Friday, December 8, 2017

Cleaning Up a Bit / Touching Base #27

Funny how before we finished a move, we always cleaned the now empty house.  Except the last time, but that had other reasons.

In this case, it's time to clean up the read list one last time in preparation for next week's big post.  So let's get started.

From Hiatus, I'm pulling everything and swapping in some new blood, namely Broodhollow, Commander Kitty, Hark, a Vagrant! and Little Guardians.  All the old stuff is either dead, or dead and gone.  Yes, even Perry Bible Fellowship, which gets reruns on Go Comics, but that's about it.

Monthly sees the departure of The Wotch to Non-Read (I don't know what's going on with any more) and Out There to dead.  I've added Head Trip, but that's about the only addition there.

Weekly sees the addition of Chainsawsuit, Exiern and Ava's Demon (it's new and all).  I probably COULD move Derelict to Hiatus, but not yet.

Legends of Wholeterra had a website failure and is gone, so it gets pulled from T-Th-S, while Not a Villain gets added.

Bug Martini was daily but now is 3 times a week, so it went to M-W-F along with Metacarpolis.  It Hurts! ended (forgot to do a retrospective on it, whoops) so it's gone from the list as well.

Daily's biggest departure is Station V3 which never did answer the question what happened to it.  The other removals I've already commented on.

There are some comics that will likely be ending in the next few months.  Zebra Girl is nearly done but won't be finished until the start of next year.  Blue Blaster looks to be wrapping up it's storyline, so that's nice.  Marry Me, um, could be ending or it could just be taking a 2 year break, hard to say.

Eeire Cuties and Magick Chicks HAVE updated, but it's sporadic and looks like Archie comics.  I don't know if this is long term or not.

Cosmic Dash actually started putting up strips again.  I really don't understand how or why it updates the way it does, as in it doesn't.  Annoyed.

Sunstone (NSFW) has it's second, book?  Volume.   That sounds good.  Second Volume called Mercy finally getting back up to speed.

PopChromatic stopped updating in July due to life reasons.  They're hopping to get it up and running again in the new year.

Not much else to talk about honestly.  I do want to get back and do an It Hurt's retrospective, so I might do that as part of next year's final wind down (I definitely want to write about Zebra Girl ending).  It'll depend on if I get time.

Next week I'll see about doing that It Hurt's! retrospective.  See you then kiddies.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Last? Wild Webcomic Review

One last time, with feeling, it's

THE WILD WEBCOMIC REVIEW

I say last, but is it really?  Maybe, probably, likely even.  As much as I would like to get to 300, well, I just don't have the time.  Still, let this not detour me from my duty today, and so I present, once again, 5 comics that I read and a shortish thing about each.  Let's begin.

281.  Not a Villain - My first thought on seeing this ad (and I got it from an ad, so they do work) is that this was some kind of superhero story.  It's not.  It's a post apocalyptic comic set in virtual worlds being the primary way of people interacting with each other.  There is a lot of character development throughout and I do enjoy the way it really highlights why the main character is doing what she's doing without directly telling every little thing, and that information is being slowly meted out through the length of the comic.  My favorite part is that this comic is actually developing over time.  The earlier strips are early artwork and while there is a reason for some of it, even as the comic goes on the art and story telling are developing.  Better yet, the alt-text for most of the comics is a self criticism by the artists, usually about how things could be done better.  I really like this comic and will be reading it for a while.

282.  Ava's Demon - Linked from a forum, I found this comic to be rather beautiful and the story is tight and well written.  I like that the about page points out the story IS done, it's just a matter of drawing it.  It is presented mostly as a single panels, which are posted in groups at a time every week.  Oddly, not every panel is "vital" despite the format, many are just  slight variations of previous panels.  And then sometimes it goes "beyond" the panel, presenting larger pictures, alternate minor images and videos.  Oh those videos are amazing to look at.  Yeah, they're just this side of a moving comic but the addition of sound and extra movement has made them really stand out and I'm quite happy with the comic.  That said I really am kind of annoyed by the archive navigation.  Oh sure, it works on a standard dive, but getting back to particular strips or videos is, well, a pain.  Other than that, a great comic, hopefully it keeps going.

