A few years ago I spotlighted Jed McGowan’s webcomic stories. Silent in nature, his stories explore a variety of topics from the birth of Hawaii to Voyager I’s journey. The result is beautifully rendered and thought-provoking narratives. Luckily for us, he’s back with another great webcomic story in the form of Uninhabitable.
Uninhabitable is the story of a hivemind technology whose mission is to terraform a barren planet. Over the period of a thousand years, we see the highs and lows of this technology doing what it is built to do. Along the way, the planet’s unrelenting environment throws plenty of competition at the tech.
Unlike McGowan’s previous work, which I have mentioned is silent in nature, McGowan opts to use an inner monologue. It gives the reader more insight into the thoughts and feelings of the technological protagonist. As a result, a character that could have easily been a cold and distant character was warm. You actually wanted to see it succeed.
Speaking of success, Uninhabitable considers the triumphs in failure. I don’t want to spoil anything, but McGowan ponders the definition of success. How one person’s failure could be another person’s win. Sometimes the smaller wins are the ones that are more satisfactory.
It’s also about the sacrifices that you have to make sometimes in order to create the something. This is something that many creative people would be familiar with, whether it be in terms of time or opportunity. In Unihabitable’s instance, it is a sacrifice of one’s self in order to create something new – whether it be the intended result or something completely unexpected.
Yet again, McGowan has crafted another fantastic looking comic. Through the use of colour, the planet’s environment has a sense of warmth. This gives the reader a sense of what the climate is like, using a variety of warm reds, greens and yellows. It also gives the planet a sense of hostility too, which makes total sense when it is the villain of the story.
The use of texture is part of McGowan’s signature style and it prevalent through Uninhabitable. In this instance, it aides in giving the visuals a neo-pulp aesthetic, reminding me of classic science fiction art but with a modern sensibility.
Overall, the Uninhabitable is a quick but satisfying read which showcases McGowan’s storytelling abilities. His use of inner monologue makes you care about the hivemind technology. You cheer for its successes and mourn the personal sacrifices. Uninhabitable also marks another fantastic looking too. Colour and texture are used to give the world a sense of warmth while highlighting how harsh the world is.
If this webcomic story sounds like your kind of thing, go and read Uninhabitable on Jed McGowan’s website.