Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Catching up on nachitos : The Walky series

I'm just getting into the Walky mythos, reading the archives from Roomies, It's Walky to Joyce and Walky, I'd been infected with  David Willis's oeuvre initially by Shortpacked and then the mythos remix comic, Dumbing of age. I knew it was a keystone classic webcomic series but the size of the archives scared me off as well as the fact it spanned 3 comics.

 I'm glad I did because there's an emotional integrity here that's been rarely matched in my 10 years of reading webcomics. It crept up on me but even the initial emotional deepening with the Ruth scenario was a very swift right-turn into adulthood and its discontents. These series veer very sharply between goofy antics and human consequences. I should have done this sooner.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Do over?: Sore thumbs

Just wondering if this is going to lead to the zinger that shows us what the Sore Thumbs reset is really about, that is, was it just a way to get out of an increasingly garish storyline or just a new spin on Sore Thumbs characters in a bizarro universe? There's certainly not much emphasis on video games anymore, it's transformed into a magical realist morality tale on the foibles of western society with Fairbanks as the screaming cheerleader in a clown suit.

You couldn't really call this a gamer comic, if it ever really was one before straying into bug-out mind jack territory. Now it's a cheerful  antic sci-fi strip and this discovery of 'evil Jimmy' looks like it might explain how the reset of the Sore Thumbs universe works, I'm still not sure as to whether it's a glib & knowing deus ex machina deal or just boredom on the part of Crosby. Just want to see if I can get some resolution here.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Nine time's the charm: The Fox sister

I'm more used to imagining the nine-tailed fox manifestation as typically Japanese but it has roots across most of East Asia, it's a trickster form, imagine Renard the fox mixed in with slavering blood-lust. If my most recent experience with Korean themes resulted in me bugging out then this strip, The Fox sister, is hopefully a decent antidote to that.

Having been scared into whimpering submission by Japanese films such as the grudge and the ring series this was welcome respite

Already the pacing is measured between humor and horror, the horrific prologue doesn't make any sense as yet,. in the main storyline we're injected into a typical Korean city, we don't know much about anything as yet and I'm guessing this is going to veer into an initially uncomfortable 'odd couple' set up with our female protagonist and the tall blonde doofus westerner with the dog as the loyal companion / goofball.

All we've really got for now is the artwork, the story will make itself known as it gets along, this is more of an introduction to a webcomic that's getting going more than an established strip with an established character.

That said, the artwork here is lustrous and sheeny, just the right side of cartoony without devolving into too much cuteness, this scene with the character's face in reflection in the sword is masterful and this willingness to devote a whole page to set the mood is admirable, it shows is a mature handle on narrative pacing, presumably aiming at a long haul of a story. Maybe best to check up on it in a few months though when it's more established.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Something in the air tonight:Sfeer theory

If this is a steampunk or fantasy webcomic then it's not easy to place, I don't think I've seen 'Regency-punk' before especially not in an alternate world setting, an alternate nineteenth century magical monarchy perhaps, think along the lines of the meek and you're halfway there. Sfeer theory is a big picture type of webcomic within the context of a wandering magical dilettante called Luca Valentino as a lowly tech assistant at the Uitspan institution. It is certainly not an easy project to have begun.

The line-work and coloring are miles ahead of most webcomics, the dappled use of shadows here is unexpected and overall the artwork is clean-cut and sharp, sometimes painfully lucid, on a computer's screen it looks crisp in a way that a physical page would easily soften and dull, The style seems to be using an anime influence without the restrictions of its cloying touches, an anime inflection then and consistently good with perspective handled adeptly; this is a well-established style and suits the confidence of the story being told in this strip.

Likewise, Muun's narration here is world-weary, literate and quite assured, I've found the creation of a civilized world takes more chutzpah than the staples of a barbarian adventure, a lazy equivalent would perhaps be Full Metal Alchemist with the application of magic being the centerpiece of the strip.

