Category Archives: stick figure webcomic
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.
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.
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, 100 reviews.
This is truly a milestone in the annals of The Webcomic Overlook lore. True, I’ve also written 20+ smaller reviews, which are actually longer an more elaborate than the earlier Webcomic Overlooks. Plus all those reviews I wrote for ComixTalk and Comic Fencing (all lovingly catalogued on this very site).
Still, 100 reviews and 500k page views is a hell of a milestone. So a big thank you to all the readers who have been following The Webcomic Overlook all this time. I seriously would not be writing these columns if it were not for you, your input, and your enthusiasm.
Now, let’s get past the valedictorian speech and on with the review. To commemorate the 100th, I asked you, the readers, on the Twittersphere — and if that term hasn’t been coined yet, I’m totally going to claim it — which webcomic I should review: xkcd or PHD? In an awesome demonstration of my Twitter prowess, I got four whole replies. One vote went to PHD, one vote went to Girls With Slingshots (automatically disqualified because it was not one of the options), one vote went to xkcd, and one vote went to something called kxcd.
I think the latter was written by bRYAN NOORSOOMAIKXCD. (And yes, that reply WAS from Sarah Zero writer Ace Plughead.)
I had strong inclinations to do a review of PHD. It’s a curious, long-lived webcomic in its own right, attracts audiences beyond the typical webcomic spectrum, and yet doesn’t typically get much attention when discussion turns to webcomics. I may still review it some day. But I decided to settle on Randall Munroe’s xkcd after all. Because deep down inside, I really am a glutton for page visits.
LOL! Humor on the internet is sooooo random!
In saying the above phrase, I understand that I’ve invited a modicum of invites backlash. Sexy Canadian librarians and urbane, well-dressed sequential art afficianados — who, in the deep recesses of my fertile imagination, make up the bulk of readers on this site — are no doubt glaring angrily from behind their pince-nez glasses and/or spitting out their Chamomile. This is an especially egrarious faux-pas since “random humor” almost always means that, at the end, someone’s head explodes, or the world blows up, or ninjas pop up out of nowhere.
So RANDOM! Even if it means everyone else is doing it.
In reality, it’s actually more of a shock cut than random. And if it were really, truly random, then there’s very little chance it would actually be funny, since you wouldn’t have established any expectations in the first place. Hell, John Allison made a shirt about it (which I would order, if the value of the dollar was much stronger against the British pound). As stated by the venerable Urban Dictionary (your indispensable resource on funky fresh lingo), you’re probably better off if you just say it’s unexpected humor … but then teenagers everywhere will dismiss you as an anal-retentive killjoy and there’s nothing I want more than the praise and adulation of today’s youth. That’s the secret to how a grandpa like Tony Hawk can keep rolling in that phat video game loot.
So without further ado, The Webcomic Overlook reviews the latest salvo in the world of random webcomic humor. Even its title looks