Friday, December 23, 2005

Dangit, how come I always end up talking about the same comics that Websnark does at the same *time* that Websnark does?

(From Something Positive. Click for full sized ending of year four!)

What struck me about this comic was not the fact that it was totally awesome.

It was a great way to end the year, I'm not saying it wasn't. Randy Milholland always somehow finds a way to make the end of the year memorable and powerful, and this year was no exception. The whole twist with PeeJee getting chicken pox and Davan delaying his flight and moving heaven and earth with the huge convoluted plan with the wedding ring (which was pretty humorous in its own right, as well, which is impressive, because this whole run of strips has been pretty heavy with the drama) to come to see her in the hospital and everything was great and all, and PeeJee's tired smile in the fifth panel was really sweet, but it wasn't what really struck me about this particular comic.

What struck me, for some reason, is how much Davan looks like his father.

I mean, look at him. He's tired, with circles under his eyes, which kind of echo of his father's wrinkles, and the shadow of stubble also serves to make him look a bit older than he actually is. And, besides impressing the heck out of me regarding Milholland's artistic prowess to get it just right, this got me to thinking a bit about S*P in general and Davan in particular.

As Something Positive has grown and changed, the characters, too have grown and evolved. They've gone through some good times, and quite a few more bad times. This has caused many people, incidentally, to give S*P labels such as "mean" or "pessimistic", which I don't agree with. There's too much stuff like this past storyline. For example. For every strip like this, with PeeJee crying quietly in the darkness, there's also strips like the above. Yeah, there's depression. There's still "the overwhelming crappiness that is life" bearing down on our fearless heroes. But in this strip, as well as in many others, there's too much of a feeling of... cheerfulness.

Yeah, you heard me. I just used the word cheerful to describe Something Positive. This is because, though bad things happen consistently and the characters often feel lost, lonely, unloved, sick, tired, and generally crushed by the weight of the world, I've always gotten a general impression from S*P that despite everything that happens, there are still good things about life. I think one of the reasons that S*P strikes a chord with so many people is not that it's ridiculously pessmistic, but rather that it is realistic. Randy Milholland is not afraid to show life the way that it really is: negative things happen, but that doesn't mean that in the end something... positive can't appear.

And this opinion of mine is illustrated perfectly by this last run of strips. Davan has been, I believe, feeling more and more left behind as time has gone by. PeeJee, Aubrey, Jason, and the lot have been growing and evolving, but it's quite obvoius that Davan feels like he's stagnating. He misses the old days more and more and doesn't feel like he can get them back. As he says, in a lot of ways his life is better than it was before. But he still feels like there's something worse waiting around the corner.

But then comes along today's strip, and suddenly, I think, he sees everything a little clearer, if only for a little while. He's remembered that he does have friends and he still loves them and would do anything for them, whatever that means. He lets PeeJee know that he's remembered that, and for the first time in a long time, she smiles. A real, genuine smile.

Not that this doesn't mean bad stuff won't happen tomorrow. But right now? Even though Davan's exhausted and cranky and PeeJee's got chicken pox and a triple digit fever, this still manages to be one of the good moments.

This is good stuff, guys. Very good stuff.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A great idea. Unfortunately, there's *no* way I'm going to be able to do it, is there?

(From The Webcomicker. Click for full sized awesomeness.)

Just... go there. Check out Gilead Pellon's post. It's awesome because he's exactly right. This is a bit of a problem, and we, the webcomic criticism community, have the power to actually help out people like Steve Troop whose comics we enjoy by actually going the extra mile and not only being drama hounds. Kudos to Mr. Pellaeon.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Teh List

And now, because no one asked for it, Sam and Fuzzy are now totally edgy and hardcore! Er... I mean... I'm putting up a list of comics.
So... anyhoo... as I've been meaning to do for a while now, I'm going to post a list of the comics that I currently read, (which I call my Comic Closet, in case you're wondering; and no, I don't know why) for those of you keeping score at home. These are in alphabetical order, because putting them in order from favorite to least favorite would be a pain, and anyway, everything on this list is impressive enough to keep me entertained for a bit, and as long as your sense of humor/style/pacing/story/character/etc./etc. is exactly the same as mine, you should like all of them.
...For the rest of you, all of these come recommended. Give 'em a shot if they sound like your cup of tea. You just might like some.

