Monthly Archives: October 2009
Most practitioners of vampire fiction have deal with a sticky situation: how do you make vampires sympathetic when they’re murderers, cannibals, and rapists? Most sidestep the issue completely by creating vampires who prefer chocolates, vegetables, or synthetic blood substitutes. Others have their vampires drink prepackaged blood or emphasize that their victims don’t really die. And then there’s the ones whose vampires acknowledge that they can’t control their hunger, but devote their lives to hunting down and destroying their own kind, Daywalker style.
Then there’s the rare ones who write their vampires act exactly like how they should traditionally behave: demonic creatures who kill with neither pity nor remorse. Not surprisingly, the protagonists of these tales are pretty much the most despicable characters around. But hey, you’ve at least gotta credit Blood Bound for pulling no punches.
Before I start, I should tell you that, in all likelihood, Blood Bound is some sort of fetish comic. All the links in this review should be assumed Not Safe For Work. Also, Not Safe for Children. Now, I’m not exactly sure what fetish is being addressed here, but there’s a lot of boobies, one instance of a girl getting chained up naked and whipped, a few scenes where guys get humped to death, and one or two images of anthropomorphic-dog-on-woman action.
RKB at the Pigs of the Industry blog wrote a review of LaMorte Sisters, a Zuda instant winner by Tony Trov, John Zito, and Christine Larsen. How does one become an instant winner, anyway? The Webcomic Overlook suspects copious amounts of booze and incriminating photos of Ron Perazza with a lampshade were involved.
This comic has passed my notice mainly because it’s 8 pages with not much dialogue. Girl gets bit by vampire with pointy Gollum teeth, guy in a knight outfit comes to the rescue, knight whisks girl away with a witty quip … BONG … LOST. Er, I mean LaMorte Sisters. If it helps, I think the story does show plenty of promise, and the art, as most everyone has observed, is better than what you’d find in Black Cherry Bombshells (a Tony Trov and John Zito joint). There’s just not much to go on right now.
RKB also writes:
Do the girls at vampire school have to wear those uniform skirts?
So, here’s how the tally at The Webcomic Overlook stands:
- Eerie Cuties – Yes.
- School Bites – Not shown yet, but promo art says Yes.
- Annyseed – Yes.
- Juliette: Worst Vampire Ever – Cocktail dress present, but not school uniform. No.
So the answer is “Yes” if you’re dealing with the species of chibi vampires. Zuda vampires run a higher chance of not wearing miniskirts. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is up to the reader.
We begin our story with Laila McCarthy and her trusty pal Kimmy on the run from a crack squadron of the world’s most metrosexual vampires. When they finally corner the two girls, it turns out that they have a fairly reasonable request for Professor Laila: translate two tablets of hieroglyphics, or the girl gets it. Laila, instead, goes for Option C. Short of telling the guys that the tablets belong in a museum and not being a big fan of fellas with frosted tips, she hacks her attackers down with a big ol’ samurai sword. Hey, what’s the use of carrying a sword around if you’re never gonna use it?
The battle won, Laila turns her attention to the tablets. The writing turns out to be a love story between two ancient Sumerian demons. Their forbidden love, we later find out, is predicted to bring about the end of time. After some gratuitous girl-on-girl action (which is, tastefully, left mostly to the imagination), Laila becomes pensive.
For, you see, she may be mild mannered professor Laila McCarthy to her friends and colleagues, but in real life she is none other … *gasp* … Lamashtu, the first vampire!
Abandon: First Vampire is written Greg Carter and illustrated by Elliot Dombo. If the first name sounds familiar, it’s because Greg is a frequent visitor on this site. Not only has Greg been very illuminating on the subject of creating vampire fiction, he was also very gracious to include a link to this blog on his site’s Links page. While I’m tempted to go easy, there’s a reason this feature is called “El Santo Vs. The Vampire Women” and not “El Santo Takes The Vampire Women Out to the Chocolatiers for Fun Times.”
Just yesterday, Jeph Jacques of Questionable Content released his State of the Webcomics Union.
This is the democratic response.
Most of the stuff written was of the “Rah Rah Webcomics” variety like you see below:
• There are a lot more of us, and we’re a lot bigger now.
• The level of art has gotten a lot better. Part of this is old hands getting better at drawing, part of it is people with actual training in the visual arts getting into the medium. I’m glad I started QC when I did, I’d be hell of intimidated trying to start off now with my ’03 art skills. On the flipside of this, some of the very most popular comics have the most basic art (XKCD, Cyanide & Happiness, etc.) so maybe it doesn’t matter so much?
