Monthly Archives: April, 2007

Dissertation on Overly Verbose Vegetation

I’m a fan of Girls with Slingshots. (The comic by Danielle Corsetto, that is. Though the metaphorical concept is pretty groovy too.)

The comic has a lot of things going for it. The art isn’t just competent – it is alive, and dynamic, and doesn’t get the job done so much as bribe your mind into following it wherever it wants you to go. It’s a slice-of-life comic with a touch of magical realism, and manages to combine the two without feeling like a betrayal of the premise. The humor is certifiably witty. The characters all dauntingly unique. It even has a snazzy cast page and well-organized archive!

What I like best, though, isn’t any one of those elements. What gets me every time is simply how skillfully they are woven together. The specific element that has prompted today’s post is how well the strip handles transition.

Monday’s strip involved our protaganist Hazel detailing the consistency and jiggle factor of her “luscious” ass. Last Friday’s strip featured a heartfelt moment of love between two friends. The strip before that involved a shouting match between their talking pet cacti.

Today’s strip has Hazel confronting a past that has been hovering over her since the strip began.

Having both comedy and drama – sure, that’s all well and good. I like it – in many of my favorite strips, I practically expect it. But being able to move so smoothly between the two? Being able to hop between the two not just from one story-arc to the next, but one strip to the next? Between panels?

Damn, girl. 

Maybe that’s what makes the strip feel so natural. Life doesn’t come into nicely compartmentalized little boxes for our convenience – it’s a jumble of everything all at once.

So yeah. Girls with Slingshots. Damn good comic. It’s down to earth, funny as hell and manages to capture all the little ups and downs of everyday life without ever taking itself too seriously.

A lot like life itself, I guess.

Here’s hoping Goliath proves an exceptionally appropriate name

By now I imagine everyone has heard the news of Dave Kelly’s art being ripped off by Todd Goldman, aka Todd Goliath. If you haven’t heard about it, read here, here and here for the situation and the commentary on it.

I can’t add much to what has already been said – Mr. Goldman is clearly a man (and I use that term loosely) of very low caliber, who apparently sees nothing wrong in profiting from the work of others. Dave Kelly, of all people, certainly doesn’t deserve this, as the producer of some absolutely brilliant – and unfortunately often unrecognized – webcomics. I’m just glad that the rip-off was so blatantly done that Goldman won’t have an easy time hiding from the fallout – which will hopefully include both a complete trashing of his reputation, and significant reparations to Kelly.

I wanted to show my support by mentioning what had happened – and I had planned to also talk about one of Kelly’s brilliant works – namely, Living in Greytown.

Unfortunately, Living in Greytown is currently only available through Keenspot Premium, as far as I can tell. It sounds like there are plans for the free archives to return, which will be a very good thing – of all the works I’ve seen from Kelly, this was the one that felt like his masterpiece. His comics were always bizarre, absurd and often offensive, but this was the one that took those elements and made it into something more. But… the strip is hidden behind a subscription wall, so no dice.

My next plan was to talk about the sequel, Lizard – but it looks like the archives for that are proving similarly inaccessible. And his other comics… well, just weren’t ones that grabbed me like the more story-centric ones did.

So… no reviews. Which means I just end up showing support for Kelly the same way everyone else is – spreading the word, via posts like this. Getting in touch with Mr. Goldman’s PR team, as well as his other affiliates, and letting them know that it might not be the smartest thing to associate with a stain on the face of humanity.

And hopefully, with enough outcry, the next time someone thinks it might be worth engaging in artwork theft for fun and profit… they won’t.

The Power of Marshmallow Kitty Compels You

Girly turns 4 today – Happy Birthday, Girly!

As one of the strips I’ve been reading since it began, it’s always cool – and a little startling – to realize how far it has progressed since it began. I’ve mentioned before that Girly is at heart a fantasy comic – but it’s also a romance comic, a superhero comic, and absurdist humor, all at the same time.

Most of those have come together in the latest arc, which seems to be wrapping up – we’re only a half-dozen strips away from #500, which I imagine will be a doozy. As of now, (most of) the villain’s secrets have been revealed, the end-boss has been just about bested, and our heroes have all been returned to their proper bodies after some very entertaining – but also remarkably confusing – adventures.

Four years down the road, and Girly is still going strong, and one of the most professional webcomics out there. Definitely a damn good comic all around, and definitely deserving recognition for how far it’s come. And I’ve got a feeling that if Josh L. keeps up the good work, Year 5 is going to be filled with even more awesomeness to come.

Scary Go Round Up

I don’t believe anyone has accused Mr. John Allison of having a diminutive cast. Diminutive cast members, mayhaps. But he is known as the man who every so often takes a look at his merry protaganists, shakes his head, and suddenly shifts the story to focus on entirely different individuals. Characters who were the stars of the show abruptly depart for parts unknown while random passerby take the spotlight.

Despite the turbelence of his cast, I can’t deny that each and every one of Allison’s characters is able to carry the show when their hour comes.

