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.

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