Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Reflection

Ah, the new year.  Take a good, deep breath.  Let that "new year smell" fill your nose.  Then puke on your toes because you drank too damn much.  Sucker.

To help ease your pounding headache, I figured I'd reflect on the reviews of the past year.  I've done 25 Wild Webcomic Reviews this year, which is probably a record at this point.  A lot of good ones, several bad ones and at least one that isn't actually a webcomic.  But which ones were the best?  Well, that's a hard question to answer, but I'll try anyway.  Here are my top five "new to me" webcomics of the last year.

5.)  Lizzy - No other comic I have ever read, or even heard of, combines traditional art with flash animation in such a perfect way as Lizzy.  The story, while fanciful, is also grounded in a way that makes it feel real; dirty and rundown.  The fact that it's stuck in a kind of hiatus status depresses me a bit and probably pushes it down the list of best comics of the year.  Still, this comic is completely worth reading, especially the flash version.  That is worth the bandwidth alone.

4.  Romantically Apocalyptic - Though there are only about 30 strips to this comic, it is by far one of the most beautiful and mad comics I have ever read.  The art is nearly peerless, capable of giving life to the few people and creatures that run around while at the same time making the world look dead in a way that feels real and terrible.  And it's pretty damn funny too.

3.  The Non-Adventures of Wonderella - There is only one joke in this comic:  Wonderella is a terrible superhero.  Yet one joke can go a long way, and the comic takes full advantage of it.  The comic is funny as hell, and pokes fun at every superhero cliche there ever has been or ever will be.  Don't forget to look for the alt-text under the comic images when you read, there's always a bonus joke.

2.  Marsh Rocket - Though it appears to be done as a comic (apparently it went on longer than intended anyway), Marsh Rocket is one of those fun comics that I have to recommend people read.  It has a rather unique coloring technique, and the story is usually built around violence, typically involving a hedge trimmer.  The characters are interesting, fun and the action is done well.  The original story is great, and the bonus tales (the last one just wrapping up) are shorter and just as good.  Truly one of the best comics I've read all year.

1.  Hark, a Vagrant - There is a reason this comic gets so much attention and praise, it is VERY good.  The art and humor style are so unique you can identify the artist's work almost instantly, and in a world where everyone does anime/manga style artwork, that is truly awesome.  Though each update might have some sort of theme, there is rarely the same joke told more than once, and there's a grounding in reality (due to her historical background) that gives the comic that something most other comics can only pretend to have.  All this makes Hark, a Vagrant more than worthy of being the best comic I've read this year.

Funny how all of these are weekly updated strips.  I don't think that's a coincidence, typically more work goes into a weekly strip than a daily one, and thus the quality is much higher.  Also the archives tend to be a LOT shorter so it's easier to read through.

So what does the new year have in store for the Wild Webcomic Review?  Probably more reviews (I've already got a couple set for the next batch), certainly more Not-So-Wild reviews, and maybe I'll finally finish the newspaper reviews.  Maybe.  Hell, I might even do some self promotion and get more than no one to read this thing.  Wouldn't that be awesome?

Anyway, have a Happy New Year, you drunk bastards.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

As I said last week, no new post this week.  Enjoy the holiday and I promise something for next week.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wild Webcomic Reviews 126-130

Another round of old reviews because I couldn't come up with a Christmas themed post for this week.

February 25, 2007

126. Perchance to Dream - No comic has ever made me want to sit down and rewrite it more than this one. The concept for this comic is absolutely wonderful. The ideas, the characters, everything is about as interesting as you can get, right from the first line on. The execution, while decent, though, doesn't go far enough. I'd like to see more depth, more exploration of the topic, try to get into the character's heads, especially Katherine's. I am so tempted to rewrite it, using the comic as an outline, that it actually hurts. I enjoyed it, but it starts to fall apart during the build up to the ending (though not the ending, oddly enough). Worth the read for this dead comic.

TODAY -  Still occasionally I think about doing a rewrite.  I hold back because I have other projects I want to do, but it's still there.

127. Mixed Myth - Reading comic archives gives you a chance to watch the evolution of the artist as an artist and a writer. Mixed Myth gives me a chance to see a proto version of the artist of Metrophor and is a real treat in that sense. It's also pretty entertaining without being too big on itself. Unlike, say, Wapsi Square, it doesn't let the story's mythology take over, and actually makes fun of it in the process. I got some great giggles out of it, and it does have some interesting takes on characters and plot development (from Cynamatiks to the realtionship between rabbits and elves). It's light hearted fun and it's dead so you can read it at your leisure without missing anything new.

TODAY - The archives are still there and active.  Yeah, I know, you wouldn't think so.  I have fond memories of this comic, but nothing spectacular.  Still miss Metrophor though.

128. Nobody Scores! - 8-Bit Theater is the most consistently funny comic there is. Nobody Scores, however, will remove your internal organs as you're laughing so damn hard. These are not short strips, I should say now, but they are extremely funny as you read through the bulk of them (there are always a few duds). The situations and charcters are just hilarious and tearing up from laughing while reading them is to be expected. Go read it already, it may take a while, but you'll thank me later.

TODAY - It's kind of stalled out.  No, it's still funny, it just doesn't update regularly any more.  I'm not sure why, actually, aside from artistic burn out.  Eventually I may be forced to shuffle it off to hiatus land (unofficial at that) but I'll reread the archives before I do.

March 08, 2007

129. Avalon - Another addition to the dead comic party. Avalon is a high school relationship comic. There, that's about all you really need to know about it, I mean when you've seen one, you've seen them all. And no far out sci-fi/fantasy element to gum up the works. The only downside is that it doesn't end as a comic. Guess the guy just didn't want to do the comic any more and simply posted a summary of how the thing ends. At least he ends it, I appreciate that.

TODAY - I still remember it for giving an ending, even if it wasn't in comic form.  Other comics simply stop (especially the long story ones) but few actually make an effort to give closure.  Thanks for that.

130. A Miracle of Science - Make that two dead comics. This is actually a pretty damn good comic. It's got its share of the angst bug, but the universe is wonderfully detailed and well thought out. It's paced well, even the final climax. That said, I picked out pretty much how it would end while I was still in the second chapter. Predictability isn't a bad thing, and doesn't really hurt this comic at all.

TODAY - Still a pretty damn good strip and I recommend it highly.

Wow, that's a lot of dead comics on that list, and only one that is kind of alive.  Next week I'm taking off, but I'll try to have something for New Years.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Newspaper Comics #7

Open up the Sunday comics page of nearly every newspaper and you'll likely be greeted by two comics on the front page:  Peanuts and Garfield.  Well, there is a third comic, that varies, but usually those two are there, and have been for every paper I've read, except one, Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper.  Last time I saw it (and it's been a while now) the first comic on it's page is Beetle Bailey.

Ah, Beetle Bailey, I've read a lot of it.  It's one of the few major newspaper comics that covers the military (I'm sure there are others, there has to be), but it didn't start out that way.  When it premiered in 1950, it was actually about college, but less than a year later the star, Beetle Bailey himself, dropped out and joined the army.  And he's been there ever sense, never promoted nor retired.  Poor guy.

Even compared to Blondie, Beetle Bailey is the quintessential gag a day strip.  There are never any long running stories (in it's current form at least), just one joke after another.  This also means the comic is frozen in time.  Originally it was based on Mort Walker's (the artist) experience in the military, particularly a basic training camp, it just never got past that point.  Today, despite Beetle being a private, he's at the same camp he was when he joined the military, with the same superiors and friends.

There has been some changes.  General Halftrack had to undergo a series of sensitivity training as he constantly ogled the only single blond female on the came (who also happened to be his secretary).  There have been characters who were retired and a few new ones added, but the changes are mostly superficial and do nothing to grow the comic in anyway.

And here in lies the comic's biggest problem:  The characters are the definition of one note/one dimensional.  They are literally defined by their one characteristic. Beetle is lazy, Zero is dumb, Sarge is hungry and angry, etc etc.  For a gag a day strip that's not a bad thing, but it also makes the comic extremely predictable and also ensures that the character will only come up if the joke calls for them.  Wikipedia lists 26 active characters, and but I think only half a dozen show up with any regularity.

For webcomics it is the example of what to try to avoid, even in a gag a day strip.  One note characters should always be avoided as they often create an endless cast list, most of which will never appear in the comic more than once or twice in a year.  A more compressed cast provides more opportunity to develop a joke or even short joke story and maintain the humor over the long term. Beetle Bailey suffers so desperately from the lack of joke material at this point that they created a new character a few years ago (Gizmo) to try to introduce more gadget based jokes and I can't remember the last time I saw the character at all.

I'd say most of the young gag a day strips on the net suffer from this problem initially and those that survive often evolve beyond it.  Beetle Bailey is not a great comic, I wouldn't even call it a good comic.  The jokes are flat, repetitive, predictable and worst of all dated.  It is a comic even worse off than other legacy/zombie comics because the original artist is STILL working on the comic and there's little chance it will develop beyond what it is ever.