[RPG World] - A comic inside of an RPG. Fairly old concept, but this is one of the best. Though it doesn’t update hardly at all anymore, it’s archives are first class, and I’d recommend giving them the once over.

5ideways - A dark and mysterious sci-fi/fantasy comic that pings all of my Flatwood senses. Fairly new, so jump on the bandwagon now.

8-Bit Theater - The best sprite comic in the world, though it's lost some of its edge as time has gone by. 8-Bit Theater also has the distinction of being the first webcomic that I ever read, and thus it has a rather special place in my heart (and, therefore, my bookmarks as well). I'd recommend taking an extended gander.

Alien Loves Predator - I didn't think I'd like this strip at first. Because... I mean, come on. The theme is this: an Alien and a Predator (not drawn, but rather represented with pictures taken of action figures) living as roommates in New York City. It's bizarre and irreverant. You look at it and say WTF? But then you see the tagline, and it says "In New York, no one can hear you scream". It was then that it hooked me.

Angel Moxie - Dunno really why I keep reading this. Inertia, I guess, since it's a lot better when taking extended archive dives than reading day to day. It still keeps me coming back, though, because I'm still fairly curious about how everything is going to turn out. Also, it's sometimes rather funny, despite being a story comic at heart.

Antihero for Hire - Read the first strip (the one where he falls off the roof) and you'll know why I like it. A superhero comic (those are few and far between, for some reason, in webcomickdom) with just the right mix of funny and silly.

Applegeeks - Like Mac Hall, only... not. Funny, (with occasionally forays into deeper, darker storylines) with some of the most gorgeous art EVAR.

Astronomy Picture of the Day - Yeah, you all know about this. Really cool pictures of the wondrous universe in which we live, yadda, yadda. 'Tis muy nifty, no?

Casey and Andy - Described by Eric Burns as "still a journeyman's comic in a lot of ways", Casey and Andy is just one of those that grabs me for reasons that I can't exactly put my finger on. It's funny, in any case, so it gets the Kneefers stamp of approval.

Checkerboard Nightmare - The infamous. We cried when it shut down, but now it's back up and as good as ever. Kristofer Straub is a master of the satiric craft. If you're a webcomic fan, especially, you'll find CxN to your liking, methinks.

College Roomies From Hell!!! - *Gleeble* We like CRfH. We like it much. It's one of my very favorites, in fact. By turns funny and light and then dark and horrifying. Drama, angst, humor, action, romance, and gobs and gobs of awesome storytelling. Maritza Campos keeps me on the edge of my seat, and I loves me teh roomies.

- In everybody's list there is an obligatory gamer comic (because, quite frankly, there are a lot of them to choose from) and CAD is mine. It was the second comic I ever read, and thus it, too, has a special place in my heart. Also, I find it absolutely hilarious. So there.

Digger - The dark and whimsical tale of a talking wombat tossed suddenly into a dark, fantasy world full of oracular slugs, weird shadow creatures, and dead gods. Here you'll find some of the most gorgeous black and white art that you will ever see, along with a peculiar sense of humor, timing, and story.

Count Your Sheep - A quiet, sweet, sometimes melancholy strip about the power of dreams. Truly touching and often triumphant, even through the sadness. Good stuff, that.

Comedity - Fairly light, silly comic about this guy and all the stuff that goes on in his head. As in, he has the personifications of the good and bad personalities, but he also has one who's a muse, one who's a jock, one who's a ninja, etc. Surprisingly fun to read, as well. Don't step on the penguin.

Darken - Just your regular fantasy comic about a group of unlikely heroes out for an adventure to save the world... except they're really a group of unlikely villains out for an adventure to take over the world. A refreshing take makes for a fairly interesting comic.

Digital Purgatory
- Office life gone horribly, horribly wrong. Like Dilbert, only... not. You know what I mean. Manages to often be genuinely funny, which is more rare than you would think.

Dominic Deegan - A fantasy story comic rife with bad puns that still manages to be consistently good. Don't know how it happens, but it is, dangit. Go and give it a serious looksee.

Down Stairs Apartment - Not really sure what's up with DSA, but every time I consider dropping it (over eighty comics gets a bit unweildy at times) I go back through the archives and it makes me smile. So I keep it on.

