Monthly Archives: December, 2006

Second Verse, Not Quite the Same as the First

Scene LanguageIf nothing else comes of ComicSpace, it has already done me one great service – it has reintroduced me to the works of Corey Marie.

Some years ago, when the internet was young(er), she was the artist of a strip called Life’s So Rad. It was a brilliant fun little comic – and then it went away. It was taken down for personal reasons, and I can’t find any fault in that, though I remained sad to see it go.

Fast forward several years. Corey Marie apparently has a new comic: Scene Language. It’s been around for almost half-a-year now, but as is often the case, I only discovered it through sheer chance.

I will momentarily pause to belabor a point I’ve touched on before – keeping track of comics or artists who have gone on hiatus is difficult. I don’t know how many strips are out there that I once read, paused when they stopped updating, and never checked back with when they returned to action.

That’s one of the reasons I make posts like this, both for comics new and old – a comic tends to be almost entirely carried along by word of mouth. Advertising can help, sure, but that only does so much. A group can notice new comics (or returning ones) much, much easier than a single person can. That, in my opinion, is one of the real values of the webcomic blogs and news sites.

Anyway, back to the comic itself.

Scene Language

I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about the scene. I enjoy music, but my knowledge of the subject is supremely limited. All I know about rockers I learned from… well, from webcomics much like this one. There are certainly comics with all manner of inside jokes that I just don’t get.

Fortunately, this isn’t one of them. My knowledge (or lack thereof) does little to impair my appreciation for the comic. Despite the setting, the subject isn’t really about bands and music – it’s about people. Which people isn’t entirely obvious at the start – we follow the misadventures of Phil for a bit, but he’s hardly the hero of the story. (Or, really, at all…)

The cast page lists four main characters. It seems clear the story is going to be about them, even if it isn’t entirely just yet. One of them has only just arrived, and the connections between the four are still immersed in a mess of other people and other lives.

It’s interesting, seeing where a story is going, and how far it has to go.

The comic is only in it’s infancy, despite already having 64 strips under the belt. But I can already tell that I like it. The art is solid and lively, a stronger version of the style I liked from Life’s So Rad. The characters are… well, human, to start, which means they are engaging, interesting, and flawed.

Which, really, is about as good as it gets.

It’s not Life’s So Rad, but it isn’t supposed to be. It’s good, and that’s all that matters. I know I’ll be watching it eagerly.

The Hits Just Keep Coming

Scott Kurtz never ceases to surprise me.

Addendum: Oh, and what’s with this? You guys aren’t allowed to be all serious and cliffhangery on a weekend! I’m not primed to deal with character development right now, man – it’s just too much!

Collective Contributions

Child's Play
Child’s Play is once again doing amazingly, and is already just shy of the half a million mark – with plenty of time still to go.

But this comes as no surprise, really, considering its past success. It’s good news to be sure – but it isn’t what caught my attention in the latest Penny Arcade news post.

GameTrailers.com is having a promotion. You earn some virtual money on their site – via watching trailers, writing reviews, rating games, etc – and you can turn that virtual money into a donation from them to Child’s Play. They’ve got a cap on it – their goal of $10,000 – and at the rate the donations are going, it seems likely they’ll easily meet that within the day.

I find this vastly intriguing. The virtual money idea in general is pretty cool, and certainly makes for a solid way to forcibly build community. More than that, I like the way that gaming entities are working just as hard as individuals to contribute to Child’s Play – while in many ways this isn’t really any different than other companies directly donating money to the charity, I like the way it lets people help make a difference, even if they can’t directly donate themselves.

Sorry there isn’t anything of more substance today (or even this week) – I’ve got a ton of things that I’ve been wanting to review, and just haven’t had the time to really sit down and do them justice. Hopefully next week will be a bit less hectic.

Till then, do what you can to help Child’s Play, even if it’s nothing more than continuing to spread the word!

Com(ics) Unity

ComicSpaceSo… there’s now a MySpace for Comics.

I like the idea, certainly. I don’t know how much I, personally, will make use of it, as I never really entered the MySpace craze… but nonetheless, I like the concept of it.

There is often a lot of discussion regarding the so-called webcomics community. Sometimes the talk centers around whether or not there actually is one. A year or two back, when it seemed drama lurked around every corner from one month to the next, it seemed like the community was nothing more than small dedicated camps devoted to their favorite authors, ready to tear into each other at the slightest provocation.

Hmm. That might, just might, be overstating the case a tad. But it is certainly true that many people, time and again, have proclaimed the need for more of a sense of… unity, among the movers and the shakers of the webcomic world. It’s a young medium, sure, but that can be all the more reason for people to be presenting a undivided front, all the more reason to work on improving the entire field as a team.