Well, enough about newspaper comics.  I've got to go do more snowblowing/shoveling.  I'm looking so forward to that.  Until next week kiddies.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Not So Wild Review: Errant Story

Back with another Not So Wild Review and this is comic #13.  Which is actually kind of odd, considering Sluggy Freelance was #2.  That means that of the first 13 comics I reviewed, I no longer read 12 of them, for various reasons.  So let's get going.


My first encounter with the work of Micheal Poe came from his previous work, Exploitation Now!  I don't even remember how I came across that comic, but I do know that it's run had more or less ended by the time I started reading the archives.  Upon completing it, the ad came up directing people to follow his new comic, Errant Story.  The comic was, at the time, about 2 months old, and I never stopped reading it.  In fact, it remains the ONLY comic I have ever donated money to, not even Sluggy earns that honor.  So what's so great about it?  Let's break it down.


Whenever I read Errant Story, the main cast kind of reminds me of an RPG party, and that's probably on purpose.  Each has a specialty and knowledge the others don't and when they get into a fight (which doesn't happen that often) they know their roles and set goals on the fly.  They're also completely independent in thoughts and actions from each other.  I think often when characters are built for a story, eventually they all come to share the same personality, but not this cast.  Yes, they have the same goals, but they voice their concerns and act as one would expect them to despite all this time.

I guess the important thing is that they act in character without being stupid about it.  When it's smart not to say something smart assed, they usually don't.  But when it's time to, they aren't afraid to do so, at all.  The downside is that we really don't seem to get a lot of time with them.  It's weird, but there is so much going on that seeing the main characters interact with each other is a little rare, they're more often playing off the situation rather than each other.  When they do interact, it's great and tells us a lot about them, but it's usually cut short by the most recent disaster.

Here's my thing, after 7 years of reading this comic, I can't remember all the main characters names.  I know who they are, give me a picture and I would know what they've done, but I don't know their names, little of their backstory and what they're doing at the moment.  Maybe it's the fact that I read so damn many comics and I just simply don't have the memory space for it, or maybe it's how frequently it updates, but the names escape me.  Weird, isn't it?


The art of Errant Story is some of the most detailed black and white artwork you will find on the internet, especially for a comic that updates twice a week (at one point it was THREE times a week, which is even more potent).  Character designs are wonderful, detailed, and it's usually very easy to tell characters apart.  Usually.  The detail of the world is incredible and likely unmatched by anything I've ever read.

It is better than when it started, of course, you don't draw a comic for this long and not improve, but most of it seems to come more in the form of shading and realism than anything else.  The line work has been universally excellent and while there have been improvements it's not such a completely different comic as some others.


This is an epic fantasy tale, a grand one involving gods, people with the best of intentions and whole governments going nuts.  It has a deep backstory, with a world history running the entire time, but only recently has this really come to light through the off day updates.  I think this is a good thing as dumping this kind of filler description on a young comic would have drowned it pretty quickly, but as the story is nearing it's close, it's nice to finally fit the pieces of the tale into it's historical perspective.  Kind of a nice touch.

The story's basis is that Meji, a half elf with poor grades, has decided for a final project to obtain ultimate power and enslave the world!  So she sets off and runs into various characters including profession assassin Jon, elf ranger Sarine, fellow half elf Ian and Jon's time ninja sister Sara.  They then go play with gods and things go to hell in a handbasket, to say the least.

It's a well told story spanning a good chunk of the world and history.  There's a LOT going on, but it's focused enough to be centered on the few important characters to not let it go spinning out of the control. There are some areas where what's going on is hard to follow, but those are mostly early on and eventually get ironed out.

I do want to compare it to the end of Exploitation Now! which was a bit of a mess at the end.  It went wild and over the top to the point that it was utter madness.  Errant Story doesn't suffer from this as it was actually planned out to begin with, and while I'm sure there have been changes since the comic began, it isn't utterly random and chaotic.  Well, chaotic in terms story lines.


Errant Story is a great comic, and while it has a few flaws, one would be hard pressed to find one that's better that updates as frequently and with such quality.  It's one of the first comics I recommend when asked, and if you're not reading it, you must not like fantasy comics or something.

I've basically been reading this comic since nearly the beginning, and I know I'll read it through the end and possibly into it's eventual and possible sequel.  So go read it already!

Friday, November 26, 2010

No post this week

With Thanksgiving this week, I really don't have the time for a post.  Next week I should be back, hopefully with another Not So Wild Review.  See you then kiddies and happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wild Webcomic Review 121 - 125

Time for another old batch of reviews, mostly because I don't have time to come up with an article (aka: I'm lazy).

February 12, 2007

121. Daniella Dark - It's cliche to the max. I don't mind cliches, never have, as long as they're done well. This comic fails at that. On top of that, it DUMPS the entire exposition on you like a freaking weight. I don't think the actual comic starts for a dozen strips, and there's only 25 of the damn things. Maybe I could over look this, but the art isn't that great either. It's just and overall bad comic. Don't even bother, not worth it.

TODAY - It still updates, so that's good, but I just don't read it.  First impressions are important, and this comic failed there for me.

122. Diesel Sweeties - I hear this comic got into newspapers. I see syndicates are holding up there very, very, very low standards as usual. This comic is actually pretty bad. Not gouge-your-own-eyeballs-out bad, but when that's all it has going for it you know it isn't worth it. The jokes are wooden, the delivery is often terrible, there's this pretentious sense about the whole thing that just irritates me. Worse yet, it has fart jokes. And they're not even funny. Wordy as all hell too. It wasn't so bad when they were doing 4 panels, but at some point it was decided they could do as many damn panels as they liked and you're going to like it. Few comics, very few, have been bad enough that I skimmed through a signficant portion of them. Diesel Sweeties managed to do it, I don't think I read more than a half dozen comics worth in the last 500 strips. Pathetic comic, I'm glad I never have to look at the website again.

TODAY - The more I think about this comic, the more I hate it.  It even surpasses my dislike for Penny Arcade and I really don't like Penny Arcade.  I hate that I had to put the link up there, but I did review it.

123. On The Edge - Well, that's better, a comic that can actually be funny once in a while is a breath of fresh air. It's not a great comic, few are, but its a decent enough little strip to help wipe a bad taste out of your mouth with a bit of sarcasm and humor. I like the characters too, for some reason. There's nothing special about them, there's no overarching super storyline that makes them stand out, they just seem comfortable. Maybe I needed that after Diesel Sweeties, I don't know. Worth a look at least.

TODAY - I still read this comic, and it remains fun, light and interesting.  It even has a graphic novel style comic running at the same time that is going very slow but is just as interesting.  Go read it, it's worth it.

February 25, 2007 

124. Wapsi Square - No, I don't know how to pronounce it either. It's a comic about a short woman with big boobs and the weird things that happen to her. It starts off as a simple, fairly generic comic, but near the end it starts getting wrapped up in it's own mythology. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and it is interesting, but it kind of bumps along. Revelations suddenly occur without any explination as to why, the beat of the comic is off when they start tackling the mythology (and you'll know what I mean when you read it), and a lot of the characters get lost. There are a TON of characters in this comic, and luckily they all look different enough from each other to keep track, but the comic DOESN'T keep track of them, or at least it doesn't seem to. Which is a shame, they are all great in their own way. Not as great as other comics, but a good enough read.

TODAY - The original story line FINALLY wrapped up a few months ago and the comic has started to really open up.  I still wish there was more exploration of the characters that don't get much screen time, but I think the increase in simple scale of the images has made the comic so much better than when I first read it.

125. Seraphic Blue - This is not a bad comic. I say that now because I'm about to make it sound like I dislike it. I don't. Alright, that out of the way, this comic is like every anime cliche strapped together. Earth mostly destroyed by cataclysm? Check. Few, select people can defend surviving people? Check. They all happen to be young, sexy women? Check. One has a mysterious past? Check. Etc, etc, etc. It's probably BETTER than the schlock that comes out of Japan, but it's the same damn thing, it really is. It's not bad, not bad at all, but it's completely uninteresting to me. You might like it, but I don't have the tolerance for this kind of thing any more.

TODAY - Dead, about a year after the review.  I don't know if it got any better, but I imagine not really.  Oh well.

That's it for this week kiddies, see you next time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Letting Go Part 2: Achewood

Last October (2009 October), one of the first articles I wrote was on Letting Go, pulling comics that once held a high place on reading lists from those lists.  It's a difficult process, comics are habit forming (which explains the zombies that dominate the newspapers).  At the time, two comics dominated that idea for me, College Roomies from Hell and General Protection Fault.  Today I add a new one to the list, however reluctantly:


I don't do this lightly, Achewood has been a great comic.  The Great Outdoor Fight is probably one of the greatest stories ever told in webcomic form.  I can think of few other storylines that even remotely come close to matching it, and I very much doubt any ever will.  It held the internet by the balls, and everyone who read it loved it for that.

Now?  Not so much.  The comic has been in a steady decline for some time, occasionally reaching for those great moments and damn near catching them.  But it never did.

The GOF storyline was so great, perhaps it should have been expected that it would never again hit that high note, and to be fair, I never expected it to do so again.  Still it was enjoyable, for a time, and I kept reading.  As of late though, the updates have become increasingly erratic.  At one time I could expect two or three comics a week, though never sure on exactly what days, but now getting one a week is unlikely at best.  Monthly would better describe it in many cases.

