Friday, December 2, 2016

The Successor: Cityface

Tom Siddel's comic is amazing in the end.  Through Gunnerkrigg Court he has created a world that is both familiar and fantastic, characters that are relatable and inscrutable. and a story that is both tragic and humorous all at the same time.  There aren't many comics that can do all of those things.  Bet you can't guess 3 of them.

I think, though, the thing that really keeps this whole thing rolling is how Tom relates to his readers.  Most of his initial comments come in little blurbs at the bottom of the pages.  These are quick, often silly comments like "This guy!" or something equally goofy.  Though when things get serious, those comments vanish very quickly, a quiet sign that the reader should be paying attention to what's going on.

He does videos where he reads through earlier chapters of the comic and makes his own comments.  I haven't watched them yet, not because I don't want to, but because the comic is good enough on it's own to not need it, but it's something I've NEVER seen another comic artist do.

I believe he probably reads his own forums regularly, though I doubt he says much.  He's very much aware of how people respond to his comic, as I mentioned back here.  Ultimately this led to Chapter 55 and, well, my brief response.

Which leads to the fact that he really has a good sense of humor, and knows when to pull back and be silly.  Whether it's his own "about" page, or his vacation filler strips featuring this post's title character, Cityface, he knows when to have fun and be very, very silly.  And his readers love it.

Ultimately, Tom Siddel is probably one of the best story tellers in comics today.  He combines excellent, ever evolving art (which he isn't afraid to admit to, BTW), imagery, character, seriousness and silliness all into a single package and creates a story that likely will only grow stronger with time.

If there is any comic I would recommend with no information (and I try not to), it would be Gunnerkrigg Court.  It has a little of everything and deserves to be the new king of the list.

Next time it's the return of the Quasi-Awards.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Successor: The Bridge

Between the Forest and the Court is a chasm with a river at the bottom, the Annan Waters.  Across this chasm is a bridge.  It's alarmed by the Court, so if any one crosses without permission, they'll know.  There are lights along it to keep the glass eyed men from crossing back.  There is no railings.

Along the waters is Jeanne, imprisoned to be a guard of the waters, another layer of defense of the Court, established long ago and in the most cruel way possible.  Her love, a resident of the Forest, was killed in the waters to trap her spirit there, a spirit of rage.

Gunnerkrigg Court is not about that bridge, but the actual bridge, in the form of Antimony Carver.  She's the main character, of course, but more than that, she is the link that draws it all together.

She was born outside of the Court, in the World.  She has been guided and basically trained to be a Psychocomp.  She's a student of the Court, a daughter of it in many ways.  And she's part Fire Spirit, a creature of magic and the Forest.

Through her we see the story of Gunnerkrigg Court, all the intrigues and mysteries.  Annie touches each area, and sometimes more than she expected.  Of course we get glimpses through others eyes, especially Kat who is as much a main character as Annie is really.  In the end, though, the comic is about Annie, her friends and their collective adventures.

Which isn't to say she's a perfect bridge.  She's very much a child still, a teenager at best, still learning and growing.  She makes some big mistakes, misinterprets what's she's being told, and even lies when she has no reason too.  Her biggest failure is cheating at school, using Kat's friendship to do so.  That ended when she got caught by her own father.

It's through her we experience the comic, and it's the lynch pin that holds the whole thing together.  It's clear that she will move the Court into it's next phase of being, though how and why are still in the future.  That said, every reader is following her, watching, and worrying over every little thing.

I can't say it enough, after all Gunnerkrigg Court is about Antimony in the end, but without the world to bring together, she's nothing.

Next time, Cityface.  Go ahead, guess what it's about.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Retrospective: Sorcery 101

Look a post!  That isn't on the first friday of the month.  What sorcery is this?  Well, about that. . .

Sorcery 101 ended last week and I felt I needed to write this up as soon as I could because I have a few things to say about it.

Let me start off by saying it isn't a bad comic, but there was something missing.  Even back in my reposting of the original review (which added a current comments) I noticed I wasn't quite getting into it that much and at the time I couldn't understand why.  I do now because in ending, it made it all the more obvious.

It does have a rich and involved world.  There's lots of characters, interactions, magic, werewolves, vampires, angels, demons, monsters, bureaucracy and all that detailed out and played with to one extent or another.  There's a lot of good characters, their motivations and goals well spelled out, and some with eternal mysteries (what hell is up with Seth anyway?).  It's got a lot going for it and I think when I started reading it I expected it to go somewhere grand.

It never did.

The ending spelled it out because, well, it just kind of happened.  There was no grand battle, or plot to foil.  There was no mystery revealed or legend confronted.  There was some minor fighting, a car crash and a death, but nothing else.  And then the comic is over.

To an extent, I suspect that this is kind of on purpose, it was just supposed to be the daily lives of these people in this strange world.  Urban fantasy without the world destroying plots or heroics.  Just everyday living.  And that's fine, it did it pretty well, but constantly it was being driven as if there WAS more going on, hints and tips abound, mysteries running through, plot threads seemed to be drawing out.  Yet nothing was done with it, and while some ends were kind of resolved, for the most part if the last chapter happened after the first, I don't think anyone would have noticed.

I think the best way to put it is that Sorcery 101 feels more like the prologue to another story.  It's setting up the world, the characters, the major players and their motivations, and in the NEXT comic, that's when the interesting stuff happens.  But there is no next comic, this is it.  And considering it's been going for 11 years, at this point next comic was never going to happen.

Again, it's not BAD because of that, it's just not fulfilling.  The only bit of the ending that was interesting is the reflection of the first and last page of the comic.  Beyond that I think this is a comic I will just remember as one I used to read, and nothing more.

