Monday, July 28, 2008

TRAGIC NEWS: Aaron Diaz, creator of Dresden Codak, has apparently had a bicycle accident in French. The ensuing carnage left his hands mangled, such that he cannot create comics until they are healed! This is not exactly new news, but I am only just now finding it out.

So, this is a good opportunity for me to do a full-fledged in-depth look at Dresden Codak. In addition to the usual Friday update, you can look forward to a Big Spotlight-on-DC Update sometime this week. I will have it up by this coming Sunday, and that's a Jackson Ferrell promise to you! Jackson Ferrell promises are exactly like other promises.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Well, the big news in webcomics this week is that everyone and his webcomicking mother is at San Diego Comic Con. This means that the Penny Arcade guys are drawing comics on a series of hotel bedside notepads, Greg Dean is pulling what must be a parody of Shirt Guy Dom days, and David Willis is drawing comics in which I initially mistake Maggie for Amber. And comics in which he tries to enslave his fans. You only think I'm kidding.

Is Tatsuya Ishida of Sinfest at Comic-Con? I have no idea; the man is shrouded in mystery. But what I do know is, Sinfest this week began with a pun so bad it borders on blasphemy! And from there it took the gag and ran with it. I'm not going to give it away, but let's just say it involves Jesus Christ doing athletic warm-up exercises in preparation for saving mankind from their sins.

Fearless Cartoon Illustrator Brandon Bolt is most certainly at Comic-Con--but in an unofficial capacity, certainly not with a booth or anything. But! Before departing for the Con, he left us with Adventures in Being Made Fun of By Your Roommates starring the hapless and undateable Beans Mulroney. It's on the short side by Nobody Scores standards, but of course this means it is only twelve panels long. The great thing about Nobody Scores comics is that they have the space to develop a truly disastrous narrative.

In other news, this strip from Gunnerkrigg Court
[BEGIN SPOILERS!]hints at a possibility that fills my soul with elation: magic robots. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I love robots, and the only way I could possibly love them any more is if they were magic-powered. You can blame Final Fantasy VI for this. [END SPOILERS] Wow. That big white space makes it look like I just gave away Reynardine's secret origin or something. I assure you, it's nothing so momentous as that.

In Starslip Crisis this week, Vanderbeam begins his curatorship aboard the Sai Kan and meets the staff. Embarrassingly, of course.

That's this week's news from me--so now let's have some news from you. Have you seen any noteworthy webcomic strips this week, related to Comic-Con or otherwise? Dan Echt, are you hangin' around? Wanna give us the latest on Questionable Content? Readers, let us hear from you.

And now, let's wrap things up with a...

BAD DECISION DINOSAUR SIGHTING: Bad Decision Dinosaur last spotted on a park bench talking to a cowboy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Secret Origins of This Week in Webcomics

Hi, everyone. Let me tell you a story that is long overdue.

My brother and I used to talk about webcomics. Some comic would post up an awesome strip, and we'd be all like "Oh my gosh, did you see Real Life today?" or "Dude, Penny Arcade brought back the Deep Crow!" or "You gotta check out Tuesday's Starslip, man. It totally ripped on postmodern art!"

But then something happened. Somehow, my brother stopped reading webcomics, all except for Girl Genius, which I don't read--and suddenly our weekly webcomic discussions came to a halt. I found myself asking, who can I talk about webcomics with? After giving it some thought, I decided to talk about them with the internet.

The purpose of this blog is a simple one: it's a place where you and I can talk about webcomics with each other. I want to share my thoughts with you, and I want to hear your thoughts. If you found a strip funny and I failed to mention it in the week's recap, drop a comment and give us all a link! If you didn't find a particular strip I mentioned all that funny, say so, and tell us why. Even if you just have some general reflections, go ahead and share those too. Anything's fair game, and webcomics are fun, so let's talk about webcomics.

If you'd like to contact me via email, you can reach me at DeathbyChiasmus -at- gmail -dot- com.

UPDATE: As of May 2011, TWIW is not currently reviewing webcomics in any formal capacity. That said, if you're a cartoonist, feel free to shoot an email and tell me about your webcomic. It's always fun to find new reading material, and I just might find a moment to look your comic over and perhaps give it a shout if I particularly enjoy it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hey, folks. The big event around here this week is yesterday's Thinkin' Lincoln review commemorating its three-year anniversary. Thinkin' Lincoln is a pretty good comic, and you should check it out. But here is a condensed version of the usual week-in-review-style content, providing you with some quick laughs.