Achewood as a comic doesn't need or require this amount of time to build, not when the pace was much, much faster before.  Maybe this is the result of the artist's family taking off, or perhaps the steady updates are being dedicated to paid subscribers, but for those of us who are fans and have no money (or a steady job), it feels as if the comic has come to a near standstill.

The humor, once a touch twisted, has started to fall flat.  Oh, there are still moments, but for the most part, the comic has lost that spark that kept me enraptured.  The characters feel tired and uninspired when once they were fresh and raw.  Maybe I'm growing too old, maybe they are still the same as they always were, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm right.

The last few weeks have strangled the last bit of my enjoyment from the strip.  It has lost me in a fundamental way, a way I'm afraid can't be recovered from.  Onstead, the artist, once said he finds the joke of each strip to be funny, and if he still is, good for him.  I don't, not any more at least.

And so my run of Achewood is being brought to a close.  I'll probably go back and reread the Great Outdoor Fight again before I close the book on it forever, but after that, I doubt I'll return to the comic again.  Letting go of a comic that held me tight for so long is hard, but it's time.

See you next time kiddies.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Politics and Webcomics

Since we just got done with an election here in the States, I guess I should talk about politics in webcomics.  Which is another way of saying I just randomly came up with this topic.

I have no problem with other people's politics (as long as you don't want to burn books, those people can die, in a fire, for irony).  But I really don't like comics based on them.  Which is odd since one of my favorite comics is The Pain, which is mostly a political comic.  Maybe I just don't like them based on politics I disagree with, but then I didn't much care for the political comics of Deep Fried.

So what's wrong with politics in a comic?  Well, it mostly restricts your audience.  Some people simply refuse to read comics that hold different political views then themselves.  I admit I have a similar bias, there's at least one newspaper comic (Mallard Fillmore) that I just can't stand to read.  At the same time, I do try to read various conservative websites and news because I don't want to blindly hate them, but I don't do that for fun.

The real problem, though, is how comics do it.  Even The Pain and Deep Fried, which are funny comics normally, have this annoying habit of bashing their message into the heads of their readers.  But if I think those comics beat the message in, and I line with them politically to a point, those on the other side of the political spectrum probably have it worse.  This comes from the first political webcomic I read, Small World.

Reading that comic was a chore near the end because it became VERY political, and running along lines opposite of what I normally support.  The pounding suddenly became concussive and it became hard to read or even enjoy, and in the end I didn't.  Now putting the politics into the background is something so hard I can't even think of a comic that has ever done it.

Basing your comic on politics is probably not a good idea because it is VERY hard, and even if you do it well, you'll have to be really into politics to pull it off.  Covering multiple angles might help, but I can't see anyone really giving each side a fair shake.  It's too hard.

So don't do politics, it's not worth the effort.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Strange Week

Sorry, nothing this week as it has been rather, um, strange.  I'd go into details, but it oddly has nothing to do with Halloween, so it's not very exciting.  I'll be back next week, I promise, but this week is just strange.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Scary Comics

I could save this for next week, but I don't have any ideas for topics at the moment.

It's also a topic I really can't cover because I've almost never read a truly scary comic.  The one that comes closest is Flatwood, which is dead. And it really wasn't scary, as much as atmospheric.  Even the few comics I've read with lots of gore or monsters or what not never scared me.

I think horror comics, those that update on a regular basis specifically, are generally doomed to failure.  Scary stories, movies and even TV shows have a way of getting your attention, holding it and then snapping the fear element closed around you at just the right moments.  Comics can't do that because they update every day, or 3 times a week or whatever.  You read a strip and then you're on to something else.  The tension a good scary story builds just isn't there.

This could apply to all forms of drama, the long waits between strips should lessen the impact, but a good writer can get around this usually.  Horror and other scary stories rely so much on the atmosphere and build up, though, that no writer, no matter how good, can really compensate for it.  Flatwood, as I mentioned, was the closest to doing that with the atmosphere of the comic, but it fell flat (heh) because once I finished the archives I fell out of that universe and it ceased to have it's hold on me.

The only solution for those who want to do a scary comic is to go episodic.  Tell ONE story in a large chunk and be done with it.  Which brings me to a comic I didn't review but did mention once (not in this blog) called Nightmare World (it's in flash kids, sorry ahead of time).  These are more in the style of a comic book, and tell a series of stories that have a scary bent to them and are really quite good.  Well drawn, well told, and a lot of fun.  And when they were updating (now a long time ago) they updated it one full episode at a time.  Here the comic held your attention, strummed the nerves a bit, and worked, well, like a good horror comic would.

But I still wouldn't call it scary.  I guess I just don't get scared easily when I'm sitting at my computer with the cool glow of the monitor staring back at me.  I might be just weird too.

Until next time kiddies.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Touching Base #5

Another edition of Touching Base because I'm resorting a lot of my links.

No Rest for the Wicked officially went over a year of no updates this month.  Since the forums are filled to the brim with spam, I don't think it'll be updating again anytime soon.  I am depressed by this because it was pretty good and active for a while.

Our Time in Eden has gone on indefinite hiatus due to the artist getting a well paying job.  It might come back in a few months, but it's hard to say for certain.  All these long story comics dying makes me sad like this.  Moreso because I keep reading them.

The Wotch is still not regularly updating, even after a fairly lengthy guest comic spot.  Come on guys, post some reason why your comic isn't updating ON THE COMIC PAGE!  Would be nice, you know?

Lowroad75 has vanished, probably some server error that has yet to be corrected.  The artist was going on an extended hiatus, so they may just not have noticed yet.  One can hope they'll get back to it.

Hanna is Not a Boy's Name is getting a sporadic with it's updates.  I'm worried it might stop, and am hoping it doesn't.

Brat-halla is also on hiatus (Touching Base #5:  Revenge of Hiatus, apparently).  Some personal problems of some sort are slowing production up.

City of Reality is also also on hiatus, but I know he's active.  I guess doing the MWF thing didn't work well for him so he's going back to building an archive of stories to post in large chapter shots.  I for one am all for it.

Apparently I missed that Edge the Devilhunter was going on extended hiatus a while ago.  Makes sense as the site hasn't updated in forever.  A couple more months and I'll be giving it up for dead.  These updates are getting tiring.

Return to Eden is apparently in the final stretch, so I expect this story to wrap up probably at the beginning of next year.  That's actually positive news as the strip has continued updating for it's entire story length.

And that's about it.  I've rearranged the list (-->) a bit, not much, just to keep things straight.  I think I'll add a new section over there:  Webcomic Stuff, where I keep the review sites and blogs I follow.  Not much there right now (like 4 sites) but might be worth your time.

Anyway, until next week kiddies.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fall Wild Webcomic Review

Summer dies, the trees turn red and orange, and then the leaves fall from the trees.  A chill wind blows and the sun grows cold.  It's that time of year again.


Yes, back again for another batch of comics for you to read or not, depending.  So what's on the docket today?

211.  Toilet Genie - Yeah, that name attracted me too.  It's the story of a dog who ends up discovering a genie in a toilet and gets some wishes.  The story is, at least right now, a bit confusing.  I think they're doing some mythical parallel to the dog story, but it's hard to say for sure.  The art is looks great though, and I think I'll follow it a bit to see where it goes from here as what story I've been able to follow has been interesting.  I'm not sure it has serious staying power, however.

212.   White Noise - The story on this one is probably one of the best paced things I've ever read.  It doesn't waste time and gets you into the action, introducing the characters quickly then filling in the back story rather than doing an exposition dump.  And it's got an interesting back story that's light on details, but the broad swaths are enough to give you a good idea what's going on.  Oh, and it looks damn good too.  The downside:  It's a slow updater from the looks.  Monthly might be generous on this one.  This might hurt it in the long run, but for the moment I'm reading it.

213.  UnCONventional - I don't often do stick figure comics, not because I don't like them, but simply because I just haven't.  Usually they're gag-a-day strips or they mutate into something like the World Explodes.  UnCONventional is a gag a day strip, but with the over arching story of a group of people running a convention.  I know little about such a scene (never been to one, honestly), but I can tell this comic is really a comic for people in the know more than anything else.  And yet I still laugh and chuckle at it.  Much the same way the Whiteboard doesn't require knowledge of paint ball to enjoy, neither does UnCONventional.  Simple and fun.

214.   Shi Long Pang, The Wandering Shaolin Monk - Where UnCONventional is simple, Shi Long Pang is complex.  This is a historical fiction, taking place in the past but not about the past (make sense?).  What makes it interesting is the vast amounts of history every comic is infused with.  Perhaps over infused, actually.  The early strips especially have massive amounts of footnotes clarifying the terminology, language and historical personalities mentioned in the comic and initially it felt a bit dry and heavy.  Once the story really starts, however, this calms down (but never fully goes away) and you get an interesting, fun, tragic and action filled tale.  I was quite pleased, in fact, when I had finished and am glad I did read it, but I'm not sure if I'll continue for very long.  Oh, it's good, but I'm not sure if it really captures me well enough to keep me reading.

