Category Archives: Meta Posts
Pros and Cons
Anyway. Anyway. Let’s talk about something sane, such as conventions! Well, saner, at least.
Convention season is in high gear, and I find myself planning to attend more than a few that boast a sizable webcomic presence. DragonCon has been an annual trip for me, but this year I’ve added Otakon and Baltimore Comic-Con to the schedule, largely due to the fact they take place basically next door.
To be honest, I had not truly realized how much webcomic presence had grown at conventions – I knew that there was usually a strong showing at SDCC, but this summer it seems like every five minutes I hear about another dozen webcomics being featured at whatever convention is coming up next. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, but I was surprised how much more visible webcomics seemed to be than in previous years.
Maybe it’s just me, or maybe there has simply been more of a push for publicity rather than an increase in activity itself. Hard to say.
In any case, the main purpose of today’s post is to look for some advice. With Otakon being this weekend, I was thinking of bringing along a sketchpad and seeing if I could get some sketches from the various webcomic people there – does anyone know what standard etiquette is with such things? My con experience has usually focused on gaming more than guests, but I’ve seen others post about coming back from cons with sketches from their favorite artists, and was wondering if it was a regular practice or not.
State of the Blog Post
There are a couple items of note that I felt warranted some announcements, so bear with me for a few topics pertaining to the blog itself.
First off, if you are eager for some more quality webcomics discussion, I’d recommend taking a look over at Broken Frontier. I’ve been working with T Campbell (whom you may remember from such classic works as Fans!, Rip & Teri, Penny & Aggie, and countless thousands of other webcomic endeavors) to add in a webcomic presence on the site, which has been around for several years with a focus on print comics review and news coverage.
Thus far, my own contributions have been just the usual reviews, though I’ve got some cool stuff planned down the road. T, however, has been doing his Blowing Bubbles feature, which is a series of webcomics-themed podcasts with… well, just about everyone.
I’ve never really gotten into the podcast craze. There has been a variety of reasons for this – I do a lot of web browsing in an environment where I can’t actively listen to audio files. Even when I am able to do so, I prefer to be able to take in a piece at my own pace, which is decidedly more difficult when it is a recorded conversation. In the end, I’m just a more visual kinda guy. But in spite of all this, I’ve been finding the time for listening to Blowing Bubbles, and thoroughly enjoying hearing some of these elusive webcomic artists made a little bit more real.
In any case, I’ve got a review that just went up today about Cosmobear, so feel free to go on over and check it out. If you’re still looking for more, there are a few more reviews in the archives.
There should be a post a week going up over there, and in the meantime, things will be proceeding as normal over here, three times a week.
Second item of note is not nearly as exciting, but still worth mentioning. I’ve been enjoying the “Best of Comic Genesis” spotlight that I’ve been doing on Mondays – but I’m also getting close to reaching the last of the reviews on the CG strips I already read. So if you have any comics over there you think are worth a look, go ahead and drop me a line or leave a comment.
And speaking of comments, the third announcement – you can make them! It came to my attention that it had been difficult to leave comments previously, due to some slightly over-the-top spam protection. I’ve removed some of those issues, so if you wanted to comment before, but couldn’t, feel free to go ahead and do so!
That’s all for today. Tomorrow, back to business as usual.
On Many Things
I bought a house this morning. Though I spent much of this week quietly spazzing out, I have discovered that most of my nervousness has, at this point, dissipated. Despite the fact that today is Friday the 13th, which some may feel is not the most auspicious time for such a momentous endeavor.
But the deal is done, for good or ill, and while it may not have completely broken me down into incomprehensibility, I’m still not quite feeling up to a full review. So instead, a quick rundown of all manner of random zaniness that caught my attention today!
ON THIEVES: The Dave Kelly / Todd Goldman incident seems to be wrapping up. Todd has offered an apology and some as-of-yet-unknown amount of payment, while claiming the entire situation was an accident. (We aren’t quite sure how that meshes with his Dave Kelly slander previously.) This outcome is probably the best we could hope for, despite being unsatisfying on several levels. I suspect we would all love to see this guy really pay for what he’s done – but while the money may be a drop in the bucket to him, I’m sure it will be a great thing for Kelly, along with all the publicity from the event.
