Webcomic Weekly – doing just what it says and showing you another great webcomic every single (well, hopefully) week. This week, it’s Scoob and Shag by Diego Casasola. And no, this ‘aint the cartoon you’re expecting, that’s for sure!
And boy, was he spot on with the description he gave of Scoob and Shag there, saying:
What started as a simple gag strip parodying Scooby Doo evolved into an epic battle of the cartoon mascots,‘ and ‘Basically, it’s Scooby Doo as a shonen battle manga.
Oh yes, absolutely, it’s all that and so much more. Initially, this was going to be a quick look at the strip, just flagging up how much fun it all was. Yet as I read on and on, this piece got longer and more involved just as Scoob and Shag has evolved into something truly epic. When you first read it, Scoob and Shag won’t seem all that much but get ready for an adventure that takes you through space and time, features practically every cartoon character you could imagine, and creates a complete mythology with those characters – this truly is a really rewarding, fun webcomic for you all.
Thing is, if you do start from the very beginning of Scoob and Shag you’re not going to get very much of all that, as it starts very, very raw and rough. But trust me, this one has a huge learning curve for creator Diego Casasola and one that’s well worth your time.
But here’s one of those strips from early on. I’ve re-formatted slightly here to make the strip work as a grid – just for the purposes of fitting thing sin – on the website it’s all done as a vertical panel scroll and as things go on and get more complex, that vertical scroll is used excellently.
And then, a glimpse of things to come…
Okay, funny of course, in the way it’s always worth a giggle to see the icons of your childhood parodied in that way.
But what happens very, very soon after that (episode 17 if you’re checking) is that things get way darker and way more involved and we get the first guest…
Yep, Kermit. But buckle up, because from here on in it first turns into a very spooky haunted house horror and then into a dimension crossing epic where every single cartoon character you can think of turns up and the whole thing turns into a huge thing with time travel, worlds coming together, and lots and lots of fighting between rival factions of toons.
Without spoiling things, because this really is a webcomic you need to experience first-hand the way I did, it’s all centered around first contact with humanity and the entertainment value this planet of toons can give us. But, things go wrong and we’re launched into a ‘toon Civil War of sorts, with Scoob and Shag caught up in the middle of a war where all the toons have their own cartoon powers called Ballyhoos.
Yep, like I say, it gets dark very, very quickly. And already you can see the art style changing, a more refined line comes in, more details, more darkness. A huge step up from those initial funny strips.
According to Diego Casasola, Scoob and Shag all came about as a “simple Tumblr blog made as a joke between friends‘. Diego drew the comics but the friends would ‘sometimes contribute or help come up with ideas.” The whole thing stopped for a few years until Diego decided to start it up once more, “with the idea of escalating into a plot.‘ The current setup for Misterie Krew, the company producing the comics, is that “one of those friends still helps with ‘coloring’ and editing the current episodes, as well as managing and helping with conventions and the other friend is still one of my closest friends and part of Misterie Krew.”
There are so many elements in Scoob and Shag that work wonderfully well. The way Diego adds in all manner of characters, without fanfare, just adding to the epic scale of the work, the different aspects of the ‘Ballyhoo’ powers, all of them tied into aspects of being a cartoon or messing with the concept of being on film or the page – all of them just add to the effect of seeing a great webcomic that just gets better and better.
And artistically, it’s now light years away from the earliest strips, with the artist supremely confident in pushing the way the art comes at you, a tight, Manga-influenced, look and so much more detailing in the panels that really goes deep into all that fast-paced Manga action.
Back at the start I thanked Tito W. Jones for putting me onto it and quoted him saying that Scoob and Shag was “Scooby Doo as a Shonen battle Manga.” Yet the more you go into it, the more it moves away from being Shonen (young boy) Manga and becomes something much more complex, something that plays with genre of all sorts, with a real solid grounding, tonally and artistically, in Manga of all forms.
And let’s not forget that Diego is also making some great use of what Scott McCloud describes as “the infinite canvas” that comes with making webcomics.
Initially, it was a simple 3 or 4-panel affair, but as things have gone on we’ve seen Diego play with the vertical scroll of Scoob and Shag, using the pause between panels to great effect. There are some truly horrifying moments that Diego makes worse with the way the strip is framed and paced with the scroll – such as alt-Shaggy turning around and us getting to see the horrifying sight or the moment Patrick’s future self comes back in time, all so carefully planned, to deliver critical intelligence and we get to watch current Patrick’s reaction to what happens next – that’s great cartooning.
It’s definitely come so far from those early, tentative steps. What you find now is a confident artist throwing huge concepts around with obvious glee, making this a webcomic that does really need reading right from the start. Scoob and Shag is now upwards of 100 episodes long and well worth a look.
And just in case you were worried that, in all the epic stuff, Diego had lost some of the comedy – fear not – it’s still there…
Scoob And Shagis created by Brooklyn-based artist Diego Casasola and updates every couple of weeks or so.
And just in case it’s needed – the legal bit – “Scoob and Shag is a parody and the likeness to any trademarked characters are purely for satirical purposes through fair use and has no association to any existing copyrights.”