215.  Marsh Rocket - Hope you like senseless violence, because Marsh Rocket has it in spades (well, hedge trimmers at least).  The story of a group of corporate mercenaries that get the job done, even if it means severing a few arms, blowing up a building or two and shooting lots of people.  At the same time, it's fun, action packed, and actually has some decent story twists along the way.  And at least one exploding head.  So far at least.  Definitely a comic I'm going to be reading for a while, and I think you should too, if you can stand the violence.

Well, that's enough for this round kiddies, until next time.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Girly Ends

And another comic comes to an end.  Third one in the last year.

Girly ended a couple weeks ago.  Not much fanfair for it, and honestly it took me by surprise.  I really didn't expect it to end, though the signs were most definitely there.

I've liked Girly since I first read it, but at the same time, I wasn't completely obsessed with it. Oh, I kept reading it, but I was never really that into it.  Seeing it end doesn't really bother me.  That's not to say it's bad, it isn't, it's just not great.

As an adventure comic, Girly was everything you could want or need.  From the lovable stars to the wild collection of wacky characters, and all of them had some batshit insane adventure they would participate in.

The adventures are fun, and the focus along with the relationship between Winter and Orta.  Which brings me to Slipshine.  Oh, what's Slipshine and why is there no link?  It's a pay porn site created by the creator of Girly.  Yeah, if you've been reading Girly, that should explain the ads and why it looks the way it does.

Never bothered me, honestly, but as the comic wound down, these roots came out much more, especially in the climactic final battle.  Again, didn't bother me (Portal of Evil has steeled me from such things), but I could see where some people might be turned, off.  Luckily, they probably don't read Girly anyway.

I wish I had more to say on it, but I really don't.  I enjoyed it and will miss it to a point, but it's not going to take a chunk out of my daily webcomic run like 8-Bit Theater did.

Next week, a set of new reviews.  No, I'm not kidding.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Not-So-Wild Review: Sluggy Freelance

Not so wild?  What is this about?  Well, since eventually I will run out of my old wild reviews, I think it's time to got a bit more in depth with some of these comics.  You know, actually REVIEW them for a change.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Anyway, I'm only going to do the ones I actively read, so this list will be much shorter.  And I'm going in order so the first comic is:


Sluggy was the first true webcomic I started reading, and I never stopped.  I like this comic, I like it a lot.  I like it so much that it is the last comic I read every day, and has been since I finished my 2 week archive dive (2 weeks because of a 56k modem).  So what makes it so good to me?  Well, let me try to relate it.


I suppose it's cliche to say that a good comic has good characters, but I'm not afraid of cliches.  Sluggy has some very well done characters.  The core characters of Torg and Riff play off well each other and grew from their more archetypal origins into reasonably complex yet still fun characters.  Perhaps only secondary comes the female stars of the comic, Zoey and Gwynn who have stories at least as complex as the guys.  And all this from a basic premise that simply threw them together for giggles.

Past them come the various secondary characters from Bun Bun the far to violent rabbit to Oasis the undying.  The cast is so large, in fact, that it's almost impossible to keep track of them all, their comings and going and their own stories.  While they are not, of course, as followed or detailed as the main cast, they are at least recognizable and can add a great deal to the story.

But don't think they started this way.  Sluggy is a 13 YEAR old comic, and much of this development came over these long years.  Many characters have fallen by the wayside in that time, and many more were resurrected in much more potent forms as the years went by.  Such is the long development of the comic.  Despite this, the characters always seem to maintain more than a hint of Sluggy's origins as a gag a day strip.


This is a funny comic.  It was born as one and continues to be one, despite the more serious dramatic moments.  Pete Abrams is one of the few artists I've seen that can so perfectly balance the hilarious and dramatic within the confines of a single storyline, or even a single strip in many cases.  Even as the comic explores the depths of personal depression, the destruction of entire worlds, or just the death of a single character, there's always a joke lurking nearby.

The stories aren't super wonderful, but just pretty damn good, and have gotten better as time has gone on.  The early ones were just set ups for a string of jokes (or worse, puns!) to fill out strips.  Later they did get deeper and more meaningful, delving into the characters.  Generally, they've been well done and actually damn good.  The issues start building up as the comic generates more and more backstory, and again, keeping track of past characters and plots can be nearly overwhelming.

Which isn't to say their haven't been slip ups.  Oceans Unmoving is a storyline that failed as a Sluggy story.  Not because it was a bad story, it was actually pretty good, but it wasn't Sluggy Freelance.  It was a failure because it didn't include any of the regular cast (outside of Bun Bun and Bun Bun, which you'll have to read to understand) and contained a more fantastic premise than had been attempted before, but mostly it relied on building a new group of characters and readers felt lost without Torg or Riff running around.

To his credit, Abrams picked up and this and ended the story as soon as possible and drew the readers back with the old cast in new clothes and new adventures.  I think had Oceans Unmoving been established as a separate comic from Sluggy Freelance itself, it would still be going on today, but as a part of Sluggy Freelance, it just didn't work.


A lot of comics start with crappy are and get better as time goes on, and Sluggy is no exception.  That said, even the early strips aren't that bad, especially for a web comic.  The characters were identifiable and well proportioned, which is odd praise but considering other comics at similar stages, it's actually high praise.

Yet the art didn't really come into it's own until probably the story Fire and Rain, which also happened to be around the time the comic broke away from the old newspaper comic conventions when it came to layout and schedule.  Today the art is still comic art, but much more detailed and full.  Strips no longer stick to a 3 or 4 panels, but get as large as they need to be to convey the story, show the art, or tell the joke.

I really rather enjoy the art, but it's not the best art I've seen for a comic.  It is more than serviceable though, adding that extra layer of realism most comics need to feel great.


Have I mentioned I really like Sluggy Freelance?  Because I do, and it stands out to me as one of the better comics on the net today.  Which isn't to say it's the best.  There are more than frequent moments when the comic falls to the filler gods or updates are delayed for random reasons (not that they aren't good reasons, they're just all over the map).  The stories sometimes don't quite hit their marks and again, the sheer size of the backstory is bound to bury even the die hard fans.

But when Sluggy gets it right, it gets it VERY right.  Other comics might have better art and stories, but Sluggy is a force of greatness at that moment that is hard to beat.  It would be nicer if the updates were a bit more steady though.  I say go read it, but get ready for a long read.

Well, that's the first long review.  Like it?  I hope so, because I'll be doing more in the future.  Until next week kiddies.

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Anniversary!

Well, it's been a full year, and one day, since I started this blog.

It really did start as a birthday gift for myself, to see if I could do it and keep it up, and I'm glad to say I did.  If I hadn't gotten a steady job, I think I could have maintained the twice a week thing, maybe, but at the same time, I think I prefer doing this once a week.  Easier on me that way.

I want to thank everyone (which is about 3 people, I think) who read it, and even those few of you who actually left comments.  Hell, I even got one of the artists to comment, that makes me feel pretty good (of course, his comic was ending at the time, sigh).

So what's the future of this?  Well, I don't know.  I'm looking at changing up the color scheme a bit, maybe I'll even start, you know, advertising it or something.  Maybe.  I do intend to have a new batch of reviews before the end of the year.  Maybe before Halloween even, wouldn't that be neat?  Yeah.

Of course, once I run out of old reviews to post, I'll have to get even more creative with recycling old updates.  Or maybe I'll go in a different direction and expand out the scope of the blog.  I've thought about it at least.  We'll see.  In the mean time, there will be more reviews, more articles and more whatever.  Thanks for reading this thing, and I hope I can keep it going for another year.

Until next time kiddies.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wild Webcomic Review 116 - 120

Another batch of old reviews for you to read.  Which means I have no new ideas for articles.  Heh.

January 22, 2007
116. No 4th Wall to Break - And we end this session with a dead comic. If you hadn't noticed, I do review those, and this is one that probably shouldn't have died. It's not as bad as Jeremy in that respect (died, again, so young), but still sad to see it go. Oh, and it's the third stick figure comic. Not as obscure in it's humor as Cynide and Happiness, and actually a little higher on the art scale (it even has *gasp* characters!). It's almost not a stick figure comic at all. And there's no 4th wall either, they are all very aware of the fact they're in a comic, and they don't care. Enjoyable at the very least.

TODAY -  Gone, this time thanks to a computer glitch.  Better than just being forgotten or something.

February 12, 2007
117. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - It wants to be the next PLiF. It wants to be it DESPERATELY. And it actually comes pretty damn close. A lot closer than Edible Dirt, that's for damn sure. It doesn't quite get there though. Yeah, it's that funny, weird humor we've all come to expect from these kinds of comics, but it just never seems to go far enough. And you get to see the back of many, many people's heads.

TODAY -  And you still see a lot of back of people's heads, but the strip has changed up the formula a bit and now does a lot more stuff.  It's better than when I initially reviewed it and I still read it.

118. No Rest for the Wicked - A lot of comics try to play up some fairy tale element in them at some point. Few do it from day one and only this one does it in half as much detail. I can tell the artist loves fairy tales and is very well read about them. It makes the comic a wonderful treat if you know the stories behind them, and it all seems to, well, work. The updates seem a bit sporatic, but I'm willing to wait if it can maintain this quality.