Now, this is another idea I like. It’s a great sentiment. That said, I don’t expect cartoonists to feel any obligation to work together or devote valuable time and resources to building up the ethereal concept of a webcomic society. The fact is, the majority of webcomickers have enough troubles working on their own comics alone. It’s enough that they put up free comics once, twice, three times a week – if not daily – and expecting them to work on things beyond that scale is, well, somewhat unreasonable. More than that, many of the greatest strides and recognitions earned for webcomics comes from individual successes – Penny Arcade’s work with PAX and Child’s Play, for example.

So I don’t expect much. I can’t demand much – most webcomics are free. I support them where I can, I enjoy their works and recommend the ones that impress me, and as long as they keep providing them, they’ve already done far more than they are obligated to.

But it’s still damn nice when I see groups like Blank Label form, with members pooling their resources to work together. It’s nice to see more and more panels on webcomics, especially with some going an extra step to really discuss more than just your stand Q&A. It’s nice to see, in the last year, a lot of previously antagonistic webcomic camps acting reasonably civil with each other in various matters.

Sure, the drama still pops up from time to time. And sure, the webcomics ‘community’ remains something hard to pin down and point at. But there is more and more discussion going on, both among those who want to take a more intellectual approach, as well as those who just want to sit around and talk about comics. There are more and more gatherings of fans, more and more webcomic collectives, and more and more independant locales for fans of the medium to gather.

ComicSpace isn’t really anything world-shattering, or even entirely dedicated to webcomics alone – but it’s a neat place on several levels. “A place for comic fans and creators to connect with each other.” Sure, you have plenty of those in the form of private forums and messageboards – but an impartial one, open to all? That’s a bit scarcer. Also, free comic hosting. That’s never a bad thing.

Even if it isn’t anything more than a nice little idea, that’s good enough for me.

This has been your daily overanalysis of a very simple topic. Tune in next week, same bat-channel, same bat-time!

Dresden Codak is fueled by the power of Science

Stupid bears, always causing trouble...Not long ago I reviewed Minus, which remains a phenomenal strip.

Some of the discussion arising from that brought to light that Koala Wallop, the collection that Minus was a part of, did not recieve nearly as much attention as it rightfully should. Intrigued, I poked around the other strips on the site, and lo and behold, found myself quite taken with them.

The one that most caught my eye – in much the same vein as had Minus itself – was Dresden Codak.

Dresden Codak is, similarly, a hard comic to describe. Both philosophical and fantastical, each strip is generally a self-contained clever adventure following the principles of wit and whimsy. A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible is mentioned as an inspiration, and the influence is clear. A Lesson Is Learned may be in absentia these days, but it’s legacy lives on in Dresden Codak and many others who follow in it’s footsteps.

You know, I like this genre of comics. I like it a lot. There seems to be more and more quality comics emerging that deal in the absurdly profound, in surreal humor, in both intellectualism and childhood innocence, and their presence is a damn good thing.

Dresden Codak only cements my feelings on the subject. The material is both beautiful to behold, enjoyable to read, and intensely thought-provoking. I like my gag strips, sure, and I love my comics that tell a deep and emotionally powerful story… but the ones that leave me thinking really are gems found few and far between, and all the more important for their rarity.

The greatest strength of Aaron Diaz (the genius behind Dresden Codak) may be the ability to tell a powerful story in a single moment. It is in this that I see the strongest influence of A Lesson Is Learned, and Dresden Codak may be the only comic able to pull of the simple story just as well. A single strip can contain laughter, philosophy, and a heart-wrenching story.

And as with A Lesson Is Learned, the art plays as strong a part as the story. The scenes come to life with brilliant colors and gorgeous images. Each page is a full dose of webcomic goodness.

The only downside? The archive is small, and updates seem to be on a monthly basis. Each update is a world of awesome, but they are few and far between.

Still – there are worse things than to have the quality of a comic leave you desperate for more. Dresden Codak is another font of genius, and all the more proof that Koala Wallop has something special going for it.

Not Actually a Post About NaNoWriMo, No Really, I Mean It

Last night I met up with a number of other local NaNoWriMo writers to celebrate our success. We discussed all manners of things, but unsurprisingly, the topic of writing came up an inordinate numbers of times.

One of the other writers there started explaining some principles of mad science that she had begun applying to her villains in her writing. Infection. Obsession. Challenge. Chase Scene. Denouement.

It truly is a wonderful world we live in.

The obvious inspiration for this philosophy, A Miracle of Science, continues to excel.

We have entered what may be the final showdown between the good guys and the bad, and our hero Benjamin is doing his best to stop the enemy with the most powerful weapon at his disposal – the power of memetics.

It’s a good comic, and it’s a good time to be reading it.