Monthly Archives: February, 2006

Time Moves Quickly

It came as a bit of a surprise to realize I’d passed the one month mark already with this blog. I had been worried about running out of material, but, well… the world of webcomics is constantly in motion, and that leaves a lot of room for content.

I was a bit startled to find how much easier it was to discuss webcomics versus other mediums, as I certainly had plans for much more normal book reviews and such – but as I mentioned before, webcomics really are the easiest to discuss, because they are right there for easy perusal.

I hadn’t expected to get quite as much initial viewage as I did, but some early and unexpected links, along with a few compilations of webcomic blogs, and I found myself with a bit more early readership than I was really expecting.

Anyway, thanks for reading – I hope I haven’t disappointed, and here’s hoping for more good stuff to come!

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Kiagi!

(Click for full-sized Maniacal Laughter!) I somehow missed the return of Kiaga Swordscat, after his brief hiatus and self-discovery of where he wanted to go with the comic.

I’d been waiting for the return, but it somehow slipped passed my radar, so I figured I would toss this out here for any others looking for the news.

The new strips seem to be good stuff, and the comic is well worth checking out even for those who weren’t already a fan.

Action! Adventure! Excitement!

(Click here for full-sized flaming hell planet!)There are times when I really am in the mood for a nice solid adventure story, and Indavo fits the bill perfectly.

Normally the story revolves around the adventures of Indavo and Rachael – space adventurers, freelance explorers, extreme heroes, and romantic leads.

The stories are, in general, good solid fun – fighting space pirates, robot armies, and so forth. The majority of the time the heroes are in the midst of some chaos or another, and usually manage to come out of the worst situations with hides intact.

But currently, in the aftermath of a pretty intense storyline, we know find ourselves in the presence of a character about which little is known – the Time Traveler in the Big Hat.

Yes, that’s what he’s called.

He seems to be a figure of immense power and knowledge who hops into dangerous situations and manipulates the outcomes to suit his own, mysterious purposes.

Only… he seems to have screwed up, and is apparently stranded on a flaming hell-planet, and most decidedly not in control of the situation.

I didn’t have the slightest expectation of a storyline involving this guy, but this is looking to be fantastic, and maybe enlightening on some of the mysteries surrounding him.

I also love the image above – the artwork of Indavo is pretty perfect for the series, as it has a lively, slightly cartoony feel to it, that nonetheless can yield some pretty dramatic moments. The robots that are fairly prevalent throughout bear an uncanny resemblance to transformers, but thats been the only real hiccup for me, and is probably more due to having grown accustomed to more modern ‘sleek’ robot designs. In the end, nothing is necessarily wrong with the old-school designs here.

In any case, here’s hoping for more fun with fiery death and time traveler excitement!

What makes this strip different from all other strips?

A year and a half ago, the most challenging food preperation I faced entailed boiling water.

Since then, I have made an effort to develop skills pertaining to preparing actual food, with relatively pleasing success.

Last night I took on an experiment in producing latkes, a typical Jewish food that are currently a few months out of season. (As they are often prepared for Chanukah in December.)

Latkes are similar to hashbrowns, and are essentially potato pancakes. Good stuff – one of my favorite foods, hence my desire to learn how to cook them.

The attempt last night was an unmitigated failure.

I burnt the first batch. Then the smoke detectors went off. Moments later, the stove caught on fire.

Round 2 went no better, as I drowned the latkes in oil and produced something resembling an ancient and primordial ooze.

At long last, I managed to produce 4 specimens of perfection, complete with shimmering, golden-brown cover and the beautiful smell of cooked potatoes.

The taste? Like the very souls of the damned.

So, my cooking failures aside, the latest storyline in Gossamer Commons also deals with Jewish holiday foods!

I’ve actually been enjoying some of the banter and jokes in the strip of late. Possibly just due to getting all the references, but in general it has simply been good fun.

This is unusual, because I tried the longest time without success to really enjoy the strip. I mean, the premise was great, I was already a fan of Eric Burns, I loved the artistic stylings of Greg Holkan

But it just hadn’t really clicked. The layout of the art didn’t quite work, the pacing seemed difficult to adjust to, and some of the characters just threw me off – like Trudy, who kept coming off looking like someone’s hipster, gambling grandma.

