or black and white varies. There are 1086 pages in the archive. Updates are generally part of story arcs (there’s 30 currently) that run for a series of pages, anywhere from 10 to 87 pages long. In between arcs there’s short strips and bits of gift art, either for or from other comics.

Jack is the story of life and death. Each arc tells the story of some people, and the struggles their souls go through, generally before their death. Death is almost always involved in some way, and in this story the Grim Reaper is played by Jack, who has earned a place in hell as the Sin of Wrath. The other Deadly Sins play rather large parts as well, and all have their own motives and methods. Generally the story arcs allow us to get to know one or two mortals who may appear later on in various stories (generally in Heaven or Hell or Purgatory), and the recurring characters will play smaller parts in the stories. Every once in a while, however, the story arcs are about the main characters completely, and we get to see part of the pain and toil that doing duty can cause.

I feel inadequate talking about Jack. I don’t know how to describe the suffering he can capture, the beauty of life and death. Some other webcomics make me tear up a little, when the stories are sad, or particularly poignant. Jack is the only comic that I go get tissues for, regularly. I can’t get through the archives without taking breaks, because the story arcs are written so well I feel a need to stop and think about the beauty and art that I’ve just seen.

Because there’s a solid beauty in this comic. That seems a strange thing to say about a comic that’s full of gore and disgustingness, but the art is amazing and communicates exactly the intention- emotion, intensity, action, drama… if this sort of content would ever be allowed on TV, it’s already clear exactly how it would be laid out just by reading the comic. There are stories of survival, of accepting death and doing the right thing, of judgement, of horror… I have claimed that Preacher is the most offensive published comic I’ve ever seen. Jack goes further. And he captures something of the world while he’s there.

The only weakness in Jack’s pacing is in the arcs that contain a lot of action, and the Jack mostly suffers from the same weakness all action comics suffer from- action pages feel really slow when updating on the web. They’re better in the archives. There are times where the large amount of detail in the drawings gets a little distracting during the action scenes, but generally the detail just provides for amazing art. There’s a lot of very sensitive subject matter here. Rape, blackmail, murder, genocide… anything that could be considered a sin is covered somewhere in the comic, as the people who cause and do those sins are examined. I don’t expect this to be a comic to suggest to many people.

But if you can stand offensive material, and you’re interested in stories that make their characters face their mortality and morality, Jack is an amazing comic. Give it a read.

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2 Responses to “Jack”

  1. OwenDangertooth Says:

    It’s a tribute to the visceral appeal of this strip that it makes me keep turning pages despite the difficulty (at least at first) of reading the lettering. (I’m not sure yet whether one character’s name is Fnat or Fnar - it may be neither.) That a strip based in Hell and peopled with the damned can make me smile is extraordinary. :)

  2. James Says:

    Owen: Slightly Damned is another comic that spends a lot of time in Hell.

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