Friday, March 27, 2015

Touching Base #20

About time for another Touching Base, so let's see what I can talk about.

After my Retrospective on Girls With Slingshots, the Washington Post did an interview with the artist.  I am jealous, of the Post and Danielle.

Bohemian Nights paused for a while due to a death in the family, but he TOLD us the news part under the comic.  More comics should do that.

Eerie Cuties and Magick Chicks are both heading for their conclusions.  It's just taking a while as the artists have other projects going.  Yes there will be more Retrospectives, but I think I'll do both of them at the same time since one is a spin off of the other.  But not until the time comes.  That said, the artist for Magick Chicks had their mother die (lots of death into today's post) so updates there have been delayed even further.  And yes I'm writing this part AFTER I wrote this article originally.

Broodhollow is set to start it's 3rd book "soon."  Come on Kris, does it really take that long?

I'm not sure if Vampire Cheerleaders has outright ended yet or not.  The last storyline, odd as it was, did end, and it looked like they had some script pages and then, well, nothing for a while now.  I'll keep an eye on it.

The Whiteboard did a homage to a Schlock Mercenary strip and I found it entertaining.

Bloodstain has released all of chapter 1 in handy PDF format, so if you want an easy way to read it, there you go.

Aptitude Test has been stymied by one of the great plagues of webcomics, computer issues.  No idea how long before the comic gets back in action.  Will keep watching for it though.

I'm not sure what's going on with Short Stories.  One of the stories was dropped before it finished, now one of the first ones (a multiparter) is gone.  I THINK they're moving them to print, which means the web versions are being pulled.  Which I already said I thought was a bad idea.  Also it hasn't updated for a while, so I'm kind of annoyed by that.  Seriously considering dropping it right now, but I'll give it a bit longer.

Not really much else to talk about at the moment.  I'm hoping to have another batch of reviews up for next week (reading the 5th comic as I type this).  Until then kiddies.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Retrospective: Girls With Slingshots

Another comic ends, and I am sad to see it go.  At the same time, it's not one of the stars of my list.

I did and do enjoy Girls With Slingshots, but not to the great extent as I do say, Sluggy Freelance or Schlock Mercenary.  Despite reading the whole thing, and even rereading parts of it for this, I really didn't remember it as well as I did those two.

I think the point is that it wasn't a beloved comic.  Which does NOT mean I didn't like it, I wouldn't still be reading it if I didn't like it.  I like it a lot in fact, but it didn't stick in my mind as well.  I suspect that some of it was that the stories weren't as clear cut and divided as in the more adventure style comics I read.  They flowed together like life in a way.

There's a good term for it, it's a life comic.  It shows people living rather ordinary lives, ghost cats and talking cacti aside.  I suppose that was originally why I compared it to Questionable Content back in my original review, though I don't think QC ever really stuck with the idea, I don't read QC after all.  A better comparison would be Punch 'n Pie, which does pretty much the same thing, showing the various characters interacting and just plain living.

The result is a series of relationships, which is what I remember more than anything else.  They often felt natural without being overbearing, and I suspect Danielle likes happy endings because most of the couples end up being happy.  I like them too, so I really enjoy them as well.

I could go over them all, nearly did, but really it's worth reading the comic to see them all.  The different characters, how they relate to each other, how they get along, is part of the reason the comic works so well.  They don't go on grand adventures through space and time, they go to the bar and have a few drinks.  Then deal with the ghost cat and the talking cactus.

Live, relationships, and a bit of humor added up to a pretty damn good comic that I've been struggling all week to write a damn retrospective of.  Just go read it, especially as it is going into rerun mode, with the early, black and white strips being fully colored to go along with the rest of the comic.  The art of the early strips is oddly detailed and gets less so, but strangely better, as time goes on, but it won't hurt your eyes or anything.

And Danielle has made it clear this isn't over.  Oh, Girls With Slingshots is over, but the story and lives of her characters is going to continue at some point.  I'll be waiting for it.  In the meantime, it will remain on the read list while it goes through it's rerun, I'm curious what commentary she has to say about it.