Next time, which should be next week, should see the next part of The Successor.  Until then kiddies.  Oh and happy Halloween.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Successor: The Court

The titular location of the story is Gunnerkrigg Court itself.  Much of the story takes place within it, or near it, and much of the plot is due to the odd things that happen on the Court's grounds.

In many ways, the Court is as much a character in it's own right as it is a place.  It's imposing, massive and oddly empty place.  Soulless would be a great description, an almost lifeless place.

It isn't dead, per say.  There are no free animals and plants that have been noticed, but there are a lot of robots, a LOT of them.  They perform so many tasks that humans are almost unnecessary for the bulk of the tasks at hand.

There are people in the Court, of course, mostly students (a couple thousand at best) and their teachers.  There are others, but they are few and far between, or if they are many, they are unseen.  This makes the Court feel very sterile indeed, so when life forms appear, they are usually magnificent and unexpected.

The Court is order to the Forest's chaos, and the result is that despite the lack of adults or guards, the Court is generally safe enough for the students to wander around unsupervised.  This may actually be intentional as well, as the students often go off to do experiments and the like because, well, there's not much else to do.

The real embodiment of this is in Kat, who is both an exceptional mechanical genius but possibly some kind of robotic angel (however that works).  When not taking classes or going on adventures, she busies herself building, designing and modifying various bits of technology, from an anti-gravity device to bio-robotics.  The Court does little to reign her in, though how much is because they don't know is unclear.  The results have been rather spectacular honestly.

And here in is another difference from the Forest:  how fast and strong one is doesn't matter within the Court.  Well, not matter is relative, but it does mean it's not necessary for survival.  Being intelligent or having a special power will make one a big shot within the Court, maybe, if the Court's leaders view it as important.  Characters like Zimmy and Gamma are allowed to run free for some nebulous reason, for example, when danger is all the two of them actually represent.

This results in many of the students of the Court coming FROM the Forest.  They're converted to human forms and do odd computational tasks within the walls.  The only prize for them is a name, which is just kind of thrown to them.  The Court doesn't seem to much care what they do, as long as they do what they want, beyond that. . .

Beyond that what the Court wants is nebulous at best.  Hints are given that what it's up to is no good, but there's nothing solid there.  Any action the Court takes, in the past or present, seems to be about defending itself from the outside, rather than something more sinister.  Nothing good comes from this, of course, but it does make one question whether it SHOULD do these things.  In the end, the story of the comic is about peeling back some of these mysteries and seeing what the Court actually is and what it wants.

The only way to do this, though, is to bring all these elements together, and that is through a Bridge.  Until next time.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Touching Base #26

One might think I'm still shirking posting with this, and you'd only be half right as a lot of stuff changed in the last couple of months, so it's time to find out what.

The Wotch is still having issues with artists, mostly in the fact that their current one hurt his arm and can't post at the moment.  Honestly, at this point they probably should consider throwing in the towel.  I'm moving it back to Monthly until things shake out one way or the other.

What Birds Know is slowly drawing to a close.  I think they're up to the last chapter, so there will be a retrospective in the near future for it, maybe.  There does seem to be some time between posts, something about 5 days of summer and Canada.

Pole Dancing Adventures stalled out in May, again, no idea why.  The news posts are still updating, but not the comic, very odd.

Rounding out the cast of comics that should update more, Dead Winter isn't updating either, with little to no obvious reason.  Kind of a shame as it was just starting to get the next arc rolling too.  Both this and BDA stay on the Weekly list for the time being, despite lack of updates.

It Hurts! had an interesting transition to hell via exploding planet, so the current course of the story is, um, odd.  Lots of odd this update.  I do like it as it reset the storyline a bit and keeps things moving in that, um, crazy  weird way it does.

Still little solid information on what happened to Kiwi's By Beat!, but at least there's a mirror for most of the comics.  Yay, I can still read minus and Great.  That said, there's no official word on what happened, guesses range from bankrupt to dead, so yeah.  If I hear more, I'll keep you informed.

Eerie Cuties and Magick Chicks still haven't updated since their last round of doing so.  Don't count that as "dead" just not moving much.  As such I'll ship them over to Monthly to keep an eye on them.

Out There's finale, um, still doesn't exist.  Which is leaning toward it being a dead comic.  I'm glad we were TOLD it was probably going to be shelved, but some kind of ending would have been nice to have.  Expect a Retrospective on it soonish.

Commander Kitty has had sporadic updates thanks to the fact that he has to work for a living.  But you know, if I had a job in animation, I wouldn't be as worried about the comic either.

Finally, Pete Abrams is planning Sluggy Freelance past it's 20th year (next year I might add).  Specifics are still in the air, but the gist is there's no way to wrap up every storyline (not that I was expecting him to, mind you) in that last year.  Some of the idea is make a less scheduled comic after the 20th anniversary.  He does like to eat, and the comic has been making him money, so I could see him trying to keep something going (Howard Taylor over at Schlock Mercenary has talked about something similar in the past).  How it'll work out, I don't know.  We'll see, and I'll be here updating this blog for it.

Next time kiddies, hopefully I'll get The Successor moved along some more.  Until then.

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Wild Webcomic Review?

Wait, I took time off how can there be another


Funny, backing off the weekly updates has given me a chance to, you know, read comics for this site again.  Go figure!  Seriously, I randomly spotted an ad on another comic, and it started me off on another round of comics, and so, review time.