Dungeon Crawl Inc. - Started out as a rather strange-looking, hard to read screenshot-using comic whose characters you couldn't really even tell apart. Then, it moved to real art, and I got more involved in the story. And like DSA, every time I consider dropping it I check back through the archives and it hooks me again.

Dungeons & Denizens - This one I know why I read. It's Graveyard Greg doin' his crazy thing with the writing and John Yakimow contributing the purdy picshures, and it's basically workplace humor, except... the main character is a minotaur and he works for an evil overlord. Light, satirical humor that keeps you smiling.

Earthsong - Another one with teh purdy picshures, Earthsong is a fantasy comic, straight up, though it has a fairly origional premise once you get into it.

El Goonish Shive
- A cast of normal teens living in a really weird world. (No, the title isn't supposed to make sense. Don't worry about it.) Sometimes really funny. Sometimes really serious. Always extremely weird. Treats extraordinary things as being normal, which is always fun. It's worth a look, definitely. I was really hooked on this one back in the day. Read it, or the owl will eat you.

Elsie Hooper
- Three w00ts for dark, post-apocalyptic type stories. I have a soft spot for 'em. The first thing you notice as you visit the site is that the header has a guy with a shotgun and a kid with a chainsaw, and I was hooked right there.

Errant Story - A fantasy story from the twisted mind of Michael Poe about half-elves (called errants). The word for Errant Story is "different", I think. You just might like it, though. I mean... I did.

Fade Resistant - The afterlife. Sort of. Also includes talking 8-balls, zombies, Yoda ripoffs, and Repo Depots. Funny stuff, strangely, and this strip is another one that grabbed me strangely.

- The quintessential dark fantasy tale. A boy who doesn't remember who he is wakes up in a room he doesn't recognize with a strange, furry, flying creature and ends up fighting off the evil spirits in the mysterious forest called the flatwood that surrounds the house. Seriously good stuff, this.

Foxtrot - Yeah, yeah. You all know about Foxtrot. It's funny stuff. You can have it (or just about any newspaper strip) fresh served up for you every day, on the internet. How awesome is that, huh?

Freefall - A hard Sci-Fi comic that is just fun. It's consistently funny, and it has a cleanness to its storytelling that's refreshing. The archives are long, but worth the dive once you get in. Give it a try.

General Protection Fault - The oft-lauded, oft-loathed geek comic which used to be purely silly until the Surreptitious Machinations storyline, in which the comic turned darker and deeper. It's probably hit or miss whether you'll like it. Give it a shot, in any case.

Get Fuzzy - Another newspaper strip that I just can't get enough of because of it's offbeat sense of pacing and humor. Gotta love it.

Goats - Goats is hysterical. Rosenberg knows how to take the complete and total random and make it terribly funny. Also, in the ongoing Infinite Typewriters storyline he has been developing more continuity (while preserving the insane elements) and I've been loving every second of it.

Gossamer Commons - Eric Burns' fantasy webcomic about life, death, faeries, and jazz. Great premise, and so far showing a lot of promise. I've been with this one from the beginning, and it's always kind of impressed me. Check it out.

Inverloch - Another fantasy webcomic, this time with the typical "unlikely hero out for an adventure" premise. It strikes me in just the right way, though, so I keep it on.

Joyce and Walky! - David Willis's followup strip to the ending of It's Walky! and it's pretty funny, still, because David Willis is a funny guy. But the real prize is the archives of Roomies! and It's Walky!, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Kristy Vs The Zombie Army - Don't really know what it is about KvtZA, but I just think it's awesome. It starts with a cute little girl cutting up zombies with a chainsaw, so what's not to love?

Landis - A newer comic, but an intriguing premise (highlander-esque immortal types) along with gorgeous art pulls you in and makes you want to hang around and see what's going to happen.

Last Days of FOXHOUND - An awesome fancomic, FOXHOUND is a hilarious parody of the Metal Gear Solid universe, and strangely engaging to me even though I've never played any of the games, nor am I in the least bit familiar with the universe. If it's anything like LDoF, though, I think I'd like it.

LinT - Another fantasy comic. Unlikely heroes out for an adventure again, and LinT is another one that keeps me coming back, because I'm all caught up in its storyline now, and it's nifty.

