Monthly Archives: August, 2007

After These Messages, We’ll Be Riiight Back

Which is to say, I’m going to be taking a short break from posting – I’m in training the rest of the week, and then off at DragonCon through the weekend. Updates will likely commence next Wednesday (the 5th of September), but that may change depending on exhaustion levels/smoothness of the trip back/amount of swag to play with/outcome of ninja duels at the con – so in short, no promises!

If you’re looking for more reviews while I’m gone, check out Brian Roney’s Webcomic Reviews, which is a recent addition to the webcomic blogging collective. Most of his reviews are primarily of big name webcomics, but they are thorough and well-thought out – and sometimes it can be a good thing to sit back and take a look at the rulers of the playground.

Some Fine Reading for the Weekend

Some things that have been interesting this week:  

First topic of note, David Malki! vs Comic-Con. I imagine most people have seen this by now – if not, it is worth watching, both due to the classy comedy of Malki! himself… but also due to providing a good look at the convention for any who weren’t able to go, and putting faces to the names of many of the webcomickers who were there. That’s good stuff.

Secondly, I mentioned two weeks ago that Scott Adams was providing advice to Scott Meyers on getting Basic Instructions into syndication. That advice wasn’t confined to a single post, however, and it continues to be interesting to see the different attempts they are playing with, and their discoveries as to what seems to be working and what does not.

Scott Adam’s Advice: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 
Scott Meyer’s Thoughts: 1, 2, 3
Also, compare one of his original works with the attempts to retool it.

And if you’ve managed to wade through all of that but haven’t actually read through his archives, you should probably do that too. The archiving system at the site is a bit of a pain, but this is a damn funny comic that is pretty much unique in concept.

There has also been a number of new webcomic blogs appearing recently, especially ones that are pretty… aggressive in nature. Your Webcomic is Bad was the forerunner of them, and while I had hoped it would simply fade away, it doesn’t seem inclined to do so. The biggest thing that bothers me about his posts is that they often have genuine, insightful criticism… buried under a festering mound of invective and obscenity, thoroughly obscuring the point from anyone who might be able to make use of it. But given his admitted goal is simply to entertain himself and those of like minds, I suppose that isn’t a surprise.

What was a surprise was the other blogs that have sprung up in his wake, and the fact they seem to be getting progessively more useful. Me and You and Mary Sue is largely about drama in webcomics. I’m still not really a fan of spite for spite’s sake, even if he focuses on the (largely deserving) Buckley. However, the information to profanity meter is pretty good, and having an actual catalogue of all this nonsense will probably simplify things years from now.

But the winner would seem to be Your Webcomic Can Still Be Saved, which thus far has a number of really useful advice on fonts, a somewhat overlooked issue with many webcomics. (And jumping on the stupid anti Comic Sans bandwagon doesn’t count.) Anyway, the site only has a few posts thus far, but this is the sort of solid, technical advice that people need to see, so hopefully it will keep going.

Anyway, in an attempt to balance out some of the negativity of those blogs, I’d like to direct folks towards T Campbell’s recent posts on Broken Frontier, which are recording his thirty favorite moments in webcomics.

I may not agree with all of them, but he isn’t putting this out there as a definitive list – just as scenes that have stuck with him. But as he has gone through them… well, there really are some powerful scenes in there. I found myself having to hold back from rereading all of Narbonic and Questionable Content, or hunting down the non-theoretical work of Scott McCloud.

It can be good, to remember why these comics are great. It can be good to remember the moments we are reading for.

Bad Dog

Today’s Gunnerkrigg Court caught my notice.

Now, this isn’t to say that most updates of this strip aren’t quality pieces of work, because they are. While the recent arcs haven’t quite had as much momentum as the early chapters, I attribute that more to the need to deal with a developing plotline, rather than being able to focus quite so clearly on small concepts and story-arcs. I think it would be a challenge to deny that this comic is a masterpiece, both visually and conceptually – but I’ve spoken on that before.

