Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Hypertext Happenings

So here's the comics I'v been reading and found noteworthy! Jackson's far-superior version is two posts below this. Read that one too, because he reads different comics than me. And is better at this. And pretty much everything. (Especially religion. He totally wins at religion.)

Here's what's happening in:

Not Included. After doing a lot of good one-offs, NI has returned to a storyline. And it's an awesome storyline, as evinced by the title "Time Cops". It's got dinosaurs and angels, and really what else could you ask for? The answer is that you could ask for really beautiful art. And you'd get it! Check out the start of the storyline here. And take note especially of one of the greatest lines of dialogue EVER in the sixth Time Cops comic.

Wondering where Dresden Codak would go after ending the Hob storyline? Dresden Codak - the Show. For serious. Watch the trailer.

Rice Boy is still awesome. I don't know how it can continue to be so consistently awesome. It has to have some lulls in awesomeness, right? Not so far! Six new pages this week, continuing the part of the story set in the town of "Tenshells". And it looks like the plot's gonna be moving pretty fast now! Where it's going, now that's a fairly difficult question. Guess we'll find out.

And finally: the last two comics from Achewood, starting here, are one of the sweetest odes to the romance of the socially awkward I've ever seen. A must-read.

That's it for now. Hopefully I'll have something to write and the time to write it next week. I'm shooting for early rather than late this time around; Wednesday may just be a bad day for me.

How to close. Umm. Excelsior! ?

Friday (Epic) Fail, uhh... Farfugnugen

So I failed to update Wednesday or even my fallback day Thursday because my girlfriend got me into playing World of Warcraft. That's my excuse.

My pre-excuse for today is Halloween, which this year will include a 10-year-old future-niece-in-law (uhh what?) and possibly a party later.

(My pre-excuse for next week is that I'm going to be doing National Novel Writing Month.)

BUT. If I can get things done in my busy life of mostly reading political blogs all the time, I will today post my own weekly summary of this week's webcomics, in honor of Jackson and the fact that I have no other ideas at the ready.

You can read his probably-better version in the post below this one. Enjoy!
Hey, welcome back! Good to see you here. Let's talk about webcomics I liked this week! We can also talk about webcomics you liked this week. But we will do that when we reach the comments section.

First of all, let's get that complicated continuity stuff out of the way. Real Life continues its Plot-Hole/Alternate-Gender-Universe/Government-Agent storyline this week, as the crew escapes the destruction of Tony's space station...minus Tony. I am, of course, sworn to avoid spoilers, so in order to find out what fate truly befell Tony, I recommend that you read this week's installment from the beginning.

In other continuity news, Nobody Scores continues its Ultimate Death Martial-Arts Tournament, where kung fu meets reality TV in a grisly battle royale. This week: Sara's mom drops by to criticize her daughter, and Jane gets masterfully drunk.

And finally, for Penny and Aggie fans who have wondered if Aggie would ever reveal her affections for Marshall, wonder no further. ...Ouch. It's been a hard week for Aggie. I really feel for her.

But okay! With all that continuity and development of ongoing plotlines out of the way, we can turn our attention to standalone humor and randomness!

Let's start off with a few selections from this week's comics at Thinkin' Lincoln. It turns out that to cheer himself up, Lincoln likes to draw turtles having fun. And we get to see his drawings! Hand-drawn elements in Thinkin' Lincoln are always a fun change of pace in my book, in part because I will probably never fully get over that whole disembodied head thing. Abe subsequently overdoes it, however, and we may never see the turtles again.

And speaking of Thinkin' Lincoln, this Dinosaur Comics could have been a Thinkin' Lincoln strip. I know that DC is a major influence on Thinkin' Lincoln, but it's interesting to see the influence extending in the other direction. Frig yes, people.

Continuing on the subject of one-offs and discontinuity: after its recent Emaline-dates-Omar storyline reached a climax with Steve punching Omar Patel in the jaw, You'll Have That abruptly switched tracks on Monday. The comic in question is well-crafted, sweet, and is a thoughtful expression of the cartoonist's religious values without being aggressive or pushy...but its context in the archives is sort of weird. Especially when it's followed by Andy "bringing back the circle game". Still, bottom line is that it's a good strip, and I'm always on the lookout for religion in webcomics, so I figured it was worth mentioning.