Little Dee - Little Dee is a strip about a little girl (who doesn't talk) being raised by some wild animals (who do talk). It's quiet and sweet, in the manner of Count Your Sheep or something similar, and it makes me smile more often that not.

Lore Brand Comics - I'm not usually much of one for cut-and-paste comics with almost the same art all the time, but... the thing about Lore Brand Comics is that they're absolutely hilarious. Absolutely.

Mac Hall - College students doing crazy things. Funny and fresh, with incredible art, and a great sense of humor.

MegaTokyo - The (in)famous otaku comic about Japan, basically. Its archives are long and sometimes the story can drag a bit, but it's still pretty good. Give it the once over if you're feeling bold.

Melonpool - Steve Troop's Sci-Fi epic. Recently restarted (with over nine years of archives deleted completely) so there's no better time to start than right now.

Midnight Macabre - Randy Milholland's tale of a midnight horror show on a cheap Texas TV station. A bit dark, but very funny and a bit whimsical, and the archives are still fairly short, so go over and treat yourself to one of S*P's side projects.

Nahast: Lands of Strife - Yet another fantasy comic, this one a bit more serious, and it paces the action and story almost perfectly.

Narbonic - This comic rocks. A tale of mad science, superintelligent gerbils, death, life, demons, angels, extradimensional entities, and... Heh, heh, heh... Anyway, Narbonic is a strip of deep and complicated backstory, but still works on the level of each individual strip. Pure genius.

New Gold Dreams - S*P's Randy Milholland on another side project, this one a black-and-white fantasy comic, and there's just something inherently nifty about that, right?

Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life - The deep and philosophical planet-hopping tale which takes place after the extinction of mankind and only robots are left in the Sol galaxy. A pair of robots with illegal "bohemian drive circuits" searching for meaning in the galaxy.

No Need For Bushido - Samurai, ninjas, and feudalism are cool again. NNfB is a comic set in Mideval Japan and it balances the funny with the serious in just the right way for me.

No Rest For The Wicked - Dark and gritty, this story combines a whole bunch of old fairy tales in such a way that makes it feel like this is the origional story that inspired the fairy tales, not the other way around. Kind of like the movie The Brothers Grimm, except NRftW was earlier and is better.

No Room For Magic - Adrian Ramos, of Count Your Sheep fame, weaves a light, bubbly tale of a normal girl living in a fantasy world that she hates with a passion. Funny stuff, all around.

Nukees - A comic about a group of... Nuclear Engineering majors... at Berkely. A bit weird, but severly funny.

PartiallyClips - Another clipart comic, and another one that really is simply terribly funny.

Penny and Aggie - High school drama. A character-based, relationship humor strip centering around a pair of teenage girls and their relationship.

Penny Arcade! - What many people consider the foremost gaming comic. I have only a passing interest in it, and it made me laugh several times, so I keep up with it. Check it out if that seems like your thing.

Questionable Content - Indy rock, romance, and a robot. Questionable Content is another one of those comics that balances the funny and the story almost perfectly. It's good stuff all around.

Radioactive Panda - Another mad science strip, with pretty art and a humor style that hits me in just the right way, so I keep checking it out.

Real Life - The archives take a while to get through, but this real life based strip (along with other stuff that doesn't really happen in real life, but we can't let that interfere withthe name, now can we?) is fun to read on a day-to-day basis, and it makes me laugh.

Rob and Elliot - Just hysterical. Known as the primary strip of 'that guy who does the Saturday filler for Sluggy Freelance' (Clay Yount does Bikini Suicide Frisbee Days for Pete Abrams), and it's really funny.

Sam and Fuzzy - A black and white strip with awesome Frank Miller-esque art and a bizarre sense of humor. Centers around Sam, a pessimistic, world-weary cab driver and his meglomaniacal teddy bear, Fuzzy.

Schlock Mercenary - A hard Sci-Fi strip with the best update schedule in the world, period. Also, it's really funny. A group of mercenaries fly around space and get into wacky misadventures. The third webcomic I ever read. Good stuff, in all. Go! Read!

Shortpacked! - David Willis's IW! spinoff about workers in a toy store is something that I generally find terribly funny, despite the fact that it has a limited amount of continuity.

Skinny Panda - A quiet, heartwarming strip (yeah, I've amassed quite a few of those; wanna make something of it?) about the adventures of Skinny Panda, the angry Gopher, Penelope, Robokitty, and the rest.