ON NINJAS: Sam and Fuzzy is possibly my favorite comic. This has been a subtle realization, but has come about primarily due to the fact that it is rock solid in updates, a masterful blend of humor and plot, and one of the only comics I know that I have never been disappointed in. Other strips tend to be a roller-coaster ride for me, as some storylines blow me away while others just leave me shrugging – Sam and Fuzzy, however, has never failed to disappoint. And the bar has only gone up with the latest chapter, wherein Gertrude was introduced as Sam’s ultimate nemesis; yet by the end of the chapter, she may be all that stands between him and certain death.
ON ZOMBIES: As I mentioned on the last Friday the 13th, horror seems to be the least active genre in webcomics. Zombies have seen something of a comeback, but almost invariably as a device for humor. I unfortunately haven’t had the chance to really explore the field of genuine horror webcomics, but today is still a good occasion for recognizing at least one that I think fits the bill: Intershadows.
While more of a psychological thriller, this is a comic that features a lot of crazy people. No, not funny, wacky crazy – but people who have something fundamentally wrong with them. For some, this drives them to murder. For others, it merely makes the world a walking nightmare. This is a story with some moments of genuine fear. It is filled with many other moments, too – it captures life well – but it lately has been dominated by an undercurrent that is wild, and scary, and dark.
And that’s why I’m giving the Second Friday the 13th Webcomic Horror Award to Intershadows.
ON DOPPELGANGERS: Surviving Mars has been the most recent comic to make the jump from ‘comics loosely followed’ to ‘comics I read early and often.’ It has also featured a recent storyline wherein two of the main crew have been acting decidely unlike their usual selves – starting with simple oddities, and more recently moving up to sabotage, seduction and attempted murder. I’d been getting the evil twin vibe for a while, but it was still good to see it come through.
Suburban Tribe, on the other hand, completely blew me away with today’s reveal. Now that’s a hell of a cliff-hanger – curse you, John Lee!
ON FRIENDS: CRFH has also been decidely dark of late. I was expecting a scar instead of a trim, but the outcome is about the same. For the first time, I realized this story might not have a happy ending.
I’m sure many readers could have said that long ago. It just never occured to me, and even as CRFH has transitioned into a very different comic than it once was, I had a hard time fully letting go of the pure comedy it started out as. I want it to end happy. I want redemption for April. I want the characters to be able to laugh and be friends again.
But for the first time, I finally realize that just might never happen.
ON OH MY GOD THIS COMIC IS AWESOME: Koala Wallop added a new strip to their roster today – Rice Boy. This comic is so good. So. Good. I cannot emphasize that enough – I started reading, and within a handful of pages it had grabbed me by the throat and was dragging me along with the power of a million suns. No force on earth could have stopped me from finishing the archives! It fits in perfectly with the other genuises at Koala Wallop; it is filled with amazing art, concepts, story in this incredible childen’s book / fairy tale / epic fantasy story; it has this… gorgeous, eminently-Miyazaki feel to it…
Man, I wish I had time to do it justice, but right now I just wanted to spread the word that this comic was out there.
Just go read it. Now. Now, damn it!
A New Beginning
Welcome to the new site!
If you’re wondering why the move, the answer is simple – I wanted to focus the blog into something slightly more functional. Hence a simpler layout that is easier on the eyes, and gives my posts some welcome room to breathe. Hence an update schedule I’ll be aiming to maintain. Hence a proper mission statement of what I’m about.
What can you expect to see on the new site? Much the same as the old site – discussion of new webcomics, commentary on existing comics, discussion of news and events in the webcomics community. My primary goal with the site is going to be to shine some notice on quality underappreciated webcomics – but I’m likely to still have my share of discussion of the rest of the comics I read, both the big ones and the little ones.