276.  PopChromatic - I shouldn't like this comic.  It has elements that alone and often together just don't attract me.  Pop music, teen girls, rebels without a clue, a character named Justice (again, really?) and a competition show (still proud to never have watched a single episode of American Idol).  And yet, this comic is actually pretty good.  I think it's because it is NOT about winning that pop music competition, but about what a family member is willing to do for another (in this case, it's become a pop music star, despite not really wanting it, like at all).  I've got some issues with the characters acting a bit older than they should (They're 16?  Are you sure?), but it's not overpowering and I enjoy the cynical, and realistic take on pop music and that competition show idea.  I'm worried that it's a weekly updater, so that might effect the flow of the story, but we'll see how it goes.

277.  Pants Are Overrated - I mentioned this strip back in my review of Calvin and Hobbes, so I figured I might as well read the rest of the comic.  Of course it's been dead for like 5 years (completed, technically) so I wasn't in that much of a rush.  That said, it's a silly comic.  Nothing super amazing, just a silly, brief comic that takes it's cue from other comics, like Penny Arcade, but doesn't go completely over to the dark side.  It is very wordy at times, too wordy, but I think that was the joke, honestly.  Fun, quick read, but nothing that makes it "I MUST READ THIS FOREVER."  Mostly because you can't.

278.  No Pink Ponies - I think I've had this in my Future Reads folder for a long time, and it's been around a long time, kind of, get to that.  It's okay as a slice of life style comic.  It has some of that wish fulfillment stuff going on (comic nerd girl is hot and has the money to open her own store, really?), but it doesn't strictly hurt it.  The fact that said nerd girl attracts lesbians like moths to a flame is a bit weird, but we'll leave it as quirky.  The downside?  LONG gaps in updates.  The last new comic was posted on New Years Eve 2015 (8 months ago by the time this goes up) and the last news update was in April 2016.  There are also massive gaps while reading the comic (the annual comic convention in the comic seems to come very frequently because the gaps so it's kind of obvious).  I don't have a problem reading the comic, but I think it'll have to go into Hiatus until it actually updates.

279.  Cosmic Dash - I really enjoyed this comic.  It's a space adventure comic, and a fun one too.  It's definitely a positive comic, where the good guys are actually good and the bad guys aren't horrible terrible monsters, at least so far.  Even when things are looking bleakest, they really aren't.  Not sure if that's the artstyle talking, or if it's just the general attitude of the comic that keeps it from going into the morose where it could easily do so.  It's a good comic and I think I'll be reading it for a while.

280.  Dark White - Wow, what a contrast to Cosmic Dash.  Not only is this a high fantasy comic, but it is DARK as hell.  Not only does it open with some poor creature being tortured, but it eventually brings up child sacrifice, zombies and the apocalypse.  Yeah, it's dark, so dark I might have to do an article comparing these two comics against each other.  It's well done dark, even if it is pretty early on, but there's a sense of world here that really keeps me invested in it, and the story plays out pretty well.  I think I'll be reading it for a while, at least as long ad Dash, and it's a nice contrast.

Well, that was a nice surprise.  Don't expect anything more any time soon.  Still, expanding the amount of time between updates has given me time to work on stuff like this, so I'm happy about it.  Wish my job wasn't so overbearing, but that's what happens when you're good at what you do, I guess.  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Successor: The Forest

The comic of Gunnerkrigg Court has many opposites that play against each other, and no where is this more present than the contrasts between the Gillitie Wood and Gunnerkrigg Court itself.

The Forest is a place of magic, myth, full of overt danger and wondrous beauty.  It serves to sharply contrast the Court, but we'll get to that later, but also to serve as the home for the magical in a world that seems empty of them.

Make no mistake that it is a forest, full of the things a forest has, from trees to animals, all living in a way that nature seems to have designated.  Survival of the fittest is the word of the day, and being fast or strong means the resident lives to see another day.  Simple, yes?

This means the Forest is overtly dangerous.  A visitor, when they're allowed, is not safe, no matter how strong and bold.  The Court typically has one representative that is sent into the Forest, and one guard for just this reason.

To anyone on the outside, the Forest is chaotic, with the only rule being Darwin in action.  This is made worse by the presence of magical and mythological creatures next to the variety of animals and plants.  Fairies play in the woods, the Shadow People hide among the shadows of the trees, and then there are the tricksters.

Renard (or is it Reynardine, it's a bit unclear), Ysengrin and Coyote are the real stars of the Forest and represent it's interests and powers.  They are tricksters each, but also wise in their own, sometimes odd, ways.  Renard is the most civilized, as it were, more than capable of interacting with the humans of the Court in a way that is more mischievous than anything else, yet is likable and fatherly when it is necessary.  Ysengrin may be going mad, but his representation of power, animal and aggressive, is at once frightening and fair.  And Coyote, well, he's the most philosophical of the three, but also the most maddening one to deal with.

They are not the Forest in and of themselves, but they show that it is more than just eat or be eaten.  There are layers there, and a world that is no less complex than any other.  It is alive, developing, and growing everyday.

Chaos and survival, passion and mischief, power and philosophy, the Forest is more than just "that other place" or the world of magic.  It lives and breathes, and interacts with the humans of the Court when it could just as easily not, allowing the dynamic and conflict of the comic to exist at all.

Next time, the other side of the Forest's coin.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, June 24, 2016


Okay, time to do this.  If it hasn't been obvious for the last year or so, I really haven't been able to keep up the weekly schedule.  My stupid, stupid work schedule has made it hard to even keep up with comics, let alone keep this blog updated.

I've tried, of course, but most of the time I've posted a Nothing post.  It's driving me crazy, and making me miserable.

That said, I have promises to keep.  So I won't be ending this blog, though I did consider it.  Instead, I'll be pushing toward a monthly schedule instead.  I'm pretty sure I can do that.  So starting next week, with the first Friday of every month, this blog will update.  If I can squeeze in another post in between, I will, of course, but if I can't, at least there should be something once in a while.

I may eventually end this blog, but not yet, not yet.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Remember I said changes?

