Friday, June 26, 2015

Spending a little money

Actually, a lot of money because damn was that trip expensive.  1300 in car repairs (don't ask), 300 in gas, 200 for the room, 170 for my "ticket" plus all that I spent on food, my trip last week was a drain both financially and physically.  Still worth it.  More worth it was upon returning home I got where another 20 dollars went just before I left.

In the midst of talking way too much about Errant Story, I opened with a reminder that Errant Story remains the only comic I have ever given money to.  It was five dollars, and I don't remember exactly when.  Poe made an extra appeal one day and I had some cash in my paypal account, so I shot it over.  A bit later, because paypal has my address attached, I received a little pin with Ellis on it.

It's not that I don't like spending money, my random collection of junk and shit ton of books says otherwise.  The issue is that for a long time, I didn't have any extra money to spend.  Good timing led to my donation, nothing more.  There have been a LOT of comics I've considered donating, buying, or even joining in a Pateron for, I just don't because, well, I didn't have the money once, and it's made me very frugal ever since.

I take a lot of time and thinking before I spend money on something I'm not sure of.  Sure, I'll buy a couple books or some chips at random, but I'll think for a good 30 minutes on a computer chair, even when my current one is crap.  And I don't mean looking for it, I mean finding it and debating if it's still worth it.  Impulse buys are not my thing, and of course the internet is built on impulse buying.

Still, with my current income and my love for webcomics, I suppose I should spend more on them.  There are a LOT of great comics out there, and a little bit of financial support is all they need to keep going.  It's why I point out Pateron campaigns every once in a while.  Donations aren't as common as they used to be, but tip jars are still out there.  There's always the convention circuit, selling nick nacks, art, and of course books.

Every comic that manages to get some traction going gets a book at some point.  It's not just to make money, books are usually a drain rather than a money maker, but it is a right of passage.  An announcement that the artist and the comic are here to stay.  It's the culmination of the dream of every artist, whether it's a comic, a story, or, well, anything, to say "I'm Published" and have it be real.

So back to the story, which is I don't spend money.  Except when I saw that Ben Fleuter, artist of Derelict needed some cash to get over a hump (and freaking jury duty).  His deal:  The first volume of Derelict, Deligue, he signs it and pays the shipping.  I got the package over my vacation.

I've only just flipped through it, work schedules and lack of sleep preventing me from doing much more.  Some more background stuff I could probably find on the wiki or TV Tropes, some special art, a short little story, and a signature on the title page.  Technically my statement that Errant Story is the only comic I have ever given money to is correct, I did it with no expectations of recieving anything.  This time, I bought a book of one of the best comics I currently read.

Worth every penny.

Next week, we should be back to The Classic.  Until then.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Nothing, too tired

Spent this last weekend at XPFest, and driving back and forth to West Virgina.  Too tired to write anything.  Next week I should be back.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Classic: Volume One

Well, there are also a few people that think we were all put here by a group of super advanced alien life forms. . .

Errant Story began in November 2002, only a  few months after Poe's previous comic, Exploitation Now! ended.  Yeah, they're that close together, and I started reading it a few months after that (my review went up in January 2003, so yeah).  Talking about the first volume of Errant Story really can't be done without mentioning Exploitation Now! because it is the foundation of that introduction.

The humor from EN! is very evident in this volume, especially in the conversations between Ellis and Meji.  They remind me of toned down versions of Bimbo and Ralph.  They constant sniping and bickering is definitely right out of EN! and later jokes (there's a yaoi gag there, and if you don't know, don't look it up) are in the same vein.  This humor will be sprinkled throughout the comic until those fairies show up when they'll bring it full force once again, but we're a ways away from that.  Still, there's a lot of EN! humor in the first volume.

And a LOT of dialog.  My god there is so much on a few of the early pages.  I remember the commentary track mentioning they were breaking up some of the pages because they were solid dialog, but I had forgotten how bad it really was.  Meji's introduction is her talking and the page is more dialog balloons than art.  It does pull back after that, but expect a lot of talking early on.  Reminds me of when I reread Life of Riley and how much dialog was in that comic too.  Same time period, so I guess I really didn't notice.  EN! had the same issues near the end of it's short run, so again, more overflow.

