Monthly Archives: August, 2006

Five things that merit mention on a friday.

Now, admittedly, I didn't see that coming. 1) After my lament yesterday that AMD hadn’t yet returned, we now discover it will be starting back up on Monday. Awesome. Also, Squidi plans to make his place on the internet on a clean slate, with the past left behind – that’s a motive I can definitely get on board with!

2) Gaming Guardians has dropped a big old plot twist on us, and is now going on hiatus for a month! Agony!

The plot twist itself really turned me off at first. We have what appears to be Radical, our heroine, turning into Tartarus, a crazy, and extremely powerful, villain.

Some hunting in the forums revealed that it is likely that Tartarus is merely possessing Radical. This is good. That other plot twist? That Radical, having been driven insane by her inability to save the life of her friends from the villains, has now become that very force which drove her to the brink?

That is a plenty fantastic plot twist, and was quite awesome when it was used last time.

So, I’ve got my fingers crossed on there being some other explanation at work here. Only time will tell – lots of time, in fact, given the hiatus coming up.

3) Penny Arcade again features the dread spectre of continuity – and this time, the normal cast and crew seem likely to be bit players in the scene. That’s kinda nifty.

4) Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has been cranking out two comics a day. Damn. The man’s a machine.

5) Finally, Gisèle Lagacé over at P&A steered us towards No Rest for the Wicked. Given that I’m still on the fairy tale kick from the last few months, I devoured it pretty rapidly, and recommend others do the same.

Lessons Learned

Sean Howard, producer of a variety of pixelated webcomics, has recently returned to the field.

He left the webcomics field just over a year ago, due both to having a little one enter the family – and, of course, the fact that his webcomics career was plagued by dramadramadrama. I won’t go into the who, hows, or whats, since I’m sure everyone and their kid sister can dig them up from the archives of the interweb.

Instead, I’ll state that I was sad when he left, because drama aside, he produced a damn fine strip. Enjoyable and entertaining plot, combined with pixel art that wasn’t incomprehensible, made for a charmingly good strip, if not one of the web’s heavy hitters.

As such, when he announced his return, I was pretty cheered by the news. Unfortunately, A Modest Destiny hasn’t quite yet resumed – instead, we’ve been treated to the Athiest, the Agnostic and the Asshole.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not commenting on the quality of these strips. (As a matter of fact, I found quite a bit of amusement in his latest one, largely due to pondering how the Heisenberg uncertainty principle applied to Wikipedia.)

So it isn’t that they are bad comics, persay. The problem for me, rather, is that they are political comics.

I don’t know why it is, but the fact remains – I have quite a bit of trouble reading comics with heavy opinions. It doesn’t matter if I agree with the opinions or not – Sore Thumbs turns me off as much as Winger.

Is it that I can’t stand listening to an artist’s opinions? I don’t think that’s it – there have been plenty of strips I’ve seen influenced by some measure of personal interest that haven’t driven me away. It may just be that when the strip focused on a topic that I’ve seen a hundred times before, it just isn’t able to trigger any function other than disdain, no matter how valid the point or how well it is presented.

In any case, it leaves me all the more eagerly awaiting the return of AMD – and the sincere hope that he will be able to simply re-enter the webcomics world, update his strips and do his thing, and avoid any drama (real or imagined) taking away from the joy of it all.

Recognition

All things should be so simple. I lost track of Sylvan Migdal after he wrapped up Ascent, and only recently stumbled upon his current works.

Spork is just a collection of, well, random stories, and while some of them are a bit less focused, they tend to have his usual charm.

Which is to say, they have that element he is supremely good at – blending the slightly surreal with aspects we all recognize in our daily lives.

For myself? The multi-colored eating algorithm, and the acute agony of trying to ride a bus, are so damn true I couldn’t believe it.

That’s how you connect with an audience. If you want to draw them into your world, nothing does it quite so well as making them realize it is their world too.

Public Service Announcement

I think Irregular Webcomic may be in the running for the coolest webcomics auction ever.

Morgan-Mar is auctioning off a notebook in which he has recorded the scripts and planning of hundreds of strips, including some never actually seen.

It’s not a shiny piece of art you can stick on your wall. It’s not a neat little t-shirt with a slogan that may or may not be connected to the comic.

But it is a connection directly to the artist. A direct line into the thoughts that go into his work. You can’t buy that kind of connection…

…oh wait. I guess you can.