I lied!  Well, no, but work has been a pain.  Next week.  Sorry.

Friday, June 10, 2016


So a couple weeks ago, in between trips out to the middle of nowhere, Dumbing of Age updated with a very special comic.

Trigger warnings have only come up in one other comic, Sister Claire, and usually it's pretty mundane stuff, typically blood.  And not much blood mind you, nose bleed levels.  I've considered talking about it, but when there's only one example, it would probably just come off as rather ranty, not that this one won't mind you, but still.

The thing is, Dumbing of Age doesn't usually do things like this, and in fact it's the first time a warning like this was outright posted.  So why?

After all, this is a comic that has featured as a storyline, attempted date rape, severe beatings, stabbings, and a man carrying a gun around a college campus.  And these are just the ones I can think of off hand.  A single panel that implies attempted (and a later strip just about confirms that it was successful) suicide isn't that much stronger of an issue really.

And yet, here's the trigger warning, that almost seems, um, reluctant.  Like he didn't really want to post a warning, but did because of other factors.  My thought is that he got a lot of complaints from the gun toting dad storyline, that the readers weren't warned that he might actually fire off a gun or something, and decided that rather than have them complain, again, he'd slap the warning on.  I could be wrong on that, but it seems to fit the fact that he basically tells those who don't want or need trigger warnings to just skip to the comic and actually read it.

It appears that this did start up some sort of conflict down in the comments as they were disabled at some point (I don't have the time or energy to read through to find out why), so he's got a good read on his various readers, so that's good, I suppose.  And his own commentary on the comic featured something about the National Suicide Hotline, so positive stuff there.

That said, I really don't think trigger warnings are necessary, and that those who claim to "need" them are mostly people who want attention in some way.  People who actually suffer from various disorders that can be grouped under Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder typically won't get "triggered" from the sight of blood, or implied suicide.  They'll be set off by a sound, a smell, or, like Becky, simply looking into a room.  Of course, I'm not a therapist, and I don't do much actual research, but that seems far more likely than something as silly as a drawing implying there might be a suicide, maybe (she might have just dropped the pill bottle, it happens).

I get why he put it up, though.  His comics are very popular, and tap into a wide variety of readers, including those convinced that even saying the word "rape" will set them off.  Cover the bases so the money comes in, David, like everyone else, likes to eat.  Me, I don't find any reason for it, and while this might have a better reason than the random nose bleeds in Sister Claire, I find them unnecessary, and possibly a little dangerous.

It's almost a form of self censorship, being careful not to "offend" someone when, honestly, this comic is about hitting that offend button, constantly, and frequently.  While I suppose more of these will show up in Dumbing of Age, I hope they are few and far between, just to keep the story rolling.

And for those who believe they are easily "triggered," go see a therapist, a real one, not some guy on Tumbler or with a Youtube account.  Odds are good, you probably don't really need these warnings.

Next time, um, I think I may have to make some changes around here.  I'll talk about it then.  Later kiddies.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Come on already

Even had some time off but I couldn't get the article I wanted to gel.  It happens enough, but not when I want to get something posted. Gah!

Friday, May 27, 2016

I have been to the middle of nowhere

And it's full of oil fields.  And no internet.  So no post.  I hate that.  I will have something next week, I hope.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Work, again

Didn't even have time to do all that rearranging I talked about last week.  God I'm tired.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Straightening Things Out

Hey look, an update.  That's mostly about maintenance.  Yeah, I'm trying to get back into comics but between the move and going back to work, I just haven't had the time.  Working on it kiddies, I swear.

In the meantime, it's site maintenance time!  Most of this is shuffling comics around the list and figuring out which ones are still alive and kicking, as it were.

So let's start with the Daily strips.

Legends of Whoelterra, which I'm surprised I'm still reading, has slacked from daily down to twice a week.  That means T-Th-S is a better fit for it so off it goes.

The Fifth Circle hasn't updated in quite a while, and I think it's time to accept it won't for a while longer.  Hiatus.

The M-W-F strips

Cerintha is actually on a Weekly schedule any more, though which day of the week seems to float around for some reason even the artist is unsure of.

The Whiteboard recently went Daily (as in 5 days a week) so it gets to go over there.

Eerie Cuties is updating, though what the schedule is I'm unsure.  I'm going to leave it where it is for now.

The T-Th-S strips

Skullkickers is, of course, Complete, so that's where it needs to go, mostly so I stop checking it.  Also apparently I was linking to the Keenspot site, and when it finished, Keen dropped it.  Annoying, this link works though.

Since their return, Licensed Heroes is mostly Weekly, so it heads there.

The Weekly strips

God damn it Elsie Hooper, just finish already.  To Hiatus with you until you do so.

Kiwis By Beat is still MIA, and no one knows what happened.  For no Hiatus, but I'm not confident it'll be back any time soon.

Out There recently announced that the comic will be wrapping up, but on an undetermined schedule.  Good news is he plans to finish In Here, before dropping off the face of the comic map.  Sad times.  Out There will be in Monthly until it's done.

Sister Claire has been updating more regularly than Weekly for a while (and it's easier since they broke off Missing Moments), so I'm moving it to T-Th-S.

The Monthly strips

Aptitude Test is Dead.  I'll be doing a Retrospective on it in the near future.

City of Reality's hosting is down, but at least I can track what's going on with it via other means.  It's moving to Hiatus.

I still don't know what happened with Kawaii Not.  I think it's actually Dead.

The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon is moving to Haitus since it probably should have been there for a while now.  Very sporadic updates and a message about burnout.

White Noise should have moved to Weekly a while ago.  No time like the present.

Hiatus Comics

The Wotch is updating regularly again.  Like I said in the last Touching Base, I do intend to do some catch up, and the best way to do so is to move it to Weekly for the time being.  We'll see how it goes.

