Cloud Arcadia, by Adam Fotos, is a surreal, colorful strip featuring frequent nerd culture references and a slyly off-color sense of humor.  The strip is published irregularly, but you’ll find new content shows up about 2 or 3 times a month.

Each panel in Cloud Arcadia is packed with detail.  There are very few if any episodes with bland, uninteresting backgrounds.  In fact, the environments that Fotos designs often upstage the characters, who tend instead to be simply but expressively rendered.  Oh, and the colors!  Did I mention this strip was colorful?  Seriously, reading Cloud Arcadia is like being assaulted by tropical fruit Skittles.  That’s not a bad thing – I quite like tropical fruit Skittles, and I’m also a big fan of rich, eye-popping color in comics.  Sadly, it’s rare to find someone in webcomics who has such a strong sense of color and is able to pull off the vibrant palettes that Fotos uses in each comic.

Those bright colors also compliment the subject matter of Cloud Arcadia quite well.  The characters are generally blissfully nonplussed by the absurd and magical things that happen around them.  While there is a recurring cast in the strip, there’s not much in the way of continuity here; in other words, no character or plot development, meaning the emphasis here is on the one shot gag.  On top of the recurring cast of characters, Cloud Arcadia also features occasional cameos by classic video game characters and the like, but thankfully, this is not specifically a videogame or nerd culture comic (lord knows there are already plenty of those!).  Instead, the nerdy references are generally used as a jumping off point for thinly veiled sex jokes or mild dark humor.

In closing, I should probably disclose that I know Adam Fotos: I audited a class that he taught on comic making while we were both grad students at the University of Illinois.  I also went to his wedding.  He’s a good guy and very dedicated to his craft.  I remember when we first met that I wasn’t entirely sold on his cartooning style; however, I’ve found that it’s grown on me over time.  There’s an almost child-like exuberance to his art that often belies surprisingly mature humor and evokes a simpler time when Gameboys were awesome and Legos could build anything you wanted.  So forget about the federal deficit for a few minutes, and take a little vacation to Cloud Arcadia.  It’s worth a visit.