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.