Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snowflakes Collaborates with AHA's Be The Beat Campaign

You know me. Even when I'm on hiatus, I can't help posting webcomics news.

A couple days ago, I received a press release in my inbox regarding the webcomic Snowflakes, an all-ages strip created by the cartooning trifecta of James Ashby, Chris Jones and Zach Weiner. The Snowflakes creators are collaborating with the American Heart Association to promote the Be the Beat cardiac arrest awareness campaign to teens and tweens.

When I first received the press release, my first thought was that the project had potential, but I was concerned that it might simply be a shabby token effort. Having checked out the strips that Ashby, Jones and Weiner have created, I can say that they're still producing top-quality cartoons for this project. Weiner stated in the press release, “The opportunity to use our humor and storytelling to promote a great cause was impossible to pass up,” and you can tell the team believes in the undertaking.

It's a challenge to make art that both educates and entertains, but I found myself laughing and learning as I read through the Be The Beat strips. What really carries the day is the characterization: obsessive student Wray's over-the-top, juvenile imagination, as her workbook partner Sloan plays the uptight and reasonable straight man. I'm not in the campaign's target market of 8-to-15 year-olds, but if anything, it shows that just about anyone can get something out of this stuff.

You can read the series at the Be The Beat website, with new comics Monday and Friday through February, or check it out at the Snowflakes website (which also updates on Wednesdays with its normal storyline). My only real complaint is navigability--it takes two to three clicks to see each strip at the BTB site, and on Snowflakes' site, the two simultaneous unrelated storylines keep interrupting each other in the archives. Still, I found it worth the navigational hassles to check out. It's some quality educational cartooning.

On a side note, I also discovered that one of my favorite nerdcore rappers, MC Lars, is also involved in the Be The Beat campaign, with a relentlessly, awesomely, unapologetically cheesy track promoting healthy heart habits and emergency responsiveness. You can scope his dope beats (ha!) at bethebeat.org.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Press Release: Guigar Celebrates 10 Years of Cartooning

Hi, everyone. Have a press release celebrating 10 years of cartooning for Brad Guigar, creator of Evil, Inc., and a host of other comic strips both online and offline. Congrats on ten years, Brad--here's to many more!


On Valentine’s Day, as many people celebrated romance, Brad Guigar will raised a toast to a passion that has been a driving force in his life for ten years — daily comics.

His first comic strip, "Greystone Inn," debuted on the Web on Valentine’s Day, 2000, and updated every Monday-through-Saturday for the next five-and-a-half years. The day after it ended in June 2005, his current daily strip, "Evil Inc," began. Although both strips are webcomics, they both ran in daily newspapers, including the "Philadelphia Daily News." "Evil Inc" appears in front of an estimated 1.5 million newspaper readers a week.

"Evil Inc" is a company that was formed by comic-book super-villains who realized that they could get away with more evil if they worked within the law. It’s a satire that pays loving homage to super-hero comics while reflecting on everyday issues — such as the blended family that is formed when a villain secretly marries the city’s top super-hero.

In addition to his daily labor of love, Guigar also produces a weekly comic, "Courting Disaster," and for a year-and-a-half, he produced a weekly full-page comic, "Phables," that shared stories about life in Philadelphia. "Phables" earned Guigar a nomination for the Eisner Award in 2007 — the highest honor in comics.

But Guigar’s obsession with comics doesn’t end there. He has written one cartooning book, "The Everything Cartooning Book," and co-written another ("How to Make Webcomics"). And he is the editor-in-chief of the daily cartooning-advice blog, Webcomics.com, where he shares his knowledge and experience in negotiating the tricky landscape of digital publishing with novice webcartoonists -— many of whom discovered Guigar through the popular podcast, Webcomics Weekly, that he co-hosts.

He has self-published over 13 print collections of his work — all available on his Web sites — and appears at a half-dozen comic conventions across the country to promote his work. He has talked comics at San Dieo’s Comic Con International as well as at Harvard University.