TODAY - Hasn't updated since October of last year.  Yes, the comic has really lengthy gaps between updates, but this one is huge.  I somehow doubt it will be coming back, but I'll check it through October, then it goes in the dead bin.

119. Kawaii Not - It's formulatic, silly, cute, and insults Japophiles everywhere. I like it. It's not anything fancy, don't expect that, and some of the jokes fall flat, but for a quick diversion, it does the job well. Not much else to say about it.

TODAY - Still doesn't stray from the formula, and I still read it for the simple humor.  Again, not much esle to say.

120.  Edwitch - There's a witch, living in a house on the edge of a cliff overlooking a city. Sounds like a weird fairy tale story setup, yes? It's not. It's more down to Earth than that. Really, it seems to be more about the main character working against her own nature. Its kind of interesting that way, and it's odd too. Worth watching, for sure.

TODAY - Dead and gone.  It died (and was announced dead) some time ago, but I'm surprised it vanished.  Kind of a bummer, the story was just starting to heat up, but at least the artist was nice enough to tell people the comic had come to an end.  I like that.

Well, that's it for this week.  You know, I keep thinking there's something special about next week, but I can't put my finger on it.  Oh well, I'll remember eventually, until next time kiddies.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Great Names

I would have to say that the first thing that gets me interested in reading a comic is the title.  That's because it's often the first thing I see, and so do many others.  A simple forum post with the poster saying I have to read this comic, and then giving me the name and link can spell the difference between me actually reading it, and skipping it.

Now I could go into what makes a good name for a comic, but, um, I've been trying to figure that out since March.  Not much luck.  So instead, I'll talk about my favorite comic titles, numbered but in no particular order.

1.  Kristy Versus the Zombie Army - Whenever I think of a great title for a comic, I always come back to Kristy.  Maybe it's the Army of Darkness lover in me, but the very idea of this title thrills me to no end.  One person verses an entire army is awesome, but one against an army of zombies?  That is EPIC.  Sadly, the comic is on extended (and likely permanent) hiatus, but the title still rules.

2.  Cleopatra in SPAAAACE! - I'm a bit of a history buff, so "Cleopatra" automatically makes me interested in this comic.  The fact that she is in space makes it even more exciting.  But the fact that there are FOUR A's in "space" make this title absolutely epic.  You just know this is going to be awesome, so much so they needed extra letters to express it.  It also reveals that this comic won't ever take itself too seriously, and that can be a big plus.

4.  The Adventures of Dr. McNinja - He's a doctor.  He's a ninja.  He's Irish.  These are his adventures.  The fact that the comic is at least as awesome as the title makes it even better.  I don't think anyone could ever have come up with it outside of the forum where it was created in a sea of names with numbers in it.  That takes a level of creativity you don't see very often, and of course, the comic shows it constantly.

5.  Nobody Scores! - The entire premise of this comic is summed up in these two words and a bit of punctuation.  Seeing such a title compels one to see what exactly it means, and the realization that it means exactly what it says.  So few comics can so concisely define themselves, and even fewer can do it in the title.  Damn funny comic too.

6.  Here There Be Robots - On old maps they used to write "here there be dragons" for regions of the world where no one had gone before.  Robots would have been odd to see on those old maps, but they still fit.  The play on the old phrase here draws you to it, but it's abhorrently long update periods ruin the fun.

7.  Blip - One word, and that word is something that shows up and goes away again.  Or sticks around and cannot be easily accounted for.  Either way, that word makes me go "damn, wish I thought of that title."  Simple, elegant, and attractive.  Plus it's easy to write and thus needs no abbreviation.

8.  Anne Frank Conquers the Moon Nazis - Yeah, you read that right.  Nazi's, the moon and Anne Frank.  If the comic wasn't dead, I'd be checking it constantly to see if it was updated JUST for the title.  The comic itself (what there is of it) is great, but lacks the moon Nazis of the title.  Disappointing, I know, but at least you get the title.

9.  Teddy Bear Trauma - Not the teddy bear!  Cute things being tortured in horrible ways always attracts, especially from people who love cute things (no one knows why. . ).  Teddy Bear Trauma does not disappoint on this end, and the title is what really drew me to it.

10.  Jet Packs and Time Machines - Mixing the two is like mixing peanut butter and chocolate:  Only good things can happen.  At least until they try making other styles besides regular Resses (white chocolate?  Seriously?).  The combo is great here, but sadly it updates once every 6 months or so, but the title sounds great and what there is of the comic is equally awesome.

So that's just a few of my favorite titles.  One day I'll try to define why they're so damn good, but right now, let's just go with these are them.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wild Webcomic Review 111 - 115

Back for another batch of old reviews.  Hope you don't mind.

January 22, 2007 

111.  The Adventures of Dr. McNinja - Holy crap is this a funny comic. The concept is ridiculous, but the execution is so spot on that you can't help but crack up into fits of laughter. Everything is well done, and it is about as damn perfect as you can get. Why have I not read this comic sooner? WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS WRONG WITH ME? Or you for that matter? HAVEN'T YOU CLICKED THE LINK BY NOW?!

TODAY - Still one of the most awesome comics on the net today.  NOW IN COLOR!  Go read this comic.  GO READ IT NOW!

112. Return to Eden - Sometimes you just have to take a chance on a comic, and this one needs it, especially give the massive warning set right at the beginning of the the archive. I imagine if you don't think you'll enjoy it because of that, you'll be wrong. Yeah, it's a little mangany (sometimes a little too much) but it does have an interesting perspective on Heaven and Hell and love and all that crap. Oh, and a bit of action, but not much, so far. If you're willing to go with the flow despite the warning, maybe. If not, well then you probably won't even bother to try. Mores the pitty.

TODAY - The story is on it's last chapter, and it's actually pretty exciting.  Oh, it's not action exciting, but "oh shit, the world is ending" exciting.  The warning at the beginning of the comic was, in the end, probably unnecessary.  Aside from some of the earliest stuff, almost nothing happened later on that required such a warning.

113. Hector! - I like where this comic is going, but figuring out how it got to where it is right now has been an issue. The backstory is, well, limited. That's not a bad thing (and I think it finally explained it, I just didn't get it all). The art style is pretty damn neat, (even when they switch artists and character sets after the first book), the humor is okay, and it might have a more interesting story as the thing goes along (not that it's not interesting, mind you, just I think it'll get deeper). I'll be watching this one for a bit, I think.

TODAY - Died shortly after this review, and I don't think it'll be coming back.  I heard somewhere that maybe it moved from the site I found it on, but I see no sign of it.  In retrospect, I don't think I'm as impressed with it as I had been, but that may be because it doesn't update.

114. Mango in Dreamland - This comic is probably too young to strictly judge, but it is strange and very, well, Japanese cutesy, if you get the meaning. Bad? Good? Hard to say. Odd, I think would be a good start, considering the main character has magical Kirby powers (the game Kirby), but hasn't even begun to explain why or how this came to be. I'll give you a better judgement after I read it for a bit longer.

TODAY - Died, and a shame too because it was pretty good in the end.  Real life, though is always more important than a comic.

115. Gone with the Blastwave - It's like Red vs Blue, only far more violent. They drop a tank on someone for pete's sake! And it was very funny. Oh so very damn funny. Welcome to the end of the world, now go read it.

TODAY - I would love this comic more if it updated more than once every 5 months (okay, it's on a monthly schedule now, apparently).  Long periods between updates make it almost intolerable.  At least it still updates.

Well, that's enough for this week, see you next time kiddies.

Friday, August 20, 2010

They Call it Filler, Filler. . .

Wow, an article, must be something in the water.

Filler is a concept that I think really took root in the anime crowd.  Anime is often based on manga but since anime tends to move faster than it's source material, the studios have to do something until they can go back to the manga's main storyline.  This is filler, stuff used until the main story can come back into play.  It can be used in other places, including this blog (see last week), but is actually pretty rare outside of anime.

And webcomics.  It's actually funny that webcomics use filler because two of their common sources, comic books and newspaper comics, really don't.  Comic books either have such a convoluted story that "filler" doesn't actually exist or they just delay publishing until the comic books is finished.  Newspaper comics have something similar, called Sunday Comics, but it's less filler and more a second story line in many cases, and if an artist misses a deadline (VERY RARE) they simply run an older strip.

Webcomics, however, are different.  There are no set schedules, few webcomic artists actually make a living on their comics, and if they do have a schedule, they usually are running right along the deadline.  Thus comes the filler strips, comics that are usually noted as such and do something that is not artist like.

Filler comes in various forms, and I apologize now that I won't be including specific examples.  I'd have to dig through a lot of comics to do that, and I really don't have the time or energy to do so.  I'll at least point you toward some of the comics I've seen such filler in, if I can remember them.

The most common filler is the art post.  Sometimes it's just a sketch, sometimes something more, but always a random image taken from the artist's files.  Typically they aren't planned, though Sluggy Freelance has done it more or less consistently on weekends since moving to a five day a week schedule.  I actually think this is the best filler of the batch as the artist still gets to put art up, even if it isn't a comic, and it doesn't interrupt or derail an ongoing story.

