Friday, August 30, 2013

Wild Webcomic RE-Review #1

I currently have 245 comics on my list.  Of those only a 23 actually appear on my Non-Read list.  Does it mean these comics are bad?  Well, sometimes.  Still, I'm not one for just letting things go, so as a service not just to me, but these comics, I'll give them another shot and see if they've improved enough to be moved to the read list, and it has happened.  The World Explodes, now sadly inaccessible (aside from one awful strip), turned into something so much more when I re-reviewed it, and I love finding that.

Of course, this first time I'm going to cheat a bit.  One of these comics was never really ON my Non-Read list, one I've been intending to re-review for some time, and only the third actually fits here, but then I like to do things like that.  So without further adieu, the Wild Webcomic RE-Review:

89.  Gun Street Girl

Original Review - No, your eyes don't deceive you, this comic is on the same site as No Stereotypes, but this is completely, totally different. There are guns and violence, magic and mystery, and another pair of lesbians. Shit, did it again. Well fuck, if you're going to wonder off every time I say that word, I'll just sing a little. Or not. This isn't a strip, and there are no long story arcs, just short little pieces written more like mini-comic books than anything else. So don't let the style turn you off, or you'll miss the fun.

RE-Review - It's funny how I always think of this as one of my earliest reviews, where the next comic is going to be much earlier.  Still, I have fond memories of finding it, and it is one of the few strips that I actively missed reading.  Why wait to go back so long?  Not sure, because it is still as good as I remember.  This is the perfect definition of Urban Fantasy that I think I can find out there right now, but without it being some kind of epic fantasy piece.  All the stories are short, almost one off tales that do tie into each other a bit, but not nearly as much as it would be expected from this.  Though I haven't read it, I suspect fans of the Dresden Files would enjoy the hell out of this comic.

In short, it is the tale of Eddie, a low level mage, and Liz, his Gun or muscle, and the various small adventures they have trying to keep the supernatural in check in 1990's London.  I say small, and I mean it, I can't recall a single time when they dealt with anything big enough to threaten more than a couple dozen people at a time.  Hell, usually THEY'RE the ones in trouble.  The scale is actually quite refreshing, and the fact that each story is more or less self-contained means it doesn't matter that the comic doesn't start from the beginning of their relationship, but does show it growing despite that.  The only thing that bugs me whether the comic is still updating or not.  The artist and writer both have active twitter accounts of all things, and the artist has a big old side bar featuring Liz on that page, but I remember even when I was actively reading it, it only updated rarely.  I don't want to call it dead, but I'm afraid I may have to.  Still, as a warm up for the re-reviews, it was a nice to come back to this comic, and I will recommend it.

28.  Commander Kitty

Original Review - After the headache of Small World, I needed something funny. And Commander Kitty was there! This is a funny strip, there are no buts about it. Every page has at least one joke, if not more, and the bulk of them will drop you to the floor in laughter. The only strip I know of that beats it consistently is 8-Bit Theater, and that's only because 8-Bit has been around longer. If you read any of this batch, read this one, you won't be disappointed.

RE-Review - This is not the same comic I reviewed back then.  I mean, the original Commander Kitty is gone, the comic I read in 2003 isn't even in the archives of this comic.  The reason is pretty clear on the first page of the current archive:  He didn't want it to get confusing with the new version, a reboot of Commander Kitty.  The only thing I really have to compare it to is my own memory then, and what I remember of the original CK was a comic that was both funny, but disjointed and confusing.  Random is a good word, lack of a direction is a great phrase, and while it made the jokes funnier, it didn't help the comic long term.

The current version though, that's a whole different story.  Comparatively, it's a tight story, with a solid direction and movement.  There are a few new characters, but the original core cast is still there, still has their own issues, and play off each other rather well.  It's not the greatest comic ever, but it's actually quite good, and I was surprised how much I was enjoying it despite not having contact with it in several years.  At some point, I would like to see the old CK again, just for comparison sake, but I think I won't find the old comic as good now thanks to the current version.  The update schedule for CK is kind of wonky right now so it'll go in the Monthly list, but it's still worth reading.

