Category Archives: journal webcomic
Kevin Bolk is a drama queen.
Wait, wait, maybe I should clarify that statement. I should make it clear that I’m not talking about the real Kevin Bolk. In fact, I’m sure that he’s a lovely and wonderfully absorbing person. He seems like the kind of guy I can watch the NHL playoffs with at the local microbrew. For all I know, he might be a volunteer firefighter on the weekends, volunteering at the local soup kitchen on the weekdays, and a friend to all children. Maybe he doesn’t do such things, but I like to think the best in people, especially Kevin Bolk.
But Kevin Bolk, the character starring in the comic strip entitled I’m My Own Mascot, is —a capital D, capital Q — Drama Queen. Now, before you accuse me of being incredibly mean (which I am), the propensity of cartoon Kevin Bolk to overreact to things in “humorous” fashion is pretty much the meat and potatoes of this comic.
On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi had had enough. He’d been us he’d too far by local authorities. He was a poor street vendor from Tunisia who was struggling to feed his family. Unfortunately, his small wheelbarrow, from which he would sell produce, would constantly be confiscated by corrupt local officials. Eventually, he would find himself in debt. He would not have enough money to bribe officials to keep his stand open.
after his latest confrontation with an official, Mohamed went to complain to the governor’s office. They refused to see him. So Mohamed got a can of gasoline. He stood in the middle of traffic, and he shouted, “How do you expect me to make a living?” Then he doused himself in gas and set himself on fire. Mohamed would die a couple of weeks after at the young age of 26.
What would happen after would go on to be known as “Arab Spring.” The violence of Mohamed’s death shocked young Tunisians, who took to the streets in protest against corruption in the government. and it was not confined to Tunisia. The protest spread to Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, and Egypt. And then they spread further. The winds of change spread throughout the Arab world. It was a calamitous time. One one end, there were the indelible images of women handing flowers to soldiers. As the other end, there’s the bloody toll: Wikipedia has listed the number of deaths at 32,000 to over 50,000.
Dov Torbin and Asher Berman planned on taking a vacation to Egypt when all hell broke loose. What had been a trip to see the sights of ancient Egypt suddenly becomes a struggle to find a working phone so they can talked to loved ones back home. They recount their experiences in The Revolution Will Be Televised.
(I’m still on hiatus! However, David Herbert was kind enough to do a review while I’m away. In this review, he tackles previously reviewed webcomic So… You’re A Cartoonist? with a different take than mine. It’s time to get hit up with … a second opinion.)
When I first got into webcomics, I tended to gravitate towards comics that were somewhat based in the author’s real life. So when I found this comic by Tom Preston, or Andrew Dobson, it seemed like something that would interest me, not just because I like diary comics, but also because this is about being someone who makes comics and their own tales of doing what they love.
Basically it’s my comic, Living with Insanity, except the writer can draw and it doesn’t devolve into insane nonsense.
However, one of the first things you’ll notice is that the title doesn’t really work until nearly 18 pages in, where being a cartoonist becomes the main focus. Up until then, it’s about being bullied as a kid, watching shows with his girlfriend and stuff his roommate did in college.
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.
An excerpt from THE WEBCOMIC ARMAGEDDON, A FANFICTION:
El Santo finds himself all alone in a dark alley. The flashfight had been brief and tense. He had barely escaped with his life. Finding temporary solitude, he adjusted his mask and lit a cigarette.
All of the sudden, lightning flashed across the skies. El Santo found himself face-to-face with webcomic uber-villain and intercontinental bon vivant known as the Fiendish Dr. R. He was elevated above the ground, propelled upward by the Smug Sense of Self Satisfaction. A flapping cape was draped over his arm, which he ominously lifted over his face.
“At last we meet, you infernal luchador,” he bellowed. Lightning flashed again, and for a short moment El Santo could make the outline of his big elephant ears and his potato-shaped nose. “Webcomics are but the domain of foolish dreamers who are destroying the industry! You will be but the lastest sacrifice in our rise to glory. The Media Syndicate shall rise again!” He laughed maniacally, an ungodly yet melodious cacaphony that was a mix of Dr. Doom, Raul Julia’s M. Bison, and Simon Cowell.
Attempting to make a comeback, El Santo whipped out a smartphone and pulled up the first webcomic bookmark he could find. The Fiendish Dr. R. sneers. “You pitiful imbecile. You have only proven to me that which I have warned you before: webcomic creators are nothing more than t-shirt salesmen.”
El Santo looked at his screen and he noticed that he’d brought up Natalie Dee, created by Natalie Dee. But… is it a webcomic? It looks like … well, frankly, it looks like a cheap-o t-shirt design. Could it be that the Fiendish Dr. R. … is right?
Ah, marriage. As a wise man once said, “Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.”
Comic strips about the foibles of marriage somehow take the lion’s share of the newspaper funny pages. For Better or For Worse, The Lockhorns, Andy Capp, Jumpstart, Blondie…. I could go on and on. Yet, these comics are getting to be anachronisms. When you factor the bold new world of webcomics into the equation — you know, the “genre” that’s seemingly aimed at teen gamers — comics strips about married couples start to seem even more old-fashioned.
Can a comic about a husband and wife still feel new and refreshing? You can judge for yourself by reading the subject of today’s review: Clumsy Love, written and illustrated by Mike Gray.
Some time ago, Joe Chiappetta contacted me by e-mail asking me to review his webcomic, Silly Daddy. For various reasons, I haven’t been reviewing solicitations lately. As I mentioned in one of the comments, it’s much easier for me to write reviews for a comic that reflect my own interests rather than tackling something that may or may not stoke my curiosity in the first place. Take the Beachnuts review I wrote, for example. This strip was solicited by the comics’ creator. Although I tried to keep as open a mind as possible, I discovered that I had my limitations. The strip is targeted for a surfing audience. Since I’m not one myself, my observations we weakened by self-doubt about whether or not I, as a layman, could ever truly enjoy jokes about how being in the water for an extended period of time causes one to be gross. On the other hand, as a proud Nintendo Wii and PS2 owner (two of the greatest consoles of all time *strut* *strut*), I can at least understand parodies Mario and Master Chief in, say, Crazy Buffet.
Thus, solicitations are often met with a tentative, “Eh, mmmmmmmaybe.” There was, however, something about Mssr. Chiappetta’s e-mail that piqued my interest immediately. First, there was the absolutely charming way in which he introduced himself: “I am a former wrestler and chess champion, but that has little or nothing to do with the comic.” (Note to aspiring webcomic artists — and, indeed, any else for all walks of life: this is the sort of cheesy trivia that tends to get people’s attention. Put this stuff on your resume. Seriously.)
Second, I was hooked on the premise: an autobiographical account on what it meant to be a father. I’m not yet a father myself, so to me, this is still some sort of magical mystery land and not some horror show combination of stress, sleeplessness, diaper changing, and love. (Awwww!)
And third, Silly Daddy actually won an award in 1998, back in the days before it was even a webcomic. During its print run (which began waaaay back in 1991), Silly Daddy received the Xeric, an award established by Peter Laird (yes, THE Peter Laird, one half of the creative duo responsible for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) for self-published comic creators. My dear reader, you know how I love to chat up award winning comics. Okay, so most of the time, it’s to question the legitimacy of the award, but no such though crossed my mind here.
I shot him back an e-mail saying that I’d be honored to check it out.