Also, Girly has a freaking awesome archive system. That’s a cause for a happy ending right there, in my book.

I actually didn't notice on my first glance. Girly is, at heart, a fantasy.

It isn’t your standard fantasy with the magic swords and the flying dragons and the epic quests, no.

But it is about a world of adventure, whimsy, wonder, and above all, love.

This is part of what makes it so appealing. So often in stories the main love interests take forever to get together. Countless hours of angst, and misccomunication, and endless hijinks keep the tension on, and keep the reader desperately strung along.

Girly actually doesn’t spend all that long – it takes a few chapters, but the main leads accept their feelings for each other pretty darn quickly.

I think it says a lot that the story doesn’t end there.

There has continued to be all manner of crazy adventures and ongoing zaniness. It’s great fun.

But for myself, I’m in it for the side characters. Officer Policeguy. El Chupacabre and Autumn. And all the others.

You’re rooting for all of them to end up happy. And all of them, even the ones that might be founded in cliches – Lesnick manages to make them all interesting.

Fortunately, it seems pretty likely that, in this magical world of his, people do end up with happy endings. Coincidence is on the side of the heroes, so to speak, and things have a tendency to… come together.

Now, I think the ending of the comic is a long, long way off. And I suspect we’re heading toward some tough times, giving the many warnings of a coming time of chaos – and given the normal state of affairs, something that passes for chaos must be dire indeed.

Still, that is then, and this is now. And things are looking up for Chuy and Autumn, and thats a pretty rad thing indeed.

It’s late, it’s hot, it’s friday, and I’m rambling. My apologies in advance.

There is a pizza and sub joint I often frequent after my weekly game of Anachronism. Now, they often have a half-price pizza special, so accordingly I have not often given much attention to the subs available.

This last week, I was not so much in a pizza mood (I know, I know, blasphemy), and was perusing their other delectables. As such, I discovered they had a sub called… The Ultimate.

This would have been more impressive had there not been two other subs that were even more grandiose. (I believe they were known as The Fat Daddy and The Beast.)

The Ultimate sub was not, in fact, Ultimate. It was not even penultimate. Truly, we live in sad times.

What does this story have to do with webcomics? Absolutely nothing. I just thought you should know. Moving on to what matters in this crazy world – small pixels on computer screens!

More like a clown, less like a naked guy. Got it!8-Bit Theatre ran a guest strip this week that was exceptionally cool. The best part about it? Now I actually know what the hell black mage’s new costume is supposed to look like!

Seriously, while I’m still somewhat digging 8-Bit Theatre, there are definitely times when the limitation of the artform are felt more than others. And it isn’t even just the artform – I’ve seen good-looking pixel art. Sometime’s 8-Bit just… isn’t up to par, as far as, you know. Being able to make heads or tails of what the pixels are supposed to represent.

In other news, despite not actually having the time to do so, I managed to read back through the complete Narbonic archives. Did I accomplish this through clever manipulation of the properties of space and time, or merely by poor decisions in my own time-management? Only time will tell…

Yadda yadda yadda, the strip is just as good as I remember it, and I especially enjoyed the Dave in Slumberland strips, which are pretty much anything a lover of foreshadowing could ask for.

I’ve been tempted to go and read up on the many and sundry chronicles of King Arthur. You see, I’ve been reading A:KoTaS, and it has struck me that I could make much more sense of the many complications if I just boned up on my history (so to speak.)

However, to do so would no doubt also mean that I would know in much more detail (rather than the generally vague forbodings I have now) about what is to come. Is a greater understanding of events worth risking the ‘spoiling’ of the story? Even for a story that has passed the statute of limitations.

I believe my final decision was that the point is moot, as there are so many variation and retellings of the story as to render any information gleaned useless.

Also, I’m lazy.

Going into my collection of 'fightin' words that will get my ass kicked.'Final thought for the day: I enjoy Diesel Sweeties more often than not, but it rarely blows me out of the water. However, I have now resolved that, sometime before I die, I must use this line from Metal Steve.

This I so swear.

All things must end in time… even endings.

Small beginnings... Mark Shallow’s ADVENTURERS! may be the longest-running console RPG comic on the interweb, and it is coming to an end.

This… probably isn’t news to anyone. Anywhere.

