Friday, June 27, 2014

Touching Base #17

Ah, Touching Base.  Lots of little things to cover, and lots of odd things, but no comics outright dumped, but there are is one. . .

The Book of Biff stopped updating back in February.  I don't know why, especially as the artist's two other comics (yeah, he has 3 comics) are updating just fine.  Kind of annoyed because I like Biff and it was one of my more reliable comics.  I haven't given up on it yet, but I'm damn close.

Speaking of reliability in comics, Station V3 has NOT been.  Unlike Biff, it is updating, but the update schedule, which used to be daily, is now all wonky.  Its like there are still daily comics, but they get posted one at a time, a week apart.  Not sure if this is an uploader issue or the artist isn't doing anything (his other comics are dead dead in comparison).  There's no feedback on what's going on, so I'm at a loss.

The Fifth Circle has an odd way of updating too, in bulk.  I figured it was daily, given the nature of the comic, even if it was like a year behind (being in Africa makes that understandable), but no, he does a bulk update, like a month or two in one shot.  I might move it to the Monthly list, just so I don't have to spend a good while going back every page, then reading from there forward.  A lot of this is due to the lack of a normal updater and archive system most comics would have.  Still entertaining, but annoying.

Wapsi Square went on haitus earlier and it should be ending, um, June 23.  As in this past Monday.  Yeah, I know, I didn't have the oppertunity to mention it.  There have been a few guest strips in the meantime, but it SHOULD be back by the time you read this.  We'll see.

My issues with The Demon Archives seems to have cleared up, meaning I can read it without opening a whole new browser.  I don't know why it was broken in the first place, but so was Mutts for a while and both came back at the same time.  I'm glad of it because I enjoy both comics.

Sinfest has picked up a new site design.  It looks pretty good.  The comic itself seems to have backed off, a bit, of the Sisterhood stuff (they didn't go away, just not as prominent), but only time will tell on that end.

Magick Chicks had picked up a newish artist.  This one filled in a bit early on and is now taken over full time.  Doesn't really look that different, but with the big showdown here, probably a good thing it's consistent.

So I guess Vampire Cheerleaders has been traveling through time or something.  I'm still not sure what they've been doing, but it's not bad, but not exactly good either.  I liked the comic before the Paranormal Mystery Squad stuff got crossed into it, now not as much.  This is less touching base and more me debating whether to keep read it.

Little Guardians is back to regular(ish) updates.  I guess they did a lot of moving, which is why the comic sort of stopped for a while.  Now they're in the middle of a side/guest strip thing, but I think it'll settle back to normal updates soon enough.

Strong Female Protagonist and Girls with Slingshots both had very successful kickstarters, so that's great for them.  I think they have books in the works, so that's always good.  That said, I don't follow a lot of kickstarter stuff because I'm lazy about it.

Dead Winter is apparently working on a game, I think.  I love the idea and hope to play it soon.

Finally the Non-Adventures of Wonderella is on hiatus while the artist works on, surprise, another book.  I like that he keeps us informed of this stuff (unlike some comics *cough*Biff*cough*Station V3*cough), and look forward to the comic's return.

Beyond that a LOT of comics have started Patreon campaigns.  No I won't list them today, but probably next week.  That said, this past week I've been on vacation, so if I have a nothing, it's because I got lost in Hershey Park.  Or sick on chocolate.  Perhaps both!

Until next week kiddies.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 33

      Deborah was slow to get up. She hurt all over, and it took a moment to orient herself. She had hit the side of a rather large planter box opposite the door they had come in only a few minutes earlier. With a grunt, she flipped over and propped herself against the planter, holding her head.

      “Are you alright?”

      “I’m fine ma. . .” She stopped herself. Delphi really did sound like a mother, and in the aftermath of being thrown out a door, she almost thought Delphi sounded like her mother. “I’m fine, thank you.”

      “Are you sure?” Delphi’s voice came from the glasses, still sitting in her pocket where L’lorne had placed them earlier that day. “If you want, put the glasses on and I will have them check you out to make sure.”

      Deborah chuckled slightly, triggering a wince of pain. With a sigh, she pulled out the glasses and put them on.

      “Nothing too serious,” Delphi said. “Still, you should not move too quickly right away.”

      “I figured that.” Despite the warning, Deborah still moved to stand up, causing another wince of pain and a little dizziness.

      “Easy now.”

      She ignored Delphi and moved to the window set in the door and looked inside. There were explosions of tile everywhere, small ones that consisted more of dust than anything else. Pieces of the floor floated up and shattered against the wall, craters forming in the wake of invisible impacts. The door rattled with a boom that forced Deborah to step back. The small window in the door cracked with the impact. Looking back inside, there was no sign of the source, but many of the blocks that Ritch ‘arrd had created to shield her were utterly destroyed, and the few that remained had been worn away, some losing pieces as she watched.

      Neither L’lorne or Ritch ‘arrd were visible. “Where are they?” she asked, her eyes scanning the room, even looking up towards the ceiling, to no avail.