 The use of 'Sfeer' is an underlying emphasis of the mechanics of this world and the reader is slowly getting a handle on it. The vocabulary guide is helpful as the magical terminology is part of a consistent system. Again, like most good webcomics this is more story based than 'slice of life' and looks like it'll be an inevitable 'slow-burn'. So far there's only been an introductory chapter but I'm already hooked.

I'm aware I use the words 'slow burn' as a shorthand for a long term investment of your time and I'm also aware that some of my previously reviewed webcomics such as Family man is quite heavy going but these types of labour-intensive long-term investment strips are what keep me going.

As much as I like video games,  gamer strips are too anecdotal and ephemeral to last as a webcomic genre to be viewed in the future, they'll just be sad dated relics like juggalos and class distinctions.If my first webcomic crushes like Niego and Butternutsquash have let me down then I'm hoping to read this webcomic for a long time in the future.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

I don't like people : Corporate skull

Jamie Smart was always the hyperactive clown in the dismal array of Slave Labor Graphic's stable. His inclusion into the niche comic publisher that emphasized a gloomy self-consciously Gothic aesthetic seemed initially a misnomer but on closer inspection his gibbering violent fables add up into something more than a light-weight goof-off.

If  Jhonen Vasquez is the sardonic luminary of SLG's roster then Smart's violent and scatter-shot approach in Bear was the antic trickery of the court jester.

Nothing is serious or sacred for Smart and the basis of Corporate Skull stems from extremity. If Bear was a disconnected series of snippets of ludicrous violence then this is an anti-corporate obvious entry point for gen-Y that manages to capture the quiet wretched lower-middle-class desperation of the cubicle-slave.

 The eponymous main character, Corporate Skull,  is reborn after his mishap and subsequently finds freedom in ignoring all of life's strictures and bringing the motherfucking ruckus. This issues is it's not altogether certain how such a rebellious 'bad-ass' is going to progress into a well-rounded

As such, there's little internal logic to the transformation to the main character, a knowing 4th wall breakage and if this is going to be implemented as a long-term storyline that might be a problem. The need to guide a story about a 'too cool for school' skull-headed rebel means he'd need to create a long-term schemata for the strip.

That said, I'm always a sucker for a pretty face and visually this strip oozes cool and chutzpah in its frantic disassembling of our addled western lifestyle. The cutified scale of this strip perversely sets it up as a modern-day morality tale by intimating that the world of work is a childish pursuit with most people as status-obsessed imbeciles who obsess about arrant shiny nonsense until we devolve into a slurry of greedy abject slavery. obscene gibbering aside, this is a slick and visually gorgeous attempt to mindjack the reader with a political slant and a restless roving eye for dumb-fuckery. Anti-establishment poses are usually glib knowing acts of self-awareness and this is no exception.

For all its obvious constrictions this longer format looks like an attempt to answer the questions about human nature Bear occasionally posed in between the congealed blood and inhuman laughter.

Any misgivings aside this is still something different, the initial riff on suicide isn't anything most slice of life or gamer webcomic creators would ever touch and Smart's background in indie 'dark' comics means he can easily work around in a wry and bleak moral underpinning to his humor. His background in print tree comics has put him miles ahead of the pack and even if this strip isn't established as a webcomic presence it deserves to be on the ideas present here.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Fey but not coy: Fey winds

The amount of anime influenced fantasy series has certainly hit a critical mass in the webcomic realm. Now, at first glance what differentiates Fey Winds from other decent fantasy webcomics like Velharthis or Shades of veil is the use of colour.

It contains a sort of gleaming intensity  alongside a a lightness of touch with cute or 'chibified' versions of characters from frame to frame, a very fluid and lush type of line work meshed in with gorgeous colours. It's a style that encourages goofy antics and dastardly deeds, there's a fourth wall breaking self-awareness here that is quite refreshing. There's also a decent map section (needed in every fantasy webcomic) as well as providing a proficient FAQ and world background.