Overall, though, the focus is going to be on good webcomics. Damn good webcomics, even. I read comics I like, and similarly, those are the ones I’ll be talking about.
So, there you have it. No great changes, just a bit of streamlining. I’ll be updating here on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I’ll be posting at my relaunched short fiction site, so feel free to check that out as well.
And of course, if you have any ideas for webcomics you think I should review, or if you simply want to tell me how much I suck, feel free to drop me a line.
I hope everyone is enjoying a Happy Halloween, filled with elaborate costumes, delicious candy, horrifying nightmares, or whatever element of the holiday is your very special favorite part. Or, if you hate the whole get up, enjoying a very happy… Tuesday.
And if you hate Tuesdays, I’m sorry, not much I can really do for you.
Anyway! All Hallow’s Eve seemed a good occasion to throw off one look for my journal and find a new one – and more importantly, adjust a few things behind the scenes.
I went through a pruning of my webcomics today, and it was no easy task. Suffice to say that, when the job was done, I managed to whittle my way down to a meager 200. Yes, a meager 200. No, you don’t want to know how many were on the list previously.
I was amused that the number came out so rounded, and while not a fully accurate accounting (as some of those links include collections or multiple comics within), it seemed a fortuitous sign. More over, when I then divided that list into the “A Team” (those comics which I can’t get by without) and the “B Team” (the ones that, while fun, I read as much from habit as anything), I discovered that I ended up with nigh spot on 100 on each side.
Speaking of those links, you may have noticed I’ve added quite a few off to the side. This includes a pick of the week, as well as a selection of the top ten comics that have been on my mind. These include old favorites as well as new discoveries, and quite a few comics that after a long stretch of meandering have pulled it together and reeled me in big time. I plan to keep the list updated on a regular basis. Also, I blatantly stole the entire idea from Comics Rock, another webcomic blog.
Speaking of which, I’ve also added a list of other blogs that I keep my eye on. Some, sadly, have gone off into the wild beyond of hiatus, but they are in large part the blogs that inspired me to start this up, and have a wonderful repository of past articles.
And finally, I threw up the entire list of the “A Team” strips that I read – my personal recommendations for the best and the most brilliant strips out there today. While that list may also shift over time, it will probably not be quite as regularly as the top ten.
Now unfortunately all this work is done, in part, in anticipation of a distinct lack of free time in the upcoming month. You see, there is this little thing called NaNoWriMo. You may have heard of it.
If not, a summary might read as thus: It is a challenge for aspiring writers to sit down, over the course of November, and crank out a 50,000 word novel. Quality does not matter. Depth does not matter. Subject does not matter. Just words. It is, at short, perhaps the most elaborate writing exercise developed. It is a chance to show that one has the stuff to go the distance, and can produce the content, if nothing else.
I tried and failed last year. This year, I plan to give another go at it.
I will also have the grim spectre of Final Fantasy XII hovering over my shoulder the entire month. (And most likely absorbing as much time as it can tempt me to burn on it.)
Now, despite these little side-projects, I plan to keep up with my posts here. But in an attempt to do so, I plan to pace myself with a nice little schedule. Even beyond helping keep me on track, I like the idea of adding a little focus to my blog – as much as I enjoy torturing everyone with the chaotic meanderings of my mind, a little order could be nice.
The plan is as follows:
Mondays: Reviews and Remembrances. I’ll devote each Monday to either a review of a lesser known comic that I think could use the exposure… or to taking a look at a comic that has ended, and may be in danger of fading from public view.
Wednesdays: No Strings Attached. This is my chance to let loose! Whatever random topics are on my mind will hit the page midweek. Might be on more ephemeral aspects of the webcomic world, might deal with different things entirely. It will no doubt be a surprise to both you and me.
Fridays: The Latest Happenings. Here is where I’ll be pondering recent events and surprises in the comics I read. There will likely be exclamations of surprise, joy, and dismay. There may even be, dare I say it… rampant speculation.