      A buzz now began to generate, flashes, and then massive ERROR statements appeared in front of her eyes. The buzzing grew louder and forced Deborah’s head back. She had nearly forgotten how eager to please the glasses were, and they were trying to find L’lorne and Ritch ‘arrd for her, but something was desperately wrong and she reached up to rip the offending eyewear off.

      “Hang on, I will take care of that.” Suddenly the glasses went completely dark, the buzz halted so that the only noise was the occasional low boom and cracking coming from inside the natatorium. When the darkness faded away, Deborah was hesitant to move. “It is alright, I am processing the images now.”

      “What happened?” Deborah leaned back towards the window and looked inside. The first thing she saw was L’lorne and Ritch ‘arrd, standing next to the pool, their weapons locked together, but neither was moving, but even then the image began to quickly fade away and another, on the other side of the pool appeared. This time they were charging at each other, weapons held up in the air, L’lorne’s mouth open in a silent, unmoving scream, and it was gone again. Then one was jumping over a swipe of the other, and gone, then another with weapon’s close, but not actually touching, and gone. Over and over again, the images appeared and vanished. “What is this?”

      “Currently, L’lorne and Ritch ‘arrd are moving at very high speeds and in a separate time state. The glasses attempted to track them for you, but could not keep up, causing multiple errors. I took over for them, but even so, you are simply not moving fast enough to watch the battle in action. As such, I am displaying mere snapshots of every passing event. I will try to keep to the more interesting ones as most of this battle is rather dull.”

      An extra loud boom echoed out, startling Deborah back a step. “Doesn’t sound dull.” She stepped back to the window. “So what do you mean by ‘separate time state?’”

      “The way time is flowing around each of them is different than the way time flows for you and I. Right now, a second for us is nearly a day for them.”

      “Whoa,” Deborah said. “Why?”

      “Ritch ‘arrd is faster than L’lorne in general, so L’lorne is using the difference in the flow of time to allow her to keep up and even surpass him. However, he can do this as well, so she only gets this edge for a short time. He then matches it and thus regains the advantage. So, in effect, the passage of time is actually increasing for them incrementally as each takes and retakes the advantage.”

      “Okay, that’s neat. So, uh, who’s winning?”

      “Neither, it is currently a stalemate and one that will remain so for the next 23 minutes and 58 seconds, our time.”

      “So the battle will be over then?”

      “Only as far as you are concerned.”

      Deborah furrowed her eyebrows. “What do you mean by that?”

      “You will be dead.”

      She blinked. Then again. By the third time, what Delphi had just said had finally sunk in and now she could no longer blink. “WHAT?” She backed away from the door and bumped into the planter box, knocking herself to the ground. “How? Why?”
      “L’lorne has better skills with modifying time than Ritch ‘arrd does. In 23 minutes 3 seconds, he will be able to maintain a balance, but after that he will be behind and never able to catch up. The only solution for survival will be to rely on sheer power, and when he does that, you, this planet, and, depending on how much he thinks he needs, perhaps a significant chunk of this galactic cluster, will be destroyed.”

      “But L’lorne. . .” Deborah didn’t finish the thought, already knowing the answer even as Delphi recited it.

      “Her promise was for her not to destroy this planet, there was nothing in that promise that said she had to protect it.”

      Deborah bowed her head and felt tears beginning to form. “I know, I knew. But why? Why this?”

      “L’lorne decided she was no longer going to play whatever game she and Ritch ‘arrd had been playing. As of that moment, this sequence of events was inevitable, though perhaps she believes she can gain enough of an advantage to end it before this moment comes. I cannot say for certain.”

      She only heard part of Delphi said, and she pulled the glasses off and set them down on the ground beside her so she could wipe her eyes. The tears were flowing slowly enough, dripping down her cheeks at a steady rate. She sniffed and stuffed her hand into the inner pocket of her coat.

      Her mother’s picture looked back at her. They had gone to the park that day with a couple of the other girls. Deborah had learned to fly a kite, and it went so high into the sky, she could only just barely see it. When they had finally gotten it down, Mary had taken the picture of the two of them, Deborah holding up the makeshift kite and her mother helping. Both had big smiles.

      Deborah began to cry more. “Well,” she said choking out the words. “I guess I’ll see you soon mama.” Her mind suddenly went to David Engera, the poor ghost, killed eating breakfast. “Delphi,” she said still sobbing. “Will I be a ghost?”

      “No, I do not think so,” Delphi said in that motherly tone that made Deborah feel a bit better. “If you did, however, I can make sure you move on properly.”

      “And mama?”

      “No, you helped save her from that fate.”

      “Thanks,” she said. She looked back at the picture. They were happy then, and now it was all shot to pieces. Worse yet, no one else would be around either, it would all be over. All because of some stupid game.

      Game? Deborah’s head looked up and at the door. “Wait,” she said as she wiped away the tears and absently shoved the picture back in its pocket. “Wait a second.” Back on her feet, glasses in hand she moved back towards the door. The room was still in chaos, but without the glasses she couldn’t see Ritch ‘arrd or L’lorne.
      Ritch ‘arrd.