Next week, um, we'll see.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Nothing, as expected

Yeah, I'm not getting anything done for this week like I figured.  Next week though, I might have something as Girls with Slingshots should be ending this week, so expect a Retrospective.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Genre Savvy: Broodhollow

A couple years ago (yeah, it's been that long) I was in the middle of my Genre Savvy series covering the topic of Horror.  I lamented, sort of, that I really didn't have a good example of Horror within my lists.  Flatwood worked for some of the ideas I wrote about, but not all of them, and Twilight Lady didn't exactly fit the bill either.  Neither was a good webcomic example of the genre.

Then I read Broodhollow.

I don't go out of my way to read Horror of any kind, and Broodhollow was something that I just didn't look at immediately, especially as I had already a good idea what kind of work Kris Straub produces via Starslip and Chainsawsuit.  Which doesn't mean I didn't hear good things, I did, and when I read the comic, I was quite pleased.

And I immediately thought about that Genre Savvy article because it fits it so well.

The first is the atmosphere that Broodhollow creates.  Being a small town creates a kind of safety, but then the weird things happen, the first being that it is the town of "1000 holidays," which is strange to start.  Then the Fray starts getting involved by making everyone but Zane forget about being attacked by giant bats.  With "secret" societies and monsters running about, the town takes on a mysterious feel.  It's not as dark and foreboding as, say, Silent Hill, but the oddness makes it clear that something strange is going on.

That said, the real focal point is Zane, who is described on the cast page as "phobic."  Not specific, he just seems scared of everything.  I think that's more the joke as he obviously isn't, but he is constantly on edge, his nerves being strained repeatedly.  He's the first to note the oddness of the town, and one of the few people that seems, well, not immune, but at least resistant to the Fray.  The story thus revolves around his unwilling unraveling of the town's mysteries and secrets.

It's hard to relate horror through a static medium, but having someone experience the fear for the reader helps and Zane does all that and more.  His idiosyncrasies, his obcession with patterns and even a bit of OCD makes every scene with him seem that much more on edge than it would otherwise be.  Few of the other characters even remotely come close to that same impression, but they all seem more effected by the Fray than Zane, so while they all see the monsters, he REMEMBERS them.

Oh yes, the monster designs are pretty good too.  There aren't many really, but they're so distinct from the more cartoony designs of the rest of the comic that they stand out and are far more terrifying.  They are abnormal compared to this world, more realistic and just plain scary looking.  It's amazing that no one does remember them.

Back to Zane though.  Despite being scared almost all the time, Zane actually represents both emotions that come in good Horror.  Yes, he's scared, he's seen horrific, terrible things, he's haunted by his own fears and worries, and yet, he's a door to door salesman.   A person who goes up to strangers homes and knocks on the door.  There's a courage in that action, and he shows the same thing in other situations as well.  When the local rich bully, Planchett, calls him a fraud to his face, insults him and declares his desire to boot him out of town, Zane goes to him with the possibility of selling the antique shop.  Yes, Zane is phobic, but he has this ability to face off against these fears.

At the end of the last book, as he prepares to dive into the watery lair of the most recent monster, he's told his is very brave and he responds with "I'm scared to death."  That fear is, spoiler, the defense against the fray, but it also is what good Horror should do.  Yes he's scared, yes the monsters are terrible, but he does it anyway, bracing himself as best as his terrified mind can.

Broodhollow is by far the best example of Horror in comics I've found so far and I look forward to exploring this strange universe, the town and it's characters in the future.  As soon as Kris gets to publishing the next book.  Come on man, it's March already, let's go.

Next time, um, probably nothing honestly.  I've got 7 straight work days coming and I doubt I'll have time for much of anything.  We'll see of course, but I make no promises.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, February 27, 2015

More Patreon

I figure I should update the Pateron campaign listings.  Last time, I had 19 comics but several more have been added since.  After last week's article, I really should highlight the current best option for making money.  It is a popularity contest, don't forget that, so if the comic isn't well known, well, it doesn't make any money even with a great Pateron campaign.  That said, I hope my little blog and highlighting their campaigns help them along.

