Friday, August 26, 2011

Not much this week

The next couple are going to be packed with real life things, so no full scale updates this week.

I will post that Faith Erin Hick's graphic novel, "Friends with Boys" is being posted daily online through February.  Of course, there's several hundred pages, so it won't be the whole thing, but a decent teaser for the print version of the comic.  Her work is amongst my favorites, from Demonology 101, Ice and Superhero Girl.  In other words:  GO READ IT!  Just don't expect a review, since the comic won't be completely online.

I'll post SOMETHING next week.  What, I still haven't determined.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Touching Base #8

Another edition of Touching Base because I haven't read a new comic in, um, nearly half a year I think.  I know, for a comic review blog, I don't do much of it do I?  I'll get back to it once I stop getting distracted by Champions Online.

As I stated last week, The Wotch is back to updating again, picking up where it left off with a new artist, Ian Samson from City of Reality.  He's done a LOT of fan art for the comic, so much that he even has to remind himself that he's not making fan art, but actual art for the comic.  The schedule will be weekly to start, but ramp up as Ian gets more time to draw.

City of Reality is doing a different, flash based system for presentation.  Samson is a big fan of using flash for various things (past updates to CoR have featured it heavily) though this method seems, well, a bit of a waste at the moment.  It's compact, I suppose, but it really doesn't offer anything that couldn't be had via straight up page updates.  Not sure why he's doing it.

Dr. McNinja's current storyline features Paul Bunyon's (yes, that's plural) fighting dinosaurs.  Why aren't you reading this comic?  Are you opposed to all that is awesome in the world or something?

Emergency Exit's reboot has begun and I'm, well, not all that impressed.  The lack of color I think really, REALLY hurts this comic.  The line work is good, very good, but it feels hollow without proper shading or color.  I'm sure the plan is to make it easier to update, but I think it loses something without the color angle.  Even some better shading would help.  Storywise, I don't know yet.  Still too early to tell, but it's apparent the story has moved forward several months from where it left off.  I'm fine with that, let's see where it goes.

Spinnerette's newest chapter is being done by a different pair of artists.  It's a temporary measure, from what the news post about it says, and the art is pretty good.  I think it helps they're sticking with the proper models for the characters.  I do want the original artist to come back, I think it fits the comic better, but for a temporary departure, this is fine.  I wonder if Krazy Krow will draw his own chapter at some point, or maybe do his own guest comic.  That would be pretty neat.

Cogs, the new comic by the creator of Just Another Escape hasn't started QUITE yet, but there is the first sketch of a cast page up.  I usually don't like reading info dumps like this, so I'll wait for the actual comic to start before doing much about it.  You can read it though, not like I could stop you.  Still no word on when something to 'complete' JAE's story will come out, however.

Alright, enough of this good news, let's get on to the comics that are dead.  Lizzy hasn't updated in forever and it's forums are flooded with spam, I think it's dead.  Hanna is Not a Boy's Name hasn't updated since Feburary and none of the artists sites (twitter and deviantart) have updated since then either.  I was really liking that comic too.  More of a surprise is Charliehorse, Krazy Krow's comic before starting Spinnerette.  That is officially done according to a news post briefly during a pause between Spinnerette's chapters.  I thought it was going alright, but if he wasn't seeing how to make it gel, I can understand giving up on it.

I'm finally going to stop checking Nobody Scores!, On the Edge, and, *sigh* Sea of Insanity.  All three, while some of my favorites, are effectively dead at this point.  On the Edge was announced as dead, of course, but I hung on hoping for a mind change, while the other two are just, well, dead.  Again in Sea of Insanity's case.  I suppose the positive thing here is I can skip the not-so-wild review of it now, as those are for comics I read.  That said, all three will go into the Hiatus folder, never knows if one of them will suddenly come back to life after all.

Not much else to say on this front.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting Stuck

The Wotch is one of the comics I keep checking and hoping it'll update.  The last actual story update was 2 years ago, almost exactly.  There's been a couple of guest strips, but that's about it.  At least until this week when it was announced the comic was coming out of it's unplanned hiatus.  Which of course means I had an article idea all set up to feature the comic and it threw all those plans in the gutter and stomped on them.

I'm still going to do the article, of course, but now that there is a solution to the hole the Wotch got stuck in, I can at least cover that as well.  I've been stuck before, not just writing this blog, but writing in general.  Writing and artistic blocks are hard to overcome.  The first step in doing it is to determine WHY you're stuck.  The issues vary but can easily determine the best course of action to resolving the problem.  Anne has made clear that the Wotch's problem had multiple layers so I'll cover each of them as best I can.

