Monthly Archives: March 2008
Have you ever run across something that’s become so incredibly popular that, no matter how much praise is heaped upon it, you are determined to hate it?
Some years ago, I ran across a webcomic, that, overnight, became the toast of the town in both online and print circles. It was mentioned in trade magazines and newspapers. They style was heavily reminiscent of Japanese manga, despite the fact that its creators were American.
At the time, I was an avid anime and manga junkie. Readers on this site who’ve followed me from the defunct Guthwulf.com know that most of my reviews there were about anime series, from Martian Successor Nadesico to His & Her Circumstances to RahXephon. And while my fellow dorks were embracing this new comic, I felt betrayed. Two fellow Americans encroaching on an ineffably Japanese style? How uncreative! Couldn’t these jokers come up with their own style?
Then I heard about the plot: two Americans get stranded in Japan and have to deal with life in a foreign country. That sounded like a misguided otaku fantasy to me. It seemed like it was created by giddy fanboys who think Japan is the greatest country on Earth, refuse to watch any anime unless it’s dubbed, and show up to social events with a wooden katana strapped on their back. I may have been a borderline otaku back in the day, but even then, I knew hardcore otakus were at the very bottom of the geek hierarchy.
Then came the clincher: my little brother liked it. Oh, he’s a cool guy now, but back then he was one of the dorkiest kids imaginable. (He once tried to program his own dating sim until the creepy requests for, um, intimate illustrations of the female protagonists was too much, even for him.)
So that settled it. Under no circumstances was I ever going to read Megatokyo.
It seems I have allies in my legendary crusade against the notion that I Can Has Cheeseburger? is a webcomic. Recently, The Digitial Strips Show Podcast devoted the first part of their segment discussing the controversy over T. Campbell’s rankings, where the ubiquitous website that hosts pet photos with somewhat humorous captions has somehow become the Number One Webcomic Site. The Digital Strips crew came to a unanimous decision: despite their visual similarities, LOLCats are just not webcomics. I especially liked how one of the commentators equated ICHC? with a bathroom wall with pictures of cats on it.
The critics among you may now be saying, “El Santo, you fiend! The only reason you hate ICHC? is because, deep down inside, you are an enemy of cats!”
Lies! Why would I ever hate anything with those adorable beady green eyes, those delicate paws with pointy talons, and a voice that sounds like the chorus of a hundred demons?
Seriously, though, while I don’t have any cats of my own, my girlfriend, or rather her mother, has three cats at her house, and they’re all quite affectionate. Irony of ironies, though, my girlfriend is allergic to cats, and she hates it when I get cat hair all over my nice cashmere sweaters. So maybe you’re on to something: perhaps I’m a bit gruff toward websites featuring kitty photos because, deep down inside, I’m a self-hating closet cat lover.
(Get your heads out of the gutter, people. That’s NOT what I meant.)
So, to show some good faith to cat lovers everywhere, today’s Webcomic Overlook reviews a series that features laugh-out-loud cats that actually qualifies as a webcomic … I think. Today, I review the comic that combines internet memes with illustrations of cats who are also hobos, Adam Koford’s Laugh-Out-Loud Cats.
In an earlier post, I remarked that webcomics were the new independent comic book scene. I can’t take credit for that analogy; I remember reading it somewhere online, but for the life of me I can’t remember who said it. There’s a huge difference though, between “independent” and “indie.” In fact, the “indie” term can no longer be considered a shorthand of “independent,” since the term has taken a life of its own and now alludes to an attitude rather than a business model.
For example, what’s your favorite indie comic book? A few of you probably said Peter Bagge’s Hate! A few others might mention David Sim’s Cerebus. Some old timers might profess their love for Love & Rockets. And I’m sure some of you had Neil Gaiman’s Sandman on the tip of your tongue, but weren’t sure if something under a DC imprint totally qualified as indie or not.
What you probably didn’t say was Jeff Smith’s Bone, which is beloved by all. According to Wikipedia, Bone is “one of the longest-running self-published comic book series by a single writer/artist.” It’s just too polished and too kid friendly! It’s not at all something that someone with jet black hair, too much mascara, and a love of punk music would ever consider “indie”! (I have seen some of Mr. Smith’s earlier, pre-comic book Bone strips, which I assume he created in his college years. Ironically, they would have easily been regarded as “indie.”)
While I said that I have been covering the “indie” comics of the independent comic genre, that’s not totally true. None of the comics I’ve reviewed really exemplify the type of comic enjoyed by disaffected liberal arts college students. The type of comic that strives to be more than simply entertainment and tries to make a the world a better place. Something that echoes the anxieties and black humor of young adults.
That changes today. Generation X may have come and gone, but its spirit — or at least its aesthetic — lives on in the subject of today’s Webcomic Overlook: Winston Rowntree’s indie-flavored webcomic, Subnormality.
A forum thread on the webcomics.com page asked this question: what was your very first webcomic? I had to think back a long, long time. I couldn’t remember the title, but I seemed to remember something with a pizza delivery girl and time travel. Well, I was wrong about the time travel thing. One of the helpful forum members pointed me out to Argon Zark! Not only was this my very first webcomic, but it turns out that Argon Zark! may be the first webcomic ever made!
I suppose I’ve got a license for moral superiority now, since I can truthfully say, “Well, I’ve been into webcomics before webcomics were coo- … er, before webcomics were even made!” But, to be honest, it makes me feel a little depressed. I remember reading Argon Zark! in college. I had to read it on a big hulking Sun station, since this newfangled internet thing was just taking off. If you surfed the net, it had to be viewed on Netscape, and everything looked like a gray slab of stone (a look which was hilariously preserved in a Zark comic). Maybe later, I’d play around with the first Civilization game or catch my dorm buddies for a Descent deathmatch in the computer lab.
So when I viewed Zark! again for the first time in, oh, 12 or 13 years, my first reaction was, “God, am I that old?!?!?”
I don’t remember Zark! being any good, honestly. I followed it mainly to see what new animated tricks Charley Parker would create. (The current copy doesn’t seem to have preserved it, but I remember a lot more animation in Book One.) Oh, and that pizza delivery girl, Zeta Fairlight. Hey, scantily clad girls bring in the viewers, my friend! I was very surprised to see that Argon Zark! still existed and was updated as recently as last year. I thought it had ended and disappeared a long time ago. The world’s full of surprises, huh?
I’ll probably not review it, since few people nowadays would really to care about my thoughts on Argon Zark!, but I’ll read the whole thing just for old time’s sake.
Other webcomic bits and pieces:
The more I see Awkward Zombie!, the more I love it. This week begins her first episode dealing with Smash Brothers Brawl. I envy you Wii owners. I’ve been looking for that game system all week, and everyone’s sold out.
I’ve also started reading MegaTokyo for purposes of reviewing it in about two or three weeks. I haven’t formed a solid opinion yet. However, it’s always kinda funny to come across game references that are anachronistic as myself. Don’t worry, Largo, Baldur’s Gate 2 was awesome. Also, I’m ashamed to say that I used to own the entire run of the anime this strip is referencing. *Sigh*
Now, please excuse me while I get my prune juice.
Now that it’s been a week after to passing away of head dungeon master Gary Gygax, I think it’s time we move past our grief and look at a webcomic about role-playing games. Or, more specifically, a mash-up of role-playing games, screen grabs, and Star Wars: Episode I. Today, One Punch Reviews takes a look at Darths & Droids, a webcomic created by one of the hardest-working men in the world, David Morgan-Mar.