Web-Comic Spotlight: "Welcome To Falling Oaks"

Many CBR readers will be familiar with the work of writer/artist Paul Harmon. His Image Comics mini-series "Mora," which we covered when it was released in 2004, has gone on to become a desirable and always well-reviewed trade paperback collection, and he's also illustrated Rick Remender & Kieron Dwyer's acclaimed pirate comic, "Sea of Red." This month, Harmon is premiering a new weekly comic strip on his official blog, and CBR News sat down with the creator to talk about what's going on in "Falling Oaks."

"The strip is called 'Welcome to Falling Oaks,'" Harmon told CBR News. The story revolves around a girl called Muriel, her pet bunny and her friend Addison, who are more or less the town's only normal inhabitants, the rest being strange, eccentric, and occasionally down-right creepy people.   One day, and for mysterious reasons, Muriel's bunny becomes monstrously large. When the other inhabitants of Falling Oaks discover the secret of the bunny's transformation, they realize it could benefit greatly their own personal endeavors, and craziness ensues.

"I wanted to do a story about people's lives behind closed doors," Harmon explained. "These people and scenarios will be more fantasy-based and extreme, but it's the idea that within each home there is a unique existence. To a certain extant, each person is living in their own unique world.   I want to take that concept and create a surreal and mysterious atmosphere that hopefully will be very entertaining."

The notion of creating a web-comic strip is one that Harmon had been playing with for a while, realizing web-comics were a perfect format for ideas he'd been having quite some time. "When I'm working on a comic, it becomes a very long and laborious process which involves a lot of time and effort on a concept or storyline. A lot of times I will get these quick bursts of inspiration, or a cool concept that's really only a piece of story and there are simply too many ideas to keep filing away on the back burner, so I wanted to find an outlet to use some of these concepts and storylines immediately. I think web strips will be good for that sort of thing."

The concept of "Welcome To Falling Oaks" evolved similarly, starting with a little idea that came out of nowhere. "I started sketching this weird creature that I just turned into a rabbit," Harmon said. "Then I drew a little girl to go with him, and the story started developing the more I thought about the characters."   Harmon was also inspired by the old Warner Bros. cartoons. "I absolutely love Chuck Jones' 'Looney Tunes' episodes, especially the crazy Michael Maltese stories which had nothing to do with the main 'Looney Tunes' cast. I wanted something that could sort of work like that, there world be the adventures the main characters get in and there would also be these strange little side stories."

The format of a web-comic strip will, Harmon believes, allow him to create something with just that kind of spontaneity.   "I believe the [format] limitations will lead to some very unique things. The web strip is very organic and pliable; it's fun to dive in and see where the current takes you. It's cool to get feedback and be able to implement changes or suggestions or even new directions immediately."

Must of "Welcome To Failling Oaks'" story threads are mapped out, with an ending in mind that Harmon characterizes as "very creepy," so lack of content will never be a problem for this web-comic. "There's no reason for me to need to pad because just the limitations of the format itself really extends the story lines on its own. It's strange to try and find a significant tidbit of story to fit into one segment, somehow satisfy the reader until the next installment. This will be difficult but very fun challenge."

Harmon's goal is to update "Falling Oaks" once a week, and may upload the first few episodes early so that readers have a chance to really get a feel for the strip. "As the strip gets going… I may do a Sunday special type strip that may be double or even triple the content." Harmon added, "if readers dig the strip please feel free to bug me and make sure I stay on top of the updates."

Indeed, readers are free to contact Harmon and tell them what they think of "Falling Oaks."   "I would love to hear from folks and see what they think. It's going to take a few strips for people to get a good feel for what the series will truly be like, so I'm really looking forward to getting to that point where we are immersed in the world of falling oaks enough to really go nuts and have fun."

"Welcome To Faling Oaks" can be read weekly at Paul Harmon's blog, http://dogmeatsausageshow.blogspot.com

CBR Staff Writer Andy Khouri contributed to this article.

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