Webcomics Weekly, taking a look at a webcomic we reckon you’re going to love every single week.
This week, it’s Neill Cameron giving us 2020 365… where a cyborg detective in a dark futuristic city is just the start of it all. Cameron began 2020 365 on 1 January 2020 and is delivering it, one panel every single day of the year, all building to something rather wonderful and inventive and clever and ever so entertaining.
Now, I’ve known for many years that Neill Cameron makes great comics. First with Mo-Bot High, then Tamsin & The Deep, Pirates Of Pangea, How To Make Awesome Comics, and the still running and still wonderful Mega Robo Bros appearing regularly in the Phoenix Comic (and I talked about it here at Comicon) – all well worth checking out. He’s also got a new middle-grade book, Freddie Vs School, featuring one half of those Mega Robo Bros, coming out in January from David Fickling Books.
But we’re not talking about any of those… we’re talking 2020 365, his year-long, panel a day webcomic up on Webtoons, which is described like this…
A cyborg detective in a dark futuristic city. A stressed-out freelancer coping with COVID-19, deadlines and a new baby. A lone swordswoman in a ruined, monster-filled world. What connects all these? The year… is 2020. An experimental new comic, created one panel per day, every day in 2020.
And in typical fashion, I’ve had this on the list of things to do for a long time. Thankfully, we’re getting this to you just before the end of the year which means you can thrill to it and eagerly await every new day’s panel just like I am right now.
It’s a panel a day, added vertically onto Webtoons, making it one of those rarest of comics that genuinely works when you try to read it on your phone or tablet. Normally, there’s too much variation in panel sizes and page layouts to make that experience a good on, but here Cameron’s designed it specifically for the online reading experience, and because of that it works so well.
Recently he’s been talking about formatting it with its next iteration, comics or a single collection. And because it’s done in a series of square panels, he’s been experimenting with grids and even a strip layout.
And for that reason, I don’t think Cameron will mind us showing you some of the panels in the way we’re doing here.
Before we begin, there’s a few mild spoilers here, but I’ve tried to keep them as minimal as possible, pretty much only expanding on what you could glean from the webcomic description I’ve put up there.
Okay, first of all, everything opens with this… the first nine panels…
X-365 Investigations, with its cybernetic PI complete with a set of much-needed back-up bodies, deals in a 2020 of Techno-Vampires running around a world of flying cars and futuristic tech.
The first few episodes of 2020 365 lulled me into a false sense of reckoning I knew what this would all be about, as X works out just what’s wrong with the kid and everything seems like it was taking off on what could be seen as Cameron doing something similar to Mega Robo Bros, just with a grown-up protagonist.
The stylish artwork was there, the sense of spareness in his lines that is always pleasing to see, the minimalist colour scheme of moody grey something very different from his usual colourful work. And of course, there’s all that smooth action and comedy that Cameron always gets into his work.
And that would have been great. It is great.
But that’s only the beginning. Because Cameron’s got something way cleverer and involved in mind for us with 2020 365.
Chapter Two is when he throws us the first switch-up, when we get to meet the other main character here. This is Hannah. She’s a new mom and a comic artist here in 2020…
Notice the font change, the colour shift? A greyer, duller look for a greyer, duller world? Yes, simple, clever, effective. And there’s a tonal swift in the storytelling as well, as we get to experience Hannah experiencing what we’ve all gone through with Covid and this terrible, terrible year.
And then there’s another switch to another character and another colour palette, with pinks, oranges, yellows, and later purples, of some world, that one of the ‘lone swordswoman in a ruined, monster-filled world’ mentioned in the blurb to the webcomic.
And here we get a chance to see just how good Cameron is with the action sequences here as well…
Turns out she’s rescuing someone she calls ‘The Gateway‘ who she’s going to use to find ‘The First Vector, the Origin, the one who doomed this world.’
Yep, guess who?
There’s one more colour scheme so far, the fourth, where Cameron does a great solid black and white noir detective thing with a twist, filling in the back story of X and setting things up with the bad guys and how it possibly all connects together. But… spoilers.
One last thing before I leave you to read this absolutely wonderful webcomic so full of twists and turns, with a small but so well made cast of characters and, as I write this, a real moment of peril and fear – X and Hannah?
Well, they might be in different worlds but they also live next to each other…
Oh yes. Multiple worlds, multiple characters, and everything coming together. This is storytelling and clever concept coming together so very well, and it’s so very cleverly done.
I’ll not go any further into 2020 365 because sometimes things are simply so good that it would be wrong to take away the enjoyment I had from reading it and the excitement I have right now to read more and find out just how Cameron’s going to pull every audacious and clever twist together here.
Neil Cameron’s 2020 365 is a truly great webcomic and one that’s finishing very soon. So, with the end of 2020 approaching, it’s a perfect time to treat yourself.
Oh, and one other thing, full credit to Cameron for telling such a great, great story here, but also a round of applause to him just for the graft of it all – a panel a day of such quality every single day is a real accomplishment, especially in this bloody terrible year. And incredibly, even with THIS year, he made it all the way through to 27th November before skipping a day.
You can catch up with Neill Cameron‘s 2020 365 at Webtoons (latest, from the start) and make sure to check out his website and Twitter and it’s not too late to get some of his books – perfect gifts all!