Which isn’t to say I deplored it – there was enough there to keep me coming back. I loved the introduction of Malachite and the entire first interaction between him and Keith was intensely good stuff in every way.

Lately, though, the comic as a whole has been working pretty well for me, and going back through the archives, the rhythm of the series flows a whole lot better, and I didn’t even realize how much I liked a lot of the old art until it was gone.

But in the end, its really the Passover jokes that have won me over.

Library Laughs

There are a lot of gaming comics available on the web. There are a lot of superhero comics. Comics about elves, and dragons. Comics about romance, or roomies, or robots.

There are very few comics about libraries and librarians.

Unshelved has found its niche, and rules it well.

For me, the comic works well because of nostalgia – I remember my days working as a page in a public library, and Unshelved captures a lot of the little truths about such a place.

Even though I haven’t worked at such a job in over 5 years, I am still currently an avid reader. My reading has changed – it is much harder to enjoy the pulp fantasy books I used to love, but every once in a while I discover something amazing, and they capture perfectly exactly what that experience entails.

So Unshelved works well for me, because I can relate.

I’ve been there, I still am there in many ways, and I can recognize it all as true.

The comic has a lot more going for it than that, of course. There is plenty of clever gaming jokes and dorky references, along with more ordinary humor, from the surreal to the slapstick. It has solid storylines, a nice cast, and even the occasional romantic tension. I’d wager a lot of folks out there could easily enjoy it without needing any background in library logic.

And for those of us who enjoy the world of books? There are a lot of nice touches that strike very close to home, and thats a good thing.

Eyes of Liquid Rage

I’m really excited about Ugly Hill’s new book, Eyes of Liquid Rage. I’m mainly excited because the name is so perfectly awesome.

I’m a late comer to Ugly Hill. I started reading it when the Blank Label Comics collective formed, as it was one of the few members that I was not already a intense fan of.

It took a little while to get into it, but I began to really dig it, mainly when I realized that my favorite character was actually Hastings, the uptight, fun-hating, work-minded asshole.

He’s an unmitigated jerk, as shown time and time again by his interaction with his family, his co-workers, and…. well, I guess he doesn’t really have any friends.

But he is a fun character to see in action. He shows his emotions intensely, and Paul Southworth does some great stuff with his expressions. Especially the eyes. The shiny, glistening eyes.

There are a lot of things that can persuade one to purchase a book. The author, the content, the art. Convenience, availability, price.

But here’s one person who was won over on this sale, in large part by name alone. By the fact that someone was able to condense in four simple words such a primal element of the strip.

Now that’s pretty awesome.

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Ninjas are, in fact, totally awesome. This is scientific fact.

The figure you see to your left is Dr. McNinja.

He is, as you may surmise, a doctor. He is also, as the observant among you might be able to discern, a ninja.

It is not until you learn of his secret backstory that one might discover that he is also irish.

In any case, it is my profound duty to bring The Adventures of Dr. McNinja to the attention of all passerby. To read this yarn of hope and sacrifice is to internalize a great truth unto oneself:

Namely, that ninjas. are totally. awesome.

Costume Catastrophe

8-Bit Theatre, by Brian Clevinger, is regarded as one of the most successful sprite based webcomics on the net.

Like many sprite comics, the characters are ‘borrowed’ from a video game – the original Final Fantasy game for the nintendo, to be specific. The story from the game is retold with much more laughs, chaos, hijinks, and so forth. Various characters are given distinct personalities – red mage is the rules lawyer; thief is, well, a thief; fighter is really dumb; black mage is pure evil.

By and large it is pretty good, even if sometimes the humor is often the same joke about those personality traits.

The main problem, though, is the art.

Now, being a sprite comic – being, in fact, an ‘8-Bit’ comic, means the art has obvious limitations. And sometimes Clevinger transcends those limitations and does impressive stuff with the art.

Unfortunately, sometimes he… doesn’t. And the art makes it really hard to tell whats going on.