And that's all the work I needed to do.  Next time, something, maybe, we'll see.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Successor: The Ether

Despite Gunnerkrigg Court taking place in our world, it makes pains to add a layer that is at once mysterious and frightening:  The Ether, the place that is above and beyond everything.

For all it's talk about gods and mythology, the Siddell seems to take pains not to alienate anyone from enjoyment.  There is no Christain God, for example, and the only deities that show up are, well, not really all that powerful, comparatively.  Their power stems from the Ether, and it is something that can only be kind of understood.

The Court does have a school for it, the etheric sciences, where there is an attempt to quantify and study it much as physics and chemistry do to there respective fields.  It's effective enough that Donald and Anja use it rather extensively, and almost easily in some cases.

Even then, though, the Ether remains almost unexplained.  Almost because there are entities that have some information, the Psychopomps.  They are the escorts of the dead, and it's through them we get some hint as to what the Ether really is and what it's for.  In their words, the keeps the world spinning, though I doubt it means that literally.

In any case, it binds everything together.  Every living being must, at some point, die and all of them have a Psychopomps that guide them to the Ether itself, even insects.  It is everywhere and just under what is visible.  It powers magic, IS magic, but it can also be farmed and produced.  Through it many of the characters can interact with the world in a new way, or view it in a different way, and be view through it as what they really are.

It's where the dead go, but it's also used by the dead.  The Realm of the Dead uses it to create the "creepshow" that is the source of ghosts, spooks and scary stories in the world.  At the same time, it seems the world uses it to give life to the myths of the world, including the seemingly powerful Coyote.

In a sense, the Ether unites the living and the dead, the magical and the scientific, and the image with the self.  It's not a Heaven or Hell, a God or anything like that, it simply is, and thus a kind of power source and where everything comes together, in the end.

The Ether and The World form a pair of opposites, but neither is opposed to the other, more like they flow into and through each other.  Complementary without being contradictory, and open enough to allow both to exist without problems.  Which is not to say everything in Gunnerkrigg Court does so.

Next time, The Forest.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, April 29, 2016

I am bad at this

Seriously, how can I not have anything this week either?  ARGH!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

More things change

New state, new house, same job, same batshit schedule.  More things stay the same, and the first nothing of the working year.  Yay. . .

Oh, also I miss timed the second part of The Successor.  I moved it so it should be below this post.  I did by a week, which is why it wasn't there last week.  Whoops.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Successor: The World

When I say "The World" with regard to Gunnerkrigg Court, I'm not talking about the setting, the environment, the various characters or anything like that.  For one, that topic ALONE would eat about 6 weeks worth of posts, and I'm only giving it one.  Kind of.  The World, here, though, refers to something I think many fans kind of forget about Gunnerkrigg Court:

It takes place in our world.

The Court and the Forest aren't on some magical island seperate from the everything, it is IN our world.  It's often overlooked because of all the supernatural elements going on, but our world is just beyond the borders, to the point that it's visited frequently.

Kat and Paz make frequent trips outside, often on vacation.  Heck, Tony and Surma left the Court outright at one point.  The Court is not a prison in the strictest of senses, travel is easy between it and the world.  It's even visible from space, as a satellite Tony and Donald put up as kids is still in Earth orbit.

Culture crosses through as well.  Kat is a well known geek, with interests ranging from comics to anime.  Language indicates the real outside, from Spanish to Polish, English accents and the odd reference to real places in the world.

History, that appears as well, through the lens of Mort and the fact that the ghost died, as a child, during the Blitz in World War II.  And then there's Jones, the Stone who has seen all of world history, from the formation of the crust, to dinosaurs and beyond.

In fact, she also notes that the science and theories of the world we have today mostly apply to it.  Science functions as it is supposed to, but with the added bits of the "etheric sciences," which is magic by other means.  Despite the mythological creatures like Coyote running around, the world doesn't have a different origin or reality compared to what we see.  Even Coyote notes it, claiming that he "doesn't exist" because of it.

On a whole, Gunnerkrigg Court is one of the prime examples of the Urban Fantasy, which I talked about way back when.  It is one of many, of course, I have quite a list there, but despite this, Gunnerkrigg Court is alone in saying that everything we know IS real, there isn't a lie hidden there.  The Court, however invisible it is, IS there though, and the things that it deals with are real things just under the surface of our world.

I suspect that this is part of the greater appeal of the comic as it puts the magic back in the world without subtracting out the things we know.  Instead of being wrong, our knowledge, history and science are simply not complete, which is a completely different thing and one we can hope to eventually join up with.

Next time on the Successor, The Ether.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Retrospective: Skullkickers

Skullkickers' ending kind of took me off guard.  I mean, it made sense given all the zaniness that was happening in the last few pages, but I wasn't expecting it to END.

It also brings me with a dilemma because, well, there isn't that much to really retrospect about when it comes to the comic.  It's not bad, far from it, it's just very, um, light.  There's not much depth here.

There's nothing wrong with that, honestly.  For every deep and meaningful comic like Between Failures, there needs to be something less invested around.  A popcorn comic, for lack of a better term.  And to that end, Skullkickers was an amazing success.  It was fun to read, and reminded me of a certain someone's DnD campaign. . .

There was some character development there, of course.  Eventually the two main characters (Shorty and Baldy) got proper names, and even backstories, which were interesting, but not earthshattering.  They bounced from location to location, picking fights and busting heads.  It was fun watching what trouble they would get into, but that's about it.

Honestly the whole Thool storyline got, um, old.  I was just waiting for them to kick his butt, and that was satisfying in the end, even if they didn't really "beat" him.  The silliness of the whole thing at the end just made it hard to follow, so I guess ending was about the only thing left to do.  Hell, they even fired the narrator.

