Monthly Archives: August, 2006

And awaaay we go!

I’m off to the wilds of DragonCon, which I’m sure will be its usual exhilarating/exhausting/exciting self, and I’ll be back to report the fun next week! (…assuming I survive…)

For anyone going, I’ll be the dude that is indistinguishable from the billion other people at the con. So wave if ya see me.

Wish me luck!

Also? Errant Story, as a name, is really, really cool. Layers of meaning, dude, that’s what I’m talking ’bout!

Continuing with looking at some lesser recognized webcomics, today seemed like a good day to talk about Errant Story.

But wait. Wait just one moment, you say. Errant Story is pretty well known! It’s by Michael Poe, who did Exploitation Now. It’s been around for almost four years now. It has two print collections out!

Well, ok. Fair enough.

But while I know of plenty of people who read the comic… it isn’t something I see discussed all that often.

So here I am, discussing it. Ta-da!

Errant Story, like Girly, is a comic that I discovered due to reading a previous work of the author. And as such, as a comic that I can remember starting, I am sometimes startled by the fact that it is now several years later, and chock-full of plot, and happenings, and all manner of assorted hijinks.

Now, there are good and bad things about Errant Story. It is a well-crafted story set in a complicated fantasy world, and generally follows more than one plot arc at a time. We have elves, we have assassins, we have time monks.

It is fortunate that the strip has it’s own Wiki, because otherwise I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what was going on. I mean, a few things are obvious – the little girl and the cat are annoying. The dude in black is a bad-ass. The elves are mysterious. But beyond that? Well, it’s a lot about mysterious conspiracies manipulating things behind the scenes, and various factions plotting and planning against each other.

Being confusing is downright mandatory.

But, you know, being lost doesn’t bother me all that much. Because while the story is a good one (and don’t get me wrong, it is), it is the more personal aspects that are best put together. The characters. Their interaction. Their development. (Even of the scary little devil girls.)

And, beyond that, the sense of humor in the story. I know a lot of people were put off by Poe switching from the sensationalist fanservice of Exploitation Now to the detailed drama of Errant Story – but it is not, by any means, a strip lacking in a sense of humor. I don’t think Poe could write something totally serious if his life depended on it. The man has a gift, and it makes itself known more often than not.

Boo. Today’s strip is a good one.

… I’ll have you know I just spent quite a while writing it about it, before realizing that the character at hand in the strip wasn’t who I thought it was.

So I’ll save myself the embarassment of giving you my most assuredly brilliant thoughts on a plot development that isn’t actually there.

Instead, I’ll emphasize the point I would be getting at anyway – this strip, like much of Errant Story, is filled with layers. Yes, layers, like unto an onion.

As mentioned before, the comic is a complex one. The day to day strips aren’t much different – namely due to the fact that they are usually hitting up both the story and the funny at the same time.

Take a look at today’s strip. We have serious, intense moments for the first three panels, and then a character hilariously starting to plummet to his death. We also have the unexpected reunion of two of the more interesting characters in the strip – and we get to see that, for all the harshness of her entrance, Sarine might care about Jon more than she wants to let on.

That is a good deal to pack into a strip with barely more than a handful of words. Now, admittedly that is also a rarity – one of Errant Story’s biggest weaknesses is the tendency to use quite a bit of text.

But I couldn’t really claim the high ground to complain about that too much, now can I?

In any case, the intricacies of the story are far too complex for me to do them justice here (read: I’ve get myself lost in about five minutes.) But for all the uproar raised when Poe left Exploitation Now behind to start this, I think it is the superior strip by far. It suffers from the common ailments of any heavily plot-driven story: sometimes it engages in over-exposition, and sometimes the story takes a while to get off the ground.

But it is well done, with incredible art, a clean layout, and engaging characters. It has a guide to help the readers that do get lost. It has an archive page that… ok, the archive page isn’t actually all that functional. Ah well, one mark against it – don’t let that deter you from checking it out if you haven’t already.

We aren’t in the business of giving out biscuits around these here parts – but today’s strip made me simultaneously laugh out loud, shout with glee, and shudder in anticipation. That sure as hell has to earn something, so as soon as I can figure out what we do give out around here, Mr. Poe has damn well earned one.

