Monthly Archives: September 2009
At some point in the development of human culture, we — and I speak a collective “we” as citizens of the world — decided that we did not like fart jokes. The very term “fart joke” has become short hand for humor that’s crude. Unseemly. Lazy. Far too bourgeois. Any movie that employs a fart joke is immediately dismissed as the trash heap of comedy. A movie, for example, could have a script written by Garrison Keillor. But if you, heaven forbid, put a fart joke in it, lord how the critics will talk! They will stick their nose up in the air and say things such as, “Leave your surreptitious trumpetlike rump blasts for infants and rednecks.” (Notable exception: Blazing Saddles. For some reason, the fart scene there is considered high art, perhaps because it is the best fart scene.)
The paradox, though, is that fart jokes are funny. Let out a long, mighty rip — ideally punctuated by a motorboat staccato — and you can bring the whole room down with laughter and tears of joy. There’s something primal about hearing a fart and laughing in kind. It’s an instinct hard-coded the deepest recesses of our minds. We find it funny, our forefathers found it funny, and it doesn’t depend on witticisms that need copious amounts of cultural baggage or familiarity with the language. Sarcasm may be unique to Western culture, but fart jokes are universal. It’s somewhat of a comfort to imagine that our ancestors amused themselves around a campfire by ritualistically dancing around the campfire in their facepaint and decorative shields to celebrate the gods for their blessed feast of wild boar, only to have the festivities erupt into guffaws when one of the dancers felt particularly gassy. Naturally, his wife would be standing sternly to the side, rolling her eyes.
Which brings me to Gunshow, a webcomic by the irrepressible KC Green. It’s no insult, I think, to say that Gunshow is the fart joke of webcomics. I mean that metaphorically, for the most part … though it’s pretty literal at times, too. Gun Show taps into the most primordial instincts, daring us to laugh from something as ridiculously simple as a goofy-looking face. Like the crude humor you find in those early Mel Brooks films and South Park‘s Terrence & Phillip, sometimes it takes a genius to remind you that fart jokes are, in fact, funny.
First off, some observations from Johanna Draper Carlson:
I was surprised to see that the most popular area in the room, at least when I was on the floor, was the back right corner featuring webcomic creators, especially Kate Beaton. But then, the world is moving from minicomics to webcomics as a way for young artists to try new things and refine their craft. And with their outreach — large numbers of readers, who are often eager to buy prints or buttons or books of their favorite strips — I shouldn’t be surprised at the congestion.
Speaking of webcomic collections, I enjoyed talked with Curt Franklin and Chris Haley of Let’s Be Friends Again. Their parody strips have a distinctive sense of humor, and I couldn’t resist picking up their first book, Under Pressure, reprinting the comics they’ve done up until July. In color, too! And they all have annotations underneath, making for more funny. (And sometimes explaining just what they’re referring to.) The front page of the book has caricatures of the two authors with blank balloons, and they filled them in with a personalized sketch and dialogue, making my copy unique. Ha!
Meanwhile, Retconned Fangirl reported on the webcomic-centric panel:
I only attended one panel while I was there, the “Comic Strips: Online and in Print” panel, which featured R. Stevens, Kate Beaton, Erika Moen and Julia Wertz. They talked about the challenges of creating webcomics and then publishing them in print formats, any adjustments they made and how the audiences are different. They also addressed technological issues with RGB/CMYK conversions. They addressed the more basic issues of merchandising and “why publish it in hard format at all?” Moen & Stevens provided the most useful information in the panel, both technical and just outright enthusiasm. Moen published hers as a book because she loved books, not necessarily because her audience demanded it. She had compiled a collection over a three year period, so while she left most of her line art intact, she had gone in and corrected the colors and Photoshop errors. When discussing pirating issues, Stevens admitted one way he got around it was merchandising pixel socks, certainly a unique item in the Exhibitor Hall. And they were cute socks, I have to say. Kate Beaton was utterly mobbed at her table.