And now, let's conclude my part of this entry. Take it away, Update Boxers!

Update Boxers and News Briefs

I'll be back on Monday with a new post. In the meantime, it's time for your part of the entry. Got a strip from this week that you'd like to share? Reactions to stuff I mentioned? Thoughts on webcomics in general? Share 'em in the comments!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jump Leads, Chapter Two

Man. You ever about to go to bed, and you realize you made this promise you gotta keep before you go to bed, and it's not a huge trouble and it's even sort of enjoyable but frankly you'd rather be in bed? That's me right now. But I'm a man of my word, so...time to read through chapter two of Jump Leads, and then talk about it with you.

This installment picks up where the last chapter left off: Meaney and Llewellyn, stranded in an alternate universe, find themselves aboard a cargo ship that's harvesting the energy of a nebula. The crew, immediately suspecting that the newcomers are hostile, hold Llew and Meaney for interrogation...which is interrupted by the intrusion of something else. There's plenty of action and danger, but it turns out that things aren't always as they seem. Not to give the ending away or anything, but the resolution of this episode's conflict did remind me I was reading a humor comic. I felt a little bit cheated, but overall this installment was also worth reading.

A big part of that was the art. JjAR, the artist, continues to go the extra mile--environments and characters are skillfully rendered and colored, conveying a strong sense of three-dimensional space. Adding to the effect is the level of artistic detail on the technology (for instance, these backgrounds). Perspective changes (e.g. lofted camera angles) and foreshortening are employed for dramatic effect, with technical precision. JjAR uses his fancy visual tricks liberally, keeping things dynamic, but thankfully he doesn't overuse them. To sum up: continuing the trend of the first issue, the art here is decidedly above the bar set by the average webcomic.

Another plus is the humor and characterization. Llew and Meaney's personalities continue to bounce off each other, the perpetual tension between idealism and realism forced by circumstances to cooperate. There are some clever one-liners, like this quip about how sinister companies pay better than the moral ones, although Llew is a bit of a broken record with his cynical prognostications of interrogational horror. The supporting cast of the nebula-farming ship gets about as much development as you'd expect from folks we won't see next episode, but they provide a setting for our heroes' adventure in the unknown.

And the characterization of our two protagonists is solid and engaging. Llew's wit and Meaney's zeal make for good comedy, and when danger strikes, we care about their fate because they're entertaining. We're invested in their well-being! It's not a deadly serious adventure, but for all their faults, Llew and Meaney are likeable guys that we want to see get out of their predicaments alive. Just as JjAR is a above-average artist, Ben Paddon (the writer) is an above-average writer.

Well, I'm done! That was a fun little exercise, and weird as it may sound, I feel like I've earned the right to go to bed now. I enjoyed reading through chapter two of Jump Leads, and if it sounds from this review like you would also enjoy it, I encourage you to check it out. Ari Collins will be around sometime midweek to deliver his usual alliterative analyses, and I'll be back on Friday with the weekly rundown. Good night, everyone!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hey there once again, everybody. It's 12:30 as I begin this entry: it's time for lunch, and it's time for webcomics.

At Starslip Crisis this week, Cutter and Holiday have been watching their favorite show: the 21st-century crime-drama, Concrete Universe. Frankly, I didn't get a lot of laughs out of it. "Concrete Universe" tends to be a one-note joke, as the show's writers' tenuous grasp of 20th-century history results in anachronistic technology and slang. I mean, sure, there's another level there where it parodies the inaccuracy of our own "historical" films and TV, but it's just the same dang joke over and over again. Nonetheless, I chuckled at the punchline to this strip. It would seem that, whatever else may change, ham-handedly "clever" television dialogue is a timeless phenomenon.