Surprisingly enough, his wife of 12 years hasn’t divorced him. In fact, she and their two boys have become almost as enamored with comics as Brad.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Month-Long Hiatus II: Son of Month-Long Hiatus

Thank you all for your feedback regarding what you want to see from This Week in Webcomics. I am now going to reward you all by going on hiatus again.

In all seriousness, I'm taking some more time off from the blog in order to do some thinking and planning about what it will look like in the future. Your feedback has confirmed a number of thoughts and ideas that occurred to me while on my 2009 winter-holidays hiatus, and now it's time to get ready for action: it's time for things to take shape. I'm gonna hash out a game plan, and come March, I'll be ready to roll. (And hopefully have my taxes out of the way, but I digress.)

But! Will you be left floundering without content, out here in the vast reaches of the internet? Lo, may it never be! For I have prepared a storyline over at my former webcomic, Borderline Boy. It will especially appeal to those of you who like role-playing games, or perhaps those of you who do not like role-playing games. Through the first week of March, the storyline will update with a new comic every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It begins with this comic.

So: enjoy the content! I'll see you back here in March.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thoughts on The Webcomic List Awards

It's Super Bowl Sunday, but that's not why you come to this blog. You come because, like me, you are way too into webcomics. And today, Super Bowl Sunday, the winners of The Webcomic List Awards have been announced.

As I've mentioned before, I was a judge for the Best Black and White Art category, and I did a comic-form presentation for the Best Character award. And first of all, congrats to all of this year's winners:

Best Non-traditional Art - The Dreamland Chronicles
Best Black and White Art - The Abominable Charles Christopher
Best Colour Art - Freak Angels
Best Writing - Gunnerkrigg Court
Best Comic - Gunnerkrigg Court
Best New Comic - Moon Town
Best Character - Digger
Best Gag-a-Day - Girls with Slingshots
Best Longform - Gunnerkrigg Court

Of all the winners, I'm only really familiar with Gunnerkrigg Court and GWS. If anything, the list of winners is a reminder that I am but one man, with one man's time. I can't read all the good comics out there! I'm not surprised that Gunnerkrigg won three awards, "Best Comic" among them--it's really an impressive comic, conceptually creative and executed with polish. Freak Angels and Moon Town are both on my "gotta check out sometime because the art is just that awesome" list, so their respective awards just reinforce that for me.

Judging and presenting has been a good opportunity for me to expose myself to some new comics. In addition to winning Best Character, Digger was a nominee for Best B&W Art, and I was very impressed with what I saw while judging that award. As Bengo of The Floating Lightbulb has often pointed out, black and white artwork can be even more challenging to do well than color, and the creator of Digger has got the chops. Plus, the creator has written a compelling main character who is a wombat, so I may have to come back and read some more of this one.

I also had the pleasure of reading several chapters of Scorch, another new comic for me. It makes good use of ragged, Jhonen-Vasquez-esque linework and hatching to convey this totally unhinged energy. The artwork reinforces its dark and creepy Halloween-ish tale of soul harvesting, and whether you're seriously following the story or not, it's a real treat to look at.

Plus, Chris Watkins, the creator of Odori Park, did the presentation comic for Best Comic, which was one of the most amusing presentations of the whole awards "show." Odori Park itself is a sharp strip that I've come across a few times, and if there were a category for Best Black-and-White Gag-a-Day, it'd make a strong contender. Good stuff: consider giving it a look.

That wraps up my thoughts on The TWCL Awards 2009. (Yes, I know "The TWCL Awards" is redundant, like "ATM machine," but you gotta abbreviate it somehow, and The Webcomic List already goes by TWCL, so.) Check out the winners, and come back to this blog on Monday evening, where I'll be dropping a little announcement of my own.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Reader Feedback Time

So, I'm back from hiatus--but during my hiatus, I had a lot of time to think about the future of This Week in Webcomics. Now, I want to know what you think.

What do you think of TWIW? What do you want to see more of? What do you want to see less of? What do you want me to get rid of entirely? Get candid with me. Share any thoughts you have at all. Tell me what new things you want to see in the new year. Tell me how this blog can better serve you, the reader, and what role this blog can play in your webcomics-reading experience.