201.  Supermassive Black Hole A*

Original Review - This is not a webcomic. Then what is it doing here? Well, it presents itself (and advertises itself) as a webcomic, but it isn't, it's an animation series. Yes, it has a "webcomic" version, which is just stills from the animation, but like Lizzy, at best it can only give you an overview of the story. Without watching the videos, much of the action is flat and uninteresting. The fact that the art is heavy black and white, getting any sense of action from the stills is difficult at best. It does get better (the still version) but it's still just not quite right. So is it any good? Well, I think the story isn't too bad, but again, half the action is in the animations, and due to issues on my end, I didn't get to watch more than a few minutes of the first one, so I can't say for sure. Due to this nature, though, I'm not going to be following it.

RE-Review - Alright, I'm taking a back the "not a webcomic" statement.  This was actually completely true for the first 7 episodes of the comic. After that, there aren't any videos any more, so it is a proper webcomic now.  I still haven't sat down and watch more than one video because I'm both lazy and a comic reviewer, not a video reviewer, so I won't comment on the quality of the work in that aspect.  In any case, in re-reading it, I can declare that it's better than I remember, but not that much better.

I will say that this has some of the best science fiction (yeah, fiction) that I've seen in a long time.  It really takes the given technology and explores the implications of using it quite well.  It also ends up being quite good at world building and I'm rather intrigued by the universe built for it and almost want to see the final result.  One issue is the main character, or the current one that is.  There are two, the original one, Vero, was actually an interesting character.  A good guy at heart, smart, but not too smart, and he often screwed up more than he succeeded in his goals, a very human character and I found myself rooting for him after a while.  The problem is he was replaced, by Selenis after episode 10.  I don't like her.  On one hand, she is, technically, a villain, so I guess not liking her is the point, but I can deal with that, but as a character I find her uninteresting.  She's harder to relate to than Vero, mostly because of the interesting tech thing going on, but also because she always seems on top of what she's doing, too talented and skilled, almost to a fault.  It grates me wrong I guess.  I could overlook it though, if it weren't for the real problem.

I will say now, the art is actually quite good for a monotone style, and the character designs generally work rather well.  However, the updates come one panel at a time.  I've talked about Pacing before, and this comic has a weird issue with it.  It's both fast, each strip is a quick read, and slow, you need multiple strips to play out a scene, at the same time.  Simple sequences, like a conversation, happen over the course of a week, with one side talking one day, and the other the next.  This makes an archive dive a long, drawn out process.  The most recent chapter has 130+ panels.  No, not strips, these are individual panels, and to read each one it's one click at a time.  This is really annoying when very little, if anything happens in a panel, with the worse moment coming when the panel was just BLACK because of a power outage in the sequence.  It's like reading a book and every page having one sentence on it, it gets old quick.  For a comic like this, I really can't see myself reading it day after day to keep up with the single panel updates, or reading it weekly and cycling back five strips to see what I missed.  In short, I find the comic kind of a hassle to read with a character I don't really enjoy following, despite having an interesting premise and some well thought out ideas and decent art.  As such, despite it being better than what I remember, I still won't be following it.  Just not worth it to me.

And that's it for this round.  When will I dive into another group of RE-reviews?  No idea, but I'll see what comes up.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Touching Base #14

Still getting used to the design?  I know I am, I almost forget I'm looking at my own site.

Anyway, as I said last week, I found more than a few dead comics as I was shuffling through that were, in fact, updating.  That's not to say I didn't KNOW some of these were updating, I did, but a few caught me off guard.  Most of the stuff in this edition of Touching Base is about them, but not all.

Before I get to those comics, I would like to mention that The Devil's Panties has setup a Kickstarter for. . . Devil Girl dolls.  Huh.  Not something I'm interested in, but I'm betting fans of the comic are wetting themselves over it.  Still, at least it's not issues with publishing.

Twilight Lady has been featuring an alternate day comic called Vine for the last month or so.  It's a black and white urban fantasy type thing that I've only been half following.  It's weird, so far, but nothing really stand out to me.  I'll keep tabs on it, but don't expect it in a review in the near future.

Vampire Cheerleaders went off on a brief tangent after the crossover, and then dove right back into the crossover.  Um, this is supposed to be vampire cheerleaders, right?  Not the Paranormal Mystery Squad, right?  We'll see how it all pans out, I guess.

Bug officially changed it's name (and url) to Bug Martini in order to better control the brand and such.  This was a bit ago, but I have updated the links in The New List and in the side bar.