Sketched pages of the comic are also a form filler, but less common than outright art.  A lot of reasons for this, mostly because many artists are perfectionists that would rather post nothing than something incomplete.  At the same time, there are those who don't mind, such as the artist for The Meek.  After each of his chapters, he posts (very quickly) the rough draft for it.  The situations are often very different and worth reading if you get the chance to see them.

At some point, the artist will take more than a day or so off, and instead replace the comic with a sub-comic.  Typically this will be in a simpler style (stickman) or just simply be different characters.  Getting away from the main story, even in the middle of one, probably acts as a relief valve for the artist, giving them time to organize their thoughts and notes on the next big plot development.  And probably helps the readers wind down a bit too.  I again point to Sluggy Freelance because he does it most often, though he does make an effort to have the breaks come between storylines, rather than within one.

Guest strips or guest art are the next phase of filler.  I often wonder if artists like guest art less for the fact that they don't have to draw anything, and more because of the ego boost it gives them.  It's scary though when the guest art is actually better than the original comic, and I wonder if that hurts the ego thing.  Still, that's rare enough that it doesn't come up much.  The Wotch is running another string of guest strips, though the reason why still evades me.

Question and answer strips fall in around here.  I suppose for the artist, Q&A gives them a chance to resolve story problems that the readers may have been having with the comic, but it is still filler as these answers could, and should, come in the main comic itself.  Other times, it's not actually Q&A, but more information dump, an attempt on the artist's part to explain things that they know instinctively at this point, but the reader doesn't.  Alpha Luna did this, and I consider it the worst part of the comic.  I know WHY it was done (there is no room for explination in the action scene that was taking place) but it could have been done in so many other ways.  Then, of course, there is Heart Shaped Skull's "Vicious Whispers" segments that are probably the most fun and creative Q&A sessions I've ever seen.  I think it helps that the questions cover just about everything, and at the same time resolve certain points of the universe for the main comic without it being so direct.

Filler is something that webcomics have to deal with because they often don't have a team of artists, extremely deep archives or even the ability to branch into alternate storylines. At the same time, filler is NOT all that common in the rest of the world, so webcomic artists would be wise to try to avoid it as much as possible.  Build up deep buffers of comcis, and if you must do fillers, at least get creative.

That's my thoughts anyway.  See you next time kiddies.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Review a Book - Silver

What?  Book review on a webcomic review site?  Well honestly, I've been trying to work on an article about comic names since, um, March, and I can't get it to work.  So I need something else.  Plus, I like this book and I want to expose it to you.  So here you go:

Book Review: Silver by Edward Chupack

I've never read Treasure Island. Hell, the most I know about it comes from, of all things, Muppet Treasure Island. So it didn't occur to me that the book named "Silver" was related to it immediately. What attracted me was the black cover with the skull and crossbones. Then I read the tag line:

"My Own Tale, As Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder."

Oh I had to buy this.

This is the purported autobiography of the quintessential pirate, Long John Silver, but if you think this is merely a retelling of the Stevenson's classic, you are very wrong.

The book starts by instantly dropping you into "Talk Like a Pirate Day: The Book." It's not as BAD as you might think, but you instantly know this is a pirate writing about pirate things. To read a book like that is so, different that it instantly hooked me.

The story is just what it says on the cover, the life of Long John Silver, how he got his name, and how he became a pirate to start, a story that began when he was like 12 or so. So yeah, Treasure Island is not going to show up for a LONG while.

What really stands out is the sheer realism of the piece. It's historical, rooting itself in history and setting of the period. While I'm not as versed in pirate matters as I could be, it does feel very real, and the impossible never seems to occur. I think the author took pains to make sure that what he wrote didn't seem to be pulled out of his ass, and set up each encounter and event as much as possible.

That said, he takes a great many liberties with the source material. The Treasure Island part of the book is most certainly NOT Stevenson's story, not by a long shot. Oh, they share characters and rough situations, but for the most part it is a completely different story, one that rolls better with the rest of Silver's story. At the same time, it is still the climax of the tale, and maintains it's importance in the grand scheme of things.

But if this were just a simple "autobiography" and retelling of Treasure Ilsand, it likely would only be just decent as a book. What makes it wonderful is that it's actually a mystery book, all built around the search for treasure. The mystery is presented as a series of clues and ciphers Silver sprinkles throughout his telling of his life.

In the end, the mystery is not WHERE the treasure is, but WHAT the treasure is. History buffs will likely catch on quick, but those like myself, likely won't. That doesn't really matter in the end, as Silver walks the reader through the clues step by step, like he's teaching it, and it turns out he is, after a fashion.

And the tag doesn't lie either, Silver kills a ton of people in this book, and speaks on murder and it's commission frequently and with loving detail. Still, none of this ever comes across as superhuman. He's smart as all hell, that's for sure, but often he doesn't seize on certain clues or acts until it's nearly too late. Once he knows, though, he plans quickly and executes just as well. The fact that he is captured at all is a mystery never really detailed beyond a certain point. He's not perfect, that's for sure, and it keeps him very human, and very interesting.

I happened across this book in the bargain section of Barnes and Noble, so if you happen to come across it, I recommend it. I suspect those who have read Treasure Island will be thrilled at the references that can be found, but fans of the original will be disappointed in the reworking of the original piece. For those of us who haven't read it, though, Silver is still damn good and enjoyable.

Next time, something to do with webcomics, I hope.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Newspaper Comics #6

When I started this string of articles, there were four comics that stood out as being most influential on webcomics.  The first two are Peanuts and Garfield, and I have already covered those.  The next two are probably more influential in the long run, even if their lifespans were far less than the first two.

Which brings us to today's comic.  This comic was so influential that it spawned many imitators in newspapers, let alone the innumerable attempts to replicate it in webcomic form.  In my paper alone there are at least 3 comics that can be called imitators, though each isn't nearly up to task for one reason or another.  Amongst the webcomics, I have continued to hunt for a replacement for this comic, but only one has ever truly come close, and it has been dead for a long, long time now.  What comic could do this?  The Far Side.

Gary Larson's The Far Side is not unique in terms of it's format, the single panel strip, but it's content is so different from what was found in strips before or after it that it remains a cultural milestone and practically unforgettable.  The uniqueness of the Far Side starts with the sheer lack of any regular characters.  Oh there are animals, especially cows, that all look the same, even the people often look the same, but none are given a name and are adjusted, as needed to fit the joke.

And the jokes were the reason for this lack of a regular cast.  While I don't have a picture perfect memory, I can't remember a single joke outright replicated only by changing a few words or lines (maybe a trouble brewing comic or two).  There are no running gags, aside from the afore mentioned cows I suppose, so each strip is different.  The result is what many call 'surrealistic' humor, but I just call funny as hell.  The unexpected became the norm with Far Side, and in the process it became memorable.

The Far Side was only published for a mere 15 years, starting in 1980, and yet is deep in the memories of many of the current crop of webcomic artists (the younger ones discover it early on anyway).  This creates a long standing influence as people try to replicate the experience with their own work.  The problem, of course, is that the Far Side had no set rhythm or beat, each strip was often very different from the previous one and with no characters to speak of, finding that element that made the Far Side great is, well, damn near impossible.  What it was, of course, is that Gary Larson has one hell of a twisted sense of humor and could spin almost anything into a joke, a talent most people do not have.

In newspapers, as I said, there are many imitators that try to latch on to some element of the Far Side thinking it will replicate it.  Of the three in my paper, one latches on to puns, another goes for the "weird" angle and the third kind of goes it's own path, but you can still see the influence.  The latter of the three is the best because it doesn't try to stick to whatever formula the Far Side is supposed to have, but still goes for the surrealist bent that Larson used.  At other times it replicates the last of my four most influential strips, but that's a subject for another time.

In the webcomic world, only one comic has ever managed to match the Far Side in my eyes:  The Parking Lot is Full.  It does the same thing the Far Side does, but never actually replicating the same joke twice (well, except for the last string of strips, but there was a joke of a different color).  It is still the first webcomic I ever read (and reviewed) and I still hold it as the standard that all comics must meet.  At the same time, it's still not quite as good as the Far Side.  I think it's the edginess that fails it in the end and the forced messages, something the Far Side never really got into.

Aside from PLiF, comics like Cyanide and Happiness and Edible Dirt come closest to the Far Side, but each never quite gets there, each going more for shock and edginess than even PLiF, and that was already beyond the Far Side.  Still, that doesn't mean others haven't tried to replicate the Far Side, and likely will continue to do so.  It is truly one of the great comics of all time, and it's influence will be felt for years to come.

I'm not sure what comic I'll do next time, but it certainly won't be my most influential comic because, well, I like holding on to those.  Of course if you haven't figured out which one it is, you need to smash your head against a wall for a while, because at this point it should be obvious.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Nothing this week

Been scarily busy with other things.  I'll have something next week, I promise.

In the mean time, Alpha Luna has started updating again.  I like comics that come back from the dead.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wild Webcomic Review 106 - 110

Something good is another set of old reviews.  Yeah, I've been lazy this week.

