Monthly Archives: May 2009

Random Quickies: Oglaf

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This strip is from the webcomic Oglaf, which I probably won’t ever be reviewing here. It’s, how shall we say, NOT VERY SAFE FOR WORK. AT ALL. The above is one of the few clean ones.

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The Webcomic Overlook #77: Surfboards and Rayguns

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I don’t know about you guys, but over here in the usually cloudy confines of Seattle, we’re in full summertime mode. OK, so technically summer doesn’t start until the solstice happens on June 21… but that’s scientist talk. When was the last time we gave those poindexters any sort of validation, anyway? I personally won’t start listening to ‘em until they start delivering on flying cars and vacations to Mars. Until then, summer starts when we dust off the Weber grill and start cooking mass quantities of pork, beef, and sea creatures.

Summer’s all about fun times. Cranking on the Beach Boys while driving down the Pacific Coast with the moonroof down. Turning off the TV and cooling down in the movie theater to watch dinosaurs chase Will Ferrell around.

And probably not reading the webcomics. Seriously, there’s usually a huge dip in readership around this time. You webcomic creators might as well pack up and head to the beach, perhaps outsourcing your strip to India in the meantime.

Still, if you’ve got a lazy afternoon to spare, you could do with some light reading. Enter Bradley Overall’s Surfboards and Rayguns. Like many things in life, I discovered this when Mr. Overall put up an enticing banner ad of a red-headed gal in a form-fitting spacesuit.

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The Return of Joy of Webcomics

Joe Loves Crappy Movies #472

Joe Loves Crappy Movies #472

Still not getting down from my Star Trek high. How bad is it? I actually watched some old Star Trek: Enterprise episode on the Sci-Fi Network… and I enjoyed them. Especially the ones featuring the Andorian Captain Shran. I am also seriously contemplating seeing it with friends for a second time this weekend. Anyway, here’s some more great webcomic-related content from around the web:

  • Bengo at The Floating Lightbulb ponders alternatives to the free model in Webcomics as Free Content: A Dissent. He has an interesting opening gambit: although webcomics are free online, wouldn’t it be nice to have a hard copy somewhere in case that webcomic disappears from the net forever?
  • What the Hell People wants more natural dialogue in webcomics. Summary: Achewood, good dialogue. Sluggy Freelance, bad dialogue.
  • Horribleville is dead? Whyyyyyyyy!?!??!?!
  • I reviewed — somewhat negatively — the Zombie Hunters webcomic on this site. Elle Dee at Storming the Tower also took a more recent look. She seems to agree with me on the first part of the comic, but she was won over by the more coherent chapters following. I might have to give this comic another look some day.
  • Finally, if you want to talk the Star Trek movie some, as well as slag on the original Star Trek: The Motion Picture a bit as well, feel free the join me in the discussion at The AV Club. I’m the guy in the mask.

One Punch Reviews #20: Clumsy Love

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Ah, marriage. As a wise man once said, “Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.”

Comic strips about the foibles of marriage somehow take the lion’s share of the newspaper funny pages. For Better or For Worse, The Lockhorns, Andy Capp, Jumpstart, Blondie…. I could go on and on. Yet, these comics are getting to be anachronisms. When you factor the bold new world of webcomics into the equation — you know, the “genre” that’s seemingly aimed at teen gamers — comics strips about married couples start to seem even more old-fashioned.

Can a comic about a husband and wife still feel new and refreshing? You can judge for yourself by reading the subject of today’s review: Clumsy Love, written and illustrated by Mike Gray.

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Metapost: Augh!

Just wanted to catch up to the loyal readers and apologize for the slackness of reviews. Economic times hit us hard, you know … even the ones who’ve got jobs. My time’s been occupied working overtime in the real world. The money’s nice, but free time is at a premium. Sadly, I haven’t been able to read or review webcomics lately. (It’s a rather time consuming hobby when you think about it.) I’ll be lucky if I get anything done by Memorial Day.

Fortunately, Lost is off the air until next January and Smallville just ended its season. Seriously, that cuts down on extracirricular distractions … as long as the siren’s hypnotic allure of Enterprise reruns on the Sci-Fi Network doesn’t snag me. (Yeah, yeah … I watch some really awful TV shows.) I’m hoping to get my webcomic-reading mojo back come summer.

Thanks to all of you for coming by to check this site, by the way. Whether you love or hate this blog, your loyalty to webcomics is what keeps this site from devolving into non-comic content like certain other blogs (Websnark *cough* *cough*).

Parting thought: is there a way to get webcomics into comic book shops? Outside of putting together print versions of webcomics, I mean. Free Comic Book Day was the first time in a while I’ve visited the comic book store. It’s a weird atmosphere: more a club than a store. There’s an awful lot of potential in getting fans of the pamphlet to check in online. Have a couple laptops set up with links to store favorites, perhaps?

The Webcomic Overlook #76: Glam

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Way back when the Fellowship of the Ring movie was coming out (and boy does that seem like a long time ago), Peter Jackson was all the rage. Unashamed fanboys and fangirls of the hobbit-y looking director began singing his praises all over internet message boards. Films that no one but the most obsessive horror movie buffs knew about began crawling out of the cracks. The most recommended movie? You guessed it: Meet the Feebles.