To be reductive these are the adventures of a maladroit  and mismatched gang who are chasing a magical macguffin whilst an ancient evil emerges from the shadows, a standard theme but handled deftly if a not little irreverently. There's a..uh...human fox here but certainly no questionable furry nonsense present, a bloodthirsty knight, a slavering pervoid bard princeling and a gracious and sensible elf round out a team of adventurers in their search for salvation for their fractured world.

While it's not really questioning the boundaries of modern fantasy this strip's self-awareness certainly helps the reader adjust. In the 'about' section it's described as a 'silly fantasy webcomic' and this high energy approach means the main characters act like 21st century twenty-somethings and this underlying wry attitude to cliché is what distinguishes this into a strip that's worth your time, the valentine cards for each character are especially good .

Sometimes the self-aware goofiness is ratcheted up a bit too much into some knowing pop culture territory but overall this is a fluid and easily digestible fantasy webcomic that doesn't drag the reader down into a dreary neckbeard cheeto-gobbling dungeons and dragons spiel. Its overall strength is some kick-ass kinetic action sequences and it works as a concise introduction into fantasy webcomics that allows the reader to ease into the standard tropes with a hyperactive whirl.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Caught in a web of your own design: String theory

At first glance this is not a genre strip and the main point I'd assumed it was set in our universe or timeline but slowly but surely the other references come creeping in and the emotional range widens out into a slow burning rage. I've never been so fortuitously side-swiped by a strip this much, what I thought was a cringe-worthy workplace goof ball drama was merely a prologue to a much richer story.

This is certainly a bleak strip, I didn't know seething hatred could be a metier but Beckey Grundy is an adept at creating a protagonist as a vector for bad luck mojo, our anti-hero scientist Herville Schtein mostly choosing the path of least resistance. I just got drawn into this strip as I discovered what looked like our time was not, as the tragic protagonist is only gradually inserted into an alternate future.

This narrative complexity is accompanied by a comparable artistic flowering. As with every webcomic worth following the line-work improves substantially as experience is gained. Now it's evolved into a psychedelic swirling of colour, but it's also the little things that work. The doctor's red eyes,  the shadows in their characters faces and the move from black and white to colour increases the overall texture exponentially.

This world isn't spoonfed to you and this strip gets better as there is an emergence from what looks like a dull mad scientist parody into something more morally weighted. I know the Websnark isn't really a webcomics critic anymore but the term 'Cerebus syndrome' is quite effective here, the first chapter looks like meandering around and after that there's a lot of ret-connning, the characters seem to grow into more substantial roles.

I haven't been so pleasantly surprised for a long time, maybe reading slice of life strips has brutalised my senses because this is a long term commitment that I believe is worth reading just to see how fortitude comes from feckless, needless rage. It's not an emotion that webcomics typically emphasise as they mostly attempt glib sweet nothings. This is a richer thematic approach and deserves to be read.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

ranga pride 4 life: Red's planet

First off, I like the cartoony sheen on display here, it's good to see a crisp clean cut work. I know it's a webcomic form of a print comic and again, it shows, the colours present are a vivid luminosity that elevates the page. I also guess as webcomic readers we're used to a 'gen x' adult perspective and this strip comes into the unknown via the viewpoint of a 10 year old redheaded girl called Red as she's abducted by aliens and brought to a fantastical space scape. I'm sold and it's the expressions that really sell this strip (as opposed to Family man, heh and sigh... L.A.W.L.S ), the facial expressions are fluid and fun and intimate a vast universe of trippy sights and sounds.

This is an excursion into an alien landscape that's been injected with fun. It's got the right tone, at first I was wary because of the stylistic touches of the strip, I thought they looked childish. This isn't childish, it's a smorgasbord of alien life and Eddie Pittman  has the ambition and sheer skill required to pull off displaying gibbering xenomorphs, robots and multiple appendages without a blink.

The previous experience in animation clearly shows through here and it's a giddy inflection to the strip that makes reading it a joyous experience. Imagine a sleek hyperactive Star Wars universe on LSD and you'd be coming close. This is really only getting started and I think it's a welcome addition to what's out there. I'm definitely going to be investigating the rest of Space dock 7's roster of science fiction focused webcomics.