That said, losing it from my read list, while it will make my T-Th-S category a little slimmer, isn't going to really impact me that much.  I wasn't in dire need for this comic, but it was a pleasant diversion and one that while it would be nice to still have  It isn't going to ruin my week or anything.  Nothing wrong with it, fun in it's own way and worth reading, even if it was only for a relatively short time.

Until next time kiddies.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Successor: Introduction

Schlock Mercenary and Sluggy Freelance actually share a lot of similarities.  Mostly in structure, but even some of the humor, especially early on.  In a sense, The Standard and Best Overall compare the two against each other, highlighting where they matched, and where they didn't, without actually saying it directly.

So in pairing comics up, that means Errant Story, The Classic, should have something to compare it to as well, and it does.  For a long time Errant Story was the king of my comic list, and I suppose the only comic I can really compare it to is the comic that is closest to being it's Successor:  Gunnerkrigg Court.

This shouldn't be a surprise, both because I hinted at it way back here, and also, well, I always speak very highly of it.  It is a very well done comic, and it manages hit just the right notes all along.  The fans are passionate, but when they go too far, Tom Siddell takes the piss out of them.

The comic has grown so much since it first came out.  Both artwise and storywise, and is probably the best example of webcomics as art and literature.  It's a mystery and an adventure.  It taps into history and myth, science and magic, and childhood and adulthood at the same time.  It's about growing up and growing into, finding oneself, and dealing with parents and their expectations.

It covers such a wide breath of topics and ideas that it would be difficult to discuss it as I did the other long series.  While it's episodic, with each chapter able usually able to stand on it's own, it's also a long running epic.  There's continuous evolution of characters and plot, never really sitting in place for all that long.  There are hidden meanings and obtuse connections throughout, and each character has their own arcs and ideas, stories and myths.  There's no easy way to break it up.  And after doing Errant Story, well, I don't think that style will work either.

So instead I'll break it up by something a little more general, yet oddly specific.  Yes, there will be spoilers, yes it will go into fan and personal theories and yes, it will probably take me far longer than I expect.  This method, however, will hopefully describe why I and so many others love Gunnerkrigg Court and why it is the current top dog of the webcomics, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Next time, part one of The Successor:  The World.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Touching Base #25

Still unpacking but I've got time to do some touching base.

Top of the list, Kiwi's By Beat, the site that's home to minus and a number of other really great comics is, um, gone.  Poof, vanished.  So far no one has been able to contact the artist to find out what the hell is going on.  I'll try to keep on top of it.

City of Reality's website is down as well, but that seems more technical than anything else.  It'll be back soon I'm sure.

The Whiteboard hit a Pateron goal that means it'll update 5 days a week.  Which is nice, and means I have to rearrange my folders.  Then mentioned something about everyone being topless as the next goal, though I think that's a joke.  Maybe.

Sunstone (NSFW) and Head Trip did update, as I mentioned in one of my many Nothing posts, but only a little.  Still battling injuries I would hazard to guess.  It's okay, I can wait for them.

Skullkickers ended this last week.  I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, I mean, it really didn't end, and yet it did.  I should have a Retrospective up soon about it.

Blindsprings is taking a break from normal updates to do an episode for something called the Valor Anthology, which is mostly a bunch of fairytales.  Something different while I wait for the other shoe to drop on what the hell is really going on in that comic.

The Meek finally finished Chapter 4 of the comic.  It started in November of 2011, but with all the delays it didn't actually finish for 4 and half years.  Yes, I have been watching this comic the entire time.  Anyway, here's to Chapter 5 NOT taking half a decade to finish.

The Wotch also had some updates.  It'll be a bit before I catch up on what little there is though.

Hopefully by this time next week, I'll have the list resorted for what's active and not.  No promises, of course.  Same with an update as I still have a lot of unpacking to do.  That said, I do have something that's nearly ready, just needs a read through and linkifying to make it ready to go.

So until then kiddies, and thanks for sticking around through this nonsense.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Great Unpacking (nothing)

Well, I didn't sleep in my own bed last Friday.  Instead the stuff came yesterday.  Which means I don't have anything this week.  Just started unpacking, really.  Should be back into the swing soon.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Newspaper Comics #12

I've been putting this off and given my lack of ANY posts, I think it's time I finish this.

The Newspaper reviews have been few and far between because, well, they're hard to do. Few of them can be followed start to finish and many are decades old, with daily strips the norm. Knowing these comics, their history and their influence gives a great amount of insight into the comics, both newspaper and web, and their history. So it's only fitting, I think, that after discussing the question are webcomics dead, that I get back to the true root of the modern webcomic, probably one of the best ever published. I'm talking about Calvin and Hobbes.

I will say now I have a bias when it comes to Calvin and Hobbes, I think it's the best damn thing ever. This has really what's been holding this up because how can I give it any kind of objective examination when I actively enjoy the comic beyond all reason? The answer is, well, I can't. I can only say that you should read it, reruns are posted over on Go Comics, so go read them, it's worth the time.

It is with this admitted bias that I point out that I think Calvin and Hobbes may actually be the reason webcomics exist in their current form at all. Around 2000, when the first great wave started going with things like Sluggy Freelance and Penny Arcade, webcomics were often the purview of college students stretching their artistic muscle and doing comics in response.

Those college students were children when Calvin and Hobbes was in newspapers. And oh what a different comic it was. It was a comic that appealed to the kid in everyone, exploring the length and breadth of imagination like no other. A kid and his best friend who might or might not have been imaginary, and with whom all manner of chaos was inflicted. The art was top notch, especially the Sunday strips.