Also this week, the judges over at the WebComic Readers' Choice Awards have selected their winners! You can check out the website yourself and see how your favorite comics placed, and maybe get introduced to a new comic. Particularly interesting is that to celebrate Angie Kurokami's first-place victory for "Best Supporting Character," Multiplex creator Gordon McAlpin produced an Awards-Ceremony acceptance speech comic in which Angie thanks the readers for their support. It's pretty neat, and it captures all the traits that make Angie such a strong supporting character.

Also over at Multiplex, in a reference to recent news of Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2, apparently Franklin has been recast as well. But wait, now there are two Franklins? It must be a time warp! The whole thing makes a nice balance to the heavier Religulous storyline of two weeks ago, and plus it's really amusing.

Also, Dresden Codak's Hob Saga reached its final installment today. I'm still a little unclear on what actually happened toward the tail end of the storyline, and the final comic has done little to clear up the muddled plotting that preceded it. Still, it at least sorta brings things full-circle thematically, and ends on a light-hearted tone reminiscent of the Hob story's beginning. I do think DC is at its best when Aaron Diaz is doing unpretentious intellectual weirdness, and of course I'm interested in seeing what's ahead for DC now. Hopefully it'll be either a return to form or a more successful experiment. We'll see.

And finally, let's close out with miscellaneous humor from Thinkin' Lincoln, F Chords, and The Book of Biff. And:

Real Life Corner
about Real Life the webcomic, not about life outside of the internet

In Real Life's current extended storyline, a visit to supergenius Tony Flansaas intended to fix the plot hole in X-Tony and X-Greg's home dimension has met with unexpected complications: namely, the appearance of Tony's arch-nemesis, the Government Agent, accompanied by a clone of Tony. Last week, the clone engaged Tony's base's self-destruct sequence, and this week, everyone hurries to escape. Well, almost everyone. I'm not going to give it away, but rather than a cliffhanger, today's strip ends with a big twist. Does this mean what I think it means? Is Clone Tony not the only casualty from this catastrophe? Next week, we'll find out.

read this week's RL installment
start reading the entire story arc from the beginning

Aaaaaaand we're done. Check back on Monday--maybe I'll say a little something about Rice Boy, or maybe review another chapter of Jump Leads! Until we meet again, have a good weekend, everybody.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thurthday Thoughth on Thequential Art - Meanwhile

(If you have a lisp, that title works.)

Do you like time travel? Do you like Choose Your Own Adventure? Do you want to read a groundbreaking comic that actually broke ground eight years ago? Then you ought to read Meanwhile.

Meanwhile is a non-linear webcomic by Jason Shiga. Since a picture's worth a thousand words, check this out.

Start in the upper left corner of that page, where our main character, Jimmy, says "Thanks for letting me use your bathroom, mister." You can see the "pipes" that lead from one panel to the next, often in a very unconventional order. From that panel, you go right, right, right, left, left, left, then to the opposite corner of the page, then down, left, up, left, down, and left, before branching off depending on which of the professor's inventions you wish to play with. And now, hopefully, you're getting the general idea.

But wait! There's more! Many pages in the comic, including this one, have multiple threads sharing the same space. The two panels that you skip over when reading are part of the story that happens later on. Although, being a supernonlinear story, even "later on" isn't quite right; we're talking more like branches of a tree here. Though even THAT'S not quite right, since I don't know any tree where the branches loop back into themselves and each other. (That would be a kickass tree, though.) In fact, the story is shaped like this.

If you're not interested yet... well, maybe the formalism, time travel, non-linear CYOA-ness of it isn't your thing. But the story itself is rather charming, with main character Jimmy bumbling his way through technological disasters, trying to fix his mistakes and often making things worse.

Hmm. Feeling uncharacteristically laconic tonight. (Look, this is succinct for me.) Once again, I highly recommend reading Meanwhile! Good-bye!

Until Next Week,
I Remain,
Some Guy Who Likes Comics

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thanks to Our Linkers, and Some Other Things

In recent weeks, a number of people and webcomics blogs have not only been reading us, but linking to us. That's pretty cool of you guys! I'm glad you enjoy reading mine and Ari's and occasionally other guys' webcomic thoughts. But I just wanted to note that--and this is something that you probably already recognize if you read this blog--the real heroes here are the creators who work hard to craft quality comics on a timely schedule, for you to read for free.