      “Wait, wait, wait.” The thought began forming quickly in her mind. She reached out for the words, the one that would make her thought form properly. “Why,” she started. “Why hasn’t he done it already?” She expected an answer, but Delphi remained silent, probably because it knew that she knew. “If they’re not playing the game anymore, why hasn’t Ritch ‘arrd done it yet? L’lorne isn’t because she’s trying to keep her promise, but Ritch ‘arrd never made that promise. So what is he waiting for?”

      The answer appeared. Her jaw dropped in surprise, not just at what it was but that she had come up with it. “He’s still playing the game.” She could remember feeling like a pawn between two players, and now one of the players had given up, which meant. . . “He’s waiting for me to make a move. But what move? How do I move? I don’t even know the rules!”

      “If I may,” Delphi said. “Though I do not know the specifics, I do believe I know what you were intended to do.”

      Deborah slid back on the glasses and watched as L’lorne and Ritch ‘arrd began their frozen dance in the natatorium again. “What’s that?”

      “They wanted you to choose between them. If you do, the battle will end.”

      “Choose? But how can I do that? Do I just go in there and announce it?” As she spoke, a new, more troubling thought surfaced. “Who would I choose?”

      “I cannot help you with that.”

      The glasses came off as she rubbed her eyes, still a little damp and swollen from only moments before. Despair had been replaced by hope, then confusion, and now a new sense of despair. Choose. Choose between a mass murderer and a killer. Was there really a difference between the two? “What would happen if I did choose one? I mean, to me.”

      “I do not know. I have never been able to accurately predict their motives and intentions. Even my suggestion that choosing at all would end the battle is a statistical guess. It may not affect anything at all.”

      “But doing nothing would be no better, right?” Deborah closed her eyes as Delphi replied in the affirmative. “I just don’t know,” she said. “Maybe if I knew more about them, I could choose.”

      “Unlikely. It would likely make the choice even harder. As it stands you have little time to learn more.”

      Another boom echoed from inside the natatorium. The walls shuttered with the explosion and the rumble lasted for a time. “I need more time.”

      “If your hypothesis is correct, then the best way to make more time would be to go back inside.”

      “In there?” Deborah looked in and shuddered at the thought. “Right, if I go inside, Ritch ‘arrd might think I was ready to move and hold off destroying the world for a little bit.”

      “Yes, I think that is most likely.”

      “But nothing is for sure.”

      “It is like trying to predict chaos; we can only go in based on probabilities.”

      “Chaos?” Back at the barn, L’lorne had talked about chaotic events. She said Deborah could see through them, predict them. If L’lorne and Ritch ‘arrd were chaotic, then that meant that she could see their actions. It also was obvious what Delphi wanted her to do. “You said that on purpose.”

      “Everything I have said has been on purpose, or else I would not have said it.”

      “Am I a game piece to you too?”

      “No, I like you, and I want you to live. I will not make you do anything, ever. I promise you this.”

      Deborah cradled the glasses in her hands, staring at them. “Then tell me next time, no hints or suggestions like that.”

      “Very well. Go inside and predict their movements. The answer will be there.”

      Deborah smiled. “Yeah, I kind of figured that out.” She put the glasses in her pocket and opened the door.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn L'lorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. What kind of person is The Ritch 'arrd? What does his human form look like (in your mind)?
4. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
5. Does Delphi's explanation for what's going on make sense?  Anyway you can see to improve it?

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Standard: The Bowelless One

So this week will basically wrap up Sluggy Freelance's Mohkadun story.  Oh, I'm sure there are some little things left (I am writing this Sunday, so I know there's some things going on this week).  How was it in the end?

EDIT:  And of course, because I wrote that. . .  My thoughts on that will follow the rest of the article.

Pretty damn good.  More than that, really.  Even El Santo from the Webcomic Overlook, and now Robot 6, enjoyed it, and he gave up on Sluggy back during (wait for it) Oceans Unmoving.  Surprising since Mohkadun shares a lot, and I do mean A LOT, with Oceans Unmoving.  The same basic set up (one member of the Sluggy main cast is sent to a place with a new group of people), lots of things needed to be explained, it lasted well over a year (it started March 2013) and of course Timeless Space itself is involved.  So why the difference?

Well it resolved the two key issues that plagued Oceans Unmoving:  It kept moving (hardly any delays in production) and the rest of the main Sluggy cast had something to do besides being off screen.  In fact, they were actively looking for Gwynn through their part of the story.  Both elements kept the main cast involved, didn't let the new group of characters take a dominate role, and kept the ball moving without feeling like a great weight had been tied to the story.  The result was a great story, one that easily fits in with the great Sluggy stories of the past.

That said, was it really necessary?  K'Z'K was effectively done at the end of the Bug, the Witch and the Robot, and that was back in 2001, more than 13 years ago.  Sure, there were elements of his cult still running around, but the Vowelless One was gone.  Readers barely remembered him, so much so that Abrams had to link back to specific moments in Sluggy's past (a feature that proved very handy, and won even El Santo's approval).

I will argue that a story LIKE Mohkadun was necessary, but not necessarily Mohkadun.  Sluggy needed a really good story to draw back people like El Santo who had dropped the comic so long ago, a story that reminded people that Abrams was fully capable of writing really good stories.  It needed the entire Sluggy main cast (Gwynn had been more an afterthought for most of bROKEN onward), it needed to be funny, and serious, and be part of the new direction for the comic:  Ending.