By going around the con with other people, I stopped at tables I wouldn’t ordinarily notice. The “Let’s Be Friends Again” guys had some hysterically funny (and very politically incorrect at times) cartoons. I might not have looked at Dresden Codak if a friend wasn’t such a fan. I’d heard about Owly for Free Comic Book Day, but nothing prepared me for the cute little baby hats or Owly sketches. Super Spy’s Matt Kindt sat at Top Shelf’s table doing commissions in water colors, putting the finishing touches on a gorgeous Marvelman/Miracleman commission.
PW Beat reports that Tony Millionaire (Sock Monkey) and Chris Onstad (Achewood) are visiting your favorite comic shop in the Northwest! Apparently the dudes already hit Portland two days ago. Hopefully, you fair denizens of the City of Roses caught that. The rest of their tour is in the Seattle-Tacoma area.
Today, they’ll be pulling up in Puyallup, WA, at Comics Evolution around 6:00 pm.
Then, tomorrow, they’ll be chillin’ in the University District at Comics Dungeon in Seattle (6:00 pm also).
Despite Liam Lynch’s claims to the contrary, internet has not killed the video star. Not yet, anyway. Like most of America, I’ve spent the whole week watching the premieres of the new TV season. Frankly, I was getting fatigued after Criminal Minds last night, but I will persevere! Especially since Community and Parks & Recreation are on tonight. Oh, yeah, also new Smallville, where I’ll be kneeling before Zod.
So, to celebrate the 2009 Fall TV Season, here are a few of my favorite TV-related webcomics released over the years.
PHD Comics does the Real Life/Reel Life thing a la MST3K:
Brand Okay did one of the many House-related gags out there, and, in my opinion, the most memorable:
Finally, Bigger Than Cheeses was one of the first webcomics to popularize the David Caruso meme:
From time to time, one of you lovely and well-intentioned readers inadvertently asks, “El Santo, why don’t do make your own webcomic, you vitriolic nincompoop?”
And I respond, quite politely, “Because. That’s why.”
Earlier this year, though, my wife and I got sucked into the Lost TV show. It started innocently enough: we say Naveen Andrews on The English Patient and we wanted to see what he was up to these days. Two months later, we were buying up DVDs to finish Lost Season 4 and downloading episodes from iTunes to catch up to the telecast. We now have a pair of sweet Dharma t-shirts and are contemplating buying a VW Van to convert it into our Dharmamobile. I also have the full Michael Giacchino soundtrack of Lost on my iPod as well as “recap rock” from the comedy band who call themselves (quite cleverly, I think) Previously On Lost.
This is Lost sickness, and we love it.
Around that time, I thought to myself, “You know what? If I ever do a webcomic, I’m totally doing Lost jokes. There’s a got to be a ton of humor to be mined from that show, right?”
Well, it’s a good think I didn’t follow up, because, as it turns out, there’s at least one webcomic out there that tried to squeeze humor out of that show. The creatively capitalized HijiNKS Ensue, a webcomic written and illustration by Joel Watson, is proof-positive that while Lost humor might be a good idea in theory, it suffers a little in execution. In the end we’re all going to fall back to “Hurley’s so fat” jokes.
As Scary Go Round ends, a new era begins. An era … of Bad Machinery. It looks so far to be a continuation of John Allison’s prep school stuff from his SGR days. Of course, given the leaps and bounds that SGR itself went through since its inception, who knows where Bad Machinery is going to end up.
Soooo… what do you think the odds are that Shelley Winters is going to show up before a year is over?
In other news of the week, Oglaf (NSFW) has been down for the better part of a week. I understand it’s Questionable Content‘s fault. Yessirree a link from good ol’ Jeph Jacques has disabled one of the best X-rated webcomics out there. I guess I could make a bad joke on Questionable Content wiping out something else with questionable content, but I won’t.