Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil
"Finder" is a science fiction webcomic series by Carla Speed McNeil. She started self-publishing the comic in 1996. The webcomic version dates from 2005. Over the years, "Finder" won several awards. The series focuses on several characters in a far-future distant earth where very little of our time survived. People live in vast domed cities, crowded and decaying, sharing it with a variety of strange creatures, including talking dinosaurs. The world of "Finder" is bizarre, surrealistic, bawdy, and sometimes downright loopy as "Alice in Wonderland" on acid. Interspersed amid all the craziness is a strong dose of social commentary directed at modern media culture and social conventions. The series also examines issues such as fame, celebrity, and class differences. The satire can be sly, if barbed, and other times like a punch to the face. Carla isn't afraid to write things that get a reaction and make you think. Just when you believe you've figured it all out, something happens to make you question your assumptions. "Finder" exists as both a webcomic, which can be found here, and a number of bound volumes. Well worth checking out, I recommend it for those with an open mind to strong material.
"Finder" presents a unique world where mankind is surrounded by extremely high technology yet society has devolved into a clan structure that is one part aristocracy and one part tribalism. Bits and pieces of twentieth century tech and pop culture survives, but only as disconnected fragments. The characters are sometimes as puzzled by those remains as the readers will be by the world of "Finder". The webcomic centers on three main characters. Jack, an aboriginal servant who has a fascination with technology, sort of a caveman playing with transistors and triodes. He, and the other members of his clan, act as servants for Rachel Grosvenor, the other main lead, a member of the aristocracy who, because of her parentage, straddles both the high and the low worlds of "Finder". The other main character, though at first he seems like a secondary one, is Jaeger. In the webcomic, he is a shadowy figure. The name of the series comes from him: he has a secret calling to be a "Finder", though exactly what that means is only hinted at in the webcomic. It is developed more in the published volumes. One reason I pick on those three as main characters is because of the way each seems to be searching for something. Jack is intent on finding out the why of things. Rachel seeks a secure and stable place for herself in the complicated hierarchies of society, even if that means a political marriage. Jaeger...well, he seems interested in everything.
I decided to mention her site and "Finder" in a blog entry instead of a regular review because I knew Carla when she attended L.S.U. She was a brilliant artist then, one of the most unconventional people I've ever known, and her art has gotten better over the years. So I may be biased in my recommendation. Don't let that stop you. Check out her work. Her webcomics may have a rough sketch quality, which some may find offputting, but I believe the strength of the artwork and the story surmounts that. The published volumes feature more polished art, but the webcomic is a good place to check out her work for free to decide if you want to go deeper into the mysterious and absurdist world of "Finder." Don't expect everything to be explained at once or for everything to make sense right off the bat. Like a tootsie roll pop, it takes time to reach the chewy center.
At some point I may do a formal review of one of her published books, but for now I wanted some promotion for her webcomic, which sorely needs more love from readers. There are a number of good reviews of the books, but none of the webcomic itself as far as I can see.