• There seems to be less “drama” going around. I think this is mainly because the more popular creators have wised up to smaller folks tryin’ to troll them, and a lot of the old-school internet jerks have pretty much wrecked their reputations by bein’ internet jerks. I hope this trend continues, I do not miss “flame wars” and “rude folks” at all.
• The sky is still the limit. We’re nowhere near saturation as far as potential audience goes. Back in 2003 I thought there would NEVER EVER be another webcomic anywhere near as popular as Penny Arcade. Now we’ve got XKCD and Cyanide & Happiness who are either as big or bigger. Anybody who thinks we’re all competing for some fixed amount of potential readers is completely mistaken. It’s not a zero-sum game, which is great because it means there’s plenty of room for everybody, new folks and old hands alike, to grow!
As another blogger once pointed out, I’m not really that in tune with the “webcomic community,” so I have no idea whether he above is true or not. Jeph has been around longer, so maybe he knows the score. However, one point ruffled me a little:
• The idea of critical analysis of webcomics has largely died out. Sure, people still blog about webcomics and “review” them and stuff, but it’s become a tiny, tiny niche sector. I think this is mainly because there’s not a whole lot of point to reviewing something anybody can go look at for free and make up their own mind about! Is this a good thing? I have no idea.
OK, I’ve only been running this site for a little over 2 years now. I have no idea if there was some sort of Golden Age of Webcomic Criticism that I missed out on. Maybe there was a fantastic era where webcomic critics were served the finest wine at convention and given the choice cuts of meats, but are now forced to live in tiny little hovels ever since the bottom of the webcomic criticism bubble burst and are now forced to toil in a tiny, tiny niche sector. Frankly, when I started blogging, I had the impression that Eric Burns of Websnark was pretty much the only game in town. Sure, his output is pretty much nil lately. But I think it’s a bit of stretch to say that webcomic criticism has largely died out because Websnark is, for the most part, dead.
But “a tiny, tiny nice sector”?
Here’s a quick rundown of a few I’m familiar with.
- There’s me, of course.
- Robert Howard at Tangents is still kicking around.
- Brigid Alverson, long before starting her new Paperless Comics blog, was (and is) making waves at Digital Strips and Robot 6 over at Comic Book Resources.
- Lauren Jane has been talking webcomics over at io9.com, showing, like Brigid, that webcomics can be covered in larger, more connected sites.
- There’s a huge wave of Zuda blogs (which include mpd57 and Pigs of the Industry).
- There are podcasts like The Dish and Webcomic Beacon and the various other blogs like Art Patient, Lonely Panel, Olaf’s Comic Blog, and Morgan Wick’s blog.
So if the last few entries of “El Santo vs. The Vampire Women” have had you feeling like a pedophile, I offer you a deep apology. It really is not that easy finding comics about vampire women where the main character doesn’t look like a preteen. That’s pretty much the case, at least, with any webcomic where the styles bear overtly Japanese influences. To find stories with more mature looking vampire ladies, we have to turn our attention overseas.
OK, so technically the protagonist of Juliette: Worst Vampire Ever is still in high school. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her, though. She looks like she’s being played by someone over 25.
Zuda Comics seems to be committed to becoming DC Comics’ reigning horror division. So it should be no surprise that a lot of the Zuda contestants take the horror route as well. Juliette is but one of many examples residing in the vast grave yard that is the Zuda former competitors archives. The comic didn’t fare well in the Zuda competition, finishing tenth place in its group. It hasn’t surfaced anywhere else online since its loss, so the continuation of this particular webcomic series may be in doubt. It was created by Cedric Poulat, a French artist who specialized in really nice cheesecake illustrations of popular superheroines. Oh, Zatanna… you can shuffle my deck anytime.
Typically, the established webcomic community has been very critical of Zuda.
Gary Tyrrell at Fleen, for example:
I’ll say this — that portion of the panel that I did see didn’t really change my mind about Zuda and its operations; I think that the service is a corporate version of an independent production model, and philosophically I prefer the indy approach. It’s not that Perazza, or Kwanza Johnson, or David Gallaher, or any of the other people I’ve met from the Zudaworld are bad or wrong people — as I’ve written before, they’ve been unfailingly polite to me in all our dealings, especially given the skeptical approach I’ve taken to their production model. It comes down to the fact that we have different mental definitions of the word webcomics.
Also not a big fan of Zuda, Spike from Templar, AZ at the same site.
