Friday, July 27, 2012

The Penny Arcade Kickstarter

I don't like Penny Arcade.  So much so I refuse to link to it on this site.  I know it's popular, extremely popular, and that doesn't help me like it any better.  I've read numerous strips because it seems the go-to strip for when someone wants to post a "witty" reply dealing with video games.  The jokes are all the same and tired and often stupid.

So what do I think about their Kickstarter?  Oh, you didn't hear about this?  Well, simply put, Penny Arcade is trying to raise money (million dollars or so) and will dump it's advertising, ALL it's advertising, if they do.  They'll make it, I'm sure, but how do I feel about the entire thing?  Well, honestly, it feels backwards to me.

Most comics, the VAST majority of them in fact, do not make money.  At all.  None, zip, zero, nada.  They might get a little money from some advertisers, but not enough to do the comic full time.  If anything, many just flat out beg for cash.  So getting a steady advertising fund is a big step, one that allows them to go full time.  Penny Arcade crossed that line a LONG time ago, and became the single greatest webcomic success story of all time.

So to me, Kickstarter is going back to begging for money.  They don't NEED it, of course, they have the advertising, but it feels as if they're taking advantage of their audience.  As I said, they WILL get that money, and much of that is because their fans are kind of die hard.  And I generally think they're kind of stupid too.  That's my bias towards the comic right there, so don't take it too personally.

At the same time, I'm hearing things that might make PA better.  Specifically that various publishers have been PAYING them to make comics about their games.  This might explain why a lot of those comics annoy me, they're paid advertising.  If they hit their goal, that goes away.  PA becomes independent again, and maybe, just maybe, they'll start becoming less awful.  I don't know if that will happen, but there's a chance.

I'm not sure what to think about this overall.  I've idly speculated that PA is making fun of Kickstarter with this (look at some of their benefits), but even that doesn't seem to stick.  In the end, I just don't like PA, so this won't change my mind.  It will use it's fans to get rid of advertising, but given that most comics would KILL to get that advertising, I can't cheer for them.

Until next time kiddies.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wild Webcomic Reviews 165 - 169

Another batch of old reviews as I have nothing this week.  It's been hot as hell around here, so comic stuff hasn't been foremost on my mind as of late.

January 03, 2009

165. U.F.O. - I almost swear this whole comic is just an excuse for the artist to draw girls in their panties. Almost. Otherwise it's just a silly romp with lots of people being killed for their 'funk.' Sadly, no, it is not funky funk, it's some weird plot device funk. Yes, I was disappointed that it wasn't funkier. It is moderately funny, if goofy, and despite the lack of true funk, I'll probably keep reading it, assuming they get back to making new comics. . .

TODAY - Well it DID update again, and at quite a good pace until SOMETHING happened in April of this year and nothing since then.  It's alright still, just alright, and if it updates some more, it'll be still on my read list but nothing that holds me to it.

166. Hopscotch - Most webcomics seem to settle into some epic storyline with no proper end in sight, or become a long series of gags that go on forever. Hopscotch doesn't. It is a short story in graphic form, and in fact you could strip all the art away and it would still be a pretty good story by itself. It is short, and complete, so worth it if you have an hour or so. I think the guy is an idiot, BTW, but whatever.

TODAY - Nothing further to add on this one.

167. Queen of Wands - This comic was the first creation of the author of Punch an' Pie, which I throughly enjoy, so I had decent expectations going into QoW. And it met them, surprisingly enough. It isn't perfect, there's a lot of backstory/flashback things that are FILLED with words and angst and emo that I really, REALLY could have done without, but when the comic was in the "here and now" it flowed pretty well and made sense the whole way through. I am kind of glad I didn't start reading it when it was active, because I probably would have dropped it after a while, but as a dead comic, I'm fine with it. There is an commentary version of the archives, but I didn't read that (said to be spoiler filled), but I might go back some time just to see what they were thinking behind the scenes. Half wish more comics did that.

TODAY - Still haven't gotten back to those commentaries.  Mostly laziness on my part, but again, I wasn't strictly in love with the strip when I read it.  Maybe someday.

168. The Call of Whatever - From one dead comic to another, this one with a Lovecraftian twist. This is just a fun little comic, and you really don't HAVE to have any working knowledge of the Cthulu Mythos to enjoy it, but it helps. Even then, there's probably somethings that will go clear over your head. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that it ended when it did. In someways, I would have liked to see it go on, but then, they pretty much played out all the good jokes by that point and it would have just settled into a mud of mediocrity or something worse. Still, it was diverting, and I'm glad I got a chance to read it.

TODAY - Again, nothing much to add on this.  Completed comics give me little room over this, unless I go full bore with a retrospective.

169. Shadowgirls - The first thing I see is a naked black man telling me to get out. Thankfully, this is not that kind of comic. It's a superhero comic basically, set in the Cthulu Mythos. I segwayed these last three reviews well, didn't I? Anyway, this is what the Front could have been, it's good, very good. The art is comic bookish, sure, but it's expressive and colorful. The story and characters are well done and well communicated. Heck, the backstory is presented in a believable, not lecturing kind of way that I love. It's good, damn good, even with all the filler/bonus comics strewn throughout the archives (and even those are actually pretty good). Worth my time.

TODAY - Speaking of retrospectives, I did a full blown one on this comic here, so go read that to get my most recent thoughts.

