Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Finders Keepers

It isn't enough that I must be indebted to Mr. Logan for producing the exceptional work that is Sam and Fuzzy. Oh no, now I have to owe him for steering readers towards Sordid City Blues.

See, Sordid City Blues isn't actually a new comic for me. Some months back I devoured the entire archives in one sitting, and discoveredI quite liked it. which point I promptly missed adding it to my daily links, and when I remembered it a week later, had forgotten its name, address, and any location that might help me find it again.

(Have I mentioned I have a really bad memory?)

Fortunately, after having given up all hope of finding it again, bam! There it is.

Reading back through it again (it's a relatively quick read) reminded me exactly how much I liked it - down to earth characters, some of them funny, some of them crazy, all of them dealing with the stupid little troubles everyone has to deal with. The characters are also nicely color-coded for convenience, which is just one of several little nice touches it has!

All in all, its a good comic, and as mentioned by the Sam-man, it is at the start of a new story arc and in a good position for people to check it out.

Penny Arcade can be used to explain anything. Seriously.

In my defense, I wanted it to feel like a hard-fought match. I'm back!

Hopefully everyone had a fine Memorial Day weekend. Mine was filled with assorted lounging, graduation parties, and family gatherings that primarily consisted of me being assaulted by small children. (Or, alternatively, nearly losing a chess match to an 8 year old.)

The weather here has suddenly spiked up to near a hundred degrees, and while I've been enjoying the heat, others have not been quite so welcoming of it. When I have taken temporary absence from the warmth, I've been retreating to the chilled indoors and engaging in more Kingdom Hearts 2.

As of last night, I have found myself with something of a quandary. I reached the final ramp that leads up to the final boss, surrounded by my faithful friends and companions, with danger threatening all the worlds - and I promptly turned around and walked away.

You see, there were tasks yet to be done.

Now, there is a part of me that seeks completeness in things for its own sake. It is not in my nature to leave things unfinished. It is a struggle for me to put down a book with the intent of not finishing it, no matter how vile it may be. Perhaps half a dozen times have I done so, the majority of which were in the last year, when I realized that I was under no compulsion to inflict mental trauma on myself through atrocious writing. But even with that epiphany... it is difficult.

So I already have the danger of obsession - leaving something in an incomplete state is irksome to me. And when it comes to games... well, there is a devil of a powergamer lurking within my heart, and once upon a time, when I played RPGS my goal was to claim total victory. It was not enough to merely win - I need the knowledge that I have demolished and mastered every aspect of the game.

But things change. For me, the game these days is more about the story. And in truth, I did not have the time to invest in fully conquering games when I could simply... finish them. Especially as games such as FF X (and even worse, the atrocity known as FF X2) went on to build realms of completeness that were a time sink beyond all comprehension.

So I turned away from that road, and merely played the game for its own sake.

But now... a dilemma. If I actually want to get the good ending, I need to complete a variety of tasks.
In his defense, Eeyore is an annoying little emo bitch.
Most of them, in fact, are already done with ease. It is merely the final few that are the challenge, that require the extra time of leveling unto infinity - defeating the 50 round tournament. Battling the ultimate optional boss. Etc.

So I've resigned myself to the grind.

Similarly, I've been trying hard to bring myself to stop reading several webcomics. Some of them I simply started without realizing they weren't really worth my time - others have, indeed, changed over the years. And I don't hold this against them - but, as with other things, I have this awful compulsion to keep with them, even after I've lost all enjoyment in the reading of them.

Now that I'm done waxing verbose, I'll come to the point of this little tirade - am I the only one like this?

Do others have a similarly hard time, or is it easy to walk away from webcomics that you no longer enjoy, books that aren't worth reading, games not worth playing?

Is it easy to identify when something isn't worth your time - and even once you've done so, is it easy to let it go?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Words, Words Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink

When I was in the halcyon days of my youth, I read. A lot.

I could be found reading on most any occasion in which I had free time. While on the bus to school, during breaks between classes, while having dinner with my family. Books were my life-blood, and I lived and breathed the written word.

As time went on, I grew less attached to books - in college, while I still read, it was no longer such a vital facet of my life. I had many other activities and entertainments to occupy, and books were just one of many.

(On occasion I would fear that I would go the way of my father, an avid reader of fiction until the age of 25 - after which he never read a book ever again.)

