Monthly Archives: June 2010
Webcomics are good at a lot of things. Sometimes they provide humor that is often too nerdy or too obscure for the mainstream. Sometimes they give a page that little animated nugget that makes the characters leap off the page. Sometimes they provide that framework of community for fans to share their favorite moments or moan when a story goes off track.
But how about a webcomic that restores history?
A recent blog post on BW Media Spotlight alerted me to a project that had been competed around December 2008. Its mission: to restore the unpublished Superman #8.
What’s so great about Superman #8? First of all, it was made by the original creators: the story was written by Joe Siegel and illustrated by Joe Shuster and his studio. But, most importantly, it introduced something called “K-Metal” a weird mineral from Krypton that would rob Superman of his powers.
Sounds familiar? While it’s generally accepted that Kryptonite was created for the Superman radio show as a weakness, Siegel had hashed out the concept some time before. From superman.nu:
DC’s Editorial Director, Whitney Ellsworth, had read the K-Metal script and was intimately familiar with its contents. Ellsworth was also producer, script editor, and frequent ghost-writer of both the Superman Radio show and the later Adventures of Superman television series. It’s likely that 1940’s introduction of K-Metal was the inspiration not only for various incarnations of Kryptonite in various media (the Radio Show, the comics, and Smallville), but that the plot concept of Superman facing emotional and mental challenges—internally debating with himself about his role and his feelings—in the face of an approaching meteor from space that has unpredictible effects on him was also used in the 1953 George Reeves episode, Panic in the Sky and in the later 1994 Lois and Clark episode, All Shook Up. In The Deadly Rock, a follow-up episode to the original George Reeves Panic in the Sky episode, a fragment from the Kryptonite meteor has arrived on Earth and effects not only Superman, but his friend Gary Allen. When exposed to this fragment of Kryptonite, Mr. Allen is impervious to all harm and is invulnerable to gunfire. In the episode, no explanation is provided for why an earthman should be effected by Kryptonite in this manner.
The not-necesarily unrelated idea of an approaching meteor presenting a threat from Superman’s home planet was also obviously inspired by “The K-Metal from Krypton.” This idea was re-used in many comic books stories (most recently in Jeph Loeb’s introduction of the latest Supergirl) and served as the major plot element in the unproduced George Reeves movie, Superman and the Secret Planet. Planetoid-sized fragments of Krypton also played a role in the 2006 movie, Superman Returns, although the scenes were cut from the final release.
And there are other important Superman milestones, like the first time Perry White is named to the first time Supes discovered that he’s an alien.
So why was it never published? Well, it also includes Superman revealing himself as Clark Kent to Lois Lane, and that was probably one change too many for DC.
The restored Superman #8 (“The K-Metal from Krypton”) boasts art from Angel Criado, Shuster Studios, Jon Bogdanove, and Shane Foley. A post from a year-and-a-half ago shows that, while a bit incomplete (with 3 pages to go), this is probably the final draft: “The long and the short of it is that I think the project is as done as it’s going to get. I haven’t heard from any of the artists in quite a while, so I suspect that they’ve pretty much moved on.”
Still, it’s an incredibly worthy effort. The art’s a little modernized, especially in the areas of coloring and detail. Still, it’s got that Golden Age touch where designs are simpler and layouts favored tidy square panels with plenty of dialogue. It’s an interesting exercise, bringing one of Superman’s finest moments to life.
NOTE: A commenter has pointed out that MS Paint Adventures isn’t actually done in MS Paint. This manages to invalidate about 5 or 6 paragraphs in this review. So please treat these paragraphs as the ravings of a lunatic. Thank you.
MSPaint has been around since Windows 1.0. when it was called PC Paintbrush. It’s a piece of software that has since been bundled into every version of the Windows OS. Thus, it’s the only graphics painting program that everyone has. It’s simple to use with a few features. Airbrush, paintbrush, line, curve, and ellipse are all you have. Colors are limited to 48 selections.