January 11, 2007

106. Sorcery 101 - Thanks to caerbrigit for pointing this one out. It's a modern day meets the creatures of the night (vampires, werewolves, etc) type strip, and it does it pretty well. It's not deadly serious most of the time, but tries to make it clear that certian things are serious (even if they aren't taken that way at the time). What I find most refreshing is that it is an alternate Earth, so she (the artist) doesn't have to shoe horn our world into it. Give it a whirl at least, I'm still reading it.

TODAY - It's not bad, but I'm not sure if I'm really enjoying it as much as I was earlier.  I don't know what exactly changed, but I almost think of it as an obligation rather than something I enjoy.  That means it's this close to being removed form the read list, but not yet.  Not yet.

107. Haru-Sari - Thanks to kodein for this one. I've had this one sitting in my bookmarks for the longest time, and in fact it was only the other day that I actually sat down and read it. Why? I'm turned off by most manga style comics. Aside from a few (Errant Story among them), they generally don't attract me at all. I'm kind of sorry I feel that way because I almost missed out completely on this one. It's less straight up Japanese style than most, and it's actually, well, good. I found myself drawn in, which is rare. I'll be reading this one for a while.

TODAY -  The on going mystery of what the hell is going on keeps me coming back.  Eventually it should end, eventually, but until then, what an strange trip.  Not going anywhere.

January 22, 2007

108. The World Explodes - There are three stick figure type comics in this batch to review, and, well, this is the worse of the lot. Worse than that even. It tries to be funny, in an extremely crude way (NSFW, BTW), but it fails, repeatedly. It's the kind of things preteen boys come up with while trying to figure out if they're gay or not. It's not funny, it's not entertaining, and it's not worth your time. I know I swore I would read more bad comics, but damn.

October 11, 2008 -  What a change. This comic is still very NSFW, but the difference between when I first read it and what it is now is amazing. And it comes in the form of two words: Story arc. That's right, he turned this mess of a comic and gave it a story, starting with a play on a fairy tale, and things went up from there. I don't think I've ever had a comic go from the bottom of the list bad comics and get right into my regular rotation, but this one did it. The latest story isn't that great, tried to include too many characters I think, made it too epic, but even so, it is still worth reading now. Sick, isn't it?

TODAY -  It's dead, even BEFORE the re-review went up, it was dead.  Didn't know it at the time.  It's a bummer, actually, even the last story was fun and interesting, but I think perhaps the artist had the same thought I did:  It was too epic, there was no way to match it again.  Still, I'm glad I went back to this one, still worth it.

109. Cyanide and Happiness - Everything The World Explodes attempts to do, Cyanide and Happiness manages to do in a spectacular fashion. It's funny, primarily, and that alone makes this comic worth the energy. Yeah, sometimes the jokes fall flat, but when they hit, they're great. It's simple, fun, and generally mindless. Go, read, enjoy. Be happy.

TODAY - They've done some videos, animations, and those are JUST as funny as the actual comic.  I've even seen this comic IN book stores, in book form of course.  It deserves it, this comic is one of those great, silly, stupid comics that you simply must read.

110. A Divine Dramedy - Within the first 10 or so strips, the three main characters get their heads chopped off. Two of them have it done twice. It's alright, they're dead already. Maybe it's because I just got done reading it, but I really enjoyed this comic, probably more than I should have. The art is wonderful in my eyes, the humor is spot on, and the whole thing is just, I don't know, great would be a good term. Perhaps it'll wear off, but I'm thinking it won't.

TODAY -  This one is the one I am most embarrassed about.  Don't get me wrong, the comic was pretty good, but not as good as I seem to be saying in the review, and I'm embarrassed by that.  Which doesn't matter because it's MIA.  The artist still has a site (linked) but the comic itself is gone.  No idea where it went.  Perhaps I should be happy about that, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, enough of this.  Let us move on.  See you next week kiddies.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Touching Base # 4

Ah, another Touching Base, because I don't want to post an old review but I don't have the energy to do a full update.  I love my laziness!

I'm removing Chugworth Academy from the read list.  It hasn't updated since September, and shows no signs of doing so again.  I'm holding out hope that No Rest for the Wicked will updated before October (12 months after it's last update) and then that will be shuffled off too.  I'm also FINALLY removing 8-Bit Theater from the read list.  The comic is done, so it's time to go.  Back to Earth hasn't updated in several months, and I'm tired of waiting for it.  Unlike Chugworth or NRftW, I'm not that invested in it, so saying goodbye doesn't bother me as much.

I'm also moving Elsie Hooper to the Hiatus category.   I think it's dead, but I'll give it a bit longer before it goes away forever.

Moving day for a lot of comics, actually.  Errant Story switched to a twice a week schedule, so I'm moving it to T-Th-S.  City of Reality finished up it's first 3-day a week chapter, and it actually worked pretty well in the end, though the time reset thing could have been done better I think.  No matter, I'm moving that to M-W-F.  Templar, Arizona, The Meek and U.F.O. are also going over to the Weekly branch, they update too rarely to justify being in the more frequently checked categories.

The Wotch finally updated again, with another guest artist.  Why now?  No idea, the news posts haven't been updated since December.  Zebra Girl is moving off Keenspot, and is building a new site to boot.  The Pain (which hasn't had a proper update in months) is apparently going to have a new website as well.  Get rid of the frames!

I mentioned possibly revamping the blog here a few weeks ago.  The idea is to expand the scope from just webcomics to cover other things, like movies, TV series and such.  I haven't decided to do that yet, mostly because it would entail more work.  We'll see though.  Hell, I can't even get the time to finish filling in the current blog stuff.

Well, that's about it. Nothing earth shattering, but hopefully I'll have something good for next week.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Wild Webcomic Review


Yes, that's right, I got a new batch of reviews for you guys.  It's only been, um, five months.  That's actually a bit ahead of my normal curve, actually.  So, let's get started, shall we?

206.  Romantically Apocalyptic - Welcome to the end of the world!  Hope you don't go mad, though if you do, at least have fun with it.  This is a bizarrely beautiful, funny, and twisted comic that should be read just because.  That said, there are only 24 strips as of this writing, so it's kind of short, but each strip feels positively epic in scale.  Apparently they're trying to do a live action movie/short thing based on this, I don't know how to feel about that, but I do know the comic is something that cannot and should not be missed.  Go, read it!

207.  Spinnerette - I mentioned this comic in my article, Wither the Superhero but have held off reviewing it until it had more than a few strips under it's belt.  It's part of the Krakow family of comics that includes Krakow, Krakow 2.0, Marilith and Charliehorse, and if you've read any of those, you kind of know what to expect, but not quite.  It's better than any of them, I think, except maybe Krakow 2.0 at it's peak, and 2.0 did not have the best writing.  Spinnerette is well written, funny, lighthearted and almost perfectly satirical of the entire superhero genre and idea.  Now will it maintain that, we'll have to wait and see, but as long as he can hold on to ONE artist, I think it's got a good chance.

208.  Totally Crossover -  From the creator of Totally Kotor comes another comic about video games.  This one covers a lot more territory, picking on every game of the current year, from Mass Effect to Iron Man, the comic throws the various characters and locations around giving them a touch of TK's madness and letting them fly.  There's also a complete branch that is basically like every other geek or videogame comic on the web today.  At least it's funny, unlike some comics I can think of (still not linking).  It's light, goofy fun, and if you like Totally Kotor, then you'll like this one.  And better yet, NO FLASH!  Woo!

209.  Gypsy! - The main character of this comic, it's namesake and possibly richest character on the planet, is currently non-responsive and sits there like a lump of nothingness.  Thus the comic is all about everything happening around her as she's dragged form one location to another by her reluctant doctor.  I enjoy this comic, a lot.  It's fun, creative, a bit manic, but not completely mad at the same time.  Just go read it already, I think you'll thank me later.

210.  Bug - And we're back to comic roots.  Here's your basic, daily webcomic strip.  It's full of silly jokes, some geeky references, and just a bit of fun.  It really doesn't stand out in any particular way compared to, well, every other comic I read, and that probably makes it unique in this regard.  It's mindless fun that would be just at home in the newspaper as it is on the internet, and I think I'll be following it for a while.

Well folks, that's it.  Now to enjoy summer.

Until next week.  Yeah, I'll have something next week.  See you then.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Re-reading Webcomics

I read way too many comics.  I mean regularly, not just total.  That list to the side there is huge.  It kind of makes you lose a bit of perspective on them when the numbers get that big.  So to sit down and re-read a comic, from the beginning, it gives me a chance to remember why I liked the comic, and to re-examine it from a non-fresh perspective.

A bit ago I visited Heart Shaped Skull and was surprised to discover that the two chapters that had been missing in my original pass through has finally been posted for all to see.  Great, I can read them now, except, well, the archives aren't exactly friendly, and the only way to get to the stuff I hadn't read before was to start at the beginning.

Did I mention these two chapters are in the middle of the two that were live the first time through?  No?  Well, they are, and yet back then, I didn't feel I was missing much. The summaries provided gave me more than enough information to continue reading, and the last completed chapter was more or less a stand alone story.

And yet, as I read through these new chapters (which really didn't offer much of anything I didn't already know) I got hooked and finished the entire archives from start to finish.  I can't remember the last time I did that with a comic I had already read.  I think maybe parts of Leisure Town, but only parts of it. Damn, I should go back and reread that.