No, what caught my eye was how well it captured a demonstration in contrasts.

The strip features Coyote, trickster god of some reknown, and a minion of his, Ysengrim, who has flown into a rage. In panel one, we see Coyote stopping his minion’s rampage with a swift blow. It is comical in appearance – the image of the oversized Coyote dwarfs the other figures, even obscuring their features, and the blow itself appears as merely a playful tap, like that of a child playing with a toy.

In the following panels, we see Ysengrim’s broken and bleeding body hurled across the room, shattering marble pillars and cracking the stone wall.

Gunnerkrigg Court is all about contrasts. It blends science and magic without hesitation – melding the ordinary and the extraordinary is Tom Siddell’s stock in trade. Coyote is a silly being, full of mischief and pranks – but also incredibly powerful, and vastly dangerous. Indeed, Reynardine also falls into that category, as a killer demon trapped in the body of a stuffed animal. And, in fact, the mystery that surrounds the entirety of the strip revolves around things not being quite what they seem – there are many secrets throughout Gunnerkrigg Court, from the teachers to the students to the school itself, and exploring those differences is the driving force of the strip.

What makes today’s strip truly great is that it establishes the contrast so well – and more than that, it establishes it within the reality of the strip itself. Plenty of comics mix humor and story from one day to the next, but that is something largely experienced by the reader. For the denizens of Gunnerkrigg Court, that dichotomy is something they live with every day.

Being able to show that is just one of the elements that makes this such a damn good comic.

For Worse

I’ve been reading the Comics Curmudgeon for a while now, and have laughed along with the rest when Josh mercilessly mocked the direction For Better or For Worse has taken – even if I could remember, not so many years ago, thinking it was one of the best strips in the newspaper.

When I read Shaenon’s essay on Why She Hates Anthony, I nodded along in agreement – and even a bit in relief, at finally being able to pinpoint exactly why my opinion regarding the strip had shifted.

But from there… when Davi Willis added his two cents, I found it a bit lackluster. When T Campbell and Amy Mebberson had their say, I found it downright uncomfortable. And when a parody showed up in Least I Could Do, almost haphazardly thrown in for no reason, it seemed like people were beginning to simply try and jump on the bandwagon for the sake of publicity.

But the matter seemed to die down. Most seemed resigned to the direction the strip was going in, and put it out of their minds. The Curmudgeon continued to bash it – but then, that’s what the man does.

Then along comes Eric Burns with a simple proposal. And his proposal… well, it isn’t a bad one. In many ways, it rings true – he proposes that all those who remember the glory days of FBoFW band together to recreate the elements that made the strip great. When the strip goes into the upcoming time freeze, why shouldn’t fans step in to take over the story and tell it the way it should be told?

Well… I’ll admit, at first I thought it sounded like a neat enough idea – more from the perspective of the joint effort it would become. But still, it didn’t quite sit right, and the commentary from William G and R.K. Milholland really helped to put things into perspective – this was really, really disrespectful to the creator of FBOFW, a comic these people once loved.

Now, there isn’t anything saying they have to play nice on Lynn Johnston’s behalf – but I found myself pondering what the response would be if people tried this with a popular webcomic. Say someone came up with Debatable Subjects, wherein Donna and Freya realized they didn’t all need to fall in love with nerdy Marvin, and Freya managed to actually overcome her insecurities and begin leading a well-balanced life, and so forth.

People would be outraged. It would be the most thinly-veiled of rip-offs, no matter the intent, and it would be treated as such. Regardless of whether there was an audience that thought it was a better vision of the story, it would come off as a downright dickish thing to do… and yet here we are, proposing just that, only for a newspaper comic that doesn’t have a broad base of supporters in the circles we tread.