283.  Broken Telephone - I don't remember where I got this, and the same applies to the rest of the comics on this list.  In any case, this was a group project while multiple artists (front page says 18 art teams, which is possible), all taking a single story and presented from different points of view for each artist group.  It's a fun experiment and I did enjoy how it all played out and connected together in the end.  The characters, even as the artstyle changed, were identifiable and I got what was going on.  Ultimately it was a fun, if short, romp of a comic that's at least worth spending a few minutes on, as it is complete.

284.  Metacarpolis - This is a silly comic.  The artists hints that the entire reason for the comic is to make hand puns and the fact that one of the past characters is wearing something Manos: The Hands of Fate should be more than evidence that this is not to be taken seriously, like at all.  I like the silliness though, as the characters seem to know it's kind of silly, and even comment on it but just accept it and move on with their lives.  The characters are fun, easily identifiable, and their motivations are pretty straight forward except when they're not and then it's silly.  It also has a robot with a brain of an advanced cockroach.  Yeah, it's silly and fun to read.

285.  Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life - It's JUST short of my 100 strip guideline, 99 in fact, but it's complete, so it counts.  It's a sci-fi comic that is about philosophy, purpose, friendship, and silly robots.  Lots of silly robots.  It does this weird thing where every other comic, almost, is flipped 90 degrees from the previous, so some are long vertical while others are long horizontal.  It varies depending on the topic of the strip.  The art is rather simple, but not stick figures, there's enough there to tell each character from the others while still being kind of the same (because robots).  It's nothing too verbose, though it could try to be, and I enjoyed it.  The last strip is actually quite fitting, not just for the comic, but these reviews as a whole.  Worth reading.

And that's it.  Like I said, it would have been nice to hit 300, but considering the 10,000+ comics out there, it's still pretty much nothing, and 15 strips more or less isn't going to change thing.  Add in all the comics I've read and not reviewed for one or the other, I'm still probably short, but that's fine.  I won't say this is for sure the last, never know after all, but I suspect it will be.  Thank you for reading and experiencing these reviews with me.

Next time, I've got some cleaning up to do on the blog.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Standard: Ending Not

I figured the next post of this series would be about the "end" of Sluggy Freelance.  HA!

To be clear, I am not surprised by this.  For one, it was always been clear that Sluggy 20+ would be "different" but not "over."  Secondly, there was no way Pete Abrams was EVER going to finish the mainline Sluggy story in the short time frame he had given himself.

Most of it comes from his own issues with keeping the updates rolling.  This ever present problem has kept the comic from really hitting any kind of stride and various failures (like Oceans Unmoving) can be traced back to it.  Once he started missing updates in the last year or so, I knew it would never quite make it.  It is a shame he has never managed to make a buffer of any kind to help him sort out this issue, so perhaps the new direction of the comic might help in that respect.

It didn't help that a LOT needed to be tied up in such a short amount of time.  So much to cover from Oasis to Chen, vampires and Kusari, Sasha and dig bots and I'm barely covering a fraction of everything.  And even at this point I don't think he can "finish" the story in 2 years from NOW.  Just too much to cover too fast.

So backing off, kind of, was a given.  In doing so he's given himself some room to work.  First he switched the update schedule from 5 days a week to, um, two I think.  Strips are at least twice as big, if not bigger in some aspects and there's more room for growth.

It also gave him breathing room to go ahead and keep developing characters again.  Torg and Riff aren't quite on the same page, even if they are on the same side.  Oasis is still dealing with her stuff and Sasha, is apparently a series of clones?  And Kusari!  Weird.

So some of the secrets are revealed, but not all, and the final resolution of the story is still a long way away.  Which means no "it's over" post from me.

My promise thus remains, to be there when it ends.  After a 20 year run, the comic is likely going for a couple more, at least.  While I likely won't update regularly after this year, I will be back for that ending.  Well, assuming I remember how to log into this thing.

Until then I'll be waiting.  In the mean time, I have more to talk about.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Retrospective: What Birds Know

I've been putting this off trying to finish up the Masterpiece, but it's time to get to it.