Still, I wanted to recognize some of our linkers here. These sites also talk about webcomics, and they can point you to fun material with some interesting remarks. Perhaps you would like to visit them? Perhaps!
Webcomic Asylum
The Floating Lightbulb
Webcomic Overlook

Another note, real quick. From a link at Multiplex, I came across No Pink Ponies and found myself checking out the archives. It's enjoyable, roughly comparable to prime-time TV in terms of entertainment value (emotional drama and hilarious antics!), and the art is pretty good. Subject matter? A girl starts a comic book store in order to attract the attention of a guy she's got a crush on. Not a bad comic, and maybe you'd like to check it out.

Finally, a joke for you. How is 24 Hour Comics Day just like an abusive mule herder? Both of them kicked my

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good morning, everyone! That's right--morning. I've been up since 7:45 AM, and tomorrow I'm going to wake up at 6:30. What could drive a man to get up at half past six on a Saturday? The answer: 24 Hour Comics Day.

Tomorrow, October 17th, people all over the world will be taking Scott McCloud's 24-hour comic challenge, attempting to complete 24 pages (or 100 panels, if working infinite-canvas style) in 24 hours. I will be one of them! Will you? If so, drop me a comment and tell me where to find your comic when it's completed. It'd be cool to read your comic, and if I like it a whole lot, I may mention it in a future entry.

So that's what's going to happen in webcomics. Let's talk about some comics that already happened this past week.

First of all, it's been a guest week over at Dinosaur Comics! Ryan North has had David Malki!, John Campbell, Kate Beaton, Anthony Clark, and Randall Munroe creating this week's comics for him. Ryan, you lazy bum. But in all seriosity, Dinosaur Comics is one of my favorite comics to see guest weeks for. It's fun to watch all the other cartoonists reinterpret the static DC art into their own style. One of my favorites of all time was Aaron Diaz's take on it, DC meets DC so to speak. At any rate, you can catch the guest-comic funtimes right here.

Malki! and Kate Beaton and their ilk aren't the only ones doing comics in someone else's style. This past Sunday's Sheldon was a tribute to George Herriman's newspaper strip "Krazy Kat." I'm only somewhat familiar with Krazy Kat, but Dave Kellett's little homage was an interesting and weird change of pace, with its unusual color scheme, weird phonetic dialogue, and quasi-stick-figure-esque Flaco. The cool thing about guest strips, tribute comics, and the like is that it gives the artist an opportunity to play with art style and do something different.

Of course, we wouldn't keep tuning in if the regular material weren't also good on its own. So let's turn our attention to regular material--like Joe Dunn doing his usual movie reviews.

Last week at Multiplex we saw some heavy religious discussion sparked by Bill Maher's "Religulous," and this week Joe weighs in on "Religulous" over at Joe Loves Crappy Movies. He created a funny, expressive strip, and I really appreciated the sentiment of his review. Talking about bigger issues like religion is hard enough without people launching snarky barbs or belittling the other guy's position with sarcasm. Joe Dunn is a stand-up guy, and I think that really comes out in his comics and movie reviews. The dude sure knows how to draw, too.

On a...less pleasant...note, over at PVP, this week has been Fart Week. Now, fart jokes can be funny, but a whole week of them? That's just oversaturation. And by the end of it, the whole concept is about as humorous as a very small living room after a Texas-style-chili-and-bean-burrito party. Pheu, that's rank! Don't get me wrong, sometimes I enjoy PVP, but after that, I really need some fresh comics to clear the air.

So let's look at comics about Heroes!

For the past two weeks or so, my brother and I have been renting DVDs from the first season of Heroes and watching the crud out of them. For those of you who--like me--spend your life under a rock when it comes to network TV, Heroes is a grisly but compelling live-action-drama take on the superhero genre of comics. It's got an ensemble cast, some of which I find more interesting than others, but Heroes is never a dull moment. And furthermore, it is a source of humor for webcomics nerds! In a comic from this past week, The Robot is Sad gives us a rather silly joke about the time-and-space-bending powers of office-working otaku Hiro Nakamura. Then, an older comic from Left-Handed Toons ruminates on the similarities between the power-sapping serial killer Sylar and the protagonist of a certain video game series. If you've seen any other Heroes comics lying around the 'net, let me know!