*Errr.....a 'ranga' is an informal term Australians used for red haired people.

Musical Accompaniment: Klaxons, myths of the near future.   Psychosis in musical form, a dystopian ranting mash up with fully sick hyperactive beats. 

Monday, 2 May 2011

Animal house: Family man

If you're expecting cheap thrills,  Family man is not going to provide it. If there is a lupine werewolf horror element here it's going to be a long time coming. We're placed into the world of  the eighteenth century,  which were boom years for German universities, Prussia in particular emphasized technology and philosophy.

We're brought into this new age by the experiences of Luther Levy, part of a lower middle class family of indeterminate social standing, looking for a university post. Their father's conversion from Judaism into Christianity being a key point here. It's an interesting tack as it's certainly a world webcomics have not touched; the cusp of the industrial revolution.

This is another case of beautiful backgrounds and perspective and a more shaky grasp on facial features. It is a strip willing to slow down, letting scenes play out over several pages adding an almost filmic quality. The first image that came into my mind upon glancing at the opening scenes of chapter 1 was the grimy uh...'rococo punk' of Brotherhood of the wolf.

The artwork is technically miles beyond the expectations we currently have for webcomics but the queasiness I feel on glancing at the protagonists face is sometimes off-putting (L.A.W.L.S  is another chief offender I think.)

The eighteenth century hasn't really been an epoch that fantasy has touched. Its themes and vistas are hard to transplant outside of earth's time frame. While steam-punk and low fantasy can recreate new worlds by virtue of their technology or lack thereof,  this period finds itself in limbo as far as the fantastical in concerned.

It's too early for steam-punk and too late for fantasy. I'm not  sure if this strip this lies within my purported remit but its sheer depth makes it a good historical fantasy, the creator is deadly serious about recreating this world and any flaws present are equaled out.

The archives are pretty large and the reader is chucked into a homecoming with lots of exposition given by various characters. It's titled as a graphic novel, and the emphasis on chapters and pages makes it feel like a clearing house for a dead wood comic more than a webcomic per se, that's not necessarily a bad thing, just look at Ellis' Freak Angels, The notes and the FAQ are quite dense and clearly show a well thought out internal world  This is a slow burn and there's not a lot of whiz bang adventure or gun fights or hectic adventure.

This webcomic WILL take a lot of reading and the pay-off, even more so than any strip I've reviewed, will be longer than a casual strip. The farewell from Luther's mother shows an undercurrent of emotion that isn't really current in webcomics as yet, regardless of how sophisticated the medium has become. There's lots of lingering stares and 'needless' panels and pages but frankly this is the closest to a novel in webcomic form I've seen so far.

Musical accompaniment: Gravenhurst; The Western lands. coy folk softness and screeching distortion mix up like rosewater and ichor in a foretaste of hell.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

I see dead people: The zombie hunters

First off the bat the name of the strip, the Zombie hunters, has to be the most direct webcomic name I've  seen in a while, it's pretty naff. Don't worry though, if the name looks nondescript you'll soon be drawn in by a visually appealing mix of cute banter and slithering undead terror.

The use of colour as in the cartoony character segues look almost manga style chibi, it's a mixture of realism and goofiness in a dreary grey pop-apocalyptic  background. It's the humour that drew me in here, when end of the world scenarios crop up they are mostly affecting and stoic epics like Crossed (the first time Garth Ennis has made me cry) and the Walking Dead. Instead, this isn't  straight-out humour parody strip but it is a self-aware show of fear induced rage and its affects on people, a dark humour created under duress. It changes frame by frame from harsh realism to kawaii cute and I think it works quite well.