It’s electric! Boogie woogie, woogie~

Don't worry - even after reading the comic, this scene doesn't make much more sense. Yet. Kagerou is a very pretty comic.

Darkly pretty, more often than not, sure. But you can’t deny the power of the art. It started out a tad more humble, but you can quickly see the evolution of the artist – and even early on, the elaborate use of color made for a pleasurable reading experience.

Don’t get me wrong – art alone doesn’t make a strip. But trust me – if a comic is actively painful for me to read, I’m damn well not going to read it. And when the art is strong enough to carry the reader – sometimes forcefully – through the story?

That is definitely a good thing.

So, Kagerou is an epic fantasy tale, of a hero from Earth drawn into an amazing realm of gods and demons and faeries. He becomes the bearer of an ancient blade of magic, and must help overthrow the dark overlord seeking to claim the power of the gods.

Only… wait, no. Sure, thats the story. And it is there, and important, and home to a fantastic cast of characters.

But it isn’t the story I care about.

You see, our hero from Earth isn’t normal by any means. He has his share of issues – enough to have him checked into a mental hospital, back when he was on Earth. He has a whole ‘nother crew of characters packed within his head. He is haunted by a past that is more mysterious, more horrific, and more engaging than anything going on in the fantasy world he’s been summoned into.

That right there? When the epic fantasy story becomes just a footnote in the tale itself? When the true demons are the ones within the hero himself?

Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff.

By no means is the above the entirety of the story – I’ve simplified it, in order to avoid giving anything away. But there is a story there, and it is a good one.

Of course, nothing’s perfect – and this strip, most likely due to its complexity, has proven a challenging one to keep track of as it updates. It is one of those that works best when read in sizable doses, chapters at a time. But what else can one expect from a strip that hops between the present and the past, between Earth, a fantasy world, and the own internal madness of the protaganist?

So go. Read Kagerou. It’s worth it.

And now for something completely different.

I feel as though I should be talking about all the Big Stuff going on with some of the heavy hitters of the webcomics world.

Sluggy has brought Oasis back, and she’s no longer completely adrift from reality – though certainly not altogether there yet. There is a whole slew of words just waiting to be let loose in light of what it may mean to have Oasis as a character, and not just a prop.

The Penny Arcade Expo just wrapped up, they just ran one hell of a cameo laden storyline, and word has hit the street about their upcoming video game. It is official – they have won the internets.

And over at PvP, it looks quite possible that Brent, fueled by the spirit of competition, may be proposing to Jade. I see no possible way that could end poorly.

Oh, and Narbonic continues with things going from bad to worse, and it looks like soon we’ll have all the important cast members gathered together for one last hurrah. With all our favorite gerbil-people, too!

So lets somberly take note of all those crazy shenanigans, and set them aside, and think happy thoughts about birds, flowers, and other peaceful, ordinary things.

So while the big movers and shakers are rumbling, I’m going to spend the week (or what I have left of it prior to DragonCon) focusing on lesser known strips.

When I get back next week, never fear, I’ll be back to the usual pandering with the big boys – or, more specifically, will succumb to the urge to discuss these grand happenings. Mostly likely at length. With diagrams.

You’ve been warned.

Obligatory Snakes on a Plane Post!

Absolutely nothing, sing it again.
Actually, that’s a lie, as I didn’t actually see any muthafuckin’ snakes on any muthafuckin’ planes, and so I’ll be talking about another movie entirely.

I was going to see it. Really, I was. I’d heard it was fun, and crazy, and all that it was promised to be.

But it didn’t happen. My friends and I thought about going out to see it… and instead stayed at home and played video games. Personally I’d like to think that, deep down inside, just knowing that a movie named “Snakes on a Plane” exists is enough.

Anyway,what I did recently see was “V for Vendetta.

I know, I know, it came out months ago. But, given my usual lackadaisical nature, it took me this long to get around to watching it.

And, having done so, I must confess to being extremely glad I never read the comic book.

Not because I think the comic would be bad, no. Nor because I thought the movie was bad – the opposite, rather.

I liked the movie a hell of a lot. I thought it was fantastic. And I am grateful that I didn’t have any preconceived notions that would have detracted from the experience.

I know that it is a different story than the graphic novel of the same name. I know that, from what I’ve heard, it manages to capture some elements of the original while betraying others. I think it is safe to say that both of them are exceptional works, but also fundamentally different ones.