Those strips, by the way, were a result of a fight between Watterson and the newspapers. He wanted to take more advantage of the space available, and the newspapers wanted to be able to arrange his comic any way they saw fit. Watterson won, the popularity of his comic far stronger than anything they had come across. It's not much of a stretch that the idea of the “infinite canvas” came about as a result of this victory.

It also did something almost unheard of in newspaper circles: It ended. Watterson wanted to move on to other art, water colors in fact, and had grown tired of the pressure to merchandise his creation. He moved on, but left a mark that runs true and deep today.

From Sinfest to Girls with Slingshots, Calvin and Hobbes has had it's influence felt on the web. Whether it's Pants are Overrated short “squeal,” Hobbes and Bacon, or an animation for a school project, this comic has more fans now than it did when it was running daily in papers, I say as if I did research (hint: I didn't).

Calvin and Hobbes is, to me, the first webcomic, before there was a web to post them on. It has many of the same qualities that webcomics strive for, despite the fact that Watterson, in the exchange that led to him adding some art to Pearls Before Swine, doesn't understand computers at all. Not that he needed too, today or any day.

Webcomic artists owe a great deal to Calvin and Hobbes, and it should be required reading for anyone looking to do a webcomic of their own.

So with that bit of gushing out of the way, next time, MORE GUSHING! Seriously, you'll see. Until then kiddies. And hell, I might actually sleep in my own bed tonight.

Friday, March 4, 2016

This week keeps getting longer

I have a house.  I don't have internet, or furniture.  So while I'm busy painting so when furniture and internet come home, I only have only a nothing post for the blog.  This is taking way too long.

Friday, February 26, 2016

So damn close

As you're reading this, the signing for the house SHOULD be happening.  I can only hope.

Friday, February 19, 2016

So close yet so far. . .

My internet has been crap recently but at least I'm nearly in the house, I hope.  Living in a tin can is getting old guys.

Until next time, hopefully.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Not that it's an excuse. . .

But I'm still in an airstream in someone's backyard.  I am working on a larger project, but I haven't finished it enough to begin publishing.  So yeah, nothing this week.  Working on it.

In the mean time, Sunstone(NSFW) and Head Trip are updating again, injuries be damned.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Are Webcomics Dead?

So over on Talking Time Forums (which I still don't have an account with because I'm lazy, sorry guys) there was a thread that asked the question:  Are Webcomics Dead?

Seems a silly question since, well, they aren't.  But that wasn't the question, the questions was did webcomics fail to live up to their promise, and the answer to that is oddly simple.

The point is that back around the turn of the century, when the first great wave of comics appeared, there was this promise of greatness.  It was a new media, a new future and a new way to do things.  The phrase "infinite canvas" got tossed around, and everyone was ready to jump on the wagon to a new future.

What happened to it though?  Where did it go?  The pioneers of that age, Penny Arcade, Sluggy Freelance, Megatoyko and so many others didn't quite go anywhere, they didn't turn into the future.  So why?

Two things worked against it and amazingly it's the same thing:  Money.  I say two because money drove the webcomic community in two different directions.

Penny Arcade, Sluggy and others were the forefront of the webcomic revolution, and they became very, VERY popular.  In those days, making money off the internet came down to ads, lots of ads, and being very popular meant that the ads made a lot of money.

This resulted in some odd confluences of events.  Penny Arcade began to sell their comics as ads themselves (something they supposedly stopped doing, but whose to say for sure), and as a result the comic didn't innovate any more because, well, that wasn't an ad.  And when they did try, the result was similar to what happened with Sluggy and Oceans Unmoving:  backlash.

Being very popular meant the readers wanted one particular thing and woe to those who went against it.  I mentioned that the doldrums of Sluggy were because Pete Abrams liked to eat and I am not kidding, he backed off quickly and tried to hold on to his audience after they rebelled.  This meant stagnation for many comics, and the promise that they held back in 2000 looked weaker by the moment.

The other direction was still money, and the fact that the vast majority of comics, well, are NOT popular, at all, and in an ad based economy, they simply couldn't support the artist directly.  They like to eat too, but that meant they had to do actual work to support themselves.  The comic became less and less of a priority.  A great many comics curled up and died as the artists, who were mostly high school or college students, had to go out to earn a living.  They took short cuts to get the comic out quicker, or just stopped updating all together.  Those that bought their own domains with visions of glory in their future ended up vanishing into the ether that is the internet.

That's not to say none of what was promised with webcomics never happened, it did.  Comics like Sunstone (NSFW) and Bloodstain take full advantage of the infinite canvas to stretch their comics out to amazing sizes and directions.  City of Reality and Lizzy (sadly gone) take full advantage of flash as a medium and explored how comics could be more than just a static image on the page, often adding sound and interaction to the subject.  It's just hard to make money on ads, and the only other options, the con circuit (which the Devil's Panties does successfully) and books don't really work well with those amazing formats.  The innovation is there, it just doesn't translate to the world where money is to be made, not without a lot of work.

So from those two directions it appears webcomics failed, and instead just became another branch of the comic medium.  That's not a bad thing, and it has happened before and will likely happen again.  I mentioned about "internet reviewers" back in my Going Critical article, and they've been in a rapid decline for the last few years, especially as closed.  Facebook and mobile gaming have experienced the same decline, if not faster.  The "new media" that the interent was set to introduce failed because, well, there just wasn't money in it.

Then came Pateron.  The problem of money is now becoming less of an issue.  Pateron does still over feds the popular comics (see Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal's Pateron), but it means that even smaller comics can make something more than the pennies on the ad that is available today.  In the meantime, comics are backing away from the models Penny Arcade and Sluggy Freelance set up, becoming a branch of independent comics.