I get why there's so much there, this is Meji's introduction and there wasn't any good way to relate it besides having her and Ellis snipe at each other over it.  All of the main characters (Ian, Sarine, Jon, Sara, Meji) are introduced through the length of the first volume.  Sure, Sara doesn't get much time (an alt-text even mentions she won't be significant for 400 pages), but the rest get some characterization.  It's not everything (Volume Two does more of that), but it's enough to give the readers an idea of who the characters are.  Sarine doesn't really like what's she's doing, but does it anyway.  Jon complains about wasting bullets to save Meji, but the next scene has him shooting leaves for practice, undermining his argument.  Ian's reaction to any comment regarding his sister hints at his reactions in the future, etc, etc.

If anything, Meji gets the least characterization, outside of Sara of course.  Mostly, she admits to being lazy, but there are less than subtle (aka Ellis) hints that she's insecure about her looks, is ignored by her mother, and reacts poorly to criticism (aka Ellis).  It's a little more limited, even though we follow her more than the others, but given the length of the comic is her coming of age, I guess it's fitting.

Finally, there is some world building early on, but much of it is limited to off handed comments.  The last full chapter features more about the ancient history of the world than the modern era than the rest of the comic, all done in a single conversation.  Oddly, much of what's said is true (including the quote at the top here) so the major storyline is pretty well established even this early on.  I'm sure the details were still kind of nebulous at this point, but the setup for a much longer story were well settled by now.

It's a good introduction to a longer story, one that is growing from very little.  The players are introduced, the world is built, the tone is settled, and the story is moved along.  Next time, Volume Two and maybe Three, depends on how much of is there.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Classic: Introduction

Before this universe there was another one. . . a happy universe filled with bunnies. But that one got destroyed in a great cataclysm brought about by a major plot point. Pay attentiion, there will be a test later.

I did my last Special Series, Best Overall, where I talked way too much about Schlock Mercenary, in an attempt to get me through a really crappy work month and it only kind of worked out.  And I only did that because The Standard, where I talked way too much about Sluggy Freelance, I felt was quite a success and I enjoyed doing it.  So with two in the bag, I started thinking about other comics that deserved this kind of treatment..  My first thought was to do Gunnerkrigg Court, as I had just given it a Quasi-award for Best Overall for 2015.  Then I thought about it more and there is a comic a bit more deserving of this treatment, especially as I apparently, and inadvertently, snubbed it in both sets of Quasi-awards.

It's not that I went out of my way to not award Errant Story anything, but I wanted to focus more newer comics because everyone's read Errant Story, right?


I know that's not true, a lot of people haven't read it, but I feel they should have.  It's like those classic pieces of literature kids get stuck reading in school.  They are classics, excellent works of fiction and examples of the written word, and I feel that Errant Story fits in there.  Oh, it's not as good as Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird, but when it comes to webcomics, there really isn't any other comic that does what Errant Story has done.

Errant Story is my model for the High Fantasy epic, a cornerstone of my involvement in webcomics as a whole.  While Sluggy Freelance is my standards by which all comics are measured against, Errant Story is more a model of what I want a particular branch of comics to be.

I started reading Errant Story very shortly after it started, within a few months if that.  I read it all the way through, beginning to end.  I was there when Michael Poe's father died and derailed the comic for a while, and when his wife nearly died.  This remains, for now, the only comic I have ever given money to.  They sent me a button, which I still have.  It's a comic I have done a Not-So-Wild Review and a Retrospective, and now a Special Series all it's own.

I consider Errant Story to be The Classic of all the comics I read.  Some are older, some have better stories, some have better art, but none of them are the quintessential webcomic, the one everyone SHOULD read.

And it's going to take a while to describe why.  After all, the comic went on for a good 10 years, much of it 3 days a week (probably around 1500 pages total), and there's really only ONE story, not several.  The only easy way to handle this is the straightforward way, one volume at a time.  There are 7 volumes, of course, and that would make a long series, so I might combine a few, but I will reread the entire thing.

I will be bypassing the Commentary Track version of the comic, however.  Mostly because it's incomplete (stops halfway through Volume 2) but also because I want to re-experience the original comic, from the beginning.  Finally, I won't string this all together like I tried with The Standard and Best Overall, this one is going to take awhile to get all the way through and I'm sure there are other topics that will come up in the mean time.

So let's get to it.  This is The Classic, Michael Poe's Errant Story.  See you next time kiddies.