Crafting a story around K'Z'K, linking in all the origins of things like Torg's Sword, Timeless Space and that silly necklace fit nicely into that form.  It also made almost no references to the lull after Oceans Unmoving, so fans of the earlier comic who left wouldn't feel that left out.  While I don't think Mohkadun was necessary in and of itself, it was a resounding success.

Not that it wasn't predictable.  I guessed easily that Gwynn would lose her magic when the Bug was extracted from her, that the eggs that had been hidden in the temple would be a major part of K'Z'K's undoing (not as major as it turned out, but still), and, more importantly, that K'Z'K would last maybe a week (one Monday was resurrection, the next he was being sucked back into the book).  Being predictable is not a bad thing, especially in this case since I was right (yay me), because really the rest of the story was strong enough that it didn't hurt, and really the wrap up is more a formality than anything else.

Still, I did not see K'Z'K being renamed Poopy Pants the Destroyer, or the Bowelless One.  Nice ending to a silly villain (and pretty much removes him from the Presence thing I did a while ago, ah well).  But while Poopy Pants is now pretty much gone from Sluggy, it doesn't mean Sluggy is over, far from it.  There's still the matter of Oasis to attend to, and given that Abrams is looking to take a bit of a comedy break after Mohkadun, we've got a few years ahead of us.  I'm still betting on 4 more years, but we'll see.


And then Gwynn got shot.  She's fine, but I had to delay posting this article to see what was done with this event.  Thinking on it throughout the day, I had one thought:  He might have actually killed Gwynn.  I know I said he couldn't kill Zoe back at the end of 4UCity because it would cause a fan revolt, but Gwynn is actually fair game.  Her role in Sluggy has been seriously diminished over the years, pretty much since the Bug, the Witch and the Robot, and she's been more or less absent since bROKEN began until this story.  Killing her was actually possible, I gave it 1 in 3 odds.  Mostly because Pete is ready for "fun" stories rather than the more serious one that is Mohkadun, and a dead Gwynn would not lead to that.  Still, it was possible, so I had to see what was going to happen.  Now that I know, I can post this thing.

Next week, probably Touching Base.  Until then kiddies.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 32

      She hadn’t noticed the girl there before. Suddenly, though, with two words, L’lorne saw Deborah again, standing behind a block made of tiles, staring at her first in fit of anger, then in utter fear. In one swipe, she could cut that head from that body.

      “The plan.” A small voice, tiny, but hers, responded to the thought. “We need her for the plan.”

      As that voice spoke, L’lorne remembered the plan. She had known for some time that she would go wild if she let the block in her own mind dissipate. There was too much anger and sorrow leaking out from behind it for her to conclude she would do anything else. She would charge, she would attack, and she would do so without regard to any person, place, thing or promise she had or would have ever made.

      “She’s part of the plan,” the small voice was larger now, stronger, forcing the furious version of L’lorne to give up its control. “If we don’t follow the plan, we’ll never kill him.”

      That was the one thing the clam voice and the angry reality could agree on: Ritch ‘arrd had to die. He had killed their son, snapped his neck literally minutes after his birth. She nearly exploded then, if it hadn’t been for Delphi and Quinn, she probably would have ripped the universe apart right then and there, and in the process destroyed her teacher, her lover, the murderer of her son and probably herself, all in one single strike.

      Delphi had prevented it, to protect itself more than anything else, and Quinn had subdued her, dropping the initial block in her mind that allowed reason to take back over. By then, Ritch ‘arrd was gone, vanished into near infinite depths of the universe. Her quest began then, to find him and the reason she had to kill him. Now both were here, and she was still angry beyond all reason.

      Two words, though, pulled her back. Rational L’lorne was now reminding her of the plan, the details, the reason she had insisted on bringing Deborah here. She had set her up with the tools to be the perfect pawn, the will to help, and the knowledge to prevent Ritch ‘arrd from turning her to his side. The bump that was Patricia Ignigus’ death, and the fact that he had know L’lorne had let her die, was a minor inconvenience. She could still win this. . .

      The glow in her eyes dimmed away as she closed them. The heat and pressure emanating from her body relaxed as she pulled the power back into herself. However much she hated him, Ritch ‘arrd was right, she would never beat him without control. Quinn had said the same thing, and they worked to focus that control. The axe was his weapon, and he had taught her how to use it most effectively, and how to use it to focus her wild, angry power into a single point. With this, she could win. . .

      What would she win?

      Her eyes opened again, and she looked at Deborah. The girl’s fear was genuine, and very much justified. Those emotions she had felt not so long ago made sense now. She had been treating this girl as a surrogate child, replacing the one she had lost. Even now, she knew she would never harm her, nor would she let harm come to her. L’lorne would not lose another child.

      “The plan!” The voice, once so strong, suddenly took a blow and weakened. “No, the plan!” It faded away with that and vanished into the mists of her mind. Deborah had completed the first part of the plan, but the rest no longer applied.

      “Ah, good, I’m glad to see you’re under control again,” Ritch ‘arrd said, clapping silently. “Now we can begin this properly.”