Now, some would say that there is a difference between copying off an ongoing story versus a completed one. In some respects, this is true – but that doesn’t really change the attitude it is displaying towards the creator of the work. And hell – FBoFW isn’t just vanishing away, it is simply transitioning from story-driven to gag-driven, becoming like the majority of the newspaper strips, or like any number of countless webcomics. Johnston has hardly given up the rights to her characters – and the fact that the proposal recognizes the need to change the characters’ names seems to tell me that, on some level, those suggesting this know that it is wrong.

If you want a strip in the spirit of FBoFW, then by all means, go for it. Celebrate the lessons that the early days of the comic taught you. Share the inspiration of a strip that was willing to touch on death, and differences, over a decade ago, while most newspaper strips would be scared to do so today.

But what does it really accomplish to produce an imperfect replica of the strip, tuned to your own personal tastes? It might not be entitlement – but it is indulgence, and perhaps a healthy dose of spite, directed at Johnston for “ruining” the story you used to like.

I’m not going to claim I like the story she is telling these days – I’ve argued with my mom, trying to get her to see the downward spiral of the strip.

But she doesn’t see it – and she doesn’t have to. Some people do enjoy the strip just as much as we all used to. And trying to prove them wrong, trying to prove the creator wrong, is not only a needless insult to someone who entertained you for years, but a complete waste of energy that could be spent making something new and inspirational.

The Road Goes Ever On

With my somewhat pessimistic commentary earlier in the week, I was hoping to spend today discussing some of the really awesome webcomic stories currently taking place, which includes pretty much everything going on at Blank Label (especially Starslip Crisis), the current cliffhanger goodness at Girls With Slingshots, and the stunning revelation that I live two hours from Dr. McNinja

But alas, sadder news was to claim the day – Suburban Tribe has come to a sudden ending. Not the ending, perhaps – but an end to the current format and schedule.

And this, my friends, is tragic news indeed. Suburban Tribe is the comic that has most impressed me with how it matured and developed throughout its run – while many webcomics are reknowned for improving on the art, I find it a rarer thing for story, plot and characterization to undergo as great a shift. But John Lee managed to do so, and to do it well – despite the cast of the comic being far from the most likeable or heroic of characters, I found myself emotionally invested in them, and their stories, to a degree that few comics had managed to achieve.

The reason for the shift is not an uncommon one – four years of producing a comic every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for free, with no real payoff in sight… well, I can understand how that can begin to wear thin. And while it may leave me, the reader, saddened, I can’t fault any artist who makes that decision. Especially not while there remains hope for more content in the future – as the artist tries to refocus, add in new projects, and see if a change of format can help to lead to greater success.

So while I’ll hope for a chance to see where the story of Suburban Tribe goes from here, I’ll also give my thanks for the great story told thus far, and my best wishes for success with John Lee’s future endeavors, whatever they may be.

Regarding Exposition

Dominic Deegan has recently come under a significant amount of criticism. The latest storyline has left readers confused, unhappy and even frustrated, and for a variety of different reasons. Mookie spent the last week pouring out exposition, in an attempt to explain what had gone on in the storyline, and what it had been all about – but may have only made matters worse.

He wrapped last week up with an impassioned plea from Dominic, the title character, that seems to equally be his own attempt to show what the storyline was about to him. To show, I think, a bit of the vision that had lead him through this arc.

And yet, I found myself still unconvinced. But, perhaps for the first time in the arc, I found myself trying to pinpoint exactly why.

In part, I had simply thought that it was the exposition itself that was irritating me, and having an after-the-fact reveal used to excuse what had come before. But… Goblins, this week, did the exact same thing. Did it even more abruptly, in fact, with less warning given.

But with Goblins, it worked. It worked well, in fact. So why wasn’t that the case with Dominic Deegan?

The premise of the arc is as follows (and I apologize in advance if my bias makes it sound more hokey than it is): Snowsong, a powerful ice mage, arrives in the peaceful village that is home to Dominic’s brother Gregory. She has been there before, as part of a cult that tried to destroy it – brainwashed by the cult, she believes that the Deegans are tyrants, and the village in need of being ‘cleansed.’ However, she starts to realize that isn’t the case after all, as she witnesses the behavior of the villagers.

