I’m talking about Carla Speed McNeil’s comic Finder.
Why should you read it, you might ask?
Well, I think it’s one of the best straight up science fiction comics out there, and I’ve been following it for more than ten years now. Don’t you trust me? Extremely well-rendered characters in a fully realized world, and being used to tell compelling stories. What’s not to like?
If thematic precis and stylistic comparisons are your hooks, then the Wikipedia entry on the series has this to say about the content (along with lots of other info, of course):
Finder tends to focus on the primarily Western/liberal social norms of and media consumption habits of its urban characters, seen from the viewpoint of their aboriginal neighbors, and on all her characters’ strategies, chiefly through travel or artistic endeavor, to escape the often quite intractable limits their societies (and others) place on them.
The series makes allusions to various genres of science fiction and fantasy; apparent influences include Ursula Le Guin, Samuel Delany, and cyberpunk for thematic content, and a wide range of work for the visual aspects, from old horror comics and simple line cartoons to the science fiction work of Mœbius.
There’s also the argument from authority: Some time ago McNeil made the jump to digital, I think on the web-to-collection model. And this year she won the Eisner (kind of like the Oscar or Grammy for the comics world) for best digital comic. The comic has deserved an Eisner for a while–it deserved one in the print world, where I think it was previously nominated something like seven times, and it has won other awards, but at least listen to the voice of the Eisners now.
I have to admit I don’t actually read Finder online–I like it too much to pause after every page, so I prefer to wait and get each story in one complete shot. I’ve enjoyed each of the eight collections so far, and two of them are among my all time favourite comic collections. (If you’re a book person, you really must read some of this story.)
If you don’t do digital comics, you can still check out the printed stuff at a ridiculously low price until the end of August: the hardcover omnibus that collects the first three collections, which normally costs $30US is on sale for only $15 until then in an Eisner-inspired sale. I recommend you spend the money–that’s like two beers worth of money, in exchange for a great read, in a very high production value physical object.
If nothing else, at least read the two page introduction. It will take a second, and it might hook you.
Oh, and I don’t know if she still does it, but back in the day when I ordered some stuff direct from McNeil, she included some of her original roughs in with the order as lagniappe. Here’s what they look like (mild spoilers for one of the later stories):