These days are much the same - I read when I come across a good book, and generally savor the writing rather than tear through it. I have many other stories that I enjoy - comics, games, movies, etc.

Which is why I am trying to figure out what has possessed me this last week, as I have been devouring a novel a day.

Perhaps I felt a need for some works of fiction that had an element of completeness, rather than the ongoing serial nature of most webcomics. Perhaps this was in part due to a visit to a local overstock book store, with dangerously low prices on all manner of works.

And perhaps it has simply been one of those lazy summer weeks in Maryland, a mix of warmth and rain, sun and shade, and not much else to do than sit around... and read.

In any case, I suspect I have little to fear of following in my father's footsteps. And I confess, it has been appealing to lose myself in books, as I have not done so completely in quite some time.

Sometimes a change in the usual can be a nice refresher. I suspect I'll return to my usual pace and usual habits - but the change from the ordinary, however brief, was welcome nonetheless.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Good kitty. You know, I never expected to see any sort of development of the character of Twitchy-hug.

I certainly didn't expect the direction the current plot arc took us through (in a relatively short amount of time.) (This in spite of the fact that there was, in fact, a bit of set-up leading up to it.)

And I didn't remotely see coming the conclusion of this little arc, nor the cameo appearance at the end.

The lesson learned here? I should predict the most dreary, banal things, since the unexpected apparently rocks my socks off.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Label in Time

While giving my props to MT yesterday, I neglected to give mention to a few events of note:

Blank Label Comics just hit its 1st Anniversary, and mad props to them for still going strong.

Dominic Deegan just turned 4, and though its quite a different comic then when it started, it still has its share of great moments - such as today!

(Though I still wish it wasn't the epitome of the comic that forced you to scroll down to read the daily strip.)

And, well... ok, so not all that many momentous events. Nonetheless, congratulations and appreciations for all those folks who have perservered with their entertainment, and kept bringing humor and plot to us humble readers!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Second Thoughts

I have, in the past, been somewhat critical of the Modern Tales collective - or it's current state, in any case.

So I felt it would be the honorable thing to do to give a shout out to them in appreciation at the quantity of good stuff I noticed today.

First off, the infamous William G has been added to the line-up at Graphic Smash. For all that I've rarely agreed with his rantings and ravings, I've always been impressed with his comics, and glad to see one of them in a place it will be easy for me to keep track of it.

Fear the squash.Next up, in Digger, it looks like the pursuit of the dark, malevolent entities is to be cut short by an attack from vampire squash. Man, how often do you get to write a sentence like that? Not very, is the answer.

I don't really have anything special to say about the Guardians, Magellan, or Reckless Life, save that they are all rock-solid awesome strips, and getting all of them the same day is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Picture Story Theatre continues its latest bizarre but entertaining piece. There are several other strips updating at Modern Tales, and even if not my cup of tea, I'm glad to see the activity.

Paradigm Shift is to my tastes, however, and its return from hiatus remains a pleasant surprise.
How did we not see this coming?
But the big winner, unsurprisingly, is Narbonic. We've been meandering of late, you see. The characters have grown distant, gone their seperate ways. There has been a dying down of the previous storylines, as the past is fading and the mood is subdued.

But now the spark just hit the fire. I mean, Lovelace. Whoa.

So yeah, I'd say we've got tension again.

Man, Narbonic rocks.

Monday, May 22, 2006

What a tangled web we weave...

If I sat down and tried - and I mean, really tried, bent my mind to this one sole task - I could probably come up with a premise for a webcomic that was as convoluted as the premise behind Arthur, King of Time and Space.

But I don't think I'd have a shot in hell in showing the creator's skill at realizing that premise in a fashion that avoids overwhelming the reader with sheer complexity.

The concept at hand is that the comic follows the adventures of King Arthur and his merry band, and interprets their story over the course of 25 years.

(As an aside - plotting out a 25 year long comic is innately awesome. Anyway, back to the business at hand.)

The twist on the traditional story is that we flip-flop from one alternate reality to the next, following the story as we go - though each setting has its own variations.

So we have fairy tale Arthur, space Arthur, modern Arthur, cowboy Arthur, superhero Arthur, etc, etc.

(Another aside: I mispelled Arthur as Author every time in that above paragraph before realizing my mistake.)