The simplest problem is simple writers block, unable to figure out where to go next with a story.  It seems obvious that the most recent (the one that stalled 2 years ago) wasn't exactly going the way they wanted, and they couldn't quite figure out how to make it do so.  Solutions here are many, and the Wotch actually has several options.  The first is to simply abandon the story, snip it from the archive and start a new story.  Given that this last story line was fairly young, this wouldn't have been too bad a solution.

The next is go with another story.  The Wotch has quite a cast behind it, so simply switching over to a "meanwhile" type storyline until the other one gelled would have been a perfectly valid solution to the problem.  Also simply resolving the stuck story "off panel" would have helped as well, adding some mystery and drama to a tale that may not have had it before.  As of yet, there's no indication on what they're going to do to resolve the storyline, but I think a partial reboot may come into play, and likely simply remove the story the got everyone stuck in the first place.  We'll see next week when the comic updates.

Artistic blocks are something I sadly can't relate to (I draw terrible stick figures).  I think the best solution here is to simply draw.  It doesn't have to be comic characters or anything, but draw.  Flex your artistic muscles and try to get back into it.  That still may not work, and I have no solutions to offer.  It seems, though Anne has had a bit of an artistic block, but the real problem is more about time and stress.

Which are the two biggest and hardest problems to solve.  The vast majority of webcomic artists are NOT professionals, they do other work and webcomics are a hobby.  When it comes head to head with real life responsibilities and work, then webcomics lose, and lose badly.  I think this is the majority of the problems for the Wotch, and I can provide no easy solution.

That said, the Wotch has found their solution to the problem:  Letting others take up some of the load.  Ian Samson, creator of City of Reality, is taking up the bulk of the artistic duties and probably will have quite a bit of input storywise.  They've also cut back on updates to once a week.  This SHOULD allow the comic to come back to full strength in a few months.  But nothing is guaranteed.

I'm glad the Wotch is coming back to life.  A 2 year hiatus is a LONG hiatus for any comic, though, so we'll see if it can recapture it's former magic (heh).

Until next time kiddies.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Real World Tragedy and Webcomics

The recent tragedy in Norway, with all the shooting and such, got me to wondering how Scandinavia and the World reacted to it.  The answer:  It didn't.  Instead there was a comic about why everyone spoke English and something related to the Thing.

That's not an unexpected reaction, honestly.  Despite the fact that most artists live in the real world (I say most because some of them I wonder about), reflecting real events in their comics is often something that is simply not done.  Oh there will be the occasional strip dedicated to the event, encouraging charities or putting thoughts and prayers with the victims, but overall, these events almost never effect the actual comic itself.

That's not to say they won't later reference it.  Doing that in an effective way, however, is really, REALLY hard.  Making it part of a story is even more difficult.  So I'm not surprised that it doesn't happen often.

So if I'm going to talk about these kinds of tragedies, then I might as well go for the big one, September 11, 2001.  I hate discussing it because A)  It took place close to my birthday and B)  I hate how it was used as an excuse to fuck up my country (the USA, to be clear).  Neither of those is the topic of the day, of course, but when it comes to comics featuring references to it, there aren't many I can think of.  It probably doesn't help that I wasn't reading many webcomics at the time, and my natural tendency to skip over comics featuring the subject when reading archives really doesn't help.

Still, there are two comics where the inclusion of references to that event are quite clear in my mind.  And the first is Jack.  Yes, Jack.  Jack is the comic that when I think of awkward execution of reasonably interesting ideas, or comics featuring lots of furry porn.  Not that I think of lots of furry porn, it's just full of it.  It also features a September 11th reference more prominently than most other comics I've read, and one that sticks out in my mind.

Because it put the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Hell.  Now before you over react, the point was that it was an epicenter of despair, and used to mentally torture people. It was more used as part of the setting, rather than some political or moral statement.  It worked, in a comic where so many things didn't quite worked, it fit.  It's still Jack, of course, and why I'm not linking to the strip itself.  That and I haven't been searching through the archives for it.

The only other reference I remember is in The Pain.  The Pain is mostly a political cartoon and the comic I have in mind was released a year after the fact.  On one had, it's probably MORE offensive than Jack's take on it.  On the other hand, I find it probably the funniest strip in the entire comic.  It fits the sense of humor of the comic very well and I for one love it.  Like most of the comics in The Pain, the comic comes with an artist's statement which makes clear the point:  "A year seemed like long enough to wait, and the media coverage is likely to be relentless, maudlin, and tacky enough to make a single innocent snicker on The Solemn Day a welcome relief."  I couldn't agree more.

Now, of course there are other comics that put up their dedications, I'm sure, but I don't recall them.  These ones stand out because they AREN'T dedications, but actually part of the comic.  It can work, yes, but it's also hard to do and will most assuredly rub some people the wrong way.  It's the chance people take when covering a tragedy of some kind. I think it's why most artists don't do it.

Anyway, that's enough for this week.  Until next time kiddies.