Monthly Archives: July 2012

One Punch Reviews #68: Pandyland

Before reading Andrew Herd’s Pandyland, I must have read a hundred Pandyland comics. Which is surprising, because they were all the same one. That’s because one of the most notable features about this comic is the random comic generator. Basically, the comic contains a large library of images. There’s a bunch of stock images for the first, second, and third panels. Doing it right now, for example, results in this strip: character one asks for a hug, character one then socks character two in the chin, and character two goes, “Ugga Bugga Wugga Woooo.”

The magic about this random comic generator is that it’s batting over .500 in actually creating somewhat consistent comics. I could probably write a whole post on how it lays bare the nature of humor. It exposes how there’s really nothing new when it comes to telling jokes. The three panel format establishes a comfortable rhythm, taking readers down to a base level of expectations. I could probably make a point how easily amused we’ve gotten, especially since the punchline rarely matters as long as it’s a surprise. Heck… isn’t this how Hi & Lois is basically made nowadays?

Whatever the case, the random comic generator is so brilliant that I was genuinely surprised when it turned out that Andrew Herd actually was running a standard, run-of-the-mill webcomic on his site, too.

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Chris Sims takes a look at the 90’s

If you’re interested in the “Know Thy History” series and comic history in general, Chris Sims at Comics Alliance just put an great answer to the question, “What’s up with the 90’s?” The 90’s had gotten a reputation these days of being an era where terrible comics were published. That assessment is not incorrect. However, Sims puts that idea into context, showing the framework that brought forth some of the most positive movements in comics: the independent, creator-owned movement, the trend to re-contextualize old characters in a modern light, and the influence of the black and white movement of the 80’s.

Readers of this site know that I kinda like Rob Liefeld. Sims takes a similar stance: the art may not be great, but the rise of Liefeld as a prominent creator was actually a consequence of many positive movements in the comic world… not the least of which were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

As I understand it, TMNT was originally the product of Eastman and Laird making fun of all the goofy stuff that was popular in comics at the time — teenage mutants in X-Men and ninjas in Daredevil — and man. Watching their joke about what it took to be popular in mainstream comics grow to become an omnipresent multinational mass-media powerhouse that eclipsed the stuff it was parodying, and spawned its own legion of imitators? That had to be pretty weird.

But weird or not, it was a huge deal. Within five years, Eastman and Laird had achieved commercial success on a level that the creators they grew up idolizing never had, and they did it with a property they owned. They weren’t just making some massive corporation rich off their work (though they were definitely doing that), they were making themselves rich with it, too.

Can you imagine being a young creator coming up in the late ’80s, knowing you want to work in comics and suddenly seeing these two dudes making millions off a comic they created with no publisher, no editors and no company? Seeing two guys who owned their creation after hearing horror stories about Bill Finger, who died in 1974 without ever getting to put his name on Batman, a character he co-created? Can you imagine what an influence that would have on how you’d decide to pursue your career?

TMNT was one of the comics I’d considered covering for Know Thy History, mainly because it was a hugely influential comic whose rise I got to witness in my own lifetime. I may still write that piece. Sims’ analysis, though, is pretty spot on, and a great look at why the 90’s comic culture are more than just the mocking shorthand that internet memes make it out to be.

As of today, this blog has been around for … 5 years?!?!?

Science fiction writer Eric Temple Bell once wrote, “Time makes fools of us all. Our only comfort is that greater shall come after us.” He also wrote, “Obvious is the most dangerous word in mathematics.” Clearly if he had the ability to draw stick figures, he would’ve been Randall Munroe to xkcd by about a hundred years.

But enough about that! The Webcomic Overlook is truly the fool today, for at this time, on July 25, 2007, was the first time I pressed “Publish” on my WordPress button and sent forth the first post that would become The Webcomic Overlook. That would be … let me pull out the calculator here … carry the 1 … divide by pi …

5 YEARS

The world of webcomics during that time has not really changed all that much. There are certainly more, but the basics are still the same. I think the art has definitely gotten better, now that folks more proficient in the illustrative arts have discovered the ease of online publishing. A general air of irreverence still rules the day, though, and the most successful webcomics still follow the template of the very first webcomic I every reviewed, Anthony “Nedroid” Clark’s 100 Bad Webcomics.

It’s been a long time, and yet I don’t think I’m anywhere close to stopping. I just love to write… and writing reviews, in particular. And I’m glad you all are still reading.