In other words, it’s very very limited. It’s probably something you don’t want to use if you’re creating a webcomic. When you think MS Paint, you think of, oh, Pokey the Penguin. The joke, more often then not, is the awfulness of the graphics. If you want to actually create art, you’re probably better off using a more versatile software.
Or so you’d think. I’ve seen some surprising attempts at art online. Wikipedia, in fact, boasts a few nicely rendered examples. The result is quite impressive since most computer users are already familiar with the effort it takes just to draw a simple stick figure.
Pushing the envelope is Andrew Hussie, who must have a Master’s Degree in Maximizing Bundled Microsoft Programs for Humor Projects. Hussie is co-creator of a series of Star Trek: TNG and ALF edits, and he redefined the art of making deliberately terrible webcomics with Sweet Bro & Hella Jeff. He’s best known, though, for his efforts on a little thing called MS Paint Adventures.
His latest MS Paint Adventures project, Homestuck, is one of the most visually impressive uses of MS Paint I’ve ever seen. However, I decided to check out his first completed work in MS Paint (and the one that really put MS Paint Adventures on the map), the adventure game parody known as Problem Sleuth. It’s an absolute monster, clocking in at over 1700 pages. And yet it’s the easier than Homestruck to get into.
So what is it that webcomic creators find sexy? Sexy webcomics are all the rage, what with Lauren Davis expounding on pornographic webcomics at her site (link NSFW) and adult collectives becoming news over at Robot 6 (link perhaps SFW).
Let’s face it… sex sells. So what makes a webcomic sexy? In its continued quest for tasteful excellence, the Webcomic Overlook takes a look at a few of the most important assets that make titillation fun for people of all ages. What elements deliver the wow-wow-wee? The answers may surprise you.
Be warned, while the following is not exactly NSFW, you probably don’t want to get caught at work staring at them anyway.
Before I start reviewing Angela Melick’s Wasted Talent, let’s talk a little about journal webcomics.
The Webcomic Overlook doesn’t typically review journal webcomics. (Out of 150+ reviews, this is only my fourth journal comic review.) To be honest, I don’t think most sites do. Journal webcomics are a tricky thing: part comic, part blog, part diary. I’ll admit this site is often cruel, but more often than not I try not to directly attack the creator behind the comic. The line between creator and creation, though, becomes exceedingly tricky when the the characters in the comic represent an actual person.
There’s the issue of the nature of the comic. Who in the world would want to read something that’s the equivalent of someone’s diary? I suppose a snarkier reviewer would say “voyeurs,” but I should mention that autobiographies have been around since the beginning of time. Those, though, tend to be written after the events depicted have passed, and there’s a certain distance between the author and the narrative. As a counterpoint, I suppose you can say that blogging is no different… yet most of these blogs get very few readers, and the one that do succeed at least have a unique quality about them — like, say, putting funny outfits on a pug.
Francesco Marciuliano of Medium Large tries his hand at doing a video game webcomic … and realizes that it’s harder than it seems.
via Medium Large
There’s something you should know about what webcomics I select to be reviewed on this blog. Sometimes, I’m hopelessly attracted to the online equivalent of “bright, shiny objects.” That is to say, I’m easily distracted by some of the stupidest things. It does me absolutely no good to draft up a schedule, since I’d be champing at the bit to review something I’d only encountered at a passing glance. Two months ago, I drafted an ambitious plan to check out a list of review candidates. All of them were potential gems for review fodder. And I’d been doing well following it … until now.
It’s not that I’ve abandoned that list. The one or two of you looking forward to my take on Wasted Talent will be happy to know that I’ve already written a barely legible preliminary draft that I hope to have up cleaned up and ready by next week. However, as I finished penning my Marilith review, I ran smack dab into one such bright, shiny object.
Wondering what “Krazy Krow”* had been up to since he wrapped up his magnum opus, I clicked on Spinnerette, which he developed with artist Walter Gustavo Gomez. It answers the age-old question: “What if Spider-Man was a girl?”