Friday, May 24, 2013

The Standard: Introduction

I've been doing this blog for a while now, and if you've read any of it, you probably noticed that I seem to come back to the same comics as references.  Specifically, I call back to Sluggy Freelance more than any other comic I read.

Why?  What is so special about Sluggy Freelance that I reference it almost endlessly on every topic under the sun?  Well, to be blunt, nothing.  Seriously, there is little special about Sluggy in the grand scheme of things.  There are hundreds of comics out there that do the EXACT same thing as Sluggy, some do it better, some do it worse, but they're out there and easy to find.

Though I do know the reason why I reference Sluggy.  It's because it was my first.  Okay, technically, The Parking Lot is Full was my first webcomic, but it started as a print comic first.  Sluggy was internet only from day one, so it is my first webcomic.  It also left a very deep impression.  Not just what the comic WAS, but HOW I ended up reading it.  See kids, I was on a 56k modem at the time.  Complain all you want about slow internet, you know NOTHING until you've tried to browse about 5 years worth of a daily comic on a dial up modem.

Oh, and I only had about 3 hours a day to do it.  In the end, it took me about 2 weeks to read the entire archive of Sluggy Freelance (including an insane strip that loaded about 30 individual panels).  On top of that, I didn't know what the "W" in the calender meant "week's worth of strips" so I clicked through each, and every, strip.  That is bound to leave an impression, good or bad.  I had a good impression and for a long time thought it was the best comic I ever read.  I was, of course, comparing them to PLiF and the newspaper strips I grew up with, so I didn't have much to go on.

Now, some 233 comics later, I know better.  It's not the greatest thing ever, not by a long shot.  But it's also not bad.  It's an average comic.  A successful average comic, yes, but average nonetheless.  It pulls off amazing feats of storytelling, but also has failed at them.  The art can be beautiful at times, but sometimes feels rushed or stagnant.  The humor can be gut busting, or just kind of meh.  It is just average, middle of the road, common.

And that makes it my standard.  A great comic is better than Sluggy Freelance, a bad one is worse.  WHY it's better or worse is key, of course, but rating it against Sluggy gives me a baseline to run off.  Sluggy's averageness also comes from how MUCH of it there is.  It started in 1997, so it's been going for 16 YEARS at this point.  Very, VERY few webcomics approach that number, and I don't think any of the ones I read even come close.  So there's a lot there, and it's easy to make comparisons.

So for the next few weeks, I'll be digging deeper into the roots of Sluggy as the standard.  I'll look at Sluggy in detail, from the early days of the young comic industry, to it's greatest successes and most daring failures.  It also gives me an excuse to read chunks of the archive I haven't read in a decade or more.  Should be interesting.  Until next week kiddies.

No comments:

Post a Comment