Good news: Girly has returned, two weeks earlier than planned! It looks like updates will be coming slightly slower – largely due to Lesnick fully letting loose with the art, and I can’t deny that it looks good.
Better news: Girl Genius 101 just caught up to the Advanced Class. What does that mean? It means the entire archives are now fully online, so now makes a great time for new readers to dive right in. It also means I can kiss an hour or two goodbye, because I’ve got a whole lot of catching up to do, and nothing left to stand in my way.
Best news: I’ve finally gotten around to checking out Piperka and holy cow is it useful. I’ve heard people extolling it’s virtues for a few months now, but as usual it has taken a bit of effort to set aside my normal methods and try it out. I highly recommend everyone else learns from my mistake, and checks it out immediately.
What it does it simple – you select which webcomics you read, and it automatically determines when there is an update. There are other sites that, I believe, do similar things, but this seems to be the most streamlined and efficient out of the pack. It takes a bit of time to go through the lists and mark which comics you read, sure – but I imagine it will take less than a day to make up for the lost time one would otherwise spend checking comics that haven’t updated.
Useful for day to day browsing, and great for keeping track of comics on hiatus so it is easy to discover their return. I’ve been using it for only a handful of days, and I’m already set to swear by it.
I hope everyone is having a good Fourth of July, or failing that, an altogether acceptable Wednesday.
(Speaking of Wednesdays: Ladies and gents, I present to you genius in action.)
Of late, there have been a number of hiatuses (hiatusii?), and returns thereof in the webcomic world, and I wanted to mention a few of them for those who may not have noticed, along with some brief commentary.
Flint Again: After a good three months updating M-F, the strip is going on a short break for the next month. This might not be a bad idea – I’ve actually found the strip a bit more humdrum since moving from sizable (if few and far between) updates, to the three to four panel dailies. Hopefully a break will help the Troutman recharge some creative energies.
The Green Avenger: While the comic itself isn’t quite back, we’ve got some other work being posted in the interim – and from the first two pages, it looks exceptional interesting, in a rather disturbing sort of way. And it sounds like the comic – or at least an update on its status – will be coming soon.
Back in Business
Girls with Slingshots: Back in town with updates five days a week, GWS doesn’t even try to hold back as it jumps into a storyline about a pretty daring subject. But only three days into the storyline, I’m already pretty confident GWS will pull it off well.
Anywhere But Here: Holy Total Reboot, Batman! After quite some time away – and even before that, a ton of comic troubles and late updates – Aywhere But Here is back with a complete relaunch of the series. I approve – this was a comic with good art, brilliant characters, and a story that had withered and died a slow and painful death. It had a rock-solid foundation at the heart of it, and I suspect learning from the mistakes of the past will help the second run go a hell of a lot smoother.
Also: Ridiculously gorgeous new art. Can’t go wrong with that.
Just a note that Krakow is extended the pre-orders of the strip’s first book until tomorrow night at midnight – and since the pre-orders will be the only copies printed, that makes this an opportune time to order.
Krakow is a fun comic that started off centered around two roommates and the usual wacky hijinks – and then became more and more focused on the girlfriend of one of the aforementioned roommates, and her family. Who all happen to be demons in Hell.
It is light-hearted fare that manages to still have solid characterization and clever storylines. Pretty much the perfect match for printing as a nice little webcomic book… aside from the price tag. At $24.95, it isn’t unaffordable, but still pricy enough to give a moment’s pause. The price isn’t without merit – even aside from my confidence that the material inside will be enjoyable, the book is 128 pages in full color. But it still seems like a lot, and I suspect it is the main reason pre-orders have been lackluster.
I’m hoping it still does well – and that if it doesn’t, the artist isn’t discouraged. This comic has a lot going for it, and I even prefer it over their other webcomic, Marilith, which might be a more professional strip – but doesn’t quite have the same amount of heart going for it.
Which isn’t the sole element of a successful strip, in the end – but it will always be something I’m glad to see.
I also wanted to congratulate a couple webcomics that hit some major milestones today:
Freaks N Squeeks just hit strip number 1000, which deserves some definite praise. While I unfortunately have only been able to read through the early strips (what with the 1000 count archive), it seems like a fun look at the life of a couple of rather relatable people that just happen to be mice. It is also done by the same person that did Aces High, one of the strips I most mourned the passing of, so discovering more work from the Marvelous Patric was a fine surprise.