The Webcomic Overlook #205: Boxer Hockey

When you stop to think about it, sports are totally ridiculous. And I don’t just mean the obviously weird ones like chessboxing, which, incidentally, was inspired by a comic book. And which the RZA is a big fan of, despite his song, “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’,” not actually being about this particular iteration of the sport. I’m talking about mainstream sports.

Take football, for instance. (Just to be clear, the American brand, not that other game that actually uses feet. Which I think is called “handball.”) It’s one of those things that just make no sense. Why are there so many positions? How come you can’t throw the ball to the beefy guys up front? How come if you kick the ball between the uprights, it’s three points, except after you score a touchdown and it’s one point? What the heck is a “line of scrimmage”? Is there any reason why there’s one guy called a “cornerback” and one guy called a “safety” when they do they same exact thing? Why is there also a play called a “safety”, and why is it worth two points plus possession for the scoring team? Why are the people on defense not the same people on the offense?

It’s like a game where the rules are intentionally obfuscated so that anyone who has a passing interest gets a headache within five minutes. And it’s even more baffling when you realize that the rules of American football were codified by the best and brightest minds of the Ivy League.

It’s crazy. It’s nonsensical. And, if you’re a sports fan like me, it’s just another thing to embrace as part of the mystique behind it all. The sport behind Tyson Hesse’s Boxer Hockey, one of the very few sports webcomics in existence, is even more weird and inscrutable as, say, grown men in their undershirts tossing a big rubber ball inside a peach basket … but, hey, give it twenty years and perhaps we’ll look back at it as some sort of beloved past time.


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Battlepug takes home the Eisner for Best Digital Comic

Gonna take a short break from vacationing (and God do I need it — I spent four days last week driving up and down the Pacific Coast, and along the way we lost an expensive camera lens) to report on the Eisner winners from this week’s San Diego Comic Con. Taking home the best Digital Comic award are Mike Norton (the writer and artist) and Allan Passalaqua (the color artist) for their rather stream-of-consciousness webcomic, Battlepug. On his site, Mr. Norton had this to say:

Holy crap… WE DID IT!

Man, I really don’t know how to put it into words… The Eisner is something I’ve always wanted, but really never thought I’d have. To win it for something that I made up on my own… It’s too great for me to describe. I am truly thankful, appreciative, and humbled by all of the support we’ve received since we started this silly thing. Thank you so, so much.

I was nervous on stage, so I’ll take this spot to really give some credit where it’s due. Allen and Crank are the best. They put up with a lot and are the real reason this comic gets done. Brion Salazar actually built this site so thank him for it looking’ pretty. Thanks to all of my buddies at 4 Star Studios. They’re pretty much my family, and their encouragement was essential to this happening. The great people at Dark Horse are pretty important too! Patrick, Jim, Scott and of course, Mr. Richardson let me print my book there. They’re good people, and I’m excited to do more with them. And obviously, my long suffering girlfriend Julie should get a big “thank you”. She’s the best.

Harvey Awards Nominees Announced

We’re only a week out from the San Diego Comic Con and the announcement of the Eisners. However, as you may recall, there are two major comic awards announcements, and the second one — the Harveys — just announced their nominees. Here are the nominees for Best Online Comics Work (two of which — Battlepug and Delilah Dirk — are also nominated for Eisners):

Battlepug, Mike Norton
Bucko, Erika Moen And Jeff Parker
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, Tony Cliff
Gronk, Katie Cook
Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton is also nominated for “Special Award For Humor In Comics” and “Best Cartoonist” awards. Ms. Beaton won the Best Online Comics award last year for Hark! A Vagrant, and this being an open vote among comics professionals I don’t see why she wouldn’t repeat this year. (Perry Bible Fellowship, incidentally, won back to back awards in 2007 and 2008).

The awards ceremony will be held at the Baltimore Comi-Con on September 8.

(h/t Robot 6)

Metapost: I thought I had enough time…

Man, I thought I had enough time to post one last review. Unfortunately, this weekend was a hectic one for the El Santo family, and I spent most of it hanging around the docks. Long story.

I’ll be taking July off though, since, for some reason, it seems that summers are far more busy for me than the other seasons. Got long trips up ahead, some traveling, and some time generally not spent on the internet.

When I get back, though, I’ll hopefully be serving up a new batch of reviews, including Boxer Hockey, Heart Shaped Skull, Vattu, and the second part of Sluggy Freelance. Have a good summer, y’all! I’m shipping out!

And, yeah, I spent a great deal of time taking iPhone pics this weekend, too. Because, Instagram.

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