Monthly Archives: August 2010
Despite playing some of the most popular video game franchises in history, very few of my most played games will ever make their way into a video game comic. Why? For the simple fact that they’re sports games. I played the hell out of the SSX games, the Midnight Club racing game and its sequels, three iterations of the WWE Smackdown series, the Madden football series, and various NHL games from both EA and 2K Sports. Yet, outside of the token “Madden is the same game this year as it is last year” joke, you’ll never see any of them mentioned in a video game webcomic.
Some of this, I think, can be chalked up to the sniffy, dismissive attitude gamers — and by that I mean specifically the ones devoted to first-person shooters, fighting games, and Mario — have toward sports games in general. (Never mind that players of Madden and SSX are technically gamers as well.) Oh, do I wish you could have been there to see the drama unfold when SSX 3 made the AV Club’s Best of the Decade list!
Or maybe it’s just not easy to make jokes about sports games where the playable characters are either real life personalities or anonymous avatars rather than something as well defined fictional creations like Master Chief, Cloud, and Sonic the Hedgehog. (I’d argue that this still isn’t true with the case of SSX, as the little fan community that clustered around the Merqury City site can attest.)
If there’s something I can respect about Phil Chan and Joe Dunn’s self-effacingly titled Another Videogame Webcomic, it’s their almost quixotic devotion to doing jokes about games that don’t typically get featured in a video game webcomic. Oh sure, we’ll get plenty of Bioshock and Bayonetta jokes. But we’ll also get some jokes about Madden and … Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine? The Grey’s Anatomy game?
… is PvP by Scott Kurtz. The webcomic beat out several worthy contenders, including:
- HARK! A VAGRANT, by Kate Beaton — a Webcomic Overlook favorite; when’s someone finally going to hand her an award, people?
- HIGH MOON, by Steve Ellis, David Gallaher and Scott O. Brown — which is also good, but won the award last year.
- POWER OUT, by Nathan Schreiber — reviewed here, and, along with Sin Titulo, was also an Eisner nominee.
- SIN TITULO, by Cameron Stewart — which would probably have been my favorite to win the thing based on Cameron Stewart’s name alone. Good thing I don’t keep track of the Harveys, huh? I would’ve looked pretty silly.
The awards, which coincidentally were also being emceed by Scott Kurtz, were presented at the Baltimore Comic-Con. Kurtz joins a very short list of Online Comic winners, which include James Kochalka (American Elf), two-time winner Nicolas Gurewitch (Perry Bible Fellowship), and the High Moon guys.
As for the other webcomic-related nominations, the Act-I-Vate Primer was up for Best Anthology, but lost out to DC’s Wednesday Comics. A.D.: New Orleans After The Deluge lost the Best Previously Published Graphic Novel Award to Image Comic’s Mice Templar. Jenny Frison of The Dreamer, which has been nominated at the Harveys before, was up for Best Cover Artist, but lost to Hellboy (but, let’s face it, it’s hard to beat Mike Mignola). Steve Ellis was in the running for Best Inker for High Moon, but came runner up to Klaus Janson (The Amazing Spider-Man). Finally, Rob Guillory took home the Best New Talent award for Chew, which meant that Nathan Schieber of Power Out had to settle for the “Nominated for Best New Talent” title.
All in all, not a bad year for webcomic recognition at the Harveys. Still, if the nominations handed out this year and last year are any indication, there’s a movement toward something we can now call established brands: several multiple nominations for Zuda Comics, Act-I-Vate, and Transmission-X. Transmission-X has now established itself as a formidable brand with the Shuster and Eisner Awards going to Sin Titulo.
Despite the High Moon win last year, the Harveys seem to be leaning toward gag-a-day strips while the Eisner seems to be favoring long-form webcomics. It might be some time before either award recognizes short-form and long-form as two fundamentally different genres, but at least we seem to have a clear division regarding the nature of the awards themselves.
(h/t Robot 6)
There’s been a lot of scary hullabaloo in the media lately asking “What is it about 20-somethings?“, i.e. “How come my unemployed, lazy-ass kids are turning 30 and still living in my basement?” Seriously, my wife turned on the TV this morning, and that’s what they were talking about on the Today Show.