These are ONLY comics I currently read, as I'm sure many of the Non-Reads have their own campaigns.  Go forth and keep these comics updating.

Bug Martini -
Chainsawsuit -
Devil's Panties -
Dumbing of Age -
Girls with Slingshots -
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal -
Schlock Mercenary -
Wapsi Square -
Between Failures -
Bohemian Nights -
Broodhollow -
Corridor Realms (Twilight Lady, Subhuman Sanctum) -
Gaia -
Gunnerkrigg Court -
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja -
The Demon Archives -
Blind Springs -
Exiern -
Sandra and Woo -
Commander Kitty -
Dead Winter -
Derelict -
Does Not Play Well with Others -
Little Guardians -
Romantically Apocalyptic -
Sorcery 101 -
Trying Human -
Zebra Girl -
Dresden Codak -

Just a reminder if you are starting a Patreon, make it obvious.  Exiern's was kind of hidden away and I almost missed it.  Also, I haven't gone through these campaigns yet, but Patreon is a monthly thing, so make sure rewards are monthly, not one time or whenever you feel like it.

Next time, um, something.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Web to Print and Print to Web

If you remember the Quasi-Awards return post from the beginning of the year, you may remember seeing me mention Shadowgirls, but not actually link it.  I do make a point of linking comics whenever they are named in an article, unless I'm really rushed (it happens once in a while).  The reason for this incident was that I went to the old link and the comic was gone.

So I did some searching using the holy power of Google, as I usually do, and I found two things.  The first was a string of reviews for a novel named The Shadow Girls, which has nothing to do with the comic.  The second was links to the comic, to be bought, in print form.

This has happened before.  Jeremy is one of my favorite comics, and one of the first to go pure print.  Marsh Rocket (another dead and gone link) did the same.  There is nothing wrong with this, let me be clear.  There is no reason for freeloaders like me to expect a comic archive to remain up forever, especially when the artist is paying for the website to display them.  Still, I think they're missing something important here.

What's missing is that a lot of people don't like to buy something sight unseen.  I imagine they're banking on fans of the comic during it's run to pick it up, but there are only so many of us for many of these comics.  Giving new readers a chance to get their feet wet before paying for the experience seems a much better idea to me.  Faith Erin Hicks did something similar with Friends with Boys, a print comic that was free for a time and I took the opportunity to even review it.

Serenity Rose did something similar when I first read it.  The middle chapters of the story were behind a paywall, but thanks to some clever introductory writing, I barely noticed and it didn't reduce my appreciation of the comic.  Later this restriction was removed and I get to read the rest and was very happy.

Stjepan Sejic, the artist of Sunstone (NSFW) went even further.  One of his print comics, Ravine, failed financially, so he's decided to convert it over to a full blown webcomic.  Yes, eventually I'll review it.  He's even provided copies of Death Vigil, his other series, on his main deviant art page, for free.  I imagine that combined with Sunstone's growing popularity has guided him to this decision, and while he won't make gobs of money on any of those comics, he'll at least make something and people will love it.  And he'll get a lot more commission work, which is growing by the day I swear.

Still, there is another reason for me to be bothered by webcomics going print only.  Back when I started his blog, I did so because I had just lost my very well paying job and I wanted something to do.  But it also made it that I couldn't exactly spend a lot of money on things that weren't necessary to live (the internet survived because of the kindness of others).  So to see these comics, as wonderful as they are, be entirely unreadable without a down payment of some kind is bothersome to me.  How many others out there would love to read Shadowgirls but can't afford the price tag?  I don't know, but I was in that place once and I know I would never had read it if it had been that way from the beginning.  I still probably won't do it due to some frugal streak I was raised with.

I won't deny these artists their desire to make some money off their work, but with things like Patreon and Kickstarter, I would think this kind of thing wouldn't be necessary any more.

Next week, I hope to have something.  Bit of a stretch getting this up between snow storms and work schedules.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nothing Week

Yeah, I just haven't had the time to finish my next article.  Snow plus work equals no time.  Lovely isn't it?  Next week kiddies.