Sluggy Freelance - Vying for the top spot of My Favoritest Webcomic EvAr, Sluggy Freelance is one of those that makes me gleeble with happiness. It started fairly innocently, with two guys getting into strange misadventures, buying a homocidal lop-eared rabbit and frustrating the girl next door with their bizarre hijinks. Then it grew and evolved, got deeper and darker, and then there were insane female assassins, demons, evil scientists, evil kittens, and the like. We loves some Sluggy. Check it out. You owe it to yourself.

Smithson - Shaenon Garrity's tale of college, comics, and superheroes. Unique premise, and, as always with Mrs. Garrity, incredible writing.

Something Positive - Good stuff. Not really sure what to say about S*P, except that it really is an awesome comic. The story evolves slowly over time, and the wonderfully-drawn characters develop slowly and realistically. Truly a superbly told story.

Starslip Crisis - Checkerboard Nightmare's Kristofer Straub started his own Sci-Fi strip, and, to tell the truth, I like it better than CxN. Truly funny and well done.

STRIPTEASE - It's not just a clever name for a comic strip... OK, so it is. But Striptease is really a lot of fun. Relationship-based humor set around comic book artists. This, too, has characters that develop well and realistically.

Swordwaltzer - Fantasy comic set in a feudal-Japan-like world. Fairly poor update schedule lately, but gorgeous art and really cool fight scenes keep me coming back.

Terinu - A Sci-Fi comic. The art is clean and professional, and the premise and story are kind of catchy. Give it a try.

The Adventures of Brigadier General John Stark - Eric Burns's same-art-every-day strip, a la Daily Dinosaur comics. And it's mildly amusing, so I read it, because I'm a fan, basically.

The Adventures of Spelling the Vacuum - Spelling the Vacuum is a strip that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with, because it's fairly dirty, severely weird, and extremely iffy on the update schedule, (it just came off of a hiatus of... oh, dear, I have no idea how long) but is very funny. Hey, I like it. You might too.

The n00b - A comic that makes fun of MMORPG's, and hits all the right buttons for the funny. You know you want some.

The Order of the Stick - A fantasy strip... except not really. It basically takes place inside of a tabletop RPG, but its humor is still the type that can be enjoyed even if you're not full throttle into roleplaying games.

The Pet Professional - I stick with this one because of it's hysterical premise: it's a hit man for animals. Rockin', eh?

The Splendid Everlasting
- A weird, black and white political cartoon about... not much at all, really. Some guys standing around in a bar, I guess. It's terribly funny, though, and it gave me the line "I did some soul searching the other night. I thought I'd found one in my back pocket, but it turned out to be just a breath mint."

The Tenth Life of Pishio the Cat - A dark, gritty, confusing epic about a bad cat who has wasted his nine lives but is given a tenth on the condition that he perform a task for the forces that be. Seriously cool.

Todd and Penguin - A light, bitersweet comic that can take sudden dives into blackness. Another pretty good one, though I have to admit that, of the quiet comics, I much prefer Skinny Panda and Count Your Sheep. Todd and Penguin, however, is good, so I keep reading.

Two Lumps - Now, Two Lumps is one of those that is just plain fun to read. Two cats acting... well... the way that cats always seem to. Makes me laugh out loud with startling regularity.

Ugly Hill - Ugly Hill makes me grin. That's it. It just makes me grin. I like Hastings and how he's workaholically psychotic. I like Eli and the king of slackers, Snug. I especially like Peter and the way that he reacts to Hastings as the "sane" foil. The whole setup just works. It's funny, too.

VG Cats - It's a gamer comic, and it's gag-a-day, which I try to steer clear of, but Scott Ramsoomair has come up with some of the funniest stuff that I have ever seen. I've laughed out loud in the middle of English class and not been able to stop. (Over this strip, because everyone should read that strip, and it still sends me into hysterics every time I read it.)

Winger - Carson Fire's brand spankin' new comic is a conservative-but-makes-fun-of-both-sides political cartoon, and I like it already. (The troll jokes were funny.)

Zap! - Another Sci-Fi comic, this one about an incompetent psychic and the group of people/robots/aliens that he drags all around the galaxy.