Meanwhile, the Noob just turned three! With the death of Flintlocke’s Guide to Azeroth, the Noob seems to have taken the throne as the reigning MMORPG Webcomic Champion. While Looking For Group might be offering something of a challenge, it isn’t enough to displace the comic that brought us the Greatest Fantasia Parody Ever.
Seriously, everywhere I turn.
First off, The Stiff returned last week. One of the most genuinely spooky comics out there, it went on a sizable hiatus just as the story was really starting to get good. It appears to be back and fully in action with a weekly update, which is very good news indeed.
Continuing the zombie theme, they appear to currently be Dr. McNinja’s opponents of choice, which is usually as good a guage of the current internet craze as anything else. Also, he demonstrates the proper way for killing zombies – and by proper, I mean “most badass.”
Finally, I just discovered Last Blood, by Bobby Crosby and Owen Gieni, in which zombies have wiped out nearly the entire world, and vampires – in danger of losing their food source – desperately fight to keep the last remnants of humanity alive.
Come on, you can’t deny that is a great premise!
It’s well executed, too. As a matter of fact, I’ve been impressed with all of Bobby Crosby’s recent webcomic endeavors – not only are they good concepts and put together well, but there is an atmosphere of professionalism about them all. I should explain that my first encounter with Bobby was seeing him posting in one of the flame wars that were so prevalent in the webcomic community several years back – wherein he managed to make Scott Kurtz look like the most rational and even-tempered individual around. Bobby’s own comic at the time, Pupkin, wasn’t the most impressive strip out there.
I’d say he’s come a long way since then.
Well… aside from not learning sooner that PS238 started updating as a webcomic.
I’ve always enjoyed the works of Aaron Williams – I’ve had a subscription to Dragon Magazine for over a decade, and truth be told, I only really get it for the comics, and Nodwick was right up there with Phil and Dixie as my favorite features. While I’m sad that the magazine is getting the axe (especially since these days it features exclusive strips from Order of the Stick), the blow was softened by how accessible most of those self-same comics are online.
DC and Marvel’s superhero comics have come under a bit of criticism in recent years – much of it deserved. Their stories are generally punctuated with unnecessary death at every turn, and rather than being tales of triumph, are tales of defeat. They have some good titles among them, but many of their comics seem to have lost touch with what being a hero is all about.
PS238, on the other hand, gets it right. It is the story of Public School 238, a training facility for metapowered children. It manages to both indulge in cliché supervillains and supervillainry while also exploring dynamic and interesting story-arcs. The characters are all likeable, and unique even when clear parodies of existing heroes. The story is almost always lighthearded and fun, but that doesn’t stop it from having serious moments, thought-provoking storylines, and a great deal of underlying plot slowly building in the background.
And now you can start reading it for free. It doesn’t matter much to me directly – it is one of the few print comics I make sure to collect. But I like the fact it is now out there on the web to lure people in. It worked for Girl Genius, and I bet it will work for this.
So go ahead, check it out, and be assured that there is hope for superhero comics yet.
I’ll be back in business with regular posts starting tomorrow, but for now, a few quick notes:
–Sam and Fuzzy turns 5, and is going stronger than ever. A tip of the hat to Mr. Logan!
-I just discovered the return of Abby’s Agency, an enjoyable little strip about an ordinary girl who gets a job as a secretary with a secret government spy agency. It went on a mysterious hiatus some time ago, and I only just noticed it had returned this last month – so that’s a plus.
-I also was informed that Niego had returned, a crazy little strip that sprung up in recent years, burned brightly, and then went out with a bang. And then, apparently came back! Only maybe not – I notice that it hasn’t updated in a month and a half, which bodes poorly. The latest news post mentions the artist going out of town for a bit – here’s hoping the strip’s downtime has been due to entirely mundane and boring life troubles, rather than, say, a zombie attack.
-In other news, Brian Daniel (of Surviving Mars) is looking at shifting gears with his comic – once the current arc wraps up, he’s looking at putting it into a temporary hiatus, and henceforth release it in one full story-arc at a time. Honestly, it isn’t a bad idea – one of his previous series, the Saga of the Ram, ended eruptly right while it was heating up, and I wouldn’t want to see Surviving Mars do the same. Moving from a standard update schedule to an issue-driven routine is a tricky one, but it’s been done before, and if it helps the artist enjoy making the comic, then I’m all for it.