So that is the plan, gentle readers! I’ll be spending the next few days getting a start on my NaNoWriMoing (my apologies for inflicting that verb upon you), so it is likely you won’t see any sign of me until Friday. But a few last Halloween happenings first…
My, my, my, quite a lot of activity for this simple blog. Why, all this plotting has driven me positively… mad!
Actually wait, no… that would simply be my Halloween costume, going as everyone’s favorite mad computer scientist (as inspired by Lord_dave’s coloration of Kirk Tiede’s fan-art, to be profoundly technical.)
Yes, I know, exceedingly lazy costume.
Nonetheless, I like it.
Finally, a few props must be awarded today in honor of some excellently done comics.
Most Stunningly Genius Storyline: Elf Only Inn.
Best Katamari Costumes: Krakow!
Most Shocking Reveal: Scary Go Round.
Absolutely Best Costume: VG Cats, with Aech.
Edit: It has been pointed out to me that the true mastery of costuming is on display over at Penny Arcade. This, in truth, I cannot deny.
Till next time, safe hauntings…
Just a note that I am back, and blogger appears to be enjoying devouring my posts. I’m sure you’re heartbroken – in any case, by tomorrow I should be caught up with my missed comics, and ready to unleash my usual ramblings upon the internet at large.
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!
Matters of the Mind
I have a very bad memory.
I don’t mean that I forget my keys all the time, or miss following up on phone calls or ordinary chores like that. I can keep track of important dates and events. My life may not always be perfectly in order, but I am typically on top of things.
But I have trouble remembering. My high school years are nearly gone from my mind. College, only a year or two behind me now, already starts to fade away.
For quite some time I kept a studious, dedicated, and most of all boring journal of my day to day life. It wasn’t a study in philosophy or sophistication – it was merely a catalogue to help me recall those events that I knew would grow… dim.
My poor memory is, perhaps, the biggest change I would make about myself. That loss of memory, that gaping abyss of thought, is perhaps my greatest fear.
Hmm. This seems to be an awfully dismal post. I may have wandered a bit from my track, but I thought it best to set the stage.
You see, I’ve recently discovered an upside to the leaking sieve that is my mind. Well… not so much discovered, as recognized.
I am a reader. My first great love was fiction. Books, stories, and all they entailed – throughout my youth I partook of them, and read far, far more than was healthy for a boy my age.
I have a tendency, when no new material has caught my attention, to revisit previous works. And I have realized one of the reasons I am able to do so, able to actually enjoy a work for the second, third, or fourth time… is my poor memory.
It isn’t that I forget every last element of a story. Little hints may remain at the outskirts of my mind, vague patterns I may see developing in the tale.
But after a few years – and several hundred more stories crammed into my noggin – I find that I can still experience the same thrill of surprise, excitement, and entertainment as on my first read-through.
I’ve been discovering this while reading back through Tad William’s Otherland, one of my favorite works. It is one of those epic tales that actually convinced me that sci-fi fiction could be, well… serious writing, and not just hokey space-drama.
I was almost afraid to read back through it, since I had recently fallen out of sorts with a lot of writers I had been a fan of when I was younger – Piers Anthony, David Eddings, Ed Greenwood. I had recently realized that much of what I had read when I was younger was… absolute trash.
Fortunately, Tad Williams is the man, and his series remained good writing in more than distant memories. And, as this slowly meandering post is meant to tell you, I discovered that not recalling the details of the plot let me experience the work anew, which was a thrilling discovery all on its own.
Of course, the downside of faulty memory reared its ugly head as well, when I discovered I had lost my copy of the fourth volume, and had no idea whatsover what I had done with it.
But always look on the bright side, as my dear old mom used to say!
There and Back Again
Well, I’m back.
Things seem to be proceeding apace in the wonderful world of webcomics. Narbonic has made its move to Webcomics Nation. The latest blaze in internet drama has come and gone over a handful of days (though as I link it, I see signs it may be flaring up again…)
All the regularly scheduled works have kept on ticking, and things have continued, as they are apt to do.