Zebra Girl - A dark and brooding story comic that still manages to be funny under all the grit. About a girl who gets turned into a demon by an accident involving a mysterious book in the attic. I found this one fairly late, but it's one of my favorites.

And also, as if that weren't enough, additionally, there are some comics that have ended or otherwise gone on a rather permanent hiatus of some sort, so I don't check them every day. But I still check back over the RIP folder occasionally, just in case.

Elf Only Inn - This comic rocks. It has a fantastic premise, well-drawn characters, and wonderful humor. Unfortunately, it's also been on hiatus since August of '04. This does not mean, however, that you shouldn't head straight over there and devour the archives. EOI comes highly recommended.

The Filgym Cycle - A weird fantasy comic started for the Daily Grind competition that I quite liked until it stopped abruptly. Ach, weel...

Comics by Alexander Danner - Including such nifty-keen short comics as "Five Ways of Looking At A Cockroach" and "The Discovery of Spoons". Kewl stuff.

Reman Mythology - Cool fantasy comic that got taken down because of imminent publication, I believe. Good stuff.

A Modest Destiny - A sprite comic, one of the few that did it right. Though it's no longer actually there, it was good while it lasted.

Irrational Fears - A small, one-shot comic series showcasing the incomparable Ursula Vernon at her finest (Chupacabras in berets, sentient dust bunnies, murderous monsters, nightmares, and all manner of bizarre happenings). And the best part? It's on WebcomicsNation, so it's free. Go! Read!

Tired Feet - Another one-shot comic, this one is sweet, romatic, and sad. It only has five pages, so it won't take very long to read. Go and read it now.

Instant Classic Presents: Pirates - An Instant Classic offering that, in my opinion, was better before he went and redid the whole thing, but still quite a wonderful concept, even if it doesn't really update anymore.

Skirting Danger - Doncha just hate it when you read a strip's archives, then get to the front page and find out that it's on some sort of weird haitus, and you have no idea whether it's coming back or what? This happened to me with Skirting Danger. And it made me... *Grrr*. Because I liked SD. It was funny, and all that. But oh well, I suppose...

Niego - Niego's over now, and it's one of the few comics that I read that actually came to a conclusion while I was reading it. It was severely weird, as well, but not too bad.

Brainslug - This is another one that never seemed to update after I finished it, which was unfortunate because, it, as well, was fun. Bizarre Sci-Fi strip with tongue-aliens invading earth. Also, it had a psychotic rabbit. And hey, who am I to question the psychotic rabbit?

Schoolbooks and Brimstone - This is a strip with a full and gorgeous Art Gallery, a great premise, and a hysterical beginning. Unfortunately, it has fewer than thirty comics in an archive stretching back to 1996. Yikeeeeeees.

Brainwrap - A comic about those guys who run the movie theaters. It's funny, but it, too, doesn't update hardly at all, which, again, is unfortunate.

Aaaaand... there's the list. If you're still reading this, then I applaud you. That's a good ninety-five or so webcomics, some of which, hopefully that you'll like. And now I'm leaving, because I've been working on this for two days, and I'm tired. 'Night. Going to bed now.

Jabba'a Palace?! What?!

(From Melonpool. Click for full sized A Little Short For A Stormtrooper.)

Melonpool was always one of those strips that I thought that I should probably read, just... when I have time. You know how it is. You have some strip bookmarked and you mean to check it out, it's just that you know the archives are really long, so you know it'll take a rather large investment of time, so you just never get around to it. It'll always be there, won't it? So it sits there in your To Be Read folder and you just kinda think "Oh yeah, I oughta read that sometime. When I get the chance."

Anyway, Melonpool was one of those strips.

And, unfortunately, I missed the boat. As everyone knows by now, in November Steve Troop took down nine years' worth of archives. Took them down. They're gone now. Bye-bye. And I never got the chance to read them.

So I sucked it up and motored on over there to start reading on the restart. That was the point, after all. So I started. And I found that I really liked it. It maintains the story well and reintroduces characters smoothly so that new readers can pick it up and old readers won't feel like they're being hit over the head with something they already know. (Well, as far as I know, anyway. I'm not an old reader, so I can't say definitively. But it seems that way, in any case.)

Another thing is that it's consistently funny. And today's strip actually made me snort with laughter, as it also has several times in the past. It's good stuff. I'd recommend checking it out.