      L’lorne glared at him, let a bit of the anger surface again, but kept it in check. He would be punished, but not the way she had planned. She swung back to Deborah. “Deborah!” The girl hadn’t taken her eyes off of L’lorne since she shouted, but still jolted when her name was called. “Get out of here, leave and go as far away as you can.”

      “What?” Both Ritch ‘arrd and Deborah responded simultaneously. She knew Deborah’s response was a confirmation, but his was one of utter disbelief.

      “I said GO!” Deborah looked ready to protest again, but L’lorne would have none of it. With a single push of her mind, she lifted the girl up into the air, arms and legs dangling out of her brown coat, and flung her at the door. Deborah grunted a protest, but the door flung open, the girl flew out and the door shut again before any coherent response could be generated. That done, L’lorne turned back to Ritch ‘arrd.

      He was staring at the door as it finished latching closed. “Interesting move,” he said, his eyes indicating that he was still trying to process the purpose. “I’m not sure why. . .”

      “No more games,” L’lorne interrupted him.

      “Lakinde. . .”

      “We’ve always played games,” L’lorne continued, moving the axe into a more proper attack position. “This is no longer a game.”

      Ritch ‘arrd watched her and moved into a defensive stance. “You can’t be serious about this. If you do this, whatever promise you made to that girl will be broken.”

      L’lorne smiled. “Only by you, and she knew that was possible from the beginning.”

      “This is foolish,” Ritch ‘arrd was getting angrier with every moment that passed. “You still won’t win, Lakinde and I will have to kill you if you insist upon this course of action.”

      “Shut up,” L’lorne lifted the axe up and braced herself. “And don’t call me by that name again!” There was flicker and she vanished. Ritch ‘arrd quickly followed and a crack of thunder ripped through the natatorium.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn L'lorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. What kind of person is The Ritch 'arrd? What does his human form look like (in your mind)?
4. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
5. Any idea what L'lorne's original plan might have been?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Article Derailed

I had this great article written this weekend about Sluggy Freelance and made a mistake by saying "nothing should happen this week" to change it.  Then Wednesday happened, so I need to let it sit a bit.

And I have no time to write another, I'll have something next week.  Lesson learned.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 31

      Deborah pressed her hands against her ears, trying to block out the noise, but it still pounded its way through, and it was getting louder by the moment. She fell to her knees, her eyes clenched in pain. The stone tiles under her feet were shaking, the sound of L’lorne's scream was so loud, the adhesive breaking down with the vibrations. She couldn't take it anymore, and she began screaming back, trying to counteract it somehow.

      She suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder, and the sound stopped. Looking up, she saw Ritch 'arrd staring across the pool, his hand touching her shoulder. She followed his gaze and saw L’lorne was still screaming, only silently, as if it had been muted. “I told you to run,” she heard Ritch 'arrd say, and when she turned back to him, a gust of air nearly knocked her to the ground.

      L’lorne was suddenly there, right there in front of both of them, her axe already unfolded and in her hands, dropping with deadly speed straight at Ritch 'arrd's head. There was no time to see his reaction, only the result: A blade of light there, blocking and holding back L’lorne's kill blow. “RUN NOW!” Ritch 'arrd yelled. Deborah didn't question the response this time, and ran.

      The far end of the pool had, when she had first entered, been empty of anything of interest. It was an empty area that would, if this had been a normal pool, been the haunt of tables, chairs, lounge seats and sun bathers. It was an empty area. Now boxes of various shapes and sizes were there, some obviously still growing out of the solid ground, covered in the same stone tiles as the rest of the floor.

      No time to think or plan or guess or anything, Deborah simply flung herself behind one of the seemingly more sturdy cubes and backed against it. A concussion of air suddenly blew around the cube, and another scream, though far shorter and more angry, came from L’lorne. A war cry.

      “YOU BASTARD!” The words were crystal clear, but the volume, the anger and even the intensity were far and away beyond anything Deborah had heard before from L’lorne. Curiosity overcame common sense, and Deborah popped her head up and over the cube to see.

      Ritch 'arrd was on the defensive, at least it looked that way. L’lorne would swing her axe at him and he would back up, holding the glowing light sword between himself and her. Occasionally he would physically block the blade, but most of the time it was a simple, light deflection, or he would step aside from the seemingly wild blows. “It had to be done,” Ritch 'arrd countered L’lorne's harsh words with vigor, but not with nearly the volume or anger.

      “HE WAS OUR SON!” L’lorne swung the axe level with the floor so fast Deborah only barely saw the movement. What she did see, however, was the sudden appearance of a sharp cut in the far wall. Nearly ten feet separated L’lorne from the wall, yet the force of the swing still made its existence known. Instinctively, Deborah began to duck every time L’lorne flung the axe even remotely in her direction.

      “He was weak,” Ritch 'arrd countered. He shifted the weight on his feet and thrust forward, but L’lorne blocked it and used the momentum of their blades to try to remove the light blade from his hands, unsuccessfully.