So, A:KoTaS is obviously filled with a significant number of complex, interweaving storylines, each with its own subtlely different cast and crew. Somehow, Paul Gadzikowski pulls this off without hopelessly losing the reader.

This isn't to say there is never confusion or turmoil - there is, and the occasional strip will be hard to follow, especially for those not already familiar with the legend of King Arthur. But such confusion is the exception, not the norm.

It helps that Mr. Gadzokowski seems to be a quite organized individual. He color-codes the characters. Arthur is always in yellow, Lancelot red, Guenevere blue. He has a cast and FAQ page that details a lot of these little factors that can help new readers keep things sorted out.

I only just read that FAQ myself. Some of those elements - such as the colors corresponding to each character - I had easily caught onto while reading the archives. Other elements I didn't catch - the background of each strip is color-coded as well, reflecting whether it takes place in the present, past, or future of its specific continuity. So such understandings aren't required to read the strip - but getting more insight into the way of things is certainly handy.

And that's really one of the things I like about the strip. Sure, it has a good story, good characterization, and good jokes. The art... well, the art isn't my cup of tea. But even if not exceptional in my eyes, it is functional, and that is enough for me.

But what makes the comic so unique is the way it weaves all these realities together. The way those connections are set-up, the order and organization behind it all - that is original and exciting.

It lets one read it plainly if they wish, without paying any heed to the levels of development. And it allows readers who want to go a step further to help understand all the connections, and interpret them as they wish.

I kinda like that.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Fuzzy Friday

Despite the perhaps misleading title, this post isn't actually about Sam and Fuzzy...

Though, now that I think about it, I feel the need to mention that I really like where the current storyline went. I wasn't feeling much attachment to the band cast, but the last few strips have really pulled things together nicely.

So I guess my first sentence was a lie.

Anyway, moving on.

What I really wanted to comment on - emphasize, even, if I may be so strong - is for artists to do their best to make comics viewable. The goal of a comic is to communicate with the reader. Regardless of how or why it goes about this, if the communication fails, the comic fails.

I've seen blurry, fuzzy images that have been poorly scanned or rendered. I've seen strips with confounding directories that make it impossible to actually go through the archives. The latest offender is a recent Deathworld strip, which decides to use a painful lack of contrast in a font choice.

(As a note, I actually like Deathworld quite a bit, and like, in that strip, the ghostly Allison, even if she does look uncannily like a startled castmember from the Botmaker.)

Choose your colors wisely. Choose your fonts wisely. And this isn't just about art - lay out your webpage well. Avoid browsing systems and subscription directories that actively impede the ability to browse the comic.

Make it easy, in every way, for the reader to enjoy your comic.

Because if you make it so people have to work at it, have to spend significant effort to decipher your comic... they'll take their time elsewhere.

And that's all I've got to say for today.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

World of BananaCraft!

So I got into work this morning, and found a notice that a coworker had placed "Banana Bars" on the free-for-all table. I'd never heard of such things... but man, I do like bananas, so I went over to check them out and find out what they are.

For the record? What banana bars are? Is supremely delicious.

Anyway, on to serious stuff. I'd like to take a few moments to talk about World of Warcraft.

(Ok, not so serious.)

I'm sure many people have heard of WoW. World-reknowned best-selling Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game, blah blah blah.

But what I'd like to talk about it isn't what most conversations generally revolve around. Rather, I'd like to talk about the story.

I like playing WoW. Like many, I probably play it a bit more than I should. And I enjoy the aspect of the game that involves taking on the most challenging encounters, and walking around in the shiniest loot. Not due to the elitism of it all, but due to the sense of accomplishment.

But that isn't what got me into the game. What got me into the game was the story. The lore. I had played Warcraft 2 in my youth, and enjoyed it as a game - but when I played Warcraft 3, it transcended into something beyond that.

And so, despite my oath to avoid the dangers of MMORPGs at all cost... I delved into WoW.

Now, for all that "RPG" comes in the title, many people avoid the roleplaying aspect. It is a game of numbers, of strategy, and immersing themselves in the fantasy has no place in that.

But the fantasy remains there regardless, and even if all my in-game banter is completely OOC, I still value the background behind it all - from a personal standpoint, if nothing else. I have a sneaking suspicion many others are the same - they enjoy visualizing their character as a triumphant hero, even if they enjoy spending most of the time just sitting around chatting with their friends.