Monday, December 12, 2005


(From College Roomies From Hell!!! Click for full sized "old strip used merely for point-making purposes!")
You know what are coming up, so... I might not be around for a while. Like anybody cares.

Just don't say the "f" word. And wish me luck. I'm going in...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Double-you tee eff.

(From Penny Arcade. Click for full sized... WTF?)

Yeah, so I've read the whole thing. All of the archives. And yes, I am a bit tired. But I'm snarking while I still have this fresh on my mind, just for you. Happy? Good. Because I'd have to kill you if you weren't.

...let's start with the good news, shall we?

The good news is that it defenitely improved towards the end. By the time I got to the beginning of 2005, my impressions improved drastically, and tHence the thumbnailed strip on the right. That, I will freely admit, is funny. The idea of sending someone a soppy "beary sorry" e-card for aggro? Hysterical.

And so, as you may have already figured out, I laughed at some of the strips. In short, sometimes it was funny. I've already caught myself grinning while thinking of the phrase "I’m curious about the colander on your head."

And the cardboard tube samurai. Crap on a crutch, did I love the cardboard tube samurai or what?

Also, while we're on the subject of what was good, I would like to say that I totally grooved on the Penny Arcade Presents section of the site. It's a bunch of more serious story comics that Gabe and Tycho did about video games. Just to name a few, there's one for Empire Earth II, which makes me grin, and one for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was awesome, and, my personal favorite, the one for Painkiller, which rocked my world.

In this vein, what surprised me is that whenever Gabe and Tycho would go off onto little tangents of story and continuity, I was hooked. I liked the Scion storyline. I liked An Alternative Lifestyle. And Cardboard and Steel was just awesome. Have I mentioned that I like the Cardboard Tube Samurai?

But... the problem was that it's fairly obvious that those aren't what the strip is about. Those are little sidequests, playful diversions of our fearless heroes to do when the mood strikes them. The main focus of the strip... is Gabe and Tycho sitting around and saying things. Things that are unconnected from strip to strip, floating out in space.

Let me first say that I could very easily tell that many of my problems with PA were simply my own fault. The first is very much one of them: It's a problem that I have with all gag-a-day strips.

As I've said before, I am a total sucker for stories. If anything tells a really good story, then I'm on it like a raving lunatic, drinking in every ounce of story that I can get.

So for a comic to be set in an almost completely continuity-free environment and be purely gag-a-day, as PA is, it has to be very funny. And in many cases, I found PA lacking in this case. It was funny sometimes, but occasionally I found it... wanting. For every comic like this one, there would be at least four or five that I just stared blankly at, shrugged slightly, then moved on, either because I didn't get it or I didn't think that it was funny.

A second problem, one that was also my own, I suspect, because it is closely related to the above, was that the characters made no impression on me whatsoever. There was Gabe and Tycho, of course (though I often have trouble remembering which is which). And they have those girlfriends whose names... I don't remember. And the DivX player (a one-trick pony, in my opinion; "Oh that crazy DivX player! He gets drunk and insults people!") And the juicer, of course. (But that's a gimme; everybody knows about that.) And maybe some other recurring male characters? There was that guy... who liked Macs. Maybe his name was Charles. And some other guy who might be named Gary. And Tycho's niece (or maybe she's Gabe's niece? I don't remember) Anne. I remember her name because I liked her. And... that's it. If there are more recurring characters, I don't know them off the top of my head.

And that's bad, folks. Especially in my department. If I read more than half a decade's worth of strips and still don't remember characters' names? Ouch, guys.

And I know that it's supposed to be structured so that you can read each individual strip without knowing any backstory or character names and everything... but heck, Narbonic and Schlock Mercenary can both do that, and they have backstory. What it boiled down to is that it simply wasn't my cup of tea.

The gist of it is that, though I enjoyed some of the strips, most of them, for me, simply fell flat. They seemed bizarre. They were referring to some weird news event that happened four years ago, or to some strange industry joke.

