Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Favorite Webcomics: Part 3 of, Apparently, 3

The First Part of the List
The Second Part of the List
Share your own favorites with us!

As I summarized back on Monday, this is the third part of a special series in which I share with you the comics that I check regularly. After losing my old list of favorites to computer troubles, I rebuilt my list of regulars from scratch and learned which webcomics I most enjoy. Let us continue to continue the sharing!

Rob and Elliot: Surprise is a key element of humor, and Rob and Elliot consistently pitches some of the web's most hilarious curveballs. Like this! And this. It's only updated once a week, but it's good.

Three Panel Soul: Also good for a weekly update, 3PS is a clever look at the tension between adult life and one's inner child. It's autobiographical comics from Ian McConville and Matt Boyd, a kind of sequel to Mac Hall. Sometimes in color, but even the black-and-white is some of the strongest, most evocative black-and-white artwork I've ever seen.

Nothing Better: Oh hey, speaking of real good black-and-white artwork...
NB resonates with me personally. It's a college story with a pair of odd-couple roommates and self-discovery, but it's unique in that it seriously tackles the deeper religious and spiritual questions of its characters. It takes religion seriously and gives religious matters an unusually balanced consideration. Good stuff. And if one update a week isn't enough, you can get more of cartoonist Tyler Page with his Page-a-Day.

Unwinder's Tall Comics: What Nobody Scores does for catastrophe, Unwinder's Tall Comics does for bad ideas. Unwinder is a kid who is unable to discern impractical, overly-elaborate ridiculousness from true inspiration, much to the chagrin of his friends and neighbors. Okay, so the art isn't as polished--but it's still really creative, really bizarre, and really funny. And tall!

Cat and Girl: Isn't Cat and Girl just the cutest little deconstructivist metanarrative? Yes it is! C&G is genuinely clever cartooning, and the juxtaposition of Girl's incisive insights with Cat's inspired randomness never fails to amuse. Some of the sharpest, most intelligent cultural commentary I've seen from a comic. Heck--sharper even than a lot of books.

The Princess Planet: Hilarious escapades on a planet where every girl is a princess. It's a crazy blend of mythology and sci-fi. The premise: Princess Christi says goodbye to her cooped-up palace lifestyle and goes on exciting adventures. It's largely humor-driven, but from time to time there are recurring themes, such as Princess Christi's fake "treasure inspector" schemes, threats from evil sorcerers, the great self-important hero Smirkulees, and the Rasta detective Dreadlock Holmes. Oh, and did I mention the fun with puns and portmanteaus?

Honorable Mention:
I don't tune into them for every last update, but I also wanted to mention Calamities of Nature, The Robot is Sad, Dinosaur Comics and A Softer World. These are all good for a daily laugh, and on occasion for a little more probing insight into the nature of the world. I particularly recommend A Softer World: it's sometimes touching and often just plain touched.

And that wraps up what I've pared my reading list down to! I'm still eager to hear more about what's on your regular reading list. Familial holiday activities prevent me from proceeding with my Special Christmas Post as planned. However, if you're jonesing for some holiday webcomics festivities, Larry "El Santo" Cruz is sharing with us some of his favorite holiday-related comics from across the internet, over at The Webcomic Overlook. And there's no sense in replicating his work, right?

Enjoy your holidays, folks, and I'll see ya next Friday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Favorite Webcomics: Part 2 of Something

The First Part of the List
Share your own favorites with us!

Welcome back, friends. Where we left off, I was sharing with you the comics that I continue to read since trimming down my list of regulars. Let us continue the sharing.

Penny Arcade: Okay, that doesn't really count as sharing, because you read Penny Arcade already. There's a reason why Penny Arcade is the number one gaming comic anywhere: top-notch artwork, relentlessly honest commentary on the gaming industry, and hilariously inappropriate graphic violence.

Dr. McNinja: I like Dr. McNinja for basically two reasons. On the one hand, it's an ingenious extended parody of ludicrous comic book plots exposing the more ridiculous conventions of the superhero genre, illustrated with exceptional full-color artwork that complements the parody perfectly. On the other hand, a ninja doctor escapes Dracula's moon base by surfing back to earth on Drac's robotic duplicate.

Penny and Aggie: Intelligent teen drama that does a great job of capturing the vicious high-school clique atmosphere. Ostensibly, it's about the rivalry between the razor-sharp queen of the popular crowd and an ambitious counter-culture chick with a penchant for activism, but there's a wide supporting cast of fleshed-out characters. Quality full-page black-and-white artwork with a measure of manga influence. Funny, engaging drama that's well worth reading.