Recently Blizzard has been releasing information on the upcoming expansion to the game - and with it, of course, more story. More lore.

Some of it is good. Some of it is interesting. And some of it is sadly flawed.

The long and short of it is as follows: When writing the background for a new race being introduced into the game (a race of demon-descended paladins, which is certainly a fun concept to start from), a number of mistakes were made.

Mistake number 1 was an emphasis on technology that scared those attached to the full fantasy elements, and this mistake was more a measure of the terminology used. The game already has a measure of steampunk tech, and the new technology being introduced could easily fit alongside it all - but the language could have been worded better than to say: "Their dimensional ship crash-landed on the planet."

That imagery?

Just a bit too forceful.

I don't think we'll have guys running around with laser pistols and space ships. I think the reality will be far, far different.

But presentation counts for a lot, and tossing out such a quick little gimmick threw a lot of people into a state of concern.

In any case, the other mistake is one of the big ones, the one that really had everyone up in arms. The writing team at Blizzard simply fucked up. They took the lore, and made a completely amateur mistake, and screwed up the continuity.

This new race, who were one known as the Eredar, were peaceful and wise until visited by Sargeras, lord of the Burning Legion, a fallen Titan who now seeks to bring destruction across all the universe. He tempted many of them into demonic magics, and made them into a race of evil.

The problem?

The backstory for Sargeras himself is that he was once a goodly Titan charged with keeping the worlds free of bad guys. Upon encountering the demonic Eredar, he slowly grew disillusioned with his cause...

So, basic paradox mistake. Blizzard forgot to check their backstory, and left a gaping plot hole that needs fixing.

The writers are ashamed. The fans are up in arms.

Myself? In a way, I am almost perversely pleased by it all.

See, it is a mistake, sure - but one within their capabilities to correct. The head writer, after apologizing for screwing up, has said he intends to leave the new lore, but also to find ways to integrate it with the old. I can see plenty of ways myself. Fans have given out any number of suggestions, many of which would make for even more engaging history.

No lasting harm done, I suspect. What pleases me, though, is the response to such a thing as this.

Because it is easy to think of the game a collection of numbers. Of the players as powergamers out for loot and nothing more.

So seeing so much support thrown behind the lore, the story, the background... it is refreshing. Seeing that to so many playing the game, whether they delve deep into the roleplaying or not, they believe in the setting, in the tale being told. Seeing the writers accept that concern, and showing a genuine willingness to address it.

At the core of it all, I play the game for the same reason I read books and comics, watch movies and anime, and play most of the other games I play - for the story.

And sometimes, amidst all the worries over class balance, styles of play, guild drama and the like - it's nice to know that others feel the same.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


One of the things I have found most frustrating about the Modern Tales collection - and this one, admittedly, is in no way their fault - is how easy it is to lose track of comics that leave.

Partly it is due to how many of them have inconsistent updates - and as such, I don't always register, promptly, that a comic hasn't been updating for a while. Sometimes the comic is simply on hiatus - at other times, it has left. Even when comics do announce their departure, it may be a while before they set up shop on the web again, without any way to explicitly track where.

I have lost count, I am sad to say, of the number of good comics on those sites that have fallen by the wayside - some entirely, and some merely by my own radar.

As such, it is always pleasing when I stumble back across one of them.

Now, as is also often the case, their archives at a new location may be a bit behind, and I will still find myself awaiting new content...

But it's good to know the content is there and coming, ya know?

Johnny Saturn isn't anything special, itself. It's a good comic, and a fun comic - one of the ones that really worked for Graphic Smash as an action comic. It has some attempts at throwing off stereotypes, but also lives up to a lot of cliches - but it generally does so with its own sense of style.

But while it may not be one of the heavy hitters on the web, it was still a comic I was glad to rediscover and toss back on my reading list. Some days, I suppose, that's enough.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Build Your Own Government

Several of my friends recently directed me to NationStates.

The site is based off of a book, Jennifer Government, wherein corporations run the world. It looks like an engaging book, but that is neither here nor there.

What the website itself allows one to do is to create a country. Upon creation, you define it by answering a variety of questions - and from there, it calculates how your country does, in terms of civil rights, economy, political freedoms, and so forth. You continue to recieve issues that you must take a stance on (though that stance can be to ignore them outright.)

Based on your decision, your country changes in the appropriate fashion.