One thing to consider is the emphasis placed on morphology of these munted monstrosities, there's lots of varieties. It's good to see a division between  mere shamblers and speed-driven undead hunters with numerous other classes of zombies. In video game terms the Left 4 dead & Deadspace series are the most obvious indicators of this new specialisation of the undead and the categorisation of these monsters is shown in a succinct 'encyclopaedia' section. Where a strip like Dead Winter possibly developed ad hoc, this looks planned from the get go and it's all the better for it. The idea of a group living infected as existing in a social limbo is quite intriguing, the vampire hunters are disaffected killers because there's no other role for them.

Yes, the zombie trope had been done to death (heh), but that's never the point, survival and its associated discontents are the point of the zombie/ post apocalyptic genres. The point of the strip is seeing characters interacting in fear and rage,  trying to survive the night. You'll need to go through the archive twice this as there's a bit of interplay between the current storyline & the past, it only started to click together after comparing different chapters. There's no slow build up here, it's all action and anybody with a soul will like this strip.

Musical accompaniment: Gallows, Orchestra of wolves. Shouting, rage, psychosis, aneurysm, rinse and repeat.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Do androids dream of Jersey shore: Ironborn

This is a strip ostensibly about a divergence between science & magic; but on closer inspection it's more about relationships and identity. From the get-go the strip's heroine, Opal, is suddenly thrust into a maelstrom of shifting alliances & competing ideologies about how the world should function, a basic technology versus science dichotomy. So it's steampunk but not in your face about it, advanced sentient robots co-exist with magic.

 The set up of 2 cities via a fable-spinner introduction is minimalist but it works for now, Opal's miraculous 'game-changing' situation is the entry point for the reader & the rest of her band of ragtag 'gang'.

The varied shading evident is a nice touch ,at times it feels like a notebook discovered, veering between primitive and textured so if the faces shown can be a bit weird then the backgrounds are some of the best present within webcomics.

 I think the inconsistency is part of the charm. If nothing else there is a sense of whimsy here, a good sense of pacing and the story-line certainly has been envisioned as part of a long-term consistency. It's a mature and rich ecosystem that's been put in place for readers, and it will take commitment to go through the archives, I believe it would be worth it.

The varying personalities of the robots interest me, it's the little sideways gambits of minor characters, the vocabulary and political chicaneries that serves as a background to Opal's discovery of how her powers work.

Opal's numb lack of awareness means her learning curve is more easily followed by the reader.I'm not sure where this is going to go but what I've read so far points toward a decent and measured approach to what could have been bog-standard superhero dross. 

Musical accompaniment:  Sixtoo, Chewing on glass and other miracle cures. Background malevolence, somebody's watching you, seething distortion and sense of unease.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Love is blind: Oglaf

Oglaf is a strange sexual beast of a webcomic, at first glance it's a collection of some risqué NSFW jokes based in a fantasy realm. It's certainly a very sleek stylised production with years of skill leading up to it. The archive lists a number of disconnected stories showing the reader what is NSFW or not.

At first glance this webcomic certainly looks like a series of disconnected sexually inflected high fantasy tropes but it has gradually meshed into a world with its own references and peccadilloes. The fact that there isn't a requirement for an ongoing storyline means that the creator can take in as many genre influences and ideas and suit it to the work, as a result there's a very wide scope of themes on display here and lots of fantasy in-jokes that have been re-jigged for a slacker  gen-x smirking appreciation. 

There still are one-shot one page strips but overall the main storyline of the ever-afflicted apprentice is continuing and may even be heading towards some kind of redemption or reward for his tribulations.

The strip seems to be sleazyily confident about the material it is using. If you're looking for a more knowing and perhaps post-modern slant on fantasy then this is certainly a strange place to find it, but this consists of digestible nuggets of sly hyper-stylised japery that is very fluid and readable.

Musical accompaniment: Die Antwoord: $0$.   Sexualised crazy, psychotic boasting,  See 'Evil Boy' on youtube for jaw-dropping magical realist visuals.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Red Dead Dementia: Emily Carroll

Emily Carroll's work seems to be simultaneously luscious & simplistic, cartoony & otherworldly.  The main hook into her work for me was  this ambiguous short story, it feels more like one of Grimm brothers darker fairy tales (certainly not the foppish Perrault).