      “YOU KNOW THAT DOESN'T MATTER!” L’lorne swung the axe down, way down, digging right through the tiles without even the hint of a loss of momentum, and up at Ritch 'arrd who leapt out of the way and landed out on the water of the pool.

      “It mattered to me.” L’lorne joined Ritch 'arrd out on the pool and both began a more dangerous dance with each other. The blades swung high and low, both trying to get an edge on the other. Even so, it was becoming apparent to Deborah that it was going nowhere fast.

      “IT WASN'T YOUR DECISION TO MAKE!” L’lorne punctuated her remark argument with a flurry of slashes and jabs at Ritch 'arrd, the concussions sending waves of water out of the pool and onto the surrounding tiled surface. Deborah only just missed being soaked as she ducked behind another box. Slowly she was making her way towards the door they had entered through, though exactly to what end she wasn't entirely sure. Ritch 'arrd had told her to run, and from the current chaos of battle that was now rapidly splashing the pool empty, it seemed obvious why. Still, he hadn't said to leave, just run and hide.

      “He could never have lived up to his full potential,” Ritch ‘arrd pressed a weak attack against L’lorne, but held a steady defense. The water in the pool wasn’t merely splashing out any more, it was vaporizing as the heat of swinging weapons clashed. Above them, amongst the cooler air of the ceiling, a thin cloud had begun to form. “It was better this way.”

      “YOU KILLED HIM!” As L’lorne yelled, the axe swung about and flung an invisible blade of energy at the cloud. By the time it reached it, it wasn’t strong enough to disrupt the cloud, but it did cause a static discharge in the small thing. A shock of lighting lit out and struck one of the steel roof beams, and sending a rattling crack throughout the natatorium. All this happened in a fraction of a second, long enough that L’lorne’s yell was quickly followed by a flash of lighting and thunder, and shook Deborah to the core.

      Deborah banged her head against the back of one of the blocks that now filled the natatorium, except for a rather large gap near the door. For a moment there, she nearly thought of Ritch ‘arrd as possibly repentant in some weird way, and even as she thought about it now, he had never been directly aggressive. Now she knew the truth: He was every bit a monster as L’lorne. They were both killers, murders, with their own justifications for everything.

And she was a game piece, a pawn, in the battle between them. To what end though? What did either of them want her to do, and what did they each want accomplished? It seemed L’lorne wanted Ritch ‘arrd dead, that was pretty clear, but even she didn’t know exactly why up until a few moments ago. Ritch ‘arrd, on the other hand, had no reason to want L’lorne dead, or anything like that, nor did he appear to want any form of forgiveness, not that L’lorne was ready to offer it. Deborah was at a loss as to what to do next, deciding that closing her eyes and wishing it all away was the only option she had left.

“You’ll never even hit me if you don’t exert some control Lakinde,” she could just hear Ritch ‘arrd say. He was so damn calm about the whole thing it made Deborah want to cry. If only she could be that calm right now.


Deborah shot up at that statement and glared across the block at the battling couple and could only scream. “YOU PROMISED!”

L’lorne swung around and glared back at her, her eyes glowing with an unearthly, hellish light. Deborah decided in the next moment that she had done something very, very stupid.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn L'lorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. What kind of person is The Ritch 'arrd? What does his human form look like (in your mind)?
4. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Webcomic Categories Revisited

The first article I posted on this blog was my attempt to define the categories webcomics, I felt, fell into.  I then made almost no reference to it for the next 4 years.  Heh.  Anyway, looking back on it I think it's time to revisit this article, and it might be a recurring series, we'll see.

So how does this article hold up after all these years?  Well, not bad, though the examples don't quite work any more, but the ideas behind them do work.  That said, I think I'll recreate the article using some new ideas and much better examples.  Ready?  Too bad.

Stand Alone Comics

In the original article they were "classic" comics, which fits pretty well actually.  I like this new term better though because it's a lot more open.  Anyway, the key feature here is that each strip basically stands alone.  The reader needs no, or very little, backstory to understand any single strip.  There's no overarching story, no complex character relationships, no great villain, no great hero, just a series of short jokes or observations.  Occasionally there might be a short "story" that takes place over the course of a couple weeks (or a dozen strips) that has no impact on the comic as a whole.  Thus why I called them classic comics, as most newspapaer comics, from Garfield to Calvin and Hobbes are basically this kind of comic.

On the webcomic front, Bug Martini, Book of Biff (when it updated), Wonderella and Cyanide and Happiness are but the start of the chain for these kinds of comics, and I suspect there are many, many more out there besides.  As I speculated in the original article, I think MOST webcomics start life as a Stand Alone comic, only to grow into other comic forms, sometimes more quickly than one would think.

Adventure Comics

The main thread of the original article was that one kind of comic grew into another, and Adventure comics are often the mid point.  The key difference between Adventure and Stand Alone comics is that Adventure comics have continuity.  In some way, shape or form, a past story in an Adventure comic WILL have an impact on future stories.  It may not be much, maybe just some minor character reveal or reinforcing a characteristic, but it will be there, and it will last well into the future.  That said, they are still independent of each other, even if they might be sequels are make references to past events.  It's usually easy enough to start any given story and not have to know much more beyond that story to understand it.  Beyond that the stories are often much, much longer.  Two weeks worth of strips is barely a scene in most Adventure comics, and single strips often can't hold up on their own as well.