The argument boils down to the idea that 20-somethings are afraid of growing up. Now, I personally believe that a lot of this is the typical sensationalist media panic. When I was but a young El Santo, I remember being handed a similar article by my dad from the Reader’s Digest entitled “The Lazy American Teenager.” I imagine my dad afraid I was turning into a burnt out teen. (Guilty as charged!)
But, for the sake of putting together an intro for this here webcomic review, I’m going to go ahead and take this humbuggery seriously. Here’s a quote form the New York Times:
DURING THE PERIOD he calls emerging adulthood, Arnett says that young men and women are more self-focused than at any other time of life, less certain about the future and yet also more optimistic, no matter what their economic background. This is where the “sense of possibilities” comes in, he says; they have not yet tempered their idealistic visions of what awaits. “The dreary, dead-end jobs, the bitter divorces, the disappointing and disrespectful children . . . none of them imagine that this is what the future holds for them,” he wrote. Ask them if they agree with the statement “I am very sure that someday I will get to where I want to be in life,” and 96 percent of them will say yes. But despite elements that are exciting, even exhilarating, about being this age, there is a downside, too: dread, frustration, uncertainty, a sense of not quite understanding the rules of the game. More than positive or negative feelings, what Arnett heard most often was ambivalence — beginning with his finding that 60 percent of his subjects told him they felt like both grown-ups and not-quite-grown-ups.
In the end, the emotional paralysis stems from the attempt to maintain, for as long as possible, the elusive pipe dream that you can still mold your own destiny into something that’s better than the pains that the previous generation experienced. It rises from a fear that if you don’t get started on the right foot, you doom yourself to screwing up the rest of your life.
The webcomic I’m reviewing today, Rich Barrett’s Nathan Sorry, taps into the same anxieties. However, unlike others, he gains a priceless gift: an exit strategy for the curse of a life lived badly.
Dean Haspiel, visionary and co-founder of the New York based Act-I-Vate webcomics collective (whose webcomics are more upscale and adult-oriented than your typical fare), recently won himself an Emmy for the main title design of HBO’s Bored To Death.
Let’s not forget, the Emmy is the first step to the elusive EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). I’m guessing Mr. Haspiel, though, would probably be closer to acquiring an Eisner (which he’s been nominated twice for, including “Best Webcomic”) and a Pulitzer first.
Haspiel had also signed on to do a comic for Zuda Comics. He shared his idea for what he expects Zuda to represent now that it is no longer providing free comics online:
A tough racket this comics making business. But, if there’s one thing I’ve come to believe, it’s good to be different. And, if Vertigo, my bread and butter publisher the last few years, has been dubbed “the HBO of comics,” then I posit that Zuda is “the IFC of comics,” where, like ACT-I-VATE, alternative concepts are refined online with the distinct intent to expose and develop fresh voices that could otherwise be lost in the gutters.
“The HBO of comics” and “The IFC of comics,” huh? That sounds like highfalutin Emmy winner talk to me. Still comics are now more closely tied to the Hollywood entertainment industry than ever before, and Mr. Haspiel has shown that webcomics and webcomic creators are coming to the party, too.
Located to the lower left of the AmazingSuperPowers webcomic title is a jolly-looking creature with no arms, no legs, and no nose. His head sways back and forth at a comfortable pace, while his face, for the most part, maintains a pleasingly blank expression. Typically, there’s a halo over his head … but not always.
The FAQ calls him the “Godslug.” He looks more like a worm, if you ask me.
Every time you refresh the page, Godslug dons a new and different costume. Sometimes, he appears as an angel or a demon, sometimes he appears as a tourist or a redneck, but most of the time he runs the pop culture gamut. Sometimes he is dressed like Mr. T. Sometimes he is dressed like Queen Elizabeth II. Sometimes he’s dressed like Homestar Runner. And, if you’re very lucky, sometimes his face morphs into a remarkable facsimile of Barney Fife.
This may seem like a lot to write about a simple webcomic mascot, but trust me, Godslug is easily the most entertaining part of AmazingSuperPowers. The comic was written by two guys only known as Wes and Tony, two guys who met on a college improve comedy team who now are putting their own sense of humor on the internet for all to see.