Did any webcomics this week make you laugh out loud? Post a link in the comments and share the funny!

Quick Laughs:

And that's a wrap. See y'all next week!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Review: Thinkin' Lincoln

Welcome to a special installment of TWIW. Thinkin' Lincoln turned three years old last week, so I want to do a special feature on what Thinkin' Lincoln means to me personally. (FUN FACT: "Personal" is just another word for "biased!")

Thinkin' Lincoln is a daily webcomic, created by Miles Grover using Adobe Flash, about the anachronistic adventures of Abraham Lincoln. It takes place in a strange world where various historical personages (Abe, George Washington, Queen Elizabeth II, Charles Darwin, Amelia Earhart, and others) exist alongside each other, generally carrying on in the way that roommates and coworkers do, having ridiculous banter and putting up with each other's crap. Their world is also populated by a fish deity, a fish devil, and a bunch of undead historical personages, like Zombie Mark Twain and Skeleton Shakespeare and Vampire Charles Dickens. And a crocodile with a beard. Oh, and did I mention everyone is a disembodied head?

WTF, Miles Grover. W. T. F.

Initially I was really weirded out by the disembodied-head thing. The art is decent, but it's primarily a vehicle for the day's joke, so it tends toward minimalism. The historical figures' faces are highly stylized, as if someone took a portrait of them and removed all the shading and traced their facial details with a thin-point sharpie. Which works, but will be a turnoff for some people. It was for me. I liked the idea of historical characters interacting with each other and having arguments about who was the better president, etc., but oh man those DISEMBODIED HEADS soooo creeeeepy.

But I kept coming back to it. There were all these links across the internet, and they kept leading me back to Thinkin' Lincoln! And I would read the day's comic and try to get on my way, but one day I found myself reading through the archives again--and this time, I was laughing out loud. In spite of the creepy disembodied heads! As much as I would have preferred a comic with humanoid presidents, this was still a funny comic, and who knows, maybe some people prefer the disembodied heads from a stylistic perspective. I can't deny that it makes for some funny strips, especially when it gets subverted. And Miles did this hand-drawn comic with embodied Lincoln while his computer was in the shop, so I think this is something I can live with.

In short, I had to admit to myself that I reluctantly enjoyed Thinkin' Lincoln. The premise of the strip is fundamentally juxtaposition: specifically, the juxtaposition of Very Important Historical Figures carrying on with all the emotional maturity of fourteen-year-olds. I think it gets the balance right when it takes the characters' historical roles and personas seriously, basing its absurdity on the foundation of history. Sometimes the absurdity still works without the presidential context. Other times, though, Miles Grover abandons his historical base, and it ends up as just an excuse for Abe Lincoln to utter Napoleon-Dynamite-esque euphemized swears like "holy pooping craps" or "butt-cruds." It's like standing in the middle of a seesaw and trying to keep the ends from striking the ground: it's hard, but it's pretty impressive if you keep it up for a long time. And Miles Grover has been keeping it up for over three years.

Which brings us to last Friday's three-year-anniversary comic. This is definitely my favorite TL comic in awhile: it essentially takes the Thinkin' Lincoln premise of ahistorical absurdity and turns it on its head. Lincoln, ostensibly the strip's crazy guy with impractical ideas, suddenly observes the ridiculousness of the world he lives in! It's the sort of strip one could only create with three years of comic history to draw on, and it's a great capstone for everywhere the strip has gone so far.

So, in summary: Thinkin' Lincoln? Pretty good webcomic. Good for a daily laugh, if you can get past the floating-disembodied-heads thing. And if I can, then you can too.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Uhhgh...mfff. Nerghh. What time is it?

It's time for a review of the week in webcomics.

Let's start off with two of my favorite M-W-F comics, Gunnerkrigg Court and Penny and Aggie. In premise, these two comics have just about as little in common as conceivably possible: one's the science-fantasy adventures of a stoical little girl at a weird, mysterious boarding school, and the other's this down-to-earth teen drama thing with lots of hate and friendship and other interpersonal emotions, and no fantastic stuff whatsoever. But in their current storylines, they have one thing in common: plays. And I loves me some Shakespeare and some swordfights, so these are welcome developments.