There's actually a LOT of examples of this kind of comic, even within newspapers.  Prince Valiant, Annie and all the soap opera comics follow this format.  It even bleeds out into comic books (DC and Marvel main universe comics are all Adventure comics), novels and even television shows.

That means there's a lot of Adventure comics on the web right?  Well, kind of.  I mean, they are out there, for sure.  Bohemian Nights, the Whiteboard, Devilbear, and UnCONventional are just a few on the list that fit that model, but there are others ride a line out into the other kinds of comics.

Epic Comics

Epic comics are Adventure comics taken to the next level, in a way.  All those stories that make up the many adventures of the Adventure comic are linked together in some substantial way.  Often this can be seen as some grand villain directing or manipulating more minor ones to do various things that the good guys have to bring down.  Which is basically what the Wotch has been for a long time now.  Though it's not always the hero/villain dynamic at work, but it's always there.

Epic comics outside of the web are a bit harder to find, but most often are in comic books.  The infamous Clone Saga from Spiderman probably counts as one as it was a series of smaller stories built around the clone theme for the comic (and had a big villain directing things and such).  Sometimes a TV series will pull it off, but the biggest example is the Lord of the Rings, film and books, which basically defined epic.

Within the webcomic world it's hard to differentiate Epics out from their Adventure brothers and sisters due to the fact that the "hidden menace" often doesn't make itself known for a long time, often years.  Sluggy Freelance was, for a long time, JUST an Adventure comic, then it introduced the fate web and with the conclusion of the most recent storyline, solidly linked the entire comic together as one grand Epic.  Of course, in being Epic, it leaves room for it to become the last kind of comic.

Novel Comics

Novel comics do exactly one thing differently than they other three:  They have a planned ending.  It's not that the comic ends, Sluggy will end eventually but it will never be a Novel comic, it's that from the first strip, there was an ending in mind.  Even through all the random adventures, the battle with epic villains or whatever, the comic was meant to end from day one.  Nothing more separates it from the pack.

Which also makes it hard to figure out.  After all, the only way to know if a comic is meant to end is to ask the artist, and they may or may not tell you.  I very much doubt Abrams planned on Sluggy ending back when he drew the first strip in 1997, but others are a little harder to figure out.  Gunnerkrigg Court, for example, is certainly an Epic comic, but is there an ending planned from the beginning or not?  No way to know.

Non-webcomic examples are, well, everywhere, even in a world of sequels and spin-offs, most novels, movies, graphic novels and even video games have a planned beginning, middle and end.  It's easier to think in short terms and add on to it later.  In webcomics the same occurs.  Shadowgirls started life as a Novel comic, as book 2 wasn't added on until much later (though that was never finished).  Our Time in Eden is definitely a Novel comic since it's all told in flashbacks (so we're at the end kind of reading backwards).  I'm pretty certain that Errant Story had an ending planned as well, whether it was the ending we got or not is another story (and one that may have to wait while until Poe continues the commentary/reediting process).

So like the whole thing with genres I did a bit ago, the same problems persist:  it's kind of arbitrary and causes some weird things to happen.  For example, Short Stories, despite looking like it should be an Adventure comic isn't because there's no continuity between the short stories, so it's actually a Stand Alone, despite being nothing like Garfield.

Still, it works to quickly identify them in some grand way.  Not that I've used this idea much over the length of this blog.  The thread of evolution from Stand Alone to Adventure to Epic is apparent even now, and once again my Standard, Sluggy, acts as the key representative.  I like the redefinition a bit more here as it goes into more detail and further refines it down.

I may dip into revisiting old articles like this in the future, depending on what I can come up with.  We'll see, until next time kiddies.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 30

Finishing yesterday's section, and one more.

      “You still haven't told me why,” Deborah said, her eyes starting to fill with tears as he spoke, so she brushed them away with her hand.

      “No, I haven't,” he said, moving back to his seat and sitting forward. “It was because of you.”


      “I saw you several weeks ago, working the street, watching for cop cars and such. I noticed it almost immediately, probably as quickly as Lakinde did. Your talent, your ability to see patterns in chaos. That would make all my ambitions not only that much greater, but easier too.” Ritch 'arrd took a deep breath. “I couldn't take you though. No matter how much I wanted to add that ability to the greater human race, I couldn't do something that was bound to fail to you. The scientists under my command are some of the best this world has to offer, but even they weren't ready to deal with you. So I went after the next available blood relative.”


      “Correct. The plan was to take her, let them play their genetic games, then use her genetic makeup as blueprint for the future. A failure that would lead to greater successes, as it were. She would be gone, and you would eventually fall into the child care system, where I would use my influence to get you sent to a wonderful foster family and give you a powerful education, and perhaps even bring you to me one day.” He looked up at L’lorne for a moment. “I underestimated you, and I failed to account for Lakinde.” He turned back to Deborah, a shade of shame on his face. “Amongst my people, where we hold the teacher as most important, the most important teacher is the first, the parent, and I took yours away from you for my own reasons and ambitions. Will you forgive me for it?”