It is a dilemma. It is hard to appreciate something derivative in its own right when one has familiarity with the original. I’ve had it happen to me before – even with Batman Begins, a phenomenal movie, somewhere deep inside there was a tiny fanboy nitpicking over the pettiest little details.

I can’t think of any easy solution. In the case of V, I saw the derivation without seeing the original – but does that mean I should now avoid the original work itself? And if I read it, will that experience be itself affected by expectations from the movie?

I could, similarly, avoid any adaptations of books and comics and other things I am a fan of – but doesn’t that defeat the entire point of their creation? That they are created for the fans? If I do watch them, how do I toggle off that switch that obsesses over changes, and if I do so, should I truly be trying to turn off my previous appreciation for the series in order to adequately enjoy the adaptation?

Well, I seem to have a lot of questions, and a significant dearth of answers. Maybe, as usual, I’m overthinking things.

Maybe I should leave such philosophical film questions to the masters of the art, and stick with watching planes, and the snakes perched quite merrily upon them.

Some quick thoughts

And… I’m back, and mostly recovered.

I had the good fortune to have my Narbonic books arrive (the mail package had a gerbil drawn on it! How cool is that?), but since my last post was on Narbonic, I’ll refrain from excessive exaltation of them.

I’ll likely spend tomorrow catching up with all the things on my mind – for now, I noticed that Modern Tales had added a few new names to its roster. Some are new to me, but look intriguing – but the two I currently read (Anywhere but Here and Irregular Webcomic) leave me with mixed feelings.

I think it’s a good move for Irregular Webcomic, mainly because he is also staying at his old site. Giving the complexity of his archives, and the need for something more robust than the less-then-accessible system MT uses, I think losing the readability it previously had would have been a mistake. But by preserving it, and potentially attracting new readership via MT, everyone comes out ahead.

I’m less sure for Anywhere but Here, but aside from the similar downsides of a weaker archiving system, I don’t think it is a bad move. Now that I ponder it for a bit, it does feel like a strip that is certainly at home in the MT community. It will certainly be nice to see some familiar faces on Modern Tales, and I wonder if they have some more such strips up their sleave.

I suppose it was inevitable…


…but that’s still just so sad.

Continuing with the brevity…

I really need to get me one of those hats.Bad News: I am sick. (Fortunately, this is only really bad news… to me.)

Good News (for everyone!): You can now cleanse your immortal soul, you dirty heathen, with Cigarro & Cerveja!

So go – immerse yourself in the bizarre little world (which happens to be a lot like ours) of these wacky characters. I’d indulge in more exuberant recountings of the strip, but… yeah, kinda sick. Which was surprising, as while I’ve had some ups and downs, I haven’t had a standard old cold in several years now, and now was not the best time for it.

Bah. As long as it is gone by DragonCon, I won’t be angry. If it should not, however… well, I’ll probably rail in impotent anger against forces beyond my control. Oh well.

Anyway! Cigarro & Cerveja! Go! Read! Buy! Exclamation Points!

A Short Announcement

So Scott Kurtz is currently running a beta site of his new PvP webpage.

Now, see, that’s pro.

A quick rundown on my first impressions of it:

It feels a bit more busy than the previous page, but nothing feels outright unnecessary – and the clutter is below the strip, so doesn’t get in the way of plain and simple comic viewing.

The navigation of the archives looks like it will take a bit of getting used to – but seems insanely more powerful. No easy link to the first strip, sadly, though any half-motivated user can find their way to it without much trouble.

The tag feature? Awesome. Prone to abuse, but hopefully fans will be able to keep themselves in check.

Big ol’ cast page, and a little guide for new users. That’s a nice touch.

A few downsides, but overall it seems very impressive. Props to his team for a kick-ass new site!

Phoenix Rising Prologue: Slice of Evil

Also, yes, this is the start of the next Oasis story.

Don’t have much time to chat today, but thought this was worth pointing out. I am 96% confident that this upcoming storyline will rock my socks off, if only because an Oasis story likely means a Torg story, and that’s what the readership has been waiting for since That Which Redeems.

Abrams is a clever man. The announcement is enough to make me forgive him – this time – for subjugating us to two weeks of stick-figure torment.