See, it has been coming to an end for some… oh, two and a half years now. Webrunner announced in February, 2003, that the strip would be coming to an ending. At the time, he did state that the ending wasn’t right around the corner, but I don’t imagine he realized how long it would truly take to bring things to the story’s appropriate conclusion.

Now, I’m quite the fan of the strip. It is an extreme example of a strip with rather humble beginnings that has matured and developed into something very impressive. And while some of the jokes it makes about RPGs have become cliche over time, that is in part due to its own use of them.

The ending of the strip has dragged on a bit, I think it is safe to say. Not to the extent that it isn’t worth reading, or doesn’t still hit some good notes – but I think the length of the ending has cost the strip something.

...unfathomable endings. When I first learned the strip was coming to an end, it starts a process of… resignation, I suppose. Detachment. Embracing the end, and accepting that this is one story that will be wrapping up.

But when the story did not wrap up… it merely meant that I lost some level of investment in the tale. I think it finally is winding down to a close –
Webrunner has temporarily closed production of his other strip, Antihero for Hire (a great strip, by the by, and one that shows lessons learned from his first comic – it is a much stronger, much tighter story.) He has moved to fully updating just Adventurers until it is complete, which certainly implies to me that it won’t be long now.

But while I’ll enjoy the conclusions and seeing what happens to all the characters, in a lot of ways, Adventurers already has ended for me. I went through the mourning process already, as it were. So no matter how much the finale might dazzle and amaze me – there will be something personal missing from it.

Now, I’m not sure what could have been done to avoid this. I am rather confident the length of the ending was unintended. The fact that the final battle took a year and a half to conclude, and the ending sequence itself has been running for seven months… well, sometimes the story has its own demands. But somewhere along the way, amidst the long, drawn out, eternal ending… something was lost.

I suspect Webrunner is as aware of this as any fan. As I mentioned above, his other comic Antihero for Hire is a much more well-crafted strip. I’m not even 100% sure on what the lesson is – I certainly don’t believe that it is requisite for one to plot out the entirety of their strip before embarking upon it.

But while one might not need the strip to be fully fleshed out in advance, I think that an awareness of pacing is a skill that is very easy to pass by when one is starting out. Each strip can remain as golden as the one before it – but it is all too easy to be four-hundred strips later, and have a reader who has lost interest in the comic without even noticing.

In any case, let’s see that ending, Mr. Webrunner. It might be too late to have the fullest impact, but I’m sure it will still do the strip proud.

We could all use a little change…

I feel like I should talk about the changes of editors at Modern Tales and Graphic Smash – but I’m not really sure what to say.

My opinions of the collectives themselves remain the same – GS seems to be doing well as far as content, and MT still remains barren as far as new material. They have a nice redesign (well, it looks nice, even if navigation isn’t anything exceptional.) Hopefully a new editor will help things take off again.

As far as the editors taking over, I don’t think anyone can complain – Tim Demeter does one of the most professional looking webcomics out there, and Shaenon Garrity has always been a heavy hitter on the web.

Those stepping down? Well, no one can deny the impact Eric Burns has had in the last few years (case in point – I wouldn’t be writing this blog without his inspiration.) Sometimes life steps things up a few levels too high, and there isn’t anything one can do about it. He certainly owes the webcommunity nothing, and hopefully he won’t have been so burnt out as to leave it entirely behind – the updates on Websnark these days aren’t the onslaught of yesteryear, but remain full of quality whenever they arrive. That, I think, is more than enough for us.

And T Campbell? Man. From his recent musings on his blog, he seems to be pondering a lot of personal changes. He seems to have been through rough times of late, and I really feel for him – this is the man who, more than any other, has represented webcomics in my mind. He has been involved in so many projects designed to expand the medium. He was the writer of one of my favorite strips of all time. So I hope that whatever changes may come, things work out well in the end for him.

I don’t know how much these changes will really be felt, by and large – much of what the people in those positions do goes on behind the scenes. Still, it strikes me as… well, worthy of note, I suppose, that two such transitions are happening at the same time.

I’m not sure if I am really able to draw conclusions about what it means – and, to be honest, I don’t know if it means anything more than some people moving on to different things in their lives.

Still, I’m going to go with the best approach I think I can take with anything along these lines – see it as a chance for new editors to help Modern Tales (and friends) reach their full potential, and wish the best to those leaving it behind, and hope that wherever their path takes them next, they have a good time of it.

Change, after all, isn’t always a bad thing.