One active (though on unexpected hiatus) comic, and 4 dead/completed ones.  Ah well.  I will note that this review is the first time I really started thinking about doing this blog at all.  My issue with starting it:  not having enough stuff to fill it.  Yeah, I'm stretching this week, that's for sure.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, July 13, 2012

All in the Interpretation

Man, that was a MISERABLE week.  I survived, kind of and am back.

To promptly poke at another webcomic reviewer.  I've been following Tangents for a long time now, typically in search of new and interesting comics.  Typically, if he (he?) enjoys the comic, I probably do as well, with some notable exceptions (he really doesn't like Sluggy Freelance much).  One of my issues though, is when it comes to interpreting comics or short story arcs within them.

Specifically, a short comment (a Secant, love the math reference there) he did a couple weeks ago on one of the best comics out there, Gunnerkrigg Court.  Specifically the chapter called Divine, which is a chapter that is a bit strange, and one that deserves some sort of comment (and I skipped it because I had other things to do, sorry kiddies).

Anyway, it's a Zimmy story, who is a secondary character that is very odd in the long run, so the story is a bit odd.  Antimony has fallen ill, unconscious even, and Zimmy has come to help.  She rumages around Annie's dreams for a bit, punches the problem and calls Annie's dad a jerk.  The day is saved and hooray.

Okay, it's pretty simple, but there's a lot of themes going on here.  Specifically masks, a LOT of masks.  Antimony is constantly projected wearing or holding masks.  She's always hidden her true feelings, from the very first time she appeared, to when she received a mysterious call from her father.  In fact, the point is made she makes a concerted effort to hide her emotions and feelings whenever possible.  Breaking that mask woke her up so I suspect we'll see a much more different character from now on, especially given the comment the author leaves early in the next chapter.

The mask hides what she truly thinks about her dad, her desire to go back to the forest to meet the guy she likes, and the fact that she's been copying her best friend's homework for a couple years now.  Breaking the mask came by Zimmy saying something to get her riled up, specifically that her dad was a jerk.  At the end, Kat gives her some makeup and Annie says she'll put it on later, another mask that she really doesn't need anymore.

This is actually a pretty interesting character study on Antimony, something that if you had been reading the comic regularly would have been apparent at this point, and if you still didn't catch it, this would make it quite clear.  Ah, but it gets better, because it introduces a new element into the mix, specifically Kat, who has also been wearing a couple masks.  The first is pretty obvious, as Zimmy points it out that she's been trying to remind people that she's a girl, probably because she's beginning to question her own sexuality in some way.  The removal of that mask (in this case, a hairband) may not stick as strongly as removing Annie's, but it's just as important.

The real mask though?  Well, this is apparently how Zimmy sees her.  That's an image that would make H.R. Geiger proud.  What does it mean though?  Lots there to dig through, of course, but I think it connects back to Robot and the other machines of the Court referring to Kat as an angel, and while creepy, I can see a kind of angelic vibe behind the design.  It also brings up the question of how human Kat actually is.  Readers know Antimony is part fire spirit, could it be Kat is part machine?  Or perhaps, in a strange way, ALL machine?  Her father is a brilliant engineer, her mother deeply connected to the spirit world, perhaps they worked together to create a daughter they couldn't have otherwise.  It would explain a great deal about Kat, though not everything, and would make her and Annie's relationship much more meaningful in the overall story of the Court and how it was separated from the Forest.  Perhaps these two, each with affinities with one side or the other, are meant to bring them both back together.

But then, I'm often terrible at predicting where a comic will go.  Godawful in fact.  The thing is, Tangent doesn't focus on any of this.  Sure, he comments on the makeup/mask thing, briefly, but doesn't get to the point that the entire chapter is about the mask.  No, he focuses on the illness that started this whole thing.  I admit, it is very strange, and we're told little as to what caused it, only that it is, perhaps, connected to her father.  Personally, I think it has less to do with what her father did, than what Antimony feels her father did (aka:  she did it to herself), but there is no clear answer.  Tangent focuses on the fact that it's not answered, or even hinted at the source.  That's not the point of the chapter though, the point is the masks, the characters, and how they present themselves.  What caused the illness may never be properly revealed, though I suspect it will be, the point was simply to get readers to learn more about what was going on inside the main character in a way that was interesting and revealing, and to add another layer of mystery to the table.

Why do we see it so differently?  Not sure on that, I suspect Tangent reads a great many more comics than I do, and tries to keep up a writing pace I can't match at this time.  It's also possible that my amateur writing sense started tingling as I read the chapter, and I went back and read it again so I could better rattle off my thoughts on it.  I don't know Tangent's background, so perhaps he doesn't have the same affinity for this kind of thing, or perhaps he's being too literal in wanting answers now rather than waiting and seeing how the questions change the direction of the comic.  Patience is the hardest thing to learn when reading a webcomic, so that might be part of the issue as well.  I don't know, what I do know is, I do agree it's a middle chapter, resolving a few old problems, and creating new questions to be answered without being answers itself.  The entire book has, so far, been about transition, and this is another piece of that transition.  An important one, I suspect, and one that will be felt for the rest of the comic.

Well, enough of that rambling.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Like I said, nothing

I'm beat, and the week isn't over yet.  In fact, it's just getting started (I wrote this Wednesday).

See you next week kiddies.