Webcomic Weekly, doing just what it says right there in the title, one webcomic, every week. This week, The Boötes Void – A Comics Trip of Many Dimensions by Stewart (SK) Moore/Booda Von Boodstein. And this one is wonderfully, brilliantly weird, full of so many different things, layer upon layer upon layer and then even more. Strap in for a trip to The Boötes Void.
Okay, well frankly this one is a very confusing, involved, convoluted thing, that’s really only just getting started. But damn, it’s rather excellently done. That description of it being a “Comic trip of many dimensions” is most definitely right.
It’s from the mind of Stewart (SK) Moore, going by his alter-ego of Booda Von Boodstein, whose work I loved when I saw it on 2000 AD‘s Defoe: The Divisor in 2019 and various covers and pin-ups. His graphic novel MK-Ultra: Sex, Drugs and the CIA, a graphic novel on CIA excesses, comes out from Clover Press in 2021.
The whole thing first appeared in David Lloyd‘s incredible digital anthology Aces Weekly, but I only got to reading The Boötes Void at the end of 2020. However, there’s so much incredible work in Aces Weekly – be sure to go check it out.
I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to Stewart a few times over at the 2000 AD site (here, here, and here) and it’s obvious from everything he says that he’s an artist who thinks VERY deeply about what he puts on the page, something so obvious in The Boötes Void where it’s both incredibly complex in both idea and execution, something that really has to be seen to be believed. He’s certainly pushing the envelope and has put so much into this one. It’s a real ride.
Now, first of all, let’s started with a little bit of the opening ideas, the simple-ish stuff before things get so wonderfully weird and incredibly inventive.
Effectively, if you’ve ever seen Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey you’ll remember that sense of wonder and amazement and what the hell is going on in the last 20 minutes or so of a two hour and twenty minutes movie. Well, here it goes into wonder and amazement about the two-thirds mark of the 14 chapters here.
Everything opens with one big scroll of an idea…
“The universe is strewn with matter. Matter is it’s memory
(Promise me you will remember that, ok?)
The study of matter opens the universal history books. Matter really likes to talk!
But what does the void say? That’s what we want to know! What can voids tell us?
Voids are hiding places. Priest holes. And among voids there are monsters. Super-Voids!
And the greatest super-void of all… the real king of beers, so to speak, is a vast sphere of silence. 330 million light-years in diameter. That’s a lot of nothing! A big zero! Omerta!!
So what’s it hiding?
Let’s find out!
Let’s go to the Bootes Void!”
The Boötes Void – Introduction by Booda Von Boodstein
Immediately, you see the big bold colours and excellent use of the scrolling canvas to draw you into the tale. And then we drop into a space scene, spacecraft in trouble, the Captain passed out, bottles either side of him. The First Mate gets the Captain into the organic escape pod before down they go, crash landing, the HMS Oumuamua explodes on impact, the Captain and First Mate survive…
So far, so simple, right?
Big, bold, bright art and colours, something taking so many different elements of artwork through the years, but has a real almost Herge-like feel at times, mixed with Moebius stylings, that ligne claire crispness.
The idea of this being a comics trip of many dimensions can be taken in many ways, and Moore takes us in every possible way he can. There’s plenty of possible alternate dimensional ideas or possibilities here, then there’s the idea of the dimesionality to be found on the comics page and all that entails, something that is done in spades here through the strip, Moore playing around with so many different ways of doing things, using the language of comics in fabulous ways.
And then there’s twist number one, where we get the idea of the dimension of scale…
But treading carefully on an alien planet is particularly difficult – after all, size is a relative thing after all.
And that’s where that ‘AAGH!’ matters.
Because underfoot, there’s a civilisation living on the microscopic level and already these first human ambassadors have left devastation in their wake.
So here’s where we begin the zooming in…
We zoom in and we zoom in and we zoom in… to get to the alien civilisations underfoot…
Two microscopic civilisations at war who now find themselves in fear of a bigger threat – a much bigger threat.
It’s time for them to join together, enmity put aside to defeat the common enemy. Time for heroic sacrifice, time for a brave group of warriors to go on the ultimate mission, ready to throw themselves at the big enemy.
Yes, absolutely this is a Godzilla movie on the microscopic scale, with us as the monster.
And if the heroic forces can’t get to the monster on the outside, they’ll go inside…
Yep, that’s right… we go from Godzilla to Fantastic Voyage.
And from then on, it gets increasingly further from anything approaching simple storytelling, with us heading off for something that gets increasing out there with seemingly every panel.
First our little heroes get all quantum and multiversal on us –
Then the next switch takes us back outside the remains of the First Mate as he gets taken on some marvellously Moebius-esque path of discovery.
Remember how it was all about the single panel vertical scroll thus far… well, now we get this…
And no, that’s not me cropping the images, that’s the entire width of the strip, the whole thing repeating and wrapping, deliberately disconcerting to reader and character alike.
And if you want very Moebius…
And then another switch, back to the previously comatose drunk Captain as we say farewell to the fourth wall –
I’ll go no further with the reveals and the sneak peeks. Suffice it to say we go wild after this. There’s lots of physics, the concept of nothing, the question of just what form might or might not be, looking at objective reality, delving into quantum thinking, and so, so much more.
More twists, more switches, more absolutely fascinating and incredible invention, this is one that really does live up to that tag line of a comics trip in many dimensions!
Again, another example of just how wonderfully inventive, endlessly fascinating, and just plain damn good webcomics can be.
You can read The Boötes Void in full online at Webtoons and you can also buy it as a complete 83-page digital collection (plus his zombie-fest Thrawn Janet) in The Booda Collection at the Aces Weekly site.
Stewart’s graphic novel ‘Project MKUltra:Sex, Drugs & the CIA‘ will be published by Clover Press, San Diego. To find out more about Stewart, go here, and for more on Project MKUltra (& to sign up for the Clover Press newsletter) – click here. And of course, there’s more Booda on Twitter and Instagram.