You'll Have That: I confess, I've got a thing for realistic comics. I'm not super-keen on the whole magical-time-traveling-with-robots thing. YHT is a down-to-earth humor strip about a semi-geeky guy named Andy and his practically-minded wife, Katie. The two of them deal together with life's ordinary difficulties: obnoxious co-workers, strained friendships, visiting in-laws for the holidays, and learning to forgive each other's shortcomings and quirks. At its heart, it's a funny strip about everyday love.
And sadly, it's ending on January 2nd. Still, cartoonist Wes Molebash has got a new project in the pipes, so I'm looking forward to what he's got in store.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies: Joe Dunn is a killer and funny cartoonist with an enthusiasm for movies. He's got a brash, colorful art style, and his friendly, easygoing personality comes through in his comics. He also likes to crack a nerd gag or sex joke from time to time. From time to time, I'll also check in on his other cartooning projects: the college-life strip Matriculated and his user-determined animal race adventure, Turtle vs. Bunny. Dude is a webcomic machine.

Multiplex: Joe likes to watch crappy movies, but what's it like on the other side of the ticket counter? Multiplex looks into the lives of theater employees--the workplace drama, the antics to alleviate the boredom, the movie-geekery, and everything else that comes with the red-vested uniform. It's very professional, very funny, and features one of the most engaging and varied casts of characters I've seen in a webcomic. Their interactions are really what make the comic for me. JASON AND BECKY WILL YOU GUYS PLEASE JUST GET TOGETHER ALREADY

Theater Hopper: I don't really check out Theater Hopper regularly, but if I'm gonna mention the other two of the Big Three movie webcomics...well, y'know. Theater Hopper is a good comic, and even though it's not on my list of regulars, it might just call for a spot on yours.

Nobody Scores: Brilliantly illustrated, utterly manic, and relentlessly cynical, Nobody Scores is the comic where everything that can go wrong, does. Its lovably-unlikeable cast of ruthless capitalist Sara, crazy alternative-girl Jane, untalented pretentious artist Beans, and alienated intellectual landlord Raoul endure inevitable disaster several times a week in Brandon Bolt's loooong-form ridiculous cartoonery. Sometimes you have more subdued catastrophe, say that of the daily morning routine. Other times, it's over-the-top cataclysm: time travel gone awry and matter-devouring nanorobots. And continuity is optional: plunge in anywhere and embrace the madness!

Further installments on Wednesday, and then a Very Special Christmas Message from TWIW on Christmas! In the meantime, share with us your favorites.

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Favorite Webcomics: Part 1 of Something

Greetings, webcomic enthusiasts! After an extended period of guest blogging (special thanks to Jen, Daniel, Peter, and Alec), I have returned to that noble task of talking with you about webcomics. And we have a lot to catch up on!

See, the week before Thanksgiving, my old computer died on me. Fixing the problem was a good deal more complicated than it had to be: going to one guy for the diagnosis, another guy to recover my data, and (after much shopping around) purchasing a new computer from a third place entirely. During this time, I was without my comic bookmarks, having to go to libraries and coffee shops for internet, typing in comic URLs from memory.

And it's funny how an experience like that changes your perspective. Some of my old regulars I only remembered to check a few times during that period. Some of 'em I didn't miss. And the comics that I did remember to check, I gained a new appreciation for; it made me realize exactly why it is that I keep checking back with them.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here it is: my list of regulars, and why I read them regularly.

Real Life Comics: I read Real Life because Greg Dean is a solid humorist. Every now and then the comic blows me away with something like the recent Tony's-Space-Station-Explodes Storyline, but even when it's not at its peak, it's consistently good. The art's sharp and serves the gags well, it updates reliably, and it's always good for at least a smile.

Shortpacked: Shortpacked is ridiculous. Its cast of young-adult toy-store employees are pretty much all case studies in arrested development. And then there's the over-the-top unrealities like the talking car working for the store. Willis does have a penchant for heavy-handed drama that is most apparent in Shortpacked's early years, but I think he's learned that the strip is best served when he's parodying his own over-the-top melodramatic proclivities. And he does full-page full-color comics five days a week!

The Book of Biff: A one-panel comic with a cast of one, The Book of Biff is always good for a quick laugh. Absurdity, nonsense, and unorthodox solutions to everyday problems, five days a week.

Sheldon: Dave Kellett is a consummate craftsman when it comes to comics. He's got a sharp and expressive style characterized by very expressive characters, plus a great sense of comedic timing. It's also one of the most accessible geek-humor strips I know. You don't have to get every nerdy reference to appreciate Kellett's humorous dialogue and punchlines, and underneath there's a weird but warm family vibe with Sheldon's quirky household.

Thinkin' Lincoln: Famous historical dudes and ladies have anachronistic adventures. Very weird, often funny. I hardly even mind the disembodied-head thing anymore.