I like it. I don't know, persay, how accurate the calculations behind it all are. But it is a nice conceptual game, and I thought I would direct others to it.

Whatever code runs the show, however, does seem to have a distinct lack of knowledge regarding habitation, as it announced that my country's national animal, the dolphin, "frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests."

But you can't win them all, I suppose.

Birds of a feather

A confession: I do not read Dinosaur Comics, by Ryan North.

I have nothing against those comics, mind you. I am quite tickled by the concept of it all - I was simply never able to get into it.

Part of it, perhaps, is the intimidating archive, especially given the nature of the material. I know, I know - I wouldn't need to get into the archive to read the strip. There isn't continuity to worry about, or storylines to follow. Each strip is self-sustaining, and I could join the readership anytime, anywhere.

But the strips I read didn't really work for me, and it didn't feel like it would be a complete comic without acknowledging the archives.

Hence, I've never read Dinosaur Comics.

But there is a newcomer in town.

Birdsworth Begins
Birdsworth Comics, done by fellow webcomic's blogger Gilead Pellaeon, has just begun.

This is good, see.

Right now there is one - count 'em, one - strip in the archives.

That's a surmountable challenge.

The strip itself looks good. Gilead chose a very, very nice piece of artwork to use - bright, colorful, full of action. I can tell that I will enjoy looking at the image itself, regardless of the content - and while it is easy to assume that a comic like this (where the focus is on the writing) could care less about art, you can't forget that whatever images you choose will be used, day-in and day-out, forevermore. (Or close enough, in any case.)

So, a good piece of artwork. The first one is also well written, which in no way hurts. I know from his blogging that Gilead is a high class writer, so I have confidence in his abilities to continue producing such quality.

The birds themselves establish an exceptional amount of personality in just the first strip. I don't know if the strip will be engaging in such shenanigans as continuity... but it is still nice to have some actual flavor to the characters.

In any case, I'm excited about one of these fixed art strips, especially one full of such promise, starting while I can get in on the ground floor.

He's already got a month long buffer, which is a sure sign of professionalism. My webcomic reading time is at a premium these days, and I have been trying to trim down, rather than expand, my list - but Birdsworth easily found itself a spot. Here's looking forward to more to come!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Baby Ninjas in My Beard

First off, I just noticed the Sam and Max personal comic generator, and thought it was pretty rad. It's a nice little thing for folks to play around with, and though my own skills aren't enough to produce any works of art from it, it may still be worth giving a whirl.

The Sam and Max comic itself is somewhat interesting. I've never played the Sam and Max games or known anything of their characters, so this was my first introduction to them. As such, areas of the comics are rather unsurprisingly like being tossed into the middle of a bizarre dream.

That said, they are fun characters, and I like the wacky absurdity of it all. So maybe I'll have to hunt those games down and give them a try.

Speaking of crazy stories, I've been liking Spells and Whistles of late. This was one of my favorite comics, and then it vanished, and then it came back in a different form, and then that stopped and the original started again. So yeah, chaos.

Perhaps as a result of all that (in addition to a change in writers), the plot has gone stark raving mad (not, albeit, necessarily in a bad way), and changed gears several times.

Fortunately, regardless of where the plot is going, the characters stay fresh and the jokes stay funny, and that's really all I'm asking for.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Smashing Success

Now, I'll preface this by saying that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, much of a drinker. Upon turning 21, I very safely got drunk a single time for the experience, and since then have only dabbled in the beverage arts.

So, my appreciation of such things is lower than most. That said, I'm quite engaged by the latest little barhopping spree in Nukees. I still don't know what is exactly going on in the big picture, but there are lots of little things to savor - in particular the well dressed gentleman who enjoys a midmorning brew, and the use of such terms as "bartrendresses" and "alcoholistic."

I don't have anything of especial wit to say about them, sadly. But Nukees has had me grinning a good bit of late, so I figured, hey! Why not share the love?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Curious Thing

Today's Count Your Sheep is not a new joke. The curiousity of children is something I've seen referenced in any number of places, something you expect in any tale of youthful mischief.

And yet, the strip is still good. It's a new take on something classic. It works, even for all that the punchline is to be expected.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons I am such a fan of CYS - it takes standard little pieces of philosophy and merriment, and brings them to life through its own unique view.

People have compared it well to Calvin and Hobbes, which was know for doing the same, and I can't disagree with that comparison.