Heroes is pretty awesome. So are other things. Thus, it's time to finish things off with another...

Awesome Watch:

If you haven't been keeping up with Real Life's most recent storyline, I highly recommend that you start from the beginning. And on that note, I bid you adieu!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Thingamajig - Grouchy Poker Man Tells You About Zuda Comics and Darkhorse Presents

I can't believe that guy called with nothing better than Ace high.

Anyway, I've been real busy trying to get back into playing poker online for a living, which is why I didn't update yesterday, and why this one is short. And why I am Grouchy Poker Man.

And it was his only overcard! Three outs!


So I'm going to tell your briefly (if I can forget that last hand) about Zuda Comics and Darkhorse Presents.

Zuda is something you absolutely must read. It's an online comicking competition run by DC. Each month, fans vote for their favorite comic from the many awesome submissions. The winner gets some kind of deal from DC comics. (I'm not sure if it's a good deal, and whether it's just for them to host your comic online and get you tons of readers or if you get actual dead tree publication.) But the comics on there are from people I've never heard of. I ought to have, if there were any justice in the world, because I've never seen a collection of better (and more diverse!) comics on one site. In the current competition, you've got a postapocalyptic world of undersea living, a photorealistic fantasy tale, a superhero story about a girl with prehensile feet, and... several others. I'm still reading them! And you can too!

So then after the turn, he only had a 7% chance that Ace would hit.

Dark Horse Presents is another collection of polished comics, the difference being that many of them are well-known and established comickers. Once a month, you can read comics by creators like Joss Whedon, Tony Millionaire, Peter Bagge, Mike Mignola, Gilbert Hernandez, Steve Niles, Evan Dorkin, Larry Marder, and Chris Onstad. And those are just the people on the list that I know! There's no competition here, and it's much less webcomicky, but these are still some fantastic comics on the web, which makes them webcomics!

So of course, he hit the Ace on the river.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Got a lot to talk about for this week! Let's get down to business.

First off, today's the last day of the Sheldon Caption Contest--check out this earlier post for the details and links. Also over at Sheldon, the recent economic downturn has hit Sheldonsoft, so Sheldon's gone to the only place on earth that could conceivably grant him a loan to keep his company afloat: the country of Dubai. All of the strips in the Dubai arc so far have been decently funny, but this one I found especially good. And it wasn't the punchline either! It was the fact that Arthur's approach to gaining wisdom is precisely what someone with a lot of facts but not much wisdom would do. Clever comic there, Mr. Kellett. (Because Dave Kellett is totally reading this blog right now, no really.)

In addition to the Sheldon Caption Contest, I have some other old news that I should have mentioned earlier. A couple weeks back, Thinkin' Lincoln had a guest week, featuring the likes of Eli Parker from Tall Comics, David Malki! of Wondermark, Reprographics' Chris Yates, Justin Pierce from Wonderella, and even the illustrious Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics fame. In case you haven't checked Thinkin' Lincoln in awhile, the guest comickery starts here.

Monday's Thinkin' Lincoln was also noteworthy for cracking me up. It features Amelia Earhart misunderstanding Lincoln's use of a common idiomatic expression. I won't spoil it for you--go check it out.

Nobody Scores finished up another tale of protracted suffering this week: "Nobody Scores with the Chip Invasion." One of the longest Nobody Scores comics to date--and the longest since its Summer Formatting Reboot, clocking in at eight separate installments--The Chip Invasion features an obnoxiously sociable friend of Sara's who turns out to work for the NSA. As the arc spirals toward its inexorable horrific end, we have spy robots, Chad's crush on Jane, insidious marketing schemes, and repeated incidents of police brutality (all of them perpetrated upon Beans). Also, out of nowhere, fungus. The carnage begins here.

Nobody Scores will also be starting another epically huge comic series on Saturday, so we can look forward to even more tales of misfortune and comic violence in the very near future. Hooray!