(As a note – I liked this part. This arc started out with a ton of promise. So there is reason number one – starting off on such a good note, if was even more disappointing when things went downhill.)

Meanwhile, Gregory has realized that his magic has been growing out of control, so has Dominic help him power-down – resulting in him having a completely different appearance. He disguises himself as a humble reporter, and writes an article directed at Snowsong, begging her to turn to the side of light and abandon her brainwashing.

Unsurprisingly, his condescending tone doesn’t convince her, and she comes after him in a frenzy. This leads to a confrontation between Snowsong and Gregory, and several of his friends. In the process almost all of them are nearly killed – Gregory himself, in fact, is hit by an attack that should have killed him outright, and it was a miracle he survived it at all.

(Issue number two – having characters constantly brought to the brink of death, then fully restored, starts to grow dull. “Oh no! Character A is almost dead! Now they’re better! Oh no! Character B is almost dead! Now they’re better!” The emotional impact starts to weaken, and eventually loses all significance whatsover.)

At this point, Gregory suddenly powers back up into a Superman-esque figure, and uses his super-powers to save everyone and capture Snowsong.

(This, for a lot of folks, was the big problem. Even once it was established that comic books about “Supermage” existed in this world… for many, it simply broke the fourth wall. There didn’t seem to be any reason for it. It might be easy to accept a fantasy universe, it might be easy to accept a setting with superheroes, but to suddenly have one thrust without warning into the other… well, it certainly left my suspension of disbelief shattered and broken.)

And from there, the strip launched into exposition week, wherein we learn that Dominic was behind everything that happened, and he explained day by day how he had manipulated things, and, to a lesser extent, why.

One could tell right away that this seemed to be a response to the criticism of the arc, and an attempt to fix the problems people were having with it – which I suppose meant it would be even more disappointing when even more complaints came to the front. Some were frustrated with Dominic retroactively being declared the mover and shaker of the arc; for good or ill, it is always refreshing when some of the other characters get the spotlight. Others felt it was a poorly delivering twist, and that more hints should have been given beforehand as to what was going on.

Yet others just wanted the storyline to be over – in the words of one poster, “The only thing worse than this arc is this arc twice.

But for myself, it was simply how meaningless it seemed to be. Why would Dominic come up with such a poorly designed plan? (One that almost got his brother killed!) Why doesn’t he seem even slightly upset over how his plan fell apart, and how many lives were risked because he wanted his brother to play ‘Supergreg’?

And I realized that I wasn’t going to find a reason, because the one who was really setting this all up was Mookie himself.

Now, ok, ok – that may seem obvious to, well, everyone. Here is the thing, though – what I realized is that Mookie was writing this arc for himself. Pretty much every element of the story was designed with one goal in mind – he really wanted to see his love for superheroes brought into his comic.

I get where he’s coming from. Look at the picture up above, of Supergreg flying along – you can really see what he’s trying to do. The sense of joy he’s trying to capture. He wanted to see one of his characters as a superhero, and that is what the arc was designed to accomplish.

And I can’t blame him for that. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it a thousand times again – it’s his comic to write. He gets to decide what goes in it, not me. And sometimes it is ok for an author to indulge themselves. To tell their own personal fantasy, to reward themselves for putting up this free comic day after day, year after year.

But… they do need to accept that such a story isn’t going to be met with rousing cheers of appreciation. Most fans are looking for a dynamic and well-balanced story – not what is, essentially, glorified fan-fiction. Seeing the characters turned on their heads for the sake of a brightly-colored spandex suit…

Well, it feels hollow, to everyone who had already come to enjoy the pre-existing paradigm. And the author doesn’t have to play into what the audience wants – but they also need to occasionally look at what their goal is with the comic. Are they trying to tell a genuine story, to develop a work they want people to take seriously? Or are they just bringing to life random concepts they find neat?