My best friend is a huge fan of Count Your Sheep. He is a gamer (once a goth), fond of dark humor, intense games, and the like - but this is one of his comics of choice.

He is a math teacher at an all girls school. He can hardly go to his workplace and post strips from comics like Something Positive or Penny Arcade.

But Count Your Sheep? Simply perfect. I think he appreciates the fact that he can share a webcomic he likes with that environment. That there is a webcomic that transcends communities in that way.

So keep it up, Adrian Ramos. The strip is as good as when it started, and I think we can all appreciate that.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Portrait of the Artist as a Shadowy Octopus Man

Lies and Peace. As mentioned last week, I've been meaning to do a heavy review of My Nemesis.

First, though, I think I'll read back through the archives to really get myself back up to speed.

...alrighty, all set. It's a quick read - the full archives only take around 20 minutes. Being less then a year old, and with fast moving comics, makes it a surprisingly smooth read.

So. My first introduction to the comic was through a scathing review that loosely detailed how every aspect of the comic was a failure.

Given that, it might be surprising I decided I liked the comic so much.

Well then. Let's take a look at the reasons why. It's hardly a perfect comic, but there most assuredly are a lot of aspects that really work well.

In my humble opinion, at least.


Ok, I like the art. I really dig the art. Even from the start, when the strip was just a strict four panel formula, I liked the look of the characters. I liked how well the artist conveyed emotions despite exceedingly simple facial designs. And I liked that even early on, he made good use of color, even if it didn't always seem to fit the scene's mood.

More recently, the art has grown. There is a good reason for the change, and I'll get into that later - but I don't think there is any denying that right now, there is a helluva lot of visual elegance in his strip. The art is powerful and dynamic, and the artist seems inclined to keep pushing exactly how much he can accomplish with it.
Kal's Shadow.

There is, in many ways, a sense of the surreal abounding in the strip.

Kal himself, the main character, is first presented as... a strange shadowy figure. Clad in a massive cloak of shadows, his appendages invisible save for his gloves, with not the slightest explanation - or even recognition - of his appearance.

So yeah, kinda weird.

The strip continues with that sort of thing. There are peculiarities to the world that are taken as granted. Sure, Kal's a creepy shadow-man. Sure, he's a genius and built his own city - and hey! No worries, his roommate tossed together a teleportation unit.

The same element of the surreal and the exaggerated continues throughout the strip - and, for me at least, it is a nice touch. I like the sense of fancy, and I like the way it shows up without any expectation of acknowledgement.


One of the critiques I've seen is that the characters in My Nemesis are two dimensional and unrealistic.

To some extent, that is true, at least for the majority of the story. Kal is dark, Rob is dorky, Gabe plays video games and Truman smokes weed. Etc.

That said - they work well together. They have plenty of scenes that do, in fact, remind me of real people. They have the same casual banter that I see with my friends, and for all the differences despite that, it resonates.

I don't expect every character to walk into the picture with a complicated backstory. Depth of substance does not define realism.

There is... change, as the stories go on. We see glimpses of character here and there - and, due to the speed of the story, it almost seems forced, over the top. I mean, we've never seen the characters do anything other than bitch at each other, why would they start showing emotion now?

But I like it. Most of the time friends hang out, they show their joking sides and not much more. That doesn't mean more character isn't there - one of the very points at hand is that the comic, up to that point, almost willfully ignored the depth of its characters.

The speed at which it did a turn around may have been a bit fast - but given the pacing, the story and character growth holds up surprisingly well.

And taken by themselves, those screenshots of Gabe and Truman showing emotion are pretty powerful little pieces.

Still, let's put them aside. They are secondary characters - what about the main focus of the strip?

Kal himself... is a different story. His deliverance also seems too forceful, too cliche - and after it is done, it remains hard to get a grasp on him. He seems to almost be trying too hard to show how he has changed.

Kal started out as an asshole from the start. He bitched at his girlfriend, his friends. He was arrogant. He expected the world to hand itself over to him.

It is hard to accept a sudden character shift into a giving, generous human being.

But I don't think that is what happened.

See, I know a lot of folks who sometimes are assholes. Interesting people often are.

I don't think Kal has magically transformed into someone who will shower hope and joy over the world. I suspect he still has plenty of arrogance, and plenty of willingness to screw with his enemies - or even folks he merely has contempt for.

