Creating a comic strip day after day, for week after week, can often become a tiring thing. Even when it is done for a living, the urge to take a break can become tempting to even the most devoted individuals. Some webcomics, when such a time comes, simply take a break for an extended period of time.
Others, however, may choose a variety of filler material, from simply sketches to elaborate and random gimmicks.
What is quite common, however, is the tradition of guest strips.
A number of comics recently have had a few weeks of such art. Some fans are distressed when this happens – especially for story-intensive comics, missing out on plot and continuity for random shinanigans – sometimes ones not even true to the characters – can be less than pleasing.
For myself, I generally view any week of guest strips with both excitement and trepidation. I like seeing a different take given on characters I know and love – and often I will be a fan of the guest artist as well, making the entire experience a pleasurable medley of two great tastes.
However… some guest strips are less than wisely chosen. Some folks may really get the characters right… but others may mangle them beyond all recognition. I know that when I stumble upon a guest week in many an archive, the strips therein seem to serve only one purpose – filler. Not the good filler, the kind that genuinely keeps the reader entertained during a strip’s absence. No, it is merely there to give some evidence of activity, and nothing more.
Which is why I have been very pleased by the quality of guest strips I’ve seen across my favorite webcomics this year. Sam and Fuzzy had some fantastic ones early on, Scary Go Round recently had some nice ones, and there have been countless others that have impressed me.
PvP is currently running a series of guest strips, and that is really what got my attention. Every single strip was picture perfect, giving a new and hilarious take on the cast. The PvP Crisis in particular floored me.
I suppose that as an artist gains more and more of a following, and connections to fellow artists and comic strip makers, it means that the guest strip submissions will inevitably be well crafted – and in enough quantity for the best to be chosen. Whatever the reason, it is a trend I am a fan of, and I hope will be a sign of things to come.