Recently the characters ‘powered up’ and got all new outfits, most of which look bad-ass.

Unfortunately, Black Mage got an outfit that makes him look like a clown. Or something. I can’t really tell what the outfit is supposed to be, other than making it look like he is running around without any pants. No pants! That is simply disturbing.

Making use of a limited medium doesn’t mean the art has to be weak or confusing. Order of the Stick, as I mentioned before, does amazing things despite being a ‘stick figure’ comic. A Modest Destiny (sadly no longer viewable directly on the site), was a very good sprite comic when one looked past all the drama that surrounded it. Good clean art. Distinct characters, backgrounds, layout.

8-Bit Theatre is a good webcomic. It will continue to remain popular. Story can surpass art.

But please, in the name of all that is good in this world, give black mage his pants back!

Time and Time Again

Sluggy Freelance is moving into the last stages of its Oceans Unmoving storyline.

Now, this storyline has met with a lot of contention. Some have liked it, while many others have found it dissatisfying.

Part of the concerns that people had were that it came just after That Which Redeems, which was regarded as a fantastic success, and one that renewed people’s faith in the Sluggyverse. It concluded with many questions still unresolved, and many people eager to see the changes that the events had left on Torg.

And then… Oceans Unmoving. The normal cast of Sluggy was left behind for a wild jaunt through ‘Timeless Space,’ and an epic journey featuring all manner of new and innovative characters, stories, technology, and so forth.

And people were upset.

It has been said before – Oceans Unmoving would have been a great story as its own comic. It will do much better once it is complete and in the archives, and people can read through it in one fell swoop.

But it was too much to take in. It was filled with exposition and explanations. It had only one character that we knew – Bun-bun, who many fans didn’t feel especially attached to anyway. It gave us several new characters and new romantic tension – but it was hard to get attached when all most people really wanted was to get back to the old crew.

It wasn’t that people wanted the Old Sluggy days back, of nothing but silly jokes and goofy adventures – they wanted to get back to the characters they were already attached to, and see some resolution to the countless stories building up (Aylee, Oasis, the evolution of Torg). They didn’t want to see a new storyline interrupt that – especially one that just went on, and on, and on.

Oceans Unmoving, indeed.

Over a year later, Oceans Unmoving is wrapping up.

And me?

In all honesty, I am really digging the ending. I’ve liked some of the final twists behind the scenes, even if a few seemed excessive. After a year of reading the tale, I’ve become attached enough to Kada and Calix to care about their fate. And… even the greys, too, to an extent. (Still hate Caribs, though.)

I don’t really want to see much more of them, mind you. But I am eager to see the last hurrah of all this – the climax and conclusion.

And from the pace of things, it won’t be long before its all wrapped up, and it looks like it is wrapping up well.

Which brings us to the true test – where Sluggy goes from here.

I wouldn’t say Oceans Unmoving has been fully redeemed by this, but I’ve certainly gotten brought back in to the tale, and will be ready to walk into whatever new is coming without being held back by total frustration over the last year of the comic.

For the first time in a long while, I’m looking forward to Sluggy everyday, rather than dreading it.

So that’s a sign that Abrams is certainly doing something right.

How long until there is an entire genre of comics that consist of ‘political satire comic with pink-haired girl protaganist’?

I read both Sore Thumbs and Winger, despite the fact that they sometimes go a bit too far on their political tirades for my own personal taste. They both have a lot going for them outside of their political teasings, and both deliver good humor and art.

Now, Sore Thumbs is currently doing… well, something crazy. Other strips have waged the war between humor and drama before, and right now Crosby appears to be giving it a whirl himself.

I’m not entirely positive as to exactly which direction he’s trying to take – whether he is trying to be a drama making fun of its own lightheartedness, or trying to be a funny strip making fun of its attempts to add psycho-drama, or just making fun of the whole shebang.

Regardless, I’m liking it, and it does a good job of making both perspectives work.

Oh, and I’ll admit it – the “Cheney Shot First” shirt made me laugh. Yes, in fact, “out loud,” as the kids say.