I think he is trying to show that he can look out for other people, but I suspect, at heart, that will by and large just extend to his friends. That the asshole within is still there - but tempered by a bit more understanding of relationships.

We'll see. But I don't think his own development has been as one-sided or cliche as it truly appears.

And of course, the final character of the hour - Rob.

Poor Rob.

I can sympathize with the guy. He's the nice one, the responsible one. He's the one who looks out for his friends, and the ones who gets the most shit from them.

And his best friend, Kal, goes off and vanishes. His other friends don't seem to especially care about him, even when he's confronted by heavy moral dilemmas.

Poor Rob.I really was wondering how Rob would turn out, after being made beautiful by Hollywood.

I almost was expecting him to actually come out... bolstered.

As someone who could stand on his own, whether he ended up siding with the 'evil' of hollywood, or his old friends.

But no.

As ever, Rob is the victim, and things turned out about as badly as could be.

But for all that Hollywood seems to have twisted and corrupted him here, there is the feeling of truth in some of the words he says.

Sounds like character to me.

The story is called My Nemesis. It never really provides exactly who that nemesis is. Is it the readership that demands satisfaction? Is it Kal himself, his own worst enemy? Is it Rob, now Kal's worst enemy?

Or has it been that Kal, the hero, has been Rob's worst enemy all along?

I don't think the question has been fully answered, yet. And it might be that any number of possibilities could all be true.

But pondering the question gets me thinking, and that is a good thing from any comic.


A lot of the strip is based on the author. Ken Krekeler has said himself he set out with the intent to create a fast and easy strip to make buckets of money.

It didn't work out so well.

He might have been able to do it, if he didn't have such immediate expectations. He had the formula down pretty well - a bunch of witty characters, who sat around gaming, doing crazy hijinks, with various superhero jokes and humorous anachronisms.

And the jokes are good. Not every one is a grand slam, but he hits a punchline well, and writes the sort of dialogue that makes the reader consistently chuckle.

But, as mentioned... he thought the fame and fortune would come in instantly. And when it didn't, he got tired of pandering to the perceived audience, and instead decided to do the comic for himself.

Guess what? I think it is a better comic by far. You can see it in the art - he let himself indulge his inspiration. You can see it in the story - for all of its cliches, it was still compelling. And it practically invited the cliches, and indulged in them - much as the art itself and setting were exaggerated and symbolic, so were the characters, so was the plot. Sure, webcomics aren't necessarily meant to be taken this seriously - but in the world of the story, they are. And that's ok.

I like a lot of the little touches in the comic. I like Kalbot's attitude. I like that the Wiseman accepts Kal's offering of art.

I like the almost unrecognized appearance of Marla.

It isn't a perfect comic. More of the development could have been drawn out. Some of the behavior is too forceful. Some of the philosophy is overdone.

But it's a fun read. It has a lot of potential. It has developed into a good story, and it is hard to say how far it will go from here - I know the author has an ending planned, but I don't know when or where.

So it may not be perfect, but I like it. And as always - I like to focus on the good, rather than the bad.

Ken Krekeler may not have attained instant fame and fortune through his comic.

But he draws cartoons that make people laugh and make people think.

That's a good thing. That's worth being proud of.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday Frenzy.

Man, I had all this stuff to talk about, and now can't remember half of it. Isn't that how it always goes?

Let's see, let me take a quick glance through my notes...

1) Holy Cameo Crossover, Batman! Word on the street is that the two mac users are Penny Arcade's Gabe and Tycho (the real ones. Not the pixel ones.) The truth of that is yet to be seen, but I can certainly see hijinks ensuing.

That aside, I also really liked yesterday's comic, or more specifically, the way Jade and Miranda talk at each other, rather than to each other.

Also, I just took a look at the PvP Cast Page (which I rarely glance at), and was impressed by its quality. Gimmicks are a good thing, folks.

2) While we're mentioning all the big names: Sluggy Freelance!

I am still reserving my final judgement on the current storyline. It is exactly what fans have been asking for, without being exactly what they have actually wanted. We've had some good stuff and some bad stuff, and it still has a lot of potential to go in either direction.

But what I am really digging is the art. As usual, Abrams is more than willing to flex his artistic muscles. It can be really easy to look over Sluggy art as less refined than other comics, especially during random daily strips - but the comic has a style of its own, and Abrams really takes things to a whole new level during intense storylines.

