Friday, August 28, 2015

Nothing, again and again and again

This time it's personal issues at home that are to blame (though the back to back shift at the beginning of the week didn't help either).  Hopefully things will settle down for next week.  Until then.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Touching Base #22

Once more with Touching Base, mostly because shitty summer work schedule and big ass article series kind of necessitates these shorter bits.

Following, a bit, from last week's Retrospective, Between Failures had a medical emergency several weeks ago now.  A week's worth of guest strips while the artist recovered then the comic picked up once again.

Bohemian Nights also had a shake up as the site got hacked and got taken down for a bit.  I bring both of these up because they each did what artists should always do, tell the audience that something was wrong.  I really appreciate that and I'm glad both comics are back at full steam.

Speaking of which, Wapsi Square took a bit of a break, then picked up with about 3 strips that were some of the best story telling I've seen in the comic.  Then it got really overloaded with dialog again.  I told you he can do it, wish he did it more.

Station V3 is finally back to updating with a new title and mystery "Whatever Happened to Station V3?"  It's still the same silly fun that V3 is known for, and plays off the fact that the comic has had some serious issues in the last year or so.

Subhuman Sanctum finished it's first book and is now on summer vacation.  Which also serves as part of the fundraiser to keep the comic going, via buying the online books.  On one hand, I get it, they need money to pay the artists to continue making the comic, on the other hand, it almost feels like they're keeping it and Twilight Lady hostage over it.  I'll trust both will be back at full tilt soon enough.

Blindsprings did a short bit of posting "character descriptions" which normally I would rail against, but this is after most of the first volume of the comic is done, so I don't mind so much.  It's really just filler here, and while I didn't read much of it, the nature of the characters should already be known so it's not strictly necessary to read.

Strong Female Protagonist has finally seen the confrontation between Allison and Mary.  I'm writing this last week, so by now it might be wrapped up, but I doubt it.  This has been by far the best storyline in the comic, and I appreciate it greatly.

Something happened to Conny Van Ehlsing, and all of in fact.  The site is gone, and I fear the comic is too.  I can find one entry about it on google, and it's all in German or something, so that makes it a bit harder to track down.  I'll do some more searching as I have time, but I suspect the comic is gone.

Contemplating Reiko, which wasn't updating often to begin with, has now gone almost 8 months since the last update.  I think I'm going to call it dead now, which I don't really enjoy because the comic was fun.  Still, there was no real story there so no reason to stick with it strongly.

Oh and Elise Hooper is on unannounced hiatus again.  Seriously, just finish the damn comic already!  You're so damn close to the end.

I had to change the link for Out There as the actual site only ever worked half the time, and the Keenspot site is usually up all the time.

So finally, the last bit of news is a few weeks old, but worth mentioning.  The Adventures of Dr. McNinja will be coming to an end, probably in about 9 months or so (which puts it into next year).  After almost 10 years, I'm surprised, but not really shocked.  The comic has basically played out all it's ideas by this point, so it was time to bring it to an end.  Still, we'll see how it goes and I'll be waiting for it.  At least that's one comic that won't be added to the year of Retrospectives.

Finally, my browser decided to die.  Not my computer, my browser.  Been using Opera for sometime and today (Monday) it decided it didn't want to work any more.  Guess where all my bookmarks are?  I didn't lose ALL of them, just a bunch of them.  I'm straightening it out on Chrome now, but some of my recently marked "Future Reads" are going to be a trick to get to for a bit.  Shouldn't effect the blog any, just venting a bit.  I could vent more about more serious things, but those have NOTHING to do with the blog (outside of my work schedule).

Anyway, that's it for this week.  Hopefully I'll have the next part of The Classic up next week.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Retrospective: Punch an' Pie

Last week, Punch an' Pie came to an end.  Yes, it's another entry in this the year of Retrospectives.  And oddly another comic that I've been following pretty much from the beginning.

It also established my general review guideline:  no review until after 1 year or 100 strips.  Because I stared reading it less than 2 weeks after it started, and no, I didn't read Queen of Wands until two years later, so that wasn't a jumping off point for me.  While it worked out, Punch an' Pie proved to be pretty damn good, it could have easily backfired.  So I established the rule some time afterwards, since by then I realized how dumb it was of me to have done that.

Still, the comic did turn out to be quite good, so I guess I didn't screw up that badly.  The result is a comic I can't really straight up call unique, but am actually at a loss to find anything that's quite like it.  I guess Between Failures fits best, but for every point of comparison between the two, there are several that counter it.  Similar enough though, even to the point that the most important moment in the comic is in color, but then it goes back to black and white after that.

It's not a comic about plots as much as it's about characters, mostly Heather and Angela, but also the people around them and their interactions.  There are storylines, I guess, but they're not really divided up into anything distinct.  There are no chapters, no parts, the only markers are the shift from Angela to Heather and back, which makes up the structure of the entire comic.

That structure starts with Angela and Heather in a very loving relationship, then they break up and don't see each other again, directly, until the end of the comic.  Instead the comic follows each of them, jumping back and forth, as they go about their lives.  They never really forget each other, but they never seek the other out.  When they split, I remember thinking that they'll be back together soon enough, but it never happened, and that was intentional.