What Birds Know wrapped up in August and I only just went back and read through it again.  It's through this that I came to really appreciate it far more than I did on my first read through.

This is ONE story, start to finish, and really needs to be read that way.  Subtle hints and topics lose their meaning over the 12 year publishing span of the comic and I found myself realizing the importance of scenes at the end only after rereading the entire comic.

There is certainly a tragic nature to the comic, and as each of the main characters are given a bit of their backstory it reinforces the finale of the comic that much more.

Ultimately  Emelie Friberg and Mattias Thorelli manage to create believable characters with proper motivations for the actions that build up as the comic goes on.  There's a lot of emotion in this comic and while the story itself is strong, the characters hold it all together.

Artwise, they mention in their final blog post about doing some touch ups for a future published edition and while I suppose that's all well and good, I don't think it's necessary.  After reading through it again I think it managed to have a rather consistent art style and never really started on a bad foot.  Of course they only do say "touch ups" so maybe I'm just not as observant as they are (creators are their own worst critics I have found).

What I'm trying to say is that this is a good comic.  Definitely worth the time to read through and while I think it was probably hurt by the posting timeframe, now that it is complete the full story can and should be experienced.  I highly recommend it and look forward to the next project the pair get to, whenever it happens to be.

Next time, something else I've been meaning to talk about.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Masterpiece: The Last, Great Sprite Comic

We never did find that armor of invincibility.

8-Bit Theater ended with an anti-climatic clash, and the punchline from a joke established almost nine years earlier.  The final stab was White Mage using her connections to convince the world that the Dark Warriors, the band of boobs, were the ones to defeat Chaos, just so our "heroes" couldn't take the credit.

But that wasn't the last strip.  It was the SECOND to last strip.  The last strip came sometime afterwards, quite a bit if I remember right.  There is a reason for that of course.

The last strip is something different and very symbolic.  The reason it took so long is because, it isn't a sprite comic.  After nearly nine years, with only a few, very few, moments of non-sprite artwork in the whole of the comic, it ends without a single one.

The times had changed in that time.  For all the popularity of 8-Bit Theater, it would never, and could never, make Brian any money, because the art work wasn't his.  At one point there was a shop that had mouse pads and shirts, but that went away quickly because copyright is in full force, and these fell under it.  Ultimately the fact that 8-Bit finished it's story is remarkable since it was, at that point, more a work of passion than one of monetary value.

And really, there is only so much one can do with sprites, and Brian had done them all, possibly even inventing some.  Despite the actual ownership of the sprites, he made them into his own characters, and made their story memorable.  To the point that it became part of his resume and resulted him getting actual work in comics, including his next piece, Atomic Robo, which got a print version for a time.

The finale of 8-Bit Theater became a finale for a generation of comics as well,  It finished wrapping up the stories of the characters, showed how some jokes just don't end, and maybe, just maybe, left the door open for a sequel one day.  Maybe.

It represented the final transition between the wild west of webcomics and the beginning of the current era.  While the older strips like Penny Arcade and Sluggy Freelance might still be kicking around, the greatness of the comics had moved on and comics like 8-Bit Theater really didn't have a place to be any more.

The Last, Great Sprite Comic, that's a fine epitaph for 8-Bit Theater, but it was also a comic Masterpiece.  Nearly a decade in development, it's final page said more than just "this is the end of the comic," and drove home the point that webcomics, in whatever form, weren't just going to go away or get hid behind paywalls.  Nuklear Power, the website that hosts 8-Bit hasn't been updated in a few years now, but its still there, the forums still active.  All because of a silly comic based on video game sprites

And that's the end.  Next time, I have a lot of stuff to catch up on, hopefully I get some time to do so.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Masterpiece: Black Mage

I know the difference between right and wrong, I just don't care.

Black Mage is evil.  No qualifiers here, he is evil.  Totally and completely evil, and he doesn't mind that at all.  It makes him happy to be evil.

The only thing that keeps him from being the main villain in the comic is the fact that the universe works actively against him.  The main weapon is, of course, Fighter, who considers Black Mage his best friend, and BM can't kill him because of his armor.