Literature status isn't something we usually see in webcomics with it being more an ephemeral pop-culture buzz obsessed medium, this is a dreamy landscape with numerous influences coming to the fore. Her main website his down but her blog is packed with pictures & links to other stories. There's definitely a folkloric & fable led verve here and the line work can easily veer between sumptuous complexity &   60's style pop art like Shag. If nothing else this story should make you feel a pleasantly unsettling chill for the rest of the day.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Something wicked this way comes: The watcher of Yaathagggu

I have to say this tongue twister strip, The watcher of Yaathagggu,  is shaping up quite well, at first glance it looked like mere riffing on the Cthulu mythos and would be an aimless appendage on an already well-furrowed meme, but the author, Robyn Seale, has a plan here and this looks well thought out. The backgrounds and the shades used give a washed- out dreamy feel which acts as a perfect counterpoint to the crisp, clean line work. The amount of visual information your eyes have to process here is several degrees of magnitude more than your usual webcomic, lots of action and movement. So for 'production values' this is a pretty impressive strip.

The background to this world we're implanted in has been left suitably ambiguous, no clear-cut genre boundaries imposed on the reader, it's semi-modern with lots of squiggle room left for further development. The protagonist watches the seething void of darkness at the edge of town, Yaathaqqqu, a broken fuckery of a place of pervoids and skanks and our hero, Pieta Gaolwynne, is being sucked into something awful.

As for genre, Steam-punk or cosmic horror would be the obvious cop-out thing to say but, frankly, the narrative's open spaces provided and the ambiguity as to what the hell exactly is going on is part of the pleasure of reading this strip. The nameless evil omnipresence feels more like a 'mcguffin' at the moment, and now we're just learning what the mechanics of the world are, what makes it tick. This looks like it we're in for a dense danse Macabre with an injection of gallows humour for piquancy. Good stuff.

Musical accompaniment: Sigur Ros: Takk. Angelic, troubled, wistful and fey. Perfect backdrop to this bleak dreamscape.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Hungry like the goof: Barker

The thought suddenly occurred to me that the creative team of Chris Crosby & Owen Gieni, the heroes behind Sore thumbs (alongside numerous successful side projects) were genre writers/ creators. Sore Thumbs is more a sci-fi psycho-drama than a gamer strip and has been for some time. Last Blood is a worthy excursion into the morality of vampirism after a catastrophe. If I can be unkind, then Keenspot is a ghetto for some decrepit and decayed webcomics and this creative team and their strips on Keenspot are the only thing keeping that collective viable.

Their new strip called Barker is delving into the symptoms of lycanthrope lunacy. I hate online acronyms but the latest set of strips were so puerile & funny that I did indeed 'laugh out loud'.  The inclusion of nonsensical anti-Semitism as a entry point for a gag would break most strips but this strip just hits the ground running and keeps on going. It's the experience here from previous strips that shows through. There are no rough patches, Kaezrer's colourist skills adding a technicolour glitz to the proceedings.

If Last Blood wasn't your average vampire strip then this certainly isn't your standard werewolf strip, a little skewhif sidling into humour amidst the boring stretch of high school in middle America. To be brutally reductive, this is Freak & Geeks vs Dog soldiers. Werewolves are only really implied at the moment as I've caught this about 30 strips in but I'm assuming there will be a decent back story (Hopefully not some wretched Twilight style love dreck where the protagonist chooses between necrophilia or bestiality, meh.) The goof-ball antics between a boy & his inadvertently transformed dog are what drew me in and hopefully this develops into a screw-ball comedy.