I haven't been following any of the branching strips from Out There, mostly because I have a full plate, but also to give them some strips to gain traction first.  That said, I'm still on the fence as to whether the switch from a daily, 3 or 4 panel strip to a weekly full page/color strip was a good fit for Out There.  I don't know if the comic really gained anything in the transition.  I'll give it a bit longer, then read In Here and Cliche Flambe and see how those two work.  I suspect the move for Out There was specifically to power up the other two, so maybe that's what was gained.

Okay, enough of that, let's talk about the comics that aren't dead any more.

Okay, first up is Marry Me, which I've know has been back in action for a bit now.  I stopped reading because it ceased updating and because the main story was kind of over.  I wasn't strictly in love with the sequel/prequel story, but I was willing to give it a chance, and still am.

Our Time in Eden has been updating MUCH longer than Marry Me, but I just never got back to it.  It went on hiatus for a couple years, and I kind of gave it up for dead, but it did come back, last year.  I knew it was updating, but with so much on my plate, I just didn't want to spend the time reading it again.  Of course, now I do, so it'll be back on the read list.

The biggest surprise is Gone with the Blastwave, which I never expected to update again.  Oh, it's slow (probably end up on the Monthly list), but it's updating.  I love that.

Same with the Perry Bible Fellowship.  I was sure at one point the artist declared it dead, but apparently not.  It updates very slowly, like bi-monthly, but it does update.  Will I follow it?  Um, yeah, for a bit, at least until I can't stand the long wait between updates any more.  Only a couple comics get away with it, and I'm not sure PBF deserves to.

Another surprise return was On The Edge.  It went on hiatus for quite some time, due apparently to a good job offer for the artist (I approve of these kinds of hiatuses, BTW), a house, a marriage and something about cakes (I also approve of cakes).  It's back now, looks to be on a weekly-ish schedule, and I'll be following it almost immediately.

Way back in 2006, I found two comics and a webcomic reviewer on a single site, and enjoyed all three.  The reviewer is Tangents, and the comics are Gun Street Girl and No Stereotypes.  Then that single website kind of fell apart.  Tangents I managed to keep following, but No Stereotypes kind of vanished, and Gun Street Girl moved to another site, and I kind of stopped following it.  Well, doing up the list meant I spent some time checking in on Gun Street Girl, and it added at least few extra stories, but I'm not sure it still updates.  Still, I think I should re-read it, but I can't just leave it with it's old review, but a new review, a "re-review" as it were.  I'll set up a group of comics for a re-review in the future, and Gun Street Girl will be there.  No Stereotypes also reappeared, and the archive has been slowly been recreated, so I might do that as a re-review later, but not until it's caught back up.

The oddest return, though, was Angels 2200.  It was a year and a half between the previous update and the current update, which is already almost 2 months old.  No news posts saying what happened, no comment from the creator at all in fact.  It's almost as if it was an automatic update or something.  Given that lack of information that it will be back, I'm going to have to leave it on the dead list for a while because, well, I have no idea where to put it.  Hiatus maybe, but I'm not so sure it will ever update again, and Non-Read is reserved for comics that are active, but I don't read.  So I'll go ahead and leave it dead, but I'll have to check on it once in a while because who knows, maybe that update in June was a sign of things to come.  Or it the scheduling got messed up and it posted it 18 months too late.  We'll see.

And that's about it for this week.  Until next time kiddies when I have, um, something.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Something's Different

Can't quite put my finger on it. . .

Just kidding.  Well, what do you think of the new look?  It's been LONG in coming.  As in, the day after I created the damn thing.  I held off because I had a dream of making a decent logo image for the name and base the look off of that.  I didn't, so I didn't change the look, until now.

Why?  Well, a couple of reasons.  One, the green/brown/white combo was getting old, but I just said that.  No, the real reason is The New List.   The table format I used on it looked like crap on the old site design, on this new one it looks OH so much better. Look at it, is it not magnificent?  I wasn't kidding when I said a lot of links.  245 comic links, 49 review links and 21 assorted links put on that page.

Sadly, 24 are dead and gone, missing from the internet.  That said, counting my hiatus comics, I read 90 comics right now.  I shouldn't be surprised at that number, but I am.  Dumbfounded even.  It's less than half, sure, but with 34 complete comics, I'm damn near close to half of all my reviews being at least worth reading, if not active.