Good comics are like that I guess, that while they're new and fresh, you enjoy them, sure, but you don't really understand your obsession with them until you go back and start rereading your favorite parts, only to find yourself up at 3 am 2 days after starting and having not slept in between.  I'm actually almost afraid to try reading parts of Sluggy Freelance, you might need a prybar to get me out of my chair after that.

I read a lot of webcomics on a daily and weekly basis, but the good ones will always stand out.  Sure, I enjoy reading things like Eerie Cuties, Sandra and Woo and Out There, but would I really ever go back and read them from scratch?  Would it be worth the time and energy?  Probably not.  But there are plenty that would be.

So I'm glad I spent two or three hours on Heart Shaped Skull, catching up and remembering why I liked it.  I'll have to do it some more in the future.

Next week, SOMETHING!  Yeah, I don't have much left at the moment.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wild Webcomic Reviews 101 - 105

Another batch of old reviews for you guys to read.  Honestly, I'm nearly out of new articles (have a couple more Newspaper ones, but you know, time).  I'm thinking of revamping the blog here to cover a much wider net than just webcomics.  But that won't be for a bit.  In the meantime, more reviews!

101. Out There - It reminds me of Road Waffles (which hasn't updated in forever), but with far less violence and insanity. In fact, there's nothing too, well, out there about the whole thing, it's a very grounded comic. It's also a kind of character play. Different personalities interacting, talking, and not much else. I find it most interesting that way. I think you will too.

TODAY -  The number of characters grew, but at the same time, it still boils down to long stretches of two characters talking about the life, universe and everything.  It's one of the better comics I read and continue to read to this day.  Go, read it, it's worth it.

102. Kitty Litter - This is about the most standard silly comic you can find. It's got everything you'd expect, talking animals, silly vampires, game playing geeks, zombies, death, etc, etc, etc. There's really nothing that special about it, except that the star is an evil genius cat, which reminds me of mine. Light humor, nothing special.

TODAY - I'm kind of embarrassed by this.  You see, one day the comic didn't update as usual, and that went on for a long time.  I figured it was dead.  Never did bother to read the message at the bottom of the strip that said they had moved (no redirect) so I just stopped reading it.  Whoops.  I haven't taken it back up because, um, no real reason actually.  Nothing wrong with it at all.

103. The God Machine - It's not a comic, but a rough draft for a comic. Heck, it's posted in devian art, so that should give you some clue. It is very artistic in style, even if it is just a rough layout for a comic book. It's kind of neat to see the process, if not the finished project. Kind of a neat story too, so worth the time.

TODAY - I wasn't kidding about it being a rough draft, because I do believe it got published.  I can only say that because it ground to a halt while she  was working on the final versions and I just sort of drifted away from it.  No big, it's likely still worth a read.

104. Least I Could Do - It's a comic about sex. Actually, mostly sex jokes, with lots of references to the act (the main character is wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of guy). The jokes can be very funny (certian storylines remind me of a certian someone and his niece actually), but the comic really only has the one joke to play on, so it gets old pretty quick. You might enjoy it more than I.

TODAY - I haven't kept up with it, but it still looks about the same (though it did settle on an artist from the looks).  Pretty popular strip I hear.

105. Death Piglet - A picture is worth a thousand words, and it had better be since this comic hardly uses any words at all. Which makes it very funny. Cute little characters doing horrible things is always funny. Watch as the cute little pig summons Cuthulu. Isn't it horribly cute? Yes, yes it is.

TODAY - Fun while it lasted, then it ground to a damn near halt.  Even the site says "Updates without warning."  Which means I don't bother checking it daily.

Not bad actually.  Oh sure, I only regularly read one of these comics, but only one is basically dead, so things are looking up from last time.  More new stuff next week, I hope.  Next time kiddies.

Friday, June 18, 2010

No post this week

My grandmother died this week.  Thus my attention has been diverted and there will be no new post this week.

Should be one next week though.  See you then.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wild Webcomic Reviews 96 - 100

Time for some more old reviews, and it's the last of the first hundred.  HOORAY!  That might mean I'll get fewer dead strips, right?


October 29, 2006

96. Metrophor - It's a fantasy comic I saw linked via Errant Story. It's not a snarky fantasy story, however, nor is it one of those pretentious ones. It's good, interesting, fun and well paced, which is better than I can say for most comics of the genre. The art is great, the writing is good and it just seems to be an all around good comic. I recommend it to just about everyone except the little kiddies.

TODAY - Dead.  Artist had some wrist problems and, well, that was it.  End of strip.  Just as the action was starting to crank up to.

97. Mad about U. - Don't let the title fool you, this isn't about that stupid sitcom. It's about science, mad science. Where they read from physics books at comedy clubs. Yeah, that. It's funny, it is. It's also the only comic that actually decorates the area around the comic to be, well, interesting. It looks like a drive-in, and that just adds a certain touch of class to the whole strip. It also has nice explosions.

TODAY - Also dead.  Dead as a damn doornail.  At least Metrophor had an explanation, nothing for this comic.

98. Edge the Devilhunter - It's Underpower only with fewer characters and more updates. It also doesn't ramble nearly as much. It's got a hip hop theme in it, it's about life on the streets, you know? But it's also about the future, heaven and hell, and superpowers. It all comes together to be this neat comic that I think I'll be reading for a long time to come.

TODAY - Not quite dead, but damn does it update once a blue moon or something.  I'm starting to rethink my deceleration of reading it for a long time.

99. Candi - Yet another college comic. It's less weird than most (there's a ferret who flys, but that's about it for the supernatrual stuff), and features an art student. Beyond that, it's all relationships and whatnot. It's chick comic, if such a thing exists. Hope that helps you figure out how to react to it.

TODAY - I stopped reading it after a few months, didn't really appeal to me any more.  It's still updating, so that makes it a world better than the rest of these strips.

100. Dungeon Crawl Inc. - I haven't read a comic this bad since Earthbeta. It's not as bad as Earthbeta (nothing is as bad as Earthbeta) but it sure as hell tries. The characters are terrible, the dialog is awful, the art, when they use art, is horrendous, and don't let me get into the first quarter of the strip when they use video game screenshots to move the story along, I'll probably commit suicide. If I never have to read this comic again, it'll be too soon. Avoid.

TODAY - Discovered a worse comic than Earthbeta, but that's another story.  Anyway, I THINK it still updates, but it's hard to tell, and I really don't care either.  It just wasn't that interesting then and I still don't care about it.

And so the first 100 are done.  Go me!  See you next time kiddies.

Friday, June 4, 2010

8-Bit Theater Ends

Officially, 8-Bit Theater ended this week.  The epilogue, which took a couple months to produce, was not done in the comic's traditional sprite graphics, instead running a hand drawn version.  I guess it's just a sign of the times.

Honestly, 8-Bit was the best of the sprite comics, definitely of the few I've read and possibly of all time.  Why?  Well, probably because it was both limited and free in it's creative direction.

The sprite format meant the number of positions available to create the strip was VERY limited indeed, especially early on.  Each character had a limited set of positions they could have their body parts and thus a limited number of expressions they could give that weren't text.  Eventually, more complex sprites were created, ones that could do any number of things, but even then, the rule set for the main characters remained limited.  They were also completely distinctive, you ALWAYS knew which characters were which, there was no confusion, you could even tie the dialog to them without the bubbles actually being attached.

And yet, the game these sprites originally came from, the original Final Fantasy, had so little character, story or much of anything else you would expect to see in a Final Fantasy game, that Brian Clevinger could, and did, do anything he wanted with the comic.  The characters never really went beyond their 2 (or sometimes even 1) dimensional basics, but the rest of the world could do anything.  Great dragons would appear, Hell was conquered, dinosaurs were driven extinction and cities were laid to waste.  The backgrounds went from simple to ultra complex, up until the point that the characters no longer looked natural to the setting, and yet remained so because of the insanity.

The rest of the sprite comic kingdom never got that break.  Either the sprites themselves were too complex, or they already had deep stories tied to them and the authors never got a chance to break free.  Or they made Diesel Sweeties, which I think is worse.  The limitations of the format broke them, but Clevinger managed to find a sweet spot that allowed him to use the limitations to his advantage and create one of the classic webcomics, one that won't be forgotten for a long time.

In the end, though, I think that closing it with a hand drawn strip shows that sprite comics aren't really going to be a major force on the webcomic world again.  These comics were done by people who didn't have art skills, but want to make a comic, and with so few comics out there, they had their moment in the sun.  Now, the door is closing, rapidly.  More comics are coming online everyday, and while many will fail, few will be sprite comics again.  8-Bit Theater was the zenith of the genre, and unless someone manages to hit that sweet spot again, it will likely never be exceeded.

I will miss 8-Bit.  I have read the comic for years (short of it's full life span, I'm afraid) and it has been one of the few strips I rely on to be there.  Now that it is done, there will be a hole that I will need to fill.  I wonder if I'll ever find a strip to do it.

Well, at the very least, I can now sit down and read the OTHER strips on Nuklear Power.  Been kind of staying away from them because I wanted to see 8-Bit to the end.  The end is here, and it's time to go on.

Until next time kiddies.