Which is why I am expecting nothing less than an Armageddon of awesomeness from the current menagerie that has gathered. Allison appears to have brought together all manner of individuals for the newly formed Super Best Friends Society, from the most notable of cast members to those who have had only a handful of appearances in the strip. Their goal – for reasons both personal and apocalyptic – is to locate five ancient gods in order to stave off the end of the world (and rescue a fair damsel from a singularly unpleasant fate.)

Admittedly, I’m not altogether familiar with every one of the sundry souls currently embarking on this mission – but the first arc of the kraken huntin’ team has already enamored me of Ms. Moon, Captain Cromerty, and even Desmond the lily-livered Fish-man.

The action has moved back over to Amy, who is unfortunately discovering that being a witch caretaker has a lot to do with caretaking, and very little to do with witching. (Raise your hand, though, if you think dear Amy’s fancy little tattoos will prove the necessary mark required to begin lessons in witchery.)

In any case. Five different gods to find, over a dozen cast members lined up for hijinks and escapades, and only so much time left before the cat (Satan) is let out of the bag (Hell).

Scary Go Round is often much more about mild silliness than epic plots – but somehow manages to pull off both with equal entertainment. As usual, the comic is a wealth of bemusing dialogue, guaranteed to put a grin on your face, and from the looks of things, we’re in for one hell of a ride.

The Best of Comic Genesis: Nahast: Lands of Strife

Nahast: Lands of Strife calls itself a d20 compatible webcomic.

Now then, exactly what does that mean? For those not in the know,  the d20 system is what is used as the rules basis for Dungeons and Dragons, as well as many other roleplaying games. From this, one might expect a comic like Commissioned (Fantasy RPG Arc) or Order of the Stick, with a plot in a fantasy world where you can clearly see the game mechanics functioning behind the scenes.

But for Nahast… no, not so much. Oh, you can see the influence of gaming in the details and development of the strip – but Nahast isn’t a world defined by rules as much as defined by story. Sure, the site has an entire page devoted to translating the world into rules one can use for gaming in that setting – but the rules are defined by the tale being told, and not the other way around.

What it draws from the gaming background is an intense attention to detail – it is a setting with a fully fledged mythology, and a fantastic wealth of creatures and gods, countries and politics. Tons of information laid out on the website to help familiarize readers with the world – and a supremely important cast page. Each person met has their own unique story, whether great or small – and everyone has the potential to be a hero in their own right.

Nahast is a world in full, and we can feel the weight of that with every page of the story.

The main story itself updates approximately once a week, with nicely drawn full color pages. Occasionally something else will work its way in – a retelling of the most important myth of the land, in a different but surprisingly effective style. Or a map of the entirety of Nahast. Or occasionally a written story itself, giving us the background of characters in a fashion that won’t take months upon months to reveal.

Like I said, this guy is all about the world-building, and occasionally busts out everything but the kitchen sink.

Now, I won’t claim the comic is perfect. The art is consistently solid… but there are moments of shakiness. For a story set in a fantasy environment – and one featuring characters who do often speak in a formal manner – it can be disorienting to have characters abruptly saying “my bad,” or to come across similarly out of place language. The website has a ton of nice features, but also seems curiously neglected in the last few years, with the archives featuring a great breakdown by scenes and storyline… that was last updated several years ago. And with updates to the story itself only coming once a week, the plot can be exceptionally slow-moving.

On the other hand, I’ve been reading the comic for several years now, with it consistently being one of my favorites regardless of all the above, so that might say something too.

Now, I appreciate the lush environment of a fully fleshed-out world, and the stability it gives the story itself. I enjoy the story the seems to be coming together in the background, and the skill with which things seem to be woven together. The art has moments where it works, in every way, absolutely perfectly. But what really draws me in time after time… is the characterization.

The main protaganists are what I tend to think of as ideal heroes for a story such as this – each of them exceptionally capable, possessed of unique powers and abilities, and important enough to stand on their own despite needing to come together as a team for the usual reasons – fulfill prophecies, stop evil, save the world.

The secondary characters that have been stealing the show away from that crew are the Hawk Maidens – a pack of young girls training to be warriors and scholars, who each have their own tales to tell. Stubbornly individual – both in appearance and personality – we haven’t even been thoroughly introduced to all of them, and each one manages to be as interesting a character as the last.

And of course, we have the main focus of the comic itself, which the story can’t seem to escape no matter how hard it tries – Derrexi Tzelan. Derrexi is… not very good at calligraphy. She is, however, quite capable when needed. Despite the philosophy of her thoughts, and the formality she is capable of in the setting requiring it, she clearly has a soul of mischief within.

I need to remember to mention this comic as an example whenever people are looking for strips with strong female leads, as she is as perfect an example as I can think of. Capable and self-reliant while remaining deeply human in her thoughts, she’s one of the strongest characters in webcomics period.

Nahast has politics and schemes that span an empire, prophecies and hidden dragons from the dawn of time, action-packed fights with demonspawn serving nefarious purposes, and the tales of a band of young women growing up and learning to walk their own paths in life.

If that doesn’t sell you on it, nothing will.