Sinfest this week has turned its focus on Pooch the dog taking coolness lessons from Percy the cat, which means that this week it moves from "comic my mom would not enjoy" to "comic my mom would enjoy." Sinfest really is a peculiar comic: it's certainly edgy and sharp and crass, but it has a definite newspaper-strip sensibility to it, and not just in presentation. In spite of the characters' egoism and debauchery, a lot of its humor hinges on a theme that would be right at home in the funny pages: the notion that in spite of our well-crafted veneers, we're messy and flawed and we really just want to be loved.

Except for Percy, who, like all cats, is too cool for school.

Anyways! Let's talk about cartoonists going absent and returning from absences. After a rather quiet several weeks, Joe Dunn returns to the urgent business of loving crappy movies. We celebrate his return with much rejoicing! Yaaay. The most recent comic about Wall-E is particularly good.

Even as Joe Dunn returns triumphantly, Brandon Bolt of Nobody Scores is giving his comic its yearly vacation, but not before leaving us with this wonderful gem, illustrating the inevitable, hilarious fallout between longtime friends Jane and Sara. When Nobody Scores returns from vacation, it will be fresh and re-engineered for maximum calamity. We eagerly await its return!

I'll be danged if Monday's Cat and Girl didn't make me laugh out loud. C&G often uses this formula for a strip, wherein Girl gives a very serious, earnest conceptual dissection of a shortcoming of modernity/postmodernity, and Cat's final line is an apparent non-sequitur that actually relates to the topic at hand in some absurdist fashion. And C&G creator Dorothy Gambrell generally has the chops to fill the formula with interesting content, so I'm a fan of strips like that. Tuesday's topic was mystery: in the Information Age, what remains that hasn't been mapped out and served to us on a Google platter? As it turns out, Cat himself is full of mystery. Now go read that comic, okay?

One final quick note: I was a big ol' fan of The New Adventures of Captain S during its first-season run. Captain S is a webshow that parodies and pays tribute to both Captain N and 90s sitcoms in equal measure. There's no second season yet, but there is currently an all-new webcomic-format tale, updated weekly. You can start reading it here.

Okay, and that's a wrap! See you next week. Time to go do productive things now.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Salutations, comic readers. I, Jackson Ferrell, am back with another exciting installment of updates from the world of webcomics! Let's see what all happened this week.

First of all, in You'll Have That, Andy's friend Steve decides to get back into the dating scene with a nice lady he knew from high school. All three of this week's comics were particularly good--great drawing and exceptionally funny punchlines--but in particular I'd like to call attention to this one: Monday's comic. The lofted perspective in the first panel makes a great intro angle and adds visual dynamism, and I also really like Katie's body language in the final panel. Good stuff.

A comic that I've wanted to mention since this blog's first installment, but haven't yet gotten a chance to, is Brandon Bolt's "little comic about inevitable disaster," Nobody Scores. Well, there have been two killer updates this week that you should definitely tune into. First in Thursday's comic, corporate get-ahead girl Sara Peterson receives external validation, and it goes straight to her head. The conflict only escalates with the involvement of Genghis Khan from the editing department. The second comic is a clever tribute/homage to the Chuck Jones Looney Tunes cartoon, "Duck Amuck," in which cartoon Jane matches wits with cartoonist Raoul in a battle of wackiness.

Nobody Scores is an exceptionally well-crafted comic, bursting with manic energy, and you should read it. Read it, I say!

In Sheldon this week, Sheldon enters his local library's summer reading contest, only to discover that Arthur Duck has also entered the contest. Remember those summer reading programs? The ones where, despite being in fourth grade, you would reread all the Curious George books just so you could earn a bike or a backpack? Arthur is no stranger to such tactics.


Nothing Better is on summer break! Creator Tyler Page will be running a series of reader-created guest comics about readers' personal college experiences. The regular comic resumes on Tuesday, September 2nd. Good time for digging into the archives! Nothing Better is a true-to-life college comic that isn't afraid to tackle serious religious and personal issues. It's a pretty good comic, but much like the college experience itself, it pushes the PG-13 label. Reader discretion is advised.

Sometimes you find out about new comics through announcements of their completion. Just recently, I found out about Minus. It's the Little-Nemo-esque watercolor-comic adventures of a girl named Minus with reality-altering powers. Her powers transform everyday experiences at school and play into surreal descents into unmitigated weirdness. I guess it is sort of sad that it has ended, but on the other hand, completed things are good too.

Our final item on the H&E Watch: Beaver and Steve is on indefinite hiatus! Noooooooooooooooo