So as you know, I’ve been critical of Zuda Comics in the past. I’ve never liked the idea of a large company like DC treating new talent like American Idol contestants but that seems to be a new direction the industry is heading. Not something I want to get behind. Not something I would ever do myself.
But this weekend I had a chance to witness first hand a couple things about Zuda Comics and it stopped to make me rethink my position a little bit. And I feel it’s only fair that I be as vocal about this thought as I have have been in the past about my critical thoughts. If I’m gonna to jerk my knee around like this, it’s only fair to report when it jerks in the other direction as well.
This weekend, three Zuda Comics were nominated for Harvey Awards. One of them, HIGH MOON, not only debuted a new print version of their book at the show, but won the Harvey for best online comic strip.
I witnessed the Zuda crew at their table at the awards ceremonies. They were all excited, having a good time, and most importantly, brothers in arms. Its the same camaraderie that I’m blessed to experience with my buddies at Halfpixel.
Ron Perazza has always been a really gracious and level headed guy, even when I’ve been really critical and snarky of him. He was a real sweetheart during the ceremonies and looked back at us when he was presenting to confess that he was so nervous to be up there his hands were shaking. This is after I introduced him to the crowd by announcing “Our next presenter was chosen from an online contest where he competed against 9 other talented presenters for the opportunity to be here tonight.” The Zuda table erupted with laughs and cheers. After the show they all took time to tell me I had done a great job and to remind me that even though we fight online, they understand that my heart’s in the right place.
So, passing the High Moon booth on Sunday on the way to my own table, I had to ask myself a very pointed question: if David, Steve and Scott had taken MY advice and gone it alone with HIGH MOON, would they be here a year later with a full color graphic novel, their own booth at the Baltimore Comicon and a Harvey Award? Possibly. But can I say probably? I don’t think I can in all fairness.
I would never sign up for Zuda comics. I still don’t like the idea of turning creators into competitors. I still don’t like the idea of spec work or building someone elses brand instead of my own. But I’m a results-oriented person and I can not argue with these results. And I can’t say in all honesty that David, Steve and Scott would have earned what clout they have this year going it on their own. Certainly they could have, but WOULD they have? That’s the real question.
What next? Locusts with the faces of women erupting from the ground? Babies having babies? Strange times, indeed.
Also, a long time ago, High Moon‘s David Gallaher forwarded me an interview he did with Zuda Comic’s Vice President of Creative Services, Ron Perazza on Robot 6. Check it out!
(h/t Evan Dahm via Twitter)
Getting tired of all these reviews of chibi-vampires? Too bad. El Santo cares not about your weariness over comics where the girls have eyes as big as saucers and dress like they only shop at Hot Topic … or designed to appear at at shirt in Hot Topic. Chibi-vampires are gold. Chibi-vampires are boffo. When it comes to vampire women, there is only one dominant strain … the otaku strain … and its examples are legion. There’s Annyseed, for example, a webcomic written by U.K. artist Stuart J. Brown.
In fact, Annyseed is so otaku that it even comes with its own kanji subtitle. How hardcore is that? I will admit, though, that this is a slightly incongruous detail since the story takes place in The Isle of Skye … which looks, more or less, like the British Isles. Celtic runes would’ve been more appropriate.
Although she looks like she’s a pre-teen, Annyseed, our title character, is much older. She became a vampire at an early age, which permanently stunted her physical maturity at the age of 15. We join her in the modern day. Trust me: despite presence of decrepit buildings and characters wearing clothes straight out of Oliver Twist, her diary entry, as well as the bare midriffs on teenager girls, places this comic in 2009. This makes Annyseed 70 years old and eligible for social security if she were a human.
So while a lot of webcomics were nominated at the Harveys, only High Moon (reviewed here) managed to walk away with an award… specifically the “Best On-Line Comics Work” Award. Congratulations to Scott O. Brown, David Gallaher, and Steve Ellis!
In the greatest upset, NASCAR Heroes #5 loses the Best Single Issue or Story Award to Y: The Last Man. Too bad, Matt Cassan, but it’s not easy to win the award the year the last issue of Y: The Last Man gets released. Maybe next year!
(Yeah, that was a little tongue in cheek. But you know something? I would’ve actually thrown a minor party if NASCAR Heroes did win! Go, underdogs!)
Also, as a big fan of both All-Star Superman and Fables, I was very pleased to see the first win Best Writer and Best Continuing or Limited Series while the latter snagged James Jean an award for Best Cover Artist.