The choice is certainly theirs to make – but I think a bit of awareness about what they are striving for, vs what they are actually doing, can go a long way.

The Best of Livejournal: Get Medieval

Since Comic Genesis is, once again, inaccessible (at least for me), let’s look at a comic hosted on a site not altogether famous for hosting webcomics. The strip in question is Get Medieval, a comic that has managed to be under-the-radar for several years now. In some ways, this is surprising – in others, less so.

Surprising, because it is a cleanly drawn webcomic that updates every day, with clockwork reliability, featuring a perfect blend of humor and plot.

But at the same time, there are two things that are holding it back. First, as mentioned, it’s hosted on livejournal. Don’t get me wrong, the site gets the job done just fine, with archives, a cast page, and general information – but while efficient, it is also somewhat bland, which can be discouraging to those just happening by. Even worse, I get the sense that there is a perception of livejournal-hosted webcomics being at a more amateur level than ones found elsewhere. The issue here isn’t that it is an inferior webpage to other webcomics – but that readers may assume it is regardless of the evidence, and that can be just as big a problem.

The second real hurdle is the opening sequence, as the reader is thrust into the middle of the show without only vague ideas as to who people are or what is going on. Also, while I love the drawing style, it tends to result (especially early on) in everyone looking exactly the same age, which causes further difficulties with distinguishing between the characters. The result? No connection to the characters or their situation, and the start of your story is exactly when you need to reel people in for the long haul.

Of course, if you can get past those two elements, you can really discover what a gem this comic is. Some fifty strips in, the action truly begins, and even more importantly, the original cast gets split up. And while the early strips might have had some difficulty dealing with the half-dozen characters initially crammed together, a long stretch of dealing with no more than two at a time allows the strip – and the characterization – to really begin to shine.

Let’s back up a step and look at the premise of the strip.“Once upon a time, long, long ago in a faraway land, a spaceship landed on Earth.

Its occupants were on the run from the interstellar mafia and looking for a place to lie low for a little while. What they got was this grubby, misogynistic little steel-age world where the beer’s always warm, there are too many eels, and peoples’ idea of fun is watching guys in metal exoskeletons hit each other with sticks.

You take what you can get.”

Now, that’s a good set-up. The space opera and the medieval elements are mixed together surprisingly well, you’ve got a full dose of conflicts right from the start, and a wealth of setting and atmosphere (no pun intended) to draw upon. You have plenty of historical elements that you can either indulge in or gleefully mock, and the strip’s creator, Irony, does both in equal measure.

But at the same time, you might notice that my little summary of the comic’s best qualities, at the start of this post, doesn’t mention the premise or the setting. They are good things, don’t get me wrong – but I feel like you could take the elements of what make the comic great, and transplant them into an entirely different scenario without any loss in quality. The strip has that most important property that screams professionalism – consistency. Regular, reliable updates with crisp (if cartoony) art. A good sense of pacing, and the ability to keep the plot constantly moving despite setting up daily punchlines.

I’ve seen a number of comparisons made between it and Narbonic, and I really can’t deny them. Oh, they are clearly similar on the surface, judging by art-style, update schedule, and format of the strip – but far more important to me is that they move along in a very similar manner, with a similar sense of confidence. On the other hand, Narbonic was a strip that clearly evolved over the course of several years – while Get Medieval has always had a very firm sense of itself, at least once it got past the slightly meandering beginning.

And there is the tragic state of affairs – this is a comic that has very few flaws, but they unfortunately happen to be ones that specifically form obstacles for new readers. Oh, once a reader manages to get a decent way into the archives, they will be hard-pressed to stop reading – but if you can’t get them to that point, the battle is already lost.