This creative team has collaborated to the point that any kinks have been ironed out and the experience in pacing and consistency in artwork certainly shows in comparison to a starter strip. If it's a werewolf strip then it is so in only the most roundabout way, the transformation of a loyal dog into a human is the corollary to the dire 'urban fantasy' being billowed out. If nothing else this is a sheeny type of fun and that's better than 90% of the webcomics out there.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Glare me to death: Scout Crossing

Speaking of Questionable Content and hipsterism; this strip is a little gem that is still suffering from birthing pains. The first 20 strips are nigh scenester incomprehensible as it moves from snide indie cat-fights into super-hero escapades with nary a blink. That might be part of the problem I had with this strip initially, it was the awkward transition between the 2 states or genres (the Nickleback gag at the start was both funny and close to ruining the entrance into high concept magical fighting).

I say almost because this strip has been hitting the right notes since then, what looked liked aimless angsty wandering about as a slice of life strip quickly became an action strip with a viable background narrative.

The superhero tag is the only genre that really fits here as webcomics are the last place to find an equivalent to the DC and Marvel juggernauts. The webcomic spin on this is a localised and personalised version of the epic battles that the major action print comics deal with an injection of snarky underdog rage into the proceedings.

If Scott Pilgrim is a post-modern love story with a video game sheen then this is a failed suicide girl model slowly picking off her scabs for a mixture of pain and pleasure.

This strip's creator has 2 other webcomics on the go so you can't fault him for sheer ambition and I certainly don't think this has diluted his focus because this strip is pretty decent. Admittedly it's only really getting started but I can sense the kinetic energy in place and the artwork can more than handle the hectic paces Scott Ferguson is putting the characters through as he traverses a strange mutated world.

This is self aware/self-conscious blue state indie snickering transitions into superhero antics and morality with the quickness. I don't know how these 2 states of being will co-exist; the humor / anger quotient can be somewhat weird and may take a while to even it all out. We're only just being introduced to the parameters of how this indie / superpowers fusion is going to work and I categorically have great hopes for this rambunctious misadventure.

Musical accompaniment: Blood brothers, crimes. Yeah kinda old but also kinda hyperactive train-wreck high frame-rate psychosis.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

'Hey, have you heard of Broken Social Scene?': Questionable Content

Uh, maybe it's because I'm slightly tipsy but this is just something that got me kind of writhing & orgasmic: the idea of a rest or change in Questionable Content. Admittedly my purported remit is to look at new genre comics but this strip has been one of my staple webcomics for the last 5 years & the idea suggested here in today's strip of bursting out of the whole Dora/ Martin / Faye lust axis is kinda stimulating. I like the strip, it's comfortable,  like a stout or a rich sherry in winter's chill. But the idea of a strip that's effectively become part of the webcomic establishment moving its typically slow tectonic plates of narrative into unknown space kinda gets me off.
 I want some new characters to aid and abet my idiotic geekboy lust for Penelope & Marigold. Martin's whole existence in the strip has revolved around Faye and Dora and I'm hoping these recent strips that are accentuating the new directions this strip could flow into are the sign of things to come. This webcomic developed from sly inside gags about indie music into a full fledged twenty-something relationship paradigm. Holy fuck, I hope this strip here isn't just a meta-comic witticism about QC's continual pulsating patterns of lust and misplaced hope in Dora's cafe of doom. Considering the exponential increase in artistic talent Jeph has shown in his artwork since he started the strip in 2003, I hope this is a narrative reset, I hope to sweet everloving fuck that this is a new arc in the misadventures of Martin & his pervert anthroPC, Pintsize. Or even a romantic adventure between Martin & Pintsize, one can only live in hope.

Musical Accompaniment: Pavement - Slanted and enchanted, like there was any other choice? Well, uh, okay, to be facetious; maybe Mogwai's raging and bewildering Young Team.

Monday, 17 January 2011

All killer, no filler: Sinfest

I've always been out of the loop when it comes to webcomics awards, I only found out via the webcomic overlook. The fact that Sinfest has been twice nominated in the 2010 webcomic list awards got me thinking about the attrition rate of the webcomics I used to read.

It started in 2000, around about the time I started my addiction and along with Sluggy Freelance  and Everything Jake was always on my reading list. Now, if Sluggy Freelance has devolved into a weird cult with its own internal logic Sinfest is still somehow fresh. It just took me a while to realize it.