While Heather and Angela don't directly interact for the length of the comic, the people they meet throughout do cross from one to the other.  Karen, Heather's coworker at the zoo, eventually gets a job at Angela's toy store.  Lucy, who worked with Angela at the bookstore coffee shop, fosters a relationship with Heather (one that is both good and bad for her).  It's interesting to watch all this happen, and the comic does well with it.

I could see the comic going on longer, but the last few years have, um, not been kind.  The comic was a partner strip, one did the writing and the other the drawing, and the writer kind of ran out of time to do it.  Updates extended for months at one point, which is terrible for a comic that started life as a 3 day a week strip.  In the end, the artist took over the final scripting, and finished the comic up.  The ending is satisfying and the fitting for the comic.

Punch an' Pie (which I'm pretty sure I misspelled repeatedly in the past, ah well) is probably one of the better comics I've read and I recommend it highly.  I even went back and reread the whole thing just for this retrospective and found it was just as good throughout it's run as I remember.  While I am sad to see it go, along with so many others, the time had come and I'm glad I had a chance to read it from beginning to end.

Next time, probably Touching Base as I spent all week rereading Punch an' Pie rather than more Errant Story.  Whoops. . .  Until then kiddies.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Classic: Volume Four

I had a good chunk of Volume Four of Errant Story written when I realized I was just reiterating events.  That's fine and all for the earlier volumes, as that is kind of the point.  There's a lot of backstory, setting up of initial motivations and the key event that sets everything off.  But that's not really explaining why YOU should read it.

Volume Four is when the movements really begin.  Characters stop introducing themselves and start acting as characters.  We get hints of their attitudes and motives before this, maybe some actions, but those are brief if anything.  Here, we see them in full action, and the consequences of each of these will echo throughout the comic.

Jon and Sarine part ways, not pleasantly at least from Jon's perspective.  Losing Meji echoes losing his sister earlier in life, and he goes off to do the one thing he's best at:  Killing people.  Sarine does ask him, practically begs him, to look for Meji and Ian, but he knows it's a fool's errand.  Like Sara, Meji has gone to who knows where and he likely won't ever find her, and he's probably more than a little scared to do so.  He's not really equipped to deal with magically overpowered, well, anything, and he knows it, so why bother?  Getting angry at Sarine, it's more a defense mechanism.  He's been alone for a long time, and any attachments, especially one that tends to wipe the memory of shared moments, is not something he really wants or needs.  The fact that he doesn't know or particularly like what's going on doesn't help either.

Sarine reveals quite a bit, mostly that she really doesn't like her own people.  Like at all.  The fact that they've been deliberately hiding things from, well, everyone, really ticks her off.  It's clear she really doesn't like the job she has, she's every bit the assassin Jon is, only her list of targets is whole groups of people, and she has to be judge, jury and executioner for each and every one of them.  And she really hates the arrogance of the Elf leadership, confronting them with what she knows, kind of knowing that things are going to get worse.  So she hides things, like that she knows Meji and that Jon was with them from the start.  Then once she knows things are going to hell in a handbasket, she leaves, making a beeline for the one person in all the world she thinks can help.

Sara has gotten the least amount of panel time of all the "main" characters.  It's mostly because she has almost no emotions, honestly.  We finally get a brief glimpse of her past, VERY brief especially compared to everyone else.  Still in it's brevity, it gives us a very good look at her as she grew up, what was instilled in her, and why she doesn't even blink when told to kill her own brother.  That fight is actually really well done, it feels like it takes forever, but the build up is well done, and when the final blows are struck it is quick and to the point.  It's funny how the arrogance that Sarine so dispises at home, almost gets her killed here, and how Jon's own belief that he can't really compete is proven completely wrong, all in the a few pages.  Both are completely surprised, and it will prove to be a valuable lesson in the future.

Meanwhile, Ian is drunk on power and Meji is along for the ride.  Watching Ian go from the highest moment of his life to the lowest in the course of a few pages could have been much more soul crushing, but he's constantly holding back.  It's not until afterwards the true depths of his depression become evident:  He's basically suicidal at this point of the story.  It's understandable, of course, and perfectly reasonable.  He tries, TRIES, to turn his new found power into something that benefits everyone he can, but it is hurting him, probably killing him.

And then there's Meji.  I think she shows something here that was basically absent from, well, the entire comic until now:  she does care about someone other than herself.  She's not scared of Ian throughout, she's scared FOR him.  She carries him along at one point when he's nearly out of power and kind of drunk like.  She makes him take breaks, to the point of actually punching him in the face and threating people to get away before he kills himself healing them.  Then, when he tries to raise the dead, while she says "you might kill me" it comes off less as she's desperate to save her life, and more that she's trying to convince him not to do something that could kill them both.  The fact that she stays AT ALL is played off as being "well I don't want to walk home" but really, she can't leave him again, especially not like this.  It's actually a character to her, especially outside of the whiny brat we've seen for much of the comic.  Scary Little Devil Girl or no, she  can and does care about someone other than herself.

The various characters actually get to show the traits we've only been given the briefest of hints at up until now, and there is some growth.  The comic is finally going strong and will only get better from here.  Next time Volume Five, until then kiddies.