F Chords: Kris Straub has got a little something for everyone. There was Checkerboard Nightmare for lampooning webcomics, Starslip Crisis for fans of sci-fi humor with an ongoing developing story, and Chainsawsuit for random, sarcastic, crudely-drawn "indie" comics. And now there's F Chords for musicians and people with unrealized dreams. In my opinion, this comic has the strongest cartooning voice of all Straub's work to date, and the reader can immediately connect with Wade and Ash's maybe-hopeless rockstar ambitions. There's a Charlie-Brown vibe of failure and self-conscious lameness to the two main characters, but the most recent storyline ended with the boys playing a modestly successful rock show to a crowd of maybe ten, so we'll see where things go from here.

Huh! Even with the trims I've made to my list of regulars, this is turning out longer than I thought! I think I'm gonna break this up into a couple of posts here. Expect a continuation of the list on Monday, and the final installment on Wednesday. In the meantime, I'm interested in knowing what's on your list of regulars. I'll start a thread for discussion, and you can share your regulars with us and (if you wish to go into detail) why you like 'em. Head to the thread, and let's do a little talkin'.

It's good to be back in the saddle. See ya Monday, and happy holidays to all y'all.

Your Favorite Webcomics

So, what are your favorite webcomics? What's on your list of regulars, and why do you read them regularly? Drop a comment and let me know what you like to read, what strips you think are top-tier cartooning, what's funny, what's awesome. Have you ever had an experience where you trimmed down your check-regularly list and gained an increased appreciation for the comics you continued to read? I'm looking forward to hearing about your favorites.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Announcement: Calamities of Nature Guest Strip Contest

Sometimes, webcomics run guest strips. Sometimes the cartoonist asks a handful of his cartooning associates to create some guest strips for his comic, and other times he solicits openly to his entire readership. The cartoonist gets a brief break from his regular update schedule, and the guest cartoonists get a bit of publicity for their own projects. But with its upcoming guest strip contest, Calamities of Nature offers a little more than just publicity.

Calamities cartoonist Tony Piro has asked me to inform you: Calamities of Nature has announced its first guest strip contest. The 3 best strips submitted by December 22nd will have their comics featured as the December 28th, December 31st, and January 2nd updates. In addition, each winner will receive a signed copy of the Calamities of Nature Volume 1 collection. If you don't win, it's still all good. All other submissions will be featured in the blog individually on Tuesdays and Thursdays and have their comics saved in the gallery. For further details, see the official contest announcement.

You've got one week left, cartoonists! Get crackin'!

Friday, December 12, 2008

forgive me for not knowing how to do links on this blogthing

Hello, folkses! This is Alec, Jackson's friend, guest posting for this week's scheduled update of This Week in Webcomics. Now, Jackson and I do read a lot of the same comics, but I read a few others as well, so don't be surprised if some of the ones I'm going to be mentioning are familiar and some of them are not. So let's get on to the details then, shall we?

First off, a few comics you might want to take a look at: Nothing Better, by Tyler Page; and Goblins, by Tarol Hunt. These are both one-page-a-week comics, so they don't fit the TWIW paradigm exactly. A college comic, Nothing Better(1) tackles college life, and is currently wrapping up a nightmare sequence where an angry God confronts avowed Atheist Kat of the cast - and Goblins(2) has been in the throes of a confrontation between our heroes and an entire town of guardsmen and goblin killers for quite some time. Head to the main page of Nothing Better and hit the back button once to see all of the current issue up to this point all at once; for Goblins, I wouldn't start reading any earlier than the third book heading in the archives, or maybe even from the beginning :/

Several prominent webcomics have wrapped up some heavy stories this week: I am thinking of Sam and Fuzzy(3), Dr. McNinja(4) and Penny and Aggie(5), to be specific. Sam and Fuzzy just completed a storyline that was years of regular updates long, a feat rarely seen, and of course this means that new is the perfect time to catch up on this wonderful comic. Head to the Noosehead storyline and see for yourself how well all the pieces have been put together -, people.

Dr. McNinja's plotline completed just today; the Doctor's final thoughts are available for perusal, and we, the readers, can puzzle for ourselves over what the future place of King Rad in the comic universe may end up being. I, for one, am hoping that there will be a bit more pseudo-medical expertise involved in his next caper - not that I'm complaining overly about the extreme antics of his ex-college buddy during the fight scenes in this chapter overmuch.

Penny and Aggie, an old time favorite of mine, is beginning to step into particularly difficult subject matter for me to grasp - girls being awful to girls, terrible cliques plotting school domination, and the like - but the emotional impact in the final pages of the story closing out this week was completely arresting. I won't say that it's undeniably entertaining or anything so ambitious, but I will say that for those of us who have been following the comic from the beginning and wondering what kind of a friend Penny is really, this was a real eye opener.