I don’t think the battle is lost for Get Medieval, and while it might not have the prominence it deserves, it still has a solid and loyal following. But I think it does stand as a good warning – that presentation and perception can be just as important as the actual quality of the strip itself.

A Wrong Turn in the Right Place, at the Right Time

So I had totally been going to try and get an actual review in this week, and had gotten a solid bit of the way through discussing the awesome that is Get Medieval when events conspired to divert my attention. It is now late in the hours of the morning and I find myself wanting to do nothing so much as ramble on about a great many things – so that’s what ye’re gonna get, and next week I’ll be back to writing webcomic reviews, you know, like I’m supposed to.

The first item on the entirely-arbitrarily-formed-list is drama! Specifically, relationship drama, which I’ve seen very, very, very few webcomics really handle in a realistic and honest fashion. And right now we’ve got two doing so! Scene Language managed to show how a perfect evening can quickly turn into an ugly fight, and do so in a fashion that is heartbreaking, even while you want to punch everyone involved with the situation.

Punch an’ Pie, meanwhile, also shows something of a rough discussion, but one that pushes a lot deeper than the normal pettiness of everyday life – and, perhaps, cuts even keener because that is the case. A lot of webcomics toss in fights and drama and tension because they need some quick conflict in the plot.

For both of these comics, it’s because that is what these characters, in these situations, are inevitably going to do.

Switching gears entirely, Scott Adams has posted some of his advice on how Basic Instructions can break into syndication. ComixTalk has some good discussion on it all, but I really wanted to make mention of it, as I suspect this will be a far more fascinating thing to watch than the attempts of (sorry) Diesel Sweeties or PvP to break into print comics.

Not just because Basic Instruction is a really brilliant strip (which it is), but because I see it as having just the right brand of humor to take the newspaper by storm – and also because it comes in a format that is very not-newspaper-friendly. Which means that seeing him try and whittle and hone and produce a perfect gem for the papers is going to be an exciting challenge, and one I’m quite interesting in keeping an eye on.

Also, I think it is just all-around-cool that Scott Adams is giving this sort of advice out, and even more than that, making it publicly available for everyone to enjoy. That’s pretty rad.

Speaking of rad, I should have mentioned this earlier – but go see Stardust. This movie is just awesome in every way.

Also awesome – Mind Flayers wearing their tentacles as curly mustaches. I’m not even sure if I can adequately describe why this is awesome, but I know it is, because it left me laughing at it for days.

And on the topic of laughter-worthy, I found the latest Ctrl+Alt+Del downright hysterical, and then needed to spend a good bit of time analyzing why .The conclusion I arrived at is that the behavior which I find obnoxious in Ethan is not only acceptable in secondary characters, but actually pretty good stuff. It is only when combined with Ethan’s built-in wish-fulfillment that the absurdity annoys me – when tossed in as a gag with some throw-away characters, it manages both to give them some character and produce a surprising amount of laughter. Rock on, Ctrl+Alt+Del!

Ok, I know I’m not done yet… Ah! Anywhere But Here has just gotten through redrawing the early strips of its old archives, and is about to embrak into a solid year-and-a-half of missing time from the original story. (At least, I think that is the comic’s plan.) I am quite eager to see this – while the new strips are very nice to look at, and the jokes aren’t bad by any means, the repetition has slightly dulled it for me, and seeing all-new territory should really freshen things up.

And, seriously – see Stardust. It’s worth it.

Finally, a small note of criticism – Dire Destiny’s latest page is in color. With the vast majority of strips out there, adding color clears away flaws and is an easy way to make a simple comic look good. With Dire Destiny, unfortunately, it doesn’t get work. It isn’t that the addition of color is really all that ugly – but rather, the black and white art works fantastically well for the series, and putting that aside is something of a crime.

Well, that wraps up my list. Next week, more reviews.

For now, more sleep.