-I’ve found Penny Arcade surprisingly sub-par the last few weeks – but I’ll assume that’s due to their attention being focused elsewhere. I mean, damn, have you seen the trailer for On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness? If not, go here, scroll down a bit. I am completely blown away by this.
I talked about this before – others have tried to branch out webcomics into new and exciting grounds, such as with the PvP and Ctrl+Alt+Del animated series… and sure, those weren’t bad. But you could feel that they were new, and they were experimenting with how to capture the feel of the strip in this new format, and were learning as they went. Even with both of those strips being big names in webcomics – even with them working with a studio intent on releasing kick-ass animation.
But Penny Arcade has the name and the resources and the flair to make their own experiment work. It feels professional. It doesn’t feel like little kids playing with some new toys – it feels like them taking their carefully crafted product and translating it into a new format, smoothly and successfully.
Of course, we won’t know for sure until the game itself comes out, but a trailer like that is an awfully promising sight.
I liked Casey and Andy. It was a really good comic – and I hope to see it complete one day.
But Cheshire Crossing is just filled with so much unbridled awesomeness that it easily takes the cake. If this is where Meir wants to focus his efforts, he’ll get no complaints from me. The release schedule – a new issue every 6 or so months – is an unusual one, but I’ve found that rather than leaving me frustrated with anticipation for the next comic, every new issue instead comes as a wonderful sort of surprise.
I’d ramble on about my favorite parts of the issue, but I’d rather have everyone go and experience them directly. So go! Check it out, spread the news, and enjoy.
I’m of the opinion that webcomic donations drive can be a crutch when too heavily relied upon – but also a valuable tool to kickstart a real career in comics.
I’m generally of the mind-set that I want most comics to succeed. Note in the least because webcomics – and the people that make them – seem a lot more personal than most forms of media, but also because more success means I can enjoy them better too.
From what I’ve seen it takes a bit more than just letting the money come to you – it takes planning out an effective strategy that lets you make money off of what is, essentially, a free product. Tycho’s manifesto said that if you trust in your readers, they will take care of you – and this is true, so long as you are able to find the right means for them to do so.
But finding those means requires careful thought and preparations, and it is hard to do that while also producing several pages a week, plus working an actual job to stay alive in the meantime. And cutting back the comics themselves in order to find them time to figure out how to make them profitable is an iffy proposition – you just might lose your readership while in the midst of figuring out your master plan.
Hence – the donation drive. It isn’t something to rely on for a lifetime of survival, but it can give you that boost to start things off. Come into it with reasonable expectations, and take whatever success it gives you as victory – and the seeds to truly start something larger.
Neither of these folks are new to the webcomic world. They’ve been doing comics as long as most of the success stories, and have put out some of the most impressive works on the net. Penny and Aggie has held my attention since its appearance, and I suspect will do so for quite some time.
More than that, they are offering some impressive incentives with their drive – gift cards, artwork, songs, along with a conclusion to Gisèle’s former work, Cool Cat Studio, and a new Fans story – and all of that is for not even reaching their primary goal, which would allow Gisèle to quit and work on the comic full-time.
So… if you feel like donating to webcomics, this is a damn good cause. If you especially like Penny and Aggie, or the creators behind it, this is a great opportunity to reward them for their efforts.
And even if you aren’t able to drop a dollar for them – and no one holds it against you if you can’t – it doesn’t cost anything just to post a mention of the drive, and spread the news far and wide.
Here’s the link: Dear readers…
As many of you have heard by now, Steven Cloud, the man behind Boy on a Stick and Slither, has entered into a web syndication deal with United Media.
Today is the offical launch day of the strip at Comics.com, so go and check it out. It’s always nice to see an artist land one of these deals, and to see the chance for a clever webcomic to come more prominently into the public eye.
Confession time: I haven’t actually read BOASAS. It has been one of those strips I’ve heard about a time or twenty, and continually hovers on my “to-read” list, but I’ve never actually had the time to sit down and go through the archives.
Fortunately it worked out – here’s a chance for me to get in on a brand new start, and see where it goes from there. Steven gave the warning that it isn’t your regular gag comic, but something a bit more subtle, a bit more philosophical than most. He mentioned a pretty heavy influence from Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes.
Right there, honestly, is the best recommendation for the strip one could have.