I spent a lot of time rechecking links and, much to my surprise, some comics I called dead AREN'T any more, ones I like even.  So next week, I'll be doing a Touching Base and bringing back comics that I thought for sure were gone forever.  I'm actually kind of excited by this.  Almost want to just do it now, but there are other fish to fry.

I made one minor change to the Newspaper List, removing Buckles.  Never thought I'd see a DEAD newspaper comic link, but there it is.  I think a lot of it has to do with the syndicates (King Syndicate specifically) and how they wrangle their comics.  The strong strips can keep and maintain their own sites, but the weaker ones (like Buckles) are at their mercy.  Or the artist is just too damn lazy to update the site.  Likely a bit of both if the few news posts there are to be believed.

I've updated the Categories Page to more accurately reflect the proliferation of labels for my various articles.  Specifically, I made a handy link for things like The Standard series amongst other things, and any future series will have a link there.  I've added a lot of links, refined some, and updated some other stuff (at one point, there was 2 Touching Base #11's for some reason).  I even broke out my Nothing posts because it makes it easier to sort in the background.  I've thought about adding more series links in the future, generally on similar topics, but for now this will work.

There is another minor change to come, but I'm saving that for the anniversary.  It's nothing major, but something I probably should have done a while ago.  Next week, Touching Base wherein I resurrect some long dead favorites.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What's going on with Sinfest

I don't know.

Okay, answering a non-question with a non-answer isn't going to cut it for a post.  The last few years of Sinfest has been dominated by one thing:  Feminism.  It's filtered through the whole of the comic, and dominated the storylines for some time now.  A lot of people have been turned off by the way it's been handled, even feminists.  So why?

I bring this up because I'm starting to get an idea what might be going on.  Nothing concrete now, but the idea is starting to form.  It all started with a dragon.  Specifically the Dragon, one of Sinfest's goto characters of balance, that and Budda, both of whom usually act as Tatsuya's personal voice in anything the comic does.  Until recently, both have been utterly absent from the comic and the comic has had some odd things happening.

Odd being both good and bad.  Good for some characters, bad for others, and probably the comic as a whole.  Some characters have abandoned their old ways and are trying to be some one new.  Fuchsia, the pink devil girl, has been the major mover here, along with Lil'E and Seymore.  All three have actually developed beyond their old stereotype forms and have become actually really interesting characters.

And then there's the Sisterhood plot.  It's gotten a lot of flak in recent days and I get why.  It's not the same style of Sinfest people expect.  The entire Feminism angle of the strip has been odd for this comic, and has left me a bit dumbfounded.  If it was just Tatsuya coming into the idea of Feminism, okay, but he never really struck me as someone who needed to do such a thing.  The female characters in Sinfest were never treated like they were on display, and when they did, it was part of the joke.  So, what is he going after?

I've been thinking there might be a method to what he's been doing.  Sinfest is a comic that likes to play with various political ideas and show a bit of the absurdity on both.  It's more "liberal" leaning than not, but it's never been this far over.  So perhaps that IS the point.  That this angle of Feminism that Sinfest has been playing with is almost to the point of absurdity.  The comic tipped over this far ON PURPOSE to show the extreme end.

The fact that Budda and the Dragon have been missing for so long, and the tipping of the comic seems to have accelerated in their absence MIGHT support this idea.  Might.  Their return might be the final reveal of the greater issue and finally wrap up the more extreme end of the Sisterhood plotline.  After all, one of the first actions of Budda was to place flowers at the end of a beating stick held by one of the Sisterhood.

Which actually brings me to an interesting idea regarding the leader of this group, Xanthe.  I'm wondering if she isn't actually a she at all.  It would be a decent twist on the story to show she was actually a man, and one that did walk a more extreme path (though she's never really show to walk the more extreme path).  It's a random thought, and one that might provide some more insight as to what has actually been going on during the length of the comic.

The issue is in the meantime, some readers are feeling alienated by it.  Taking a risk like this is a BIG risk, so either Tatsuya has prepared for this risk or he has taken it so strongly to heart he doesn't realize it's actually hurting his comic.  If sources are to be believed, he is at least aware of the criticism, so perhaps the return of the Dragon and Budda are part of a response to it.  What form that takes, however, has yet to be seen.

