Review: 'Endtown 1' [and] 'Endtown 2', by Aaron Neathery
Endtown has been a black-&-white Monday-Friday webcomic since January 18, 2009. Its popularity has grown fast, and it was shortlisted for the 2011 Ursa Major Award in the Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story category. A rave review by Bill Sherman in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (June 24, 2011) [originally on Blogcritics] began:
A snappy blend of Boy and His Dog sci-fi plus funny animal comics, Aaron Neathery's Endtown is one of the underseen gems in web comics. Originally debuting on the Modern Tales site - and more recently migrated to GoComics - the weekday series charts the travails of the beleaguered underground survivors of a mutant spawning radiation plague.
Endtown is set six years after a cataclysmic war has destroyed almost all life on Earth, leaving only a lifeless, desertlike surface and a few subterranean towns. The survivors are divided between the airtight-suited Topsiders, ruthless 100% human purists who kill other survivors on sight because they may be mutants, and the mutants and “impure” humans who try to survive in the underground enclaves. The “mutagenic plague” transformed its human victims into horrific monsters or, what makes this strip of Furry interest, anthropomorphic animals.
These two very handsome reprint collections present the first two Endtown story arcs. Volume 1 has the complete short ‘A Fistful of Beans’ (January 18 to March 27, 2009), and the beginning of ‘Gustine’s Quest’ (March 30, 2009 to January 14, 2011). Volume 2 completes ‘Gustine’s Quest’.
The protagonist of these two volumes is Albert Anderson, one of the “impure” humans. Aside from being a potential target of the shoot-on-sight Topsiders, Al has joined the population of the anthropomorphized Endtown because his girlfriend, Gustine Greene, has become a 700-pound anthro rhinoceros. In ‘A Fistful of Beans’, Al is sent Topside to search for food in the ruins of human cities, since Endtown is not self-supporting. After barely evading a Topsider squad and a monster, Al returns to Endtown loaded with canned beans – and is almost lynched by the Endtowners because they are sick of canned beans! Al is rescued by Endtown’s mad-scientist/leader, Professor N. X. Mallard, a duck. In the more serious ‘Gustine’s Quest’, Al’s girlfriend is pathetically anxious to be cured of her mutation. When she is told that the fruit of a mysterious plant in far-off Hillside may change her back, she is determined to go there, with Al along to protect her. The human man and anthro rhino woman have many adventures, and Al is almost killed.
Other prominent morphs in Endtown are Prof. Mallard; Mayor Walter Trimble (bear) and his secretary, Dottie Proctor (guinea pig?); Jacob Jackrabbit, a pro-“mutanity” fanatic who is the leader of the movement to get everyone to adopt a last name based on what they have become; Captain Philomena “Blackie” Flask, the paranoid cat-woman who is head of Endtown’s Security and who is sure that the human-looking Al is a spy for the Topsiders (Neathery has said that his “Blackie” Flask is inspired by Dr. Marc “Blackie” DuQuesne, the ruthless villain of E. E. Smith’s classic “Skylark” s-f novels); Bill Crawford (horse) and Mike Mole, two scientists; and the multitudinous rat police. Petey, the self-aware and sarcastic truck, is also anthro enough for most fans.
Aaron Neathery began posting Endtown on the Modern Tales website. When he moved to GoComics at the beginning of 2011, he started a new story-arc featuring new characters, principally the cat-man Wally Wallechinsky and his mouse girlfriend, Holly Hollister. (Endtown briefly appeared on both websites simultaneously.) Volume 3, when it appears, will feature ‘The Ballad of Holly and Wally’. The fourth story-arc, ‘Countdown’, is still being serialized on GoComics.
Jarlidium Press’ two volumes are sharply printed on pure white paper so glossy that it practically squirts out of your fingers; three strips per page. As is usual with webcomics, the complete archive of Endtown is also available on the website; but it is so much handier to have it on paper that you can carry around with you! You should certainly be reading Endtown, and with these books you do not have to keep returning to the website archives’ table of contents to click on the next week’s worth of strips.