One more piece of comic recommendation for you folks: Princess Planet (6). I don't know if you'll all like it, but I do know if you read the most recent update and love it then you should start scouring the archives immediately.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Surprise Post!

Hey, it's Dan again, doing a completely unsolicited (and therefore unapproved) little spot.

Basically I'd like to call your attention to Ozy and Millie, which somehow I've never mentioned before. It's a sweet and intelligent strip, and even though it's run forever (since 1998!), a read through the archives is, in my opinion, completely necessary. And to think that I thought talking animals were overdone.

I would also like to point out SuperFogeys, which I just now decided is one of my favorites. Superheroes and super-villains in an old age home together? Awesome sauce.

And...that's enough for now. Also, hilarious. Enjoy! And please don't hurt me, Jackson.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Here it is! Here it is!

Welcome to December! Peter Metzger here, poking around these parts and guest-blogging my life away...

Let's jump in, shall we?

I've been a fan and regular reader of Real Life Comics for many years now, and after the epic-and-awesome fall storyline brought Tony and Dave back into the mix, I'm glad to see they'll also be appearing in comics actually based on real life! As noted in an earlier post (scroll down to the bottom), Greg and Liz are moving back to California. As a result, they (and hence, we) will be more likely to run into Tony and Dave - which I welcome gladly. The strip remained awesome while the Deans were in Texas, but I think the reintroduction of these two characters will bring back a dynamic that had been fading in the comic and will give Greg more material to draw from using characters we already know.

As a side note, the move back to California has necessitated a few guest strips over there at Real Life, and Monday's strip was provided by none other than our friend and author, Jackson Ferrell! Fun story about that - when I opened up the page on Monday and saw the comic, I thought to myself, "man, this guy draws a lot like Jackson... I ought to send him the link in case he hasn't seen this!" ...and then I scrolled down.

The other comic I've been reading for years, Penny Arcade, continues to fail... fail to disappoint, that is! (ooh, see what I... wasn't that clev... ok, never mind.) This week brought us a nice variety of comics, and as a tech support worker I particularly enjoyed Wednesday's comic. It was also nice to see the return of an old friend in Friday's strip.

On Monday, Gabe announced that last year's culinary contest of dubious artistic value (bottom of page) will return this year... so if you'd like to make some questionable cookies, you have until Monday (Dec. 8) to get pictures sent in.

In other news from the Penny Arcade front, the Child's Play charity is approaching the $750,000 mark in donations, which is 1) awesome, and 2) an amount I have trouble actually comprehending. At any rate, it's really cool that the charity is going to bring some joy to a huge number of sick kids this Christmas.

That's about it, we'll finish up with a quick sweep through a few other towns in webcomicland:

Borderline Boy continued to truck along this week, even with a dead computer! Wednesday's strip reminded me of this video, if only because Jay's coworker's name is Chad... the reference is from 1:30 into the video.

The latest Rob & Elliot was great - clay continues to tweak the artistic style of the comic, and the strip itself felt like a perfect blend of Penny Arcade and Pungirls... which means it was pure awesome.

Speaking of Pungirls, I will take this opportunity to officially continue to bug Jackson to draw a few more of them from time to time... I realize that it's basically a shelved project and that his focus is on Borderline Boy right now, but I love Pungirls so much I can't help but hold out hope for more! ...Also, I promise you Mr. Ferrell had nothing to do with the content of this post.

I just realized that I haven't read Toothpaste For Dinner in about a month, so I went back and caught up - there have definitely been some good ones lately. That's the nice thing about TFD - it's easy to consume them en masse if you so desire. It only took me a few minutes to catch up on a month of comics, while I've been trying to catch up on dinosaur comics for over a year. (I'm about halfway there).

That's all for this post, see you next time I'm conscripted for a guest entry!

-the pedro

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ctrl-Alt-Del Runs 2nd Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Storyline

Greetings, the Internet! I emerge briefly from my webcomic-blogging hiatus to bring you important news.

A little over half a year ago, Ctrl-Alt-Del ran a choose-your-own-adventure-style comic storyline, in which readers voted to collectively determine the fate of Ethan McManus, space archaeologist. It was easily the most fun I've ever had reading CAD. I generally regard CAD as a mediocre gaming webcomic that does just enough right to enjoy disproportionate popularity, but frankly, I was impressed with Buckley's artwork and plotting for this one. Well, except for the sudden grisly ending, but nobody's perfect.

Anyway, I am momentarily taking a break from my blogging break to tell you that a second CAD choose-your-own-adventure is presently underway. I had a lot of fun reading and participating in the first one, and I wanted to let you know about the second. When the latest comic presents the readers with a choice, you can email your vote to CAD.VOTE (AT) GMAIL.COM. Together we can shape the fate of the universe.

And now, back to hibernation. I will see you all later.