In my opinion, the Golden Age of webcomics is now long past, and while we still see their legacy, the current age is far more interesting.  Even now, the Pateron Age of comics is growing to the point that I'd almost have to list the comics that DON'T have a Pateron verses all the ones that do.  Through this the creativity promised back in the day might actually come to the forefront and great things are destined to follow.

Webcomics aren't dead, nor did they fail, it just took a bit longer to get there and those that sought to lead are just dragging the rest down.

Until next time kiddies, still in a trailer in Texas.  House soon, I hope.  Later.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Well, that was a week

Still in the midst of moving, but the worst of the first half is over.  I may have something up next week, but no promises.  This month kind of sucks.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Touching Base #24

By the time you read this I'll be BACK in New York, only to drive BACK to Texas next week.  I love moving.  In the meantime, let's check what's going in comicdom.

Eerie Cuties and Magick Chicks are NOT ending.  Apparently their kickstarters went through and they'll be back soon.  I think I mentioned it earlier but consider this all offical like. Well, not quite yet, but we'll see when it gets going.

Licensed Heroes is updating again as well, but only once a week for the time being.  I wonder what caused all the issues. . .

Speaking of temporary pauses, Sunstone (NSFW) and Head Trip still on hiatus due to injuries.  Both are going through physical therapy so it might be a while before either of them come back.

Related to Sunstone, Bloodstain got a fan movie based on the first chapter.  This is similar to what happened to No Rest for the Wicked.  I haven't watched it yet, been on the road with limited net access, but they're thrilled by it, so go watch.

Elsie Hooper still not updating, the comic.  Apparently, though, the MOVIE that this was the storyboard for is finished and is going to be in a film festival in the near future.  Apparently they made it with stop motion puppets, so that explains why it took too long to film.

On the other projects list, Dead Winter has a playable demo of their game, and for a weekend it was open to everyone, but afterwards, Patreon members only.  I did download it during the free weekend, but, again, no time to try it, but it's a side scrolling beat em up, so if you like that style, it'll probably be fun as hell.  I do, sadly no time to play.  Bleh.

Subhuman Sanctum and Twilight Lady getting more updates, though Twilight Lady is just wrapping up the current story.  Subhuman Sanctum is into the second book, so I expect awesome things.

Commander Kitty is also updating again, the big animation project he was working on is done, so the Pateron is open again as well.

Gone with the Blastwave had a random update late last year.  Given how often it updated before, I'm shocked there is at least one update.  Maybe there will be another, eventually. . .

Perry Bible Fellowship is now appearing on Go Comics.  It's updates are random, once a week is a bit much for it, but it does update.  Most of the strips are the small, 3 panel strips, and yes, they are all new ones.

And that's about all I have for now.  I likely won't have anything next week because holy crap will it be busy.  After that, I'll try to say something.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Oh, hey, I'm in Texas

Long drive, not much to write comic wise at the moment.  I've got a much more solid net connection that I expected, but I also have a lot of work to do, so don't expect too much for the time being.

I will try to have something up next week, a Touching Base, there's a lot of little things I'd like to go over.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Can't Live Without 2016 Edition

Well, this is nice, back to this once again, right as the new year begins as well, so that works out.  You know, I never did state what the concept behind this really is, even back with the original one.  Really the idea is that if I could only have 10 comics to read on a desert island, it would be these 10.  Thus why the arbitrary order, there's no particular sequence or order they could ever actually be in, just there for me to read.  So with that let's get the next one going.

1.  Sluggy Freelance - Yes, it's still on this list and will remain there until it ends.  It is and remains my Standard, and will forever and a day.

2.  Schlock Mercenary - This one I call Best Overall and every strip earns it.  It's a must read for science fiction enthusiasts, and lovers of humor as well.

3.  Gunnerkrigg Court - Hmm, the first two have whole long series dedicated to them, but not this one, that seems odd. . .  Maybe I should . . .

4.  Derelict - Remains the only comic I bought a hard copy of, and probably will be for some time.  Worth reading.

5.  Sunstone (NSFW) - Despite the delays that have plagued this year, including a physical injury that crashed nearly all of his comics, I still want to keep reading this comic.  Aside from being really great to look at, the comic is a romance of all things and it keeps me interested.

6.  Between Failures - It's nice to have a comic that isn't really that "out there" on my list.  No fantastical elements, just a comic about everyday people doing everyday things.  Even introducing a group of "furries" is done without being too crazy (well, no crazier than normal for this comic).

7.  Spinnerette - Still my favorite of the various superhero comics I've been finding.  It's funny, serious and creative.  Worth reading and enjoying.

8.  Namesake - It taps so many ideas that attract my attention that I can't help but read it.  Reading, writing, books, alternate realities ect etc.  And it's damn good too, which makes it even better.  Go forth and read it.

9.  Stand Still, Stay Silent - When I first started reading it, I thought it would just devolve into another zombie comic, but it hasn't, at all.  It's something significantly different, gorgeous and well worth reading despite it's disjointed (at least from the rest of the comic so far) introduction.

10.  The Non-Adventures of Wonderella - My dose of laughter comic is still here and likely will remain for some time to come.  Especially now that it's done with all that kickstarter nonsense and can publish regularly again.

Honerable Mentions go to Gaia, It Hurts! (sometimes), Skullkickers and The Meek, all of which are kind of the bubble of being on this list.

As I stated last week, the blog will be dark for the remainder of January as I finish my move and such.  I hope to be able to post something during the month, but I suspect I won't even have a nothing post.  It will be that crazy.  Afterwards, I should be back to a relatively regular schedule.  Hell, I'm already planning my next long series (if you missed the hint, reread this page), so I will be back.  Until then, Happy New Year.  Next time kiddies.