Another of our favorite long-form infinite-canvas comics nears the end of an extended storyline: none other than Dresden Codak. And I've got to say, Aaron Diaz has kind of made me eat my words. In the most recent installment, we discover that mankind did not evolve to a new level of machine consciousness and merge with the Hob after all; as always, it's difficult to piece together, but the dream sequence that began in Hob #20 apparently didn't end there. Kim's been in the hospital the whole time, left with one arm from her scrape with the time travelers, who seem to have been driven off. As always the art is good, so even if stuff is confusing, it's worth tuning in for that.

Boxer Hockey also updated this week, which has been a rare occurrence lately. And that's unfortunate, because when it does update, the action is quite well-rendered and pretty dang funny. Check out this week's installment to see what's going on with lost-at-sea Not-Gay Chuck, and how the team is faring without him.

So there's been a whole lot of funny this week, but for those wanting something a little deeper, turn your attention to Multiplex. With the release of Bill Maher's Religulous, this week's Multiplex arc picks up where Angie and Jason's dispute about Expelled left off several months ago. Angie finds Maher's go-for-the-throat brand of abrasive comedy insulting, so she walks out of Religulous. She and Jason get to discussing God and science again, and once again they hit a dead end. To be completely honest, I'm feeling kind of tired as I near the end of this entry, but it's customary for me to take note when religion shows up in webcomics, so: there it is. Religion at Multiplex.

And let's wrap it up with some Chainsawsuit. Thursday's comic had a big surprise in the second panel that cracked me up. It was Kris Straub's random standalone humor at its finest. And Chainsawsuit has been generally good lately, so if you're looking for some absurdity and a few good chuckles, take a browse through the recent archives.

So, that's what I liked this week. As always, the comments section is your own open invitation to tell us what you liked this week. Drop us a note and share the funny.

P.S. Real Life continues to be awesome. 'nuff said.

Sheldon Contest Notice

Hey, folks. I'm just now starting to write this week's week-in-review post, but if you happen to be reading the blog right now, I want to let you know about something that I really should have mentioned this week.

Over at Sheldon, Dave Kellett is having a contest, and today's the last day to enter. Simply take a look at this comic, think of something clever to put in Arthur's wordbubble, and post your entry here. (You can also find the complete rules there, too.) I really should have mentioned this last week, but it slipped my mind. If you want to enter the contest, it's time to get crackin'!

And now it's time for me to get crackin' on summing up this week.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday Webcomic Wordiness - "I Like Your Early, Funny Ones"

by Ari Collins

I think a lot of webcomics have the same problem lots of people say Woody Allen's movies have. "I like his early, funny ones," his fans always say. I'm sure you can think of a webcomic that you used to read, and thought was really funny, only to realize eventually that the funny was gone. That's what I'm here to talk about today.

Sometimes a comic starts out funny, only to become serious. Unfortunately, you sometimes find the cartoonist isn't really well-suited for ultraserious. Dresden Codak, to me, is a perfect example of this. The Hob storyline is big and epic and full of neat sci-fi ideas, but it's poorly paced and plotted and just plain not as FUN as the early stuff. The epic storyline feels stilted, with details glossed over and character unexlored. One reason for this, I think is that the epic Hob story is in the same scenes-from-a-story setup (almost microfiction-esque) that Dresden Codak has always used (with great success). I'm not sure if everyone would call the early stuff "funny", anyway because half the time it's the kind of bleak, gotta-laugh-cuz-otherwise-you'll-cry funny, but you don't find stories more literarily and artistically absurd and imaginitive as The Bear That Steals Ideas, Dream Employment, D&D: The Philosophy Students' Version, or Absolute Truth in Liquid Form.

In some cases, though, perhaps you find that you love the serious turn a comic has taken more than you ever loved the early stuff! Goblins began as a humorous look at Dungeons and Dragons through the eyes of minor monsters. The whole first part of it is about a group of goblins who are about to be raided by a group of players. They don't understand why their leaders are doing things like placing all of their valuable weapons in the middle of the village in an unlocked chest. But even partway through this first, jokey storyline, the comic becomes a heartrending look at the ugliness of intolerance and violence. With occasional gut-bursting humor to relive the tension. And you know what? It's actually better now than when it was a silly parody. It's great to see an artist grow in ability and tackle more mature material at the same time.