Pioneer Spirit

I’m surprised I haven’t seen more discussion on Looking For Group’s plans to produce a feature length animated film in late 2008. I’ve seen a lot of comments regarding the teaser for it, and it certainly merits it – I mean, I’m not usually a fan of the silly, mindless violence that Richard embodies, and I still found the video fantastically funny.

But we’re talking about a webcomic movie. That seems like a big thing. That seems like it merits some recognition of what they’re trying to do.

I suppose it might be the lack of knowledge keeping the discussion silent at the moment, and that’s fair – at the moment, there may not be genuinely that much to discuss. I am curious as to what sponsers they might find, and what format the movie will be released in – but until more details are known, it’s hard to really judge the impact this will have.

I don’t think this will revolutionize the meaning of webcomics, or anything like that – but I do think it will get the gears turning in a lot of people’s heads. Let’s be honest – I’m sure many webcomickers would be eager to see their creations come to life on the screen. If they can be shown it is viable to do so, even if only as an internet feature or direct-to-dvd release, that might be all the encouragement they need to make the attempt.

Not every comic out there has the sort of story or characters that would work in a change of medium… but at the same time, I bet everyone can think of two or three that would brilliantly.

Regardless of where this all goes, I think a very cool precedent is being set, and props to DeSouza and Sohmer for getting the ball rolling. I’m definitely eager to see what comes next.  

How Not to Hype a Webcomic

“Achewood is better than what ever webcomic you are currently reading.
It is actually a verifiable fact.”

“If you didn’t find Achewood funny, you probably had some type of disease or damage to your brain.”

“Not appreciating Achewood is evidence of either moral laxity (not being willing to read it until it starts to make sense) or cognitive defect.”

“If this doesn’t work, then…I just don’t know what’s wrong with you.”

The last few days there has been an ongoing discussion at Scans_Daily, wherein some devoted fans of Achewood have tried to convince the masses that, no, really, it’s a good comic.

The comments above are a sample of the attempts to do so, from a variety of different posters.

I… am not impressed.

For some reason, this seems to be a recurring trend with fans of Achewood – this is certainly not the first place I’ve seen this sort of attitude of “If you don’t like it, there is something wrong with you.” And you know what? That is far and away the last thing that’s going to convert someone into reading your favorite comic.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not actually a fan of Achewood – but I am someone who respects it. I read The Great Outdoor Fight, which strikes me as the comic’s definitive arc. And I understand why people like the comic – Onstad clearly has a fantastic grasp of language and characterization, and a gift for clever ideas. But in the end, I have trouble getting past the art, and it just isn’t my cup of tea.

Insulting me isn’t going to change that. Telling me that my opinion is wrong is just going to look silly. Explaining how this is a sign of my mental failings is just going to drive me even further away.

It is ok to be excited about a comic you like. I’m writing a post on a website devoted to doing so – I’m not going to say there is anything wrong with it. And I won’t deny that even I’ve been taken aback from time to time in discovering that a friend doesn’t like a webcomic I find brilliant…

But them’s the breaks. Different people have different tastes, and while it might be a good thing to try and spread the word about a good comic, you can’t force it down someone’s throat. Seriously, you’re not winning the comic any points with that sort of behavior.

That’s what really gets me here – I’m confident this attitude isn’t even remotely connected to Onstad, the strip’s creator. From the (admittedly little) I’ve seen of him, he strikes me as a mellow sort of guy. He’s got the respect of a ton of people I think well of, and judging by the very nature of Achewood, it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing he would try and make proclamations regarding.

But the fans… man. Like I said, I know a ton of people who like the strip and are calm, rational, thoughtful folks… but this is a comic that seems to have a disproportionate number of fans who are practically rabid in their devotion to the strip, and seem to take it as a personal affront that their evangelism hasn’t born fruit.

And hey, all the better for them that they’ve found a comic that has inspired such levels of dedication… but given the path of ill will they’ve been leaving in their wake, they might just be the sort of fans a comic is better off without.