Myself? I’ve been off dealing with other matters – namely, my best friend’s wedding.
To lay out the scene for everyone, this is only the second wedding I have attended, and certainly the first at which I was best man. It was, as one might expect, concern for some anxiety.
I’ve survived. The wedding itself went absolutely perfect, with a beautiful outdoor ceremony that narrowly avoided thunderstorms that have been pouring in and out for the last few weeks. There was dancing and fun to be had by all, and the lucky couple are currently frolicking about the wilds of Ireland.
In theory, around this time, my thoughts should be pondering what all this means. The first of my friends has gotten married. It’s one of those signs of growing up, you know? It means life is moving on, and things are changing, and all that jazz.
Well sure, I could worry myself about all that. Instead, I’ve pretty much just crashed for the holiday, and have been kept busy catching up on work and getting ready to move (as the man of the hour was also my roommate). I haven’t had time to worry about such things and have, instead, simply been trying to get back into the rhythm or my everyday life.
Which I’m perfectly ok with. I like my life. Sure, there are things to change and things to work on, but that’s all part of the fun.
Anyway. I plan to finish getting caught up on comics tonight, and tomorrow I’ll be back in the saddle and ready to use very large words to discuss the going-ons of fictional characters.
It’ll be wicked fun, I promise.
Penny Arcade can be used to explain anything. Seriously.
Hopefully everyone had a fine Memorial Day weekend. Mine was filled with assorted lounging, graduation parties, and family gatherings that primarily consisted of me being assaulted by small children. (Or, alternatively, nearly losing a chess match to an 8 year old.)
The weather here has suddenly spiked up to near a hundred degrees, and while I’ve been enjoying the heat, others have not been quite so welcoming of it. When I have taken temporary absence from the warmth, I’ve been retreating to the chilled indoors and engaging in more Kingdom Hearts 2.
As of last night, I have found myself with something of a quandary. I reached the final ramp that leads up to the final boss, surrounded by my faithful friends and companions, with danger threatening all the worlds – and I promptly turned around and walked away.
You see, there were tasks yet to be done.
Now, there is a part of me that seeks completeness in things for its own sake. It is not in my nature to leave things unfinished. It is a struggle for me to put down a book with the intent of not finishing it, no matter how vile it may be. Perhaps half a dozen times have I done so, the majority of which were in the last year, when I realized that I was under no compulsion to inflict mental trauma on myself through atrocious writing. But even with that epiphany… it is difficult.
So I already have the danger of obsession – leaving something in an incomplete state is irksome to me. And when it comes to games… well, there is a devil of a powergamer lurking within my heart, and once upon a time, when I played RPGS my goal was to claim total victory. It was not enough to merely win – I need the knowledge that I have demolished and mastered every aspect of the game.
But things change. For me, the game these days is more about the story. And in truth, I did not have the time to invest in fully conquering games when I could simply… finish them. Especially as games such as FF X (and even worse, the atrocity known as FF X2) went on to build realms of completeness that were a time sink beyond all comprehension.
So I turned away from that road, and merely played the game for its own sake.
But now… a dilemma. If I actually want to get the good ending, I need to complete a variety of tasks.
Most of them, in fact, are already done with ease. It is merely the final few that are the challenge, that require the extra time of leveling unto infinity – defeating the 50 round tournament. Battling the ultimate optional boss. Etc.
So I’ve resigned myself to the grind.
Similarly, I’ve been trying hard to bring myself to stop reading several webcomics. Some of them I simply started without realizing they weren’t really worth my time – others have, indeed, changed over the years. And I don’t hold this against them – but, as with other things, I have this awful compulsion to keep with them, even after I’ve lost all enjoyment in the reading of them.
Now that I’m done waxing verbose, I’ll come to the point of this little tirade – am I the only one like this?
Do others have a similarly hard time, or is it easy to walk away from webcomics that you no longer enjoy, books that aren’t worth reading, games not worth playing?
Is it easy to identify when something isn’t worth your time – and even once you’ve done so, is it easy to let it go?