The rest was handled by, well, everyone.  Watching Black Mage react with frustration to every other person is entertaining, but it's also the one way to keep BM from focusing on his evil quest to, um, well. . .

Look, WHAT he wants for his evil is kind of odd.  Mostly it's about chaos and destruction, but he doesn't seem to want to rule.  Well, he doesn't MIND that, for a short time he was in charge of the party and seemed to enjoy it, but it's not his goal.  He has no problem doing a "good" deed, if he it will personally benefit him.

Being evil, for evil's sake seems all he really wants.  Betray his party members?  Sure.  Oh wait, the other side plans to kill him too?  Screw that guy, let's get him Fighter.  He's fluid with his betrayal and willing to do it at the drop of a hat.

He's not above love, I should note.  There is a point where he leaves a letter for White Mage that states how much he cares.  She ALMOST feels sorry for him, right up until she finds out his most powerful spell is in fact weaponized love.  This is a spell that caused a global extinction event.

He is evil, and he's pretty smart, to a point.  He often calls out the other characters (especially Red Mage) for his stupid ideas (which again, work half the time, the universe works against Black Mage again).  His intelligence does not match his cleverness, as he doesn't have much.  His best insult DID kill someone, but that's because it was awful, not because it was effective.

Of course he also goes on to conquer Hell (he was overthrown shortly there after), commit so many atrocities that his confrontation at the Temple of Ordeals is met with himself (which he promptly extra horrifies then stabs in the back), and eventually turns against the entire party and has a dramatic show down where he almost wins.  Right until Sarda appears, the same kid whose parents, foster parents and orphanage Black Mage killed.

Ultimately Black Mage gets exactly what he deserves.  He's depowered and left to wander the world with the one person he hates more than anyone else, his best friend Fighter.  No better way to end his career.

That all said, he is memorable.  It's really hard to look at that iconic sprite and not think about his rampage through the Dwarf Kingdom or his attempt to turn a spell called "make Black Mage turn inside out" on Sarda, only for Black Mage to be turned inside out as a result.  He's the example of comedic evil character, so much so that I think most other comics try and fail, to copy it.

But I that's another story, one I will finish next time.  Until then.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Masterpiece: White Mage

I am White Mage, destroyer of worlds.

White Mage is good.  Not perfectly good, but as good as anyone in the comic has ever been or likely ever will be.  Considering that most of the characters are insane and horrible, that may not seem like much, but ultimately it is.

Honestly the biggest moment that proves this is in the later half of the comic where Black Mage is "replaced" by White Mage.  The end result is that the rest of the party began doing good things, using their skills to help rather than hurt.  Upon Black Mage's return, they return to their unpleasant ways, but for that short period, White Mage's goodness overrides their own natural tendencies.

She isn't perfectly good, of course.  She can be driven to an almost murderous rage, usually by Black Mage.  She sours on the good thing for a bit, making that quote above as she begins her "fall" into evil.  It lasts like 6 pages, and ends when she's mean, slightly, to Fighter.  She felt bad about it.

Her introduction was meant to drive the group forward, fixing their "mistakes" and moving them to their ultimate destiny.  That went out the window quickly and instead she made her own way, trying to single handily fix everything, and try desperately to keep away from Black Mage's lecherous hands.

Eventually she even meets Sarda, the Wizard That Did It, and effectively the antagonist of the story.  Not villain mind you, that belongs to the party, but he is the one that pushes the party onto a particular path, mostly for revenge.  White Mage isn't a target of his wrath, so his reaction to her annoying him was to send her to the beginning of time.

Where she created the universe by accident.  And slightly before Sarda got there.  Then suggested he looked better with a mustache.

Eventually, of course, her final act in the main story was to fulfill the long joke, and she's the reason there's any form of an epilogue.  While her story arc is probably less developed, even including her "brush" with "evil," her role in the story is no less important.  She's the reason the group dynamic is the way it is, she's the reason the ending happens as it does, and the reason the universe exists at all.  She is probably the most important character in the story.  She's practically god.  Almost literally due to the universe thing.

But if there is a "god" in the comic, there must be a "devil."  Or someone who makes the devil look like a wimp.

Next time, evil  Until then.