This is probably a good place to mention that some of the jokes undoubtedly passed me by because I am not really a gamer. Yeah, I've shot a few bots in UT2004, I've played FFIX, I have a general inkling of how WoW works, and I like Zelda, but... a lot of PA's jokes made me feel... alienated. Like it might be funny if I had even a remote knowledge of what they were talking about. Some might say that PA simply went over my head because it was a more of a hardcore gamer comic. But I've never had a strip lose me because I wasn't, essentially, a member of its demographic. I get CAD and VGCats, which are about video games, at least in theory. I get OOTS, which is rife with tabletop roleplaying references. Even The Splendid Everlasting, which is basically a political cartoon referring to all kinds of weird political events, makes me laugh. But when I was reading PA, I felt consistently lost. Like I was missing something before, or that there should be some follow up to explain. And, of course, a lot of the strips, I understood. Take the above strip as an example. I understand it, and you can understand it even without having ever had a previous encounter with Kingdom Hearts. It stands alone, and can be found funny by anyone with a sense of humor. But... some of the others I simply found... incomprehensible.

Another thing which was adressed slightly in the debate at Websnark was whether or not CAD and PA are really comparable.

And in my reading, I have become strongly of the opinion that they are not. They look extremely similar at the outset, but really they are two very different comics, despite appearances.

And... that's my two cents. Hope you liked it, because it represents a significant investment of time. And if you don't like it... *Shrug.* Who cares? I'm tired, and I'm going to bed.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

*Sigh.* Alright, fine. Cover me, I'm going in.

(From Websnark. Click for... well, there really isn't an image. Just... click on the link for hardc0re discussionage.)

You know what? Screw it.

Hear ye, hear ye, come one and come all to bear witness: I am going to read Penny Arcade. The whole *#&@ thing. Every strip in the archives.

Never mind that I'm in the middle of rereading RPGWorld at the moment.

Never mind that finals are coming up.

Never mind that I have almost fifty comics in my Grab Bag that I still need to check on at some point.

Never mind that I'm still working my way through It's Walky!

I am gonna read Penny Arcade. The whole archives this time, and none of this get-one-year-through-the-archives-and-drop-it nonsense I am going to read the whole thing, and if I don't like it, then...

Dunno what I'll do. Actually, I'm betting it will grow on me like an evil mold and I'll end up at least chuckling a bit. Because the thing is... see...

*Sigh.* PA is like Achewood or Daily Dinosaur Comics or Superosity to me. They're ethereal, phantasmal, floating above me just a liiiiiiiiitle out of my reach. They look good, but when I jump up for them and just can't do it I just look like an idiot. I want to like them. Eric likes them. Lots of people like them. Why don't I? I like webcomics, right? I have an impressively sized trawl with some good stuff but mostly cluttered with halfway decent comics. So... why is PA such a big deal?

I don't know. So I'm going to try again. (For the record, this is the fifth time I've tried to do a serious PA archive crawl. Fifth. No, I'm not exagerrating, that's an actual figure.)

But I'll eat my socks if I like it better than Ctrl+Alt+Delete.


(From Narbonic. Click for full sized EEEEEE!)

What I'm doing today should have been done quite a long time ago.

What I'm doing today is snarking Narbonic.

Now, you see, I should have snarked Narbonic a while ago. Because this strip, in case you don't follow Narbonic for some strange reason, is not the strip from today. It's from a while ago, several weeks, in fact. But also, it's really funny. And it reminded me what I love about Narbonic. So I'm snarking it, dangit, and there's nothing you can do to stop me.

*Sticks out tongue.*

...Anyhoo. This strip reminds me, as I said, of the reasons that I love Narbonic. As any Websnark junkie could tell you, Narbonic is, in Eric Burns' opinion, the best comic currently going, which is quite an honor, and it doesn't come undeserved. I think that Eric bases this opinion on one very important fact: Narbonic has a very complex backstory, but anyone coming right into the story can still laugh at any individual strip.

And this strip, essentially, embodies that very well. It's hysterical, quite frankly. (I've been going around for the past two weeks saying "Work mode off!" to people. Then they give me funny looks, but that's what it's all about, right?) Anyone just simply coming along could have no idea about this situation (it was caused because of Dave's latent mad scientist abilities because he tried to fix the microwave and it started spewing extradimensional entities with beaks and lots of eyes, and the fact that Helen has promised to let him go if she can't cure him, which is now complicated by the fact that they are now a couple) and still giggle about it. "Okay, you've noticed." "So do you have an Allen wrench, or what?" It's just funny.

Kudos to Shaenon Garrity. This is good stuff, folks.