So I might not yet know where the story is going, but I'm definitely enjoying the ride.

3) Let's go from the big names to the almost unknown ones: My Nemesis. (No, not Nemesis. Not Mnemesis either. Yeah, I get confused too.)

My Nemesis was introduced to me in a somewhat unusual fashion. Those others I discovered through pretty positive feedback in the web community (Nemesis through the artist's connection collaborating with Burns of Websnark fame, and Mnemesis from having a cameo of a character from It's Walky.)

But this comic, instead, I first learned of through the most painfully aggressive review possible.

It was rather surprising when, after the review sent me to check out this terrible comic... I discovered I actually kinda liked it. I actually really kinda liked it.

There is a guest comic today talking about some of the changes in the comic - in the look, in the movement from humor to drama, and so forth. It felt like a good time to mention it. The comic is at a definite turning point, and it has left me with a lot of things to ponder - hopefully I'll get up a full review of it next week.

Well, I feel like I've tortured everyone enough for today. I seem to be in recovery from my allergies (the year-old medicine did the job frighteningly well... almost diabolically well.) So hopefully next week I'll have my groove back and be able to get some more competent writing out here.

Till then, keep on keeping on... and don't forget Free Comic Book Day!


Just a notice that it is Online Comics Day 2006!

I imagine it comes as no surprise to most readers that there are, in fact, comics on the web. But nonetheless - it is still a nice occasion to celebrate.

So go out and hug a webtoonist today!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The patriotic screams are a nice touch, I thought.

Pacing is key to a good comic. It is key to humor, and it is key to drama.

And, unsurprisingly, it is the key to blending the two.

Despite how much I tend to be turned off by heavy politics in comics, Southworth's latest story-arc has been easily holding my attention. I wasn't expecting things to escalate to the sort of action at hand, but I can't argue with how well it has been executed - or how perfect the entire thing is brought together in this strip.

It helps that a harbor a private joy in using the word "sure" to confound my enemies - but that is a story for another time. For right now, this strip really works wonders. I don't know whether to break down laughing, or stay glued to attention to find out what happens next. And I get the same thing every time I look at the comic.

It can be easy to make a comic do what you want, to toss out an easy punchline that works once. But coming up with a comic that still holds the punch even once already read?

Now that's good stuff.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Another Short Post...

Nothing from me today, as I am busy having my ass kicked by allergies.

All hope is not lost! I have discovered a cache of allergy medicine I had secreted away. It is, admittedly, a year old, but the label says it doesn't expire for another week! So hey, what's the worst that could happen?

I'll be sure to let you folks know if I end up with some hideous freak mutation. I'll post pics, even!

In any case, I'll be back tomorrow in strength (and hopefully sans mutations.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Confession

So, I just finished watching Firefly the other day.

Yeah, I know. I know!

Anyway, now that I've completely destroyed my nerd credibility here, I'm going to try and regain some ground by returning to geeking out over Kingdom Hearts 2.

Monday, May 01, 2006

All Good Things...

Well, shit. So.

Casey and Andy is coming to an end.

In a lot of ways, that is pretty depressing news - one of the best part of many webcomics is that they are stories without end. They just keep going, on and on, and we don't have to leave our favorite characters behind.

But sometimes that changes. Comics change, and people change - it happens to the best of us. (And mark well, Andy Weir qualifies for that category.) Sometimes other interests take root. Sometimes the demands of real life come to the forefront. And sometimes, the character's simply have finished their stories - they've done their jokes, won their wars, and their time has come to retire.

Some comics simply fade away... and others go out with a bang.

Given the history of Casey and Andy, is it any surprise as to which one they intend to do?

There is one final story-arc planned - a proper sending off of the cast and crew. It will run for several months. No holds barred, no status quo to protect. A grand finale worthy of the whimsical, explosive, crazy legacy of Casey and Andy.

I will be there to the end. I will gladly enjoy this last triumph of Casey and Andy.

So while I may be sad to see it go... it is the same bittersweet sadness of a well-read book. A story that may be finished, but was more than worth the read.

I have utmost faith in Andy's ability to tell a story, and am confident this last arc will be a wild, wild ride.

And when the last page is done, and the lights go out? I'll be glad to have read the comic for the last few years, and glad for the story they brought with 'em.

I can't ask for more than that.