A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible
Despite being on hiatus for over two years, A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible still hosts a cache of some of the finest, most unique webcomics out there. The layouts and drawing style are always changing, and with some small story arcs and many self-contained masterpieces, the nearly 50 pieces in the archive are well worth the time to browse through.
I started reading A Lesson is Learned back when it was still being updated on a not so consistent, but regular enough basis, from about the summer to 2004 to the spring of 2006. I still check back every couple months to see if maybe Dale Beran (the writer) and David Hellman (the artist, who lives in Baltimore!) have lifted the dreaded hiatus, and just to reread some of the old material.
I can definitely say that Hellman's art is one of the select few totally digital styles that I can get behind, and maybe that just makes me a big hypocrite but whatever, art was never meant to be objective. His palate and application of color change in almost every comic, and I really enjoy the way he plays with outlines vs. shape defined by color. The freedom of his layouts, particularly in this comic, show the imagination and complexity that should be present in more online comics.
The stories that Beran comes up with are simultaneously funny, touching, and more often than not, really heavy in a very subtle way. Comics like this leave you laughing, but maybe wondering what the hell is really so funny. Same with this one's punchline. It's just a little too real, especially coming out of this goofy, pink puppy-filled anecdote.
Without a doubt, though, this comic has always been my favorite. Again, the way the layout shapes the story and conveys movement, as in how outdoors is this undefined space broken up by little vignettes of speaking, is really captivating, as well as the brilliant way the cop's headlights are shown and the warmth of the colors inside the house. Mostly though, that last panel is just too perfect. If that sort of punctuation on the previous events doesn't accurately capture the aftermath of a night spent on drunken debacles with friends, I don't know what does.