      Deborah said nothing. She looked at him, still looking for whether he spoke the truth or not, but could find nothing that said he wasn't. Even through his odd, far too normal face and body, she could see something sincere, he really meant what he said. “Well, yeah, okay. I accept your apology.”

      “Thank you,” Ritch 'arrd said. “I know you still hurt, and it will fade over time, and you may even stay angry at me for a while, but thank you for however much it is worth to you.” He smiled and leaned back, looking at L’lorne. “So how much do you know about us Deborah? Our past and relationship.”

      “Enough,” Deborah said, still tearing up slightly as she spoke. “Delphi told me.”

      “Did it? I didn't think Lakinde would have let it. Interesting.” He trailed off.

      L’lorne, for her part, stayed quiet during the remainder of the exchange, but by now had put her cup down on the table and was staring at Ritch 'arrd rather intensely. “Why wouldn't I?” she finally said.

      “I would like to know though,” Ritch 'arrd finally started again, ignoring L’lorne's comment. “Why didn't you save Patricia's life?”

      Deborah shifted back, then snapped her head around to L’lorne, who hadn't moved in any form of a reply. “L’lorne?”

      “The genetic alterations weren't that great, you could have undone them, why didn't you?”

      “L’lorne,” Deborah said with more force. She could have saved her, but didn't? Because of what? Why? She wanted to ask, but L’lorne didn't seem to respond to either Ritch 'arrd or her.

      Then L’lorne began to shake.

      “Oh dear,” Ritch 'arrd said. Before Deborah could ask what he meant, she found herself in Ritch 'arrd's arms, and then on the other side of the pool from the small seating area.

      “What the. . .”

      “You need to hide, now,” Ritch 'arrd said in a serious tone that was completely unlike anything he had used up until this moment.


      Ritch 'arrd turned back to where L’lorne was and Deborah followed his gaze. The chairs were on fire now, pieces of tile were breaking off and floating upwards around L’lorne, who was still seated on the quickly disintegrating seat. He turned back to Deborah and drew her eyes to his. “She's removed the block.”

      L’lorne screamed.


      She screamed again, then began puffing and breathing in short bursts. Hermes buzzed around her and silently offered her a shot of pain reliever, which she refused. It was important to her to feel every inch of this, no matter how much it hurt. If L’lorne hadn't wanted to go through the pain, she had ways not to, but not this time. There would be no easy way out.

      “Give me one more push,” Mercury said from underneath her. L’lorne responded with a jarring scream. Hermes dropped down to join his brother and the two watermelon sized drones babbled at each other quickly.

      Suddenly all the pain stopped. L’lorne was about to lash out, but Hermes floated up holding a bundle in his antigravity fields. “It's a boy,” he said.

      L’lorne wrapped her arms around the child and pulled away the cloth wrappings. His face was bubbly and fast, skin wrinkly and hair matted and wet. He was crying, a sound that made L’lorne smile. “He's beautiful.”

      Ritch 'arrd came in, a proud smile on his face. “All done I see,” he leaned over and looked at the child. “Have you thought of a name yet?”

      “Mcorn Nesatil, he who is a child of the stars.”

      Ritch 'arrd nodded only and held out his hands. “May I?”

      L’lorne nodded, and wearily handed the boy over. “Nesatil, this is your father,” she said. “Say hi.” The boy cried, causing both to chuckle.

      “Come with me little one,” Ritch 'arrd said as he carried him out of the room.

      L’lorne leaned back and started reactivating her internal regulators. Hermes offered a chemical energy booster, which L’lorne did not refuse, allowing it to flow into her system. “He's my first,” she said. “Oh mother, if only you could see him.”

      “I'm sure she would be proud,” Mercury said as he began cleaning her up.

      “Yeah, she would be,” L’lorne said. It had been so long since she had thought of her mother that it seemed like another life. It practically was, another universe, billions of years ago now. She tried hard to remember her face, and finally had to resort to a genetic reconstruction in her mind just to get a sense of it. The image, as much as she wanted it to, didn't give her the feelings she wanted. It was just another face, the memories associated with it faded almost to the point of nonexistence. She'd have to rebuild them. . .

      Something was wrong. Her sensors still weren't a full capacity, but she could already feel it. Though her limbs were still weak, she managed to roll herself off the bed and activate a rough anti-gravity field to hold her up. Hermes started to protest, but backed off when she flew forward, through the nearest wall and down to Delphi's lower observation deck.

      Ritch 'arrd stood there, watching as she came in, the bundle in his arms. Nothing looked particularly amiss, except that something was missing. L’lorne's sensors were now activating in quick succession and she started to go grey at what she was getting. “No,” she managed to mutter.

      “He simply wasn't strong enough,” Ritch 'arrd said without even a hint of compassion or apology. “The next one will be better, I'm sure.”

      “No,” she repeated, more emphatically, and hurried toward him, her sensors transmitting what was now more and more obvious by the second.

      Nesatil wasn't crying.

      L’lorne screamed.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn L'lorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. What kind of person is The Ritch 'arrd? What does his human form look like (in your mind)?
4. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
5. Does it all seem justified now?