Personally, I'm not enthralled with the Sisterhood and much of what is attached to it.  I much prefer watching the side characters doing their thing, and is why I still read it.  If I wasn't already a long term fan, and didn't have the connection to these characters that I do, I suspect I wouldn't still be reading it because, honestly, I don't like being hit in the face with a message.  But if there is something else at work, maybe it'll be worth a bit of pain.  Maybe.

Next week, I will finish up the backend stuff I promised last week (so many links, SO MANY!).  Until then kiddies.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Comic Management Time

Well, it's time to do something I've been putting off:  rearranging my comic lists.

Why?  Well a lot of my comics are starting to only update weekly.  Which is fine, most of these comics can handle that, but it also means my weekly list is getting very, VERY long.  And many of those comics don't actually update weekly, more like monthly, or longer.

My current idea in sorting this mess is to add a new category:  Monthly.  A lot of comics are going to end up here because quite a few of them kind of are Monthly, and have been for a long time.  My issue is remembering to check them at least once a month.  At least with the Weekly category, I did it on Sunday, every Sunday.  I guess I'll just have to try to remember to check them every month.

So in the great reordering, where does everything go?  Well, let's take a look.

Daily - Not much has changed here, only Gunshow has moved (it wasn't quite daily to begin with)
  • Bug Martini
  • Chainsawsuit
  • Cyanide and Happiness
  • Deep Fried (Weapon Brown)
  • Devil's Panties
  • Dumbing of Age
  • Errant Story
  • Girls with Slingshots
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Ceral
  • Schlock Mercenary
  • Sinfest
  • Sluggy Freelance
  • Station V3
  • The Book of Biff
  • Wapsi Square
M-W-F - Lots of rearrangement here, most strips that left here went to Sunday.
  • Between Failures
  • Eerie Cuties
  • Gaia
  • Girl Genius
  • Gunshow
  • Gunnerkrigg Court
  • heart shaped skull
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja
  • The Whiteboard
  • Twilight Lady
  • Vampire Cheerleaders
T-Th-Sat - Like M-W-F, lots of changes here too.

  • Devilbear: The Grimoires of Bearalzebub
  • Exiern
  • Magic Chicks
  • Menage a 3
  • Out at Home
  • Sandra and Woo
  • Shi Long Pang
  • Skullkickers
  • Spinnerette
  • UnCONventional
Sunday (Weekly) - Did you know Elsie Hooper was updating again?  I just found out.  Also I said screw it and added Sunstone and Demon Candy to the side bar.  They're marked.
  • Bob the Angry Flower
  • Brainslug
  • Cat and Girl
  • City of Reality
  • Conny Van Ehlsing, Monster Hunter
  • Contemplating Reiko
  • Dead Winter
  • Demon Candy (NSFW)
  • Derelict
  • Elise Hooper
  • Footloose! 
  • Head Trip
  • Kawaii Not
  • Legend of Zelda:  El Rey
  • Out There
  • Punch an'Pie
  • Romantically Apocalyptic
  • Sister Claire
  • Sorcery 101
  • String Theory
  • Sunstone (NSFW)
  • The Non-Adventures of Wonderella
  • The Wotch
  • Three Panel Soul
  • Trying Human
  • Two Kinds
  • Winters in Lavelle
  • Zebra Girl    
Monthly - Much shorter list than I thought, but these comics seems to be on long schedules now.
  • Alex Ze Pirate
  • Aptitude Test
  • Dresden Codak
  • Hari-Sari 
  • Hark, a vagrant!
  • Makeshift Miracle 
  • No Rest for the Wicked
  • So Damn Bright  
  • The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon
  • Toilet Genie
  • What Birds Know 
  • White Noise
Hiatus - Revamped Hiatus list, with only Does Not returning for another round.
  • Does Not Play Well With Others
  • Edible Dirt
  • Gypsy!
  • Templar, Arizona
  • The Meek
  • The Pain
Yes, the new Hiatus list means Blip, Bunny, Cleopatra in SPAAACE! and The Adventures of Superhero Girl have all now been moved to the DEAD list.  Cleo and Superhero Girl are likely to return , but the other two look dead as doornails.  Honestly, though, most of the current Hiatus list look about dead as well, with Does Not still occasionally getting random updates, to the news page (at least I know Poe is alive).

Most of this stuff should be finished sometime this weekend.  But I'm not done yet.  Got some more things coming next week as well.  Until next week kiddies.