And then there are the comics that never become "serious". Some such comics keep changing their style or level of humor to keep it all fresh. Others keep doing the same joke over and over again. Sometimes you don't even mind that. (Newspaper funnies have been doing the same jokes over and over again for years. Even decades. Which is why only old people read them.) One comic I'm sad about these days is Buttersafe, which is a comic I absolutely adored in the early going. But even with two different writers, the jokes haven't really changed for over a year now. It can coast for quite a while on the strength of the original jokes, mind you. The Buttersafe humor is really strange and kind of meta/postmodern. Ridiculous things like daydreams of watermelon monsters, relationships with skeleton harvesters, and the classic puzzle of one brother who always lies and one brother who is always a rabid coyote. And while I think these and maybe a dozen other Buttersafes are some of the funniest things I've ever, eventually the two Buttersafers kind of... ran out of steam, I guess? It's still basically the same jokes, only now they're simply variations on the originals. Oh well. We'll always have The Ham Smash 'Em Up Sandwich.

So what about you? Do you have any comics that stopped being funny, either in a good way or a bad way? Tell me about them!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jump Leads, Chapter One

Hey, folks. Jackson here, with an impromp-Tuesday evening update. 'bout a year ago, I started coming across ads for a comic called Jump Leads. I read a handful of pages from the first issue, and it was one of those comics where you recognize it's a quality job, but it fails to grab you. Largely because you read a buttload of webcomics already. But this evening, on a whim, I picked it back up and read all the way through the first issue.

What's the deal with Jump Leads, then? It's reality-hopper sci-fi: a couple members of the Lead Service, a sort of reality enforcement agency thing, go on a live training exercise that goes wrong and strands them in the multiverse. It's also got a fairly humorous tone (the references to pop culture and sci-fi strained the verisimilitude a hair for me, but overall it's good humor), and its protagonists have a familiar comic-and-straight-man vibe going. Meaney is the overenthusiastic numbskull--except that he's got a fairly decent grasp on the rules behind the multiverse, owing to his overenthusiasm. He's very much committed to his career as a Jump Lead. Llewellyn, on the other hand...cynical, detached, not sure what he's doing with his life. Both of them are still trainees--Llewellyn for the fifth time. I found Llewellyn the more interesting of the two, though Meaney is kinda likeable for his youthful energy too. When he's not being annoying, that is.

Overall, I liked the first issue. It's a solid intro story script-wise, nothing too fancy, takes a couple chances but largely a standard setup. Entertaining. The presentation is comic-book-style (a prudent business move, as it makes it easy to produce a print version), and the art is good: well-rendered angular sci-fi machinery, and a good grasp of both realism and stylization. One of my turnoffs on my initial read from a year ago was that the character designs looked kind of monkeyish, but they're very expressive and suited to the humorous tone. An additional fun touch at the issue's end are the pages from the training manual, complete with Meaney and Llewellyn's notes scribbled in the margins. So is it worth a read? Well, it's good quality, and you've heard the premise--you know better than I do whether that sounds like your cup of tea. I know I'll probably head back to read the second issue at some point. Your call, amigos.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Good evening everybody. For a change, I'm going to start today's post off with a Sunday strip. Just because there are so few webcomics that update on weekends, the ones that do tend to get short shrift in this blog...which is really a shame, because you get some really nice full-color strips from the newspaper-style dailies on Sundays.

Take, for instance, this past Sunday's Sinfest. It's a clever recasting of the current socio-economic/political situation as Star Wars Episode III: with the US as (Uncle) Samakin Skywalker, Liberty in the role of Padme Amidala, and Jesus as Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Devil corrupts Samakin by turning him to the corporate side of the Force, resulting in the death of Liberty (sniff). It's witty and well-illustrated, so go check it out.