I was intrigued by the premise. It was a dark, grim version of the Muppet Show. I enjoy parodies on Jim Henson’s creations, being perhaps one of the few people in the world who enjoyed Greg the Bunny. So I went down to the local video store and rented out a copy on tape.

I hated every single minute of it. For me, Meet the Feebles crossed the line from a dark yet whimsical parody — like, say, American McGee’s Alice — to mean-spirited splatter porn. I don’t mean that Peter Jackson is himself a joyless curmudgeon; all accounts are that he’s a friendly fellow to be around. It’s just that for this particular movie he seems to be actively despising the characters and, unforgivably, Jim Henson’s original premise.

I was reminded of Meet the Feebles when I decided to check out the subject of today’s review. It’s a black-and-white webcomic called Glam, written by Pedro Camargo and hosted on the Act-I-Vate website. To sum it up, it’s Care Bears meets Fall-Out and all the shenanigans that implies.

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Metapost: Jean Van Hamme looking for a successor

Attention! The Wall Street Journal reports that Belgium’s premiere comic book writer and creator of Largo Winch, Jean Van Hamme, is looking for a successor!

OK, so … in all complete seriousness I don’t think anyone reading this site could possibly fill the man’s shoes. (The man seems to have settled on a group of ten French candidates. “‘I couldn’t find any promising young Belgians,’ Mr. Van Hamme says.”) The article, however, is pretty much required reading for anyone who’s interesting in the comics world outside of the US. I honestly had never heard of Mr. Van Hamme before. It talks about how the man’s unconventional stories — one about plane-crash survivors, another about a brewing dynasty — have become widely read commodities in his home country and beyond. It’s a truly fascinating look into what webcomics can aspire to.

Eisner Watch, Pt. 2: The Lady’s Murder, Speak No Evil, Vs.

Previously, on Eisner Watch…

El Santo took a look at Bodyworld and Finder. Today, El Santo plunges himself into a world of hard luck Mexicans, French hookers, and dog pee. No, we won’t be look at some sort of hardcore triple X adult movie. I think.

Anyway, onward with the reviews of the Eisner nominees!

Speak No Evil, by Elan Trinidad

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I don’t like to talk politics here, but the comic has made it necessary. I am not, however, in disagreement with the point it’s trying to make. Like many Filipinos, my dad was a guy who found work doing work overseas. He was hardly what you’d call a migrant worker, but he did share the same experiences … being separated from family for long periods, feeling like an alien in an unfamiliar culture, and living in fear. In later years, our house would host other relatives who did the same … coming to America to do menial labor while sending money to their family back home. It’s a hard life, and I’ve unfortunately seen at least one marriage crumble under the stress. Filipinos are often the unknown casualties… we’re the ones who get held at gunpoint by Somali pirates, who get trapped in Dubai far from home due to the economic crisis, and who get in the cross-hairs of the US’s current controversy over the immigration policy. Yet no one, including our own brethren, ever talks about it.

So, in a way, it seems like I’m almost obligated to like Speak No Evil, subtitled “Melancholy of a Space Mexican.” Really. It’s a sci-fi tale that serves an an allegory about the trials and tribulations of illegal immigrants. And heck, I almost feel like I’m inclined to root for the author, Elan Trinidad, who is a fellow Filipino. Pinoys gots-ta stick to together! Right, Bleedman?

That said… our protagonist is a guy with a square-shaped hole in his mouth?

COME ON.

This is the very definition of a visual metaphor that’s trying way too hard. It reminded me of A Day Without a Mexican, an equally clunky allegory about how SoCal would be helpless if all the Latino workers disappeared. Suggestion to immigration fiction writers: subtlety is a good thing.

And the rest of the comic is just terribly corny. I have never liked it when comic writers try to attempt an emotional scene where several characters sing in unison to show their unbreakable spirit. It’s one of the most awkward scenes in Frank Miller’s Daredevil: Man Without Fear. I think a huge part of the problem is that comics, surprisingly, do not do audio. Which is why I think the scene where several Mexican mouths sang “a beautiful choir of pure coincidence” lack any emotional impact beyond looking ridiculous.

Worse, I can’t sympathize with our intergalactic migrant worker, Javier. He just seems like a total dope. We’re clearly supposed to pity him, what being a breadwinner for his entire family in Space Mexico and all. But he seems to lack any personality beyond being a doormat. I hope to God Trinidad isn’t suggesting that migrant workers are pure, naive innocents, because that’s the vibe I’m getting here.

Speak No Evil has the aesthetic of a horror manga, which is suitably appropriate for it’s central grotesqueness and its dark humor. The comic doesn’t take itself too seriously, especially when you get to the ending. However, since the comedy doesn’t ever go beyond the stand-up stylings of Carlos Mencia, I imagine that the Eisner committee picked it specifically for the message. I can’t imagine this comic being anything more than preaching to the choir … and I’m the sort of irascible cynic who already thinks that the choir has a flawed view of the humanity in migrant workers.

Sci-fi is often a good vehicle to distill important issues into metaphors. However, when metaphors get too on the nose, it gets sorta silly.
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