Sinfest was a strip I'd forgotten about. I'd previously thought it had hit a purple patch of recycled jokes       then there was a kinetic moment somewhere where Ishida seemed to hit his stride. I'm easily distracted & had put sinfest off my daily read list but it had since hit a metamorphoses moment where it's dealing with issues of faith and morality

Up to about 2005 the strips were gag strips with the occasional bit of continuity thrown in. The one-off jokes were never going to sustain a strip, it's not quite Cerebus syndrome but while I was away Tatsuya Ishida tweaked this strip into something steadily approaching awesome. The ongoing Romeo and Juliet dalliance going on between Criminy and Fuchsia is leading into the Devil as an actual villain, the inclusion of the pet comics into the main storyline, it's all meshing together & the continuity is a great attractor for me.

The author has a roving eye for source material and if webcomics suffer from an over-emphasis on the beta male geek ghetto, this strip has developed into far more of a comic meta-filter for the current memes buzzing around, even if it does show a soft liberal/ left bias Ishida is willing to poke fun at his own perceived inadequacies.

 So if some of it can still be gimmicky;  it's always been a tongue in cheek strip. The artwork, of course, is immaculately 'slick' and the inclusion of occasionally larger full colour pages is where Ishida shines  as an artist, working a vein of modern decadence in a post-manga fluorescence.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The gods must be crazy: Gastrophobia

Gastrophobia is a hyperactive incursion of ancient Greece shunted directly into your corneas. Visually, it's quite arresting. The gags are mainly visual with lots of accentuation and strong, fluid line work, Onomatopoeic sounds (thunk!!!) and way more motion lines than I've seen in years of reading webcomics. This is not a subtle strip. It's an overpowering splatter of pie to the face and is quite digestible.
If the street smart Amazon wonder woman Phobia is the muscular fulcrum of the strip then her son Gastro is the clown prince. The relationship between mother & son is a tad dysfunctional, more like slapstick partners getting caught up in 'wacky' adventures and 'hijinks'.  If you want a long term storyline with a consistent canon then this isn't for you.

But don't be too quick to dismiss this strip as its strength lies in its ability to jump quickly from idea to idea, breaking the fourth wall and evading any sort of seriousness. There's no pretense about anything too long-term, more like short connected bites of evanescent humor in an alternate version of ancient Greece.

The cutesy/surreal vibe might not be to everybody's taste but the characters are pretty endearing and the pop-cultural references hit with smart bomb efficiency.

Friday, 7 January 2011

A Gothique beatdown

I have bought myself a new laptop, my Dell was utterly munted and unusable so hopefully my haphazard update schedule will improve. I couldn't bloody type anything so now I've got no excuse at all. There's so many webcomic blogs that have fallen by the way side & I didn't want to become just another un-updated webcomic blog, a desiccated corpse online.

Just a little titbit, found another parody of the infamous cartoonist/ evangelist/ gibbering space cadet Jack Chick's cartoon strips, if the original Cthulu parody doesn't cheer you up then this certainly will or you clearly need some humour reconstructive surgery. Keep it real.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Transitions: Webcomic resets

A couple of resets in the webcomics I consistently read:

Scarygoround has wrapped up & Bad machinery is the reset option. It's the goofball antics of the younger set, not much has changed but frankly the dry,droll British wit is like a quadruple hit of espresso in a morass of nonentities creating furry obscenity.

Sore Thumbs has come back from the death of one of its main characters by restarting the Sore thumbs universe, though you have to use your knowledge of the central characters to get the jokes here, so not really a reset, more like a re-imagining, Battlestar Galactica would be the best analogy.

It's moved far beyond its original 'gaming webcomic' parameters some time ago, into pure sizzling joyous crazy, so this was probably the only way out, I'm not sure if this is an epilogue or a new beginning though this strip seems to carry its past a lot more than most, so many meandering useless story lines. I'm conflicted, the injection of colour is a welcome gaudiness but overall it looks more like an extended in-joke than a viable long term adventure.