Here at TWIW, we've been following storylines from a couple of the big dailies for a couple of weeks now: Real Life and Starslip Crisis. Over at RL, the mess that started with Tony, Fem-Tony and the Plot Hole continues to escalate: as the Government Agent crashes the party (having gone indie), Tony breaks out the Battlemech. I totally enjoyed the original storyline that introduced Tony's Battlemech--and maybe it's just because he's working on the comic full-time now, but Greg's mecha-drawing skills have become dramatically more realistic. Not only is this some of the most engaging material from Real Life in a long time, but it's also some of the most artistically impressive. And true to form, today's comic revealed yet another twist to end the week on a cliffhanger. You've got my number, Greg Dean.

So, while the Real Life storyline continues, we turn our attention to the conclusion of Vanderbeam's ordeal with the horrifying mask exhibit at Starslip. In the end, Vanderbeam's solution amounts to chickening out--and Starslip moves on. A couple of strips from this week interested me, in which Vanderbeam and Jinx muse amusingly on the topic of a higher power. Even the normally light-hearted Starslip Extra has Vanderbeam contemplating the elegant cosmic functioning of stars, a little Starslip spin on the teleological argument. Vanderbeam might well make a case for a Cosmic Designer based on the order in the universe, but his tenuous grasp of astrophysics riddles his mini-monologue with scientific inaccuracies...which Jinx calls him on. In the second philosophical Starslip strip, Jinx's alien thought processes (and other processes) deliver the humor, as Vanderbeam inquires into the deepest beliefs and convictions at the core of the Cirbozoid's being. Bill Watterson once said of Hobbes, "An animal perspective sheds some light on religious questions," and apparently the same goes for space aliens.

Over at F Chords, Kris Straub delivered another strip that was interesting to me, if for no other reason than it contained old people. Turns out that Ash owns an apartment in a complex largely inhabited by senior citizens. Ash's neighbor Oscar seems like a nice ol' codger, and I hope we get to see some more of him. In this strip he's mostly there to provide characterization for Ash, but he may get some development of his own down the road. We'll see.

In other news, Thursday's Book of Biff was not just good for a laugh, but also well-crafted. The art on this one is nothing complex, but I think it's really effective. The varying line weights and quasi-isometric perspective really make that cement block look like it's hovering surreally over the sink basin, which is what really sells the punchline for me. I seriously enjoyed the quality and efficiency of the art.

And now, in the interests of time, let's wrap this up with everyone's favorite...

Update Boxers and News Briefs

And that's a wrap for this week. The promised in-depth look at Rice Boy is in the works; my plan is to start reading through it again tomorrow, gather topics to talk about and comic pages to link to, and work on the entry as I get time next week. Ari will see you on Wednesday, and I'll be back next Friday with the usual rundown. Thanks for tuning in, guys, and have a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weekly Webcomic Wangdoodle: Goblins Goes Pro

So the guy behind Goblins has decided to "go pro". He's quitting his job and doing the comic full time. It seems like every major webcomic guy does his comic full time these days, and frankly I thought "Thunt" (as he calls himself) already was. But I think sometimes we underestimate the guts it takes to quit your fricking job and have your livelihood depend on a fanbase for your internet comic book.

So, unfortunately, the upshot of this is NOT that we're going to get more updates. On the other hand, Thunt says he's going to be able to keep to his weekly schedule, which he definitely wasn't before. So really that actually is more updates, when you think about it.

But one neat upshot: he now has a live feed of himself drawing. I'm not sure how often he draws, but I've been watching him draw for an hour now, and it's pretty fascinating. There's even a well-populated fan chat along with the feed, and right now the artist is interacting with the chat by speaking into his web cam. (Although now he's getting distracted from drawing by the chat. Which I guess is the downshot here.)

The other feature of Goblins that you may not be aware of is the Tempts Fate side-strip. It's an interactive strip; the Goblin "Tempts Fate" battles enemies and braves dungeons, and how (or if!) he gets out of his situation depends on donations from fans. In the meantimes there are tons of snarky references to pop culture and gaming, including a classic World of Warcraft parody. Check it out.

Tempts Fate may not be a "new" feature, but I imagine that now that Thunt is otherwise unemployed, it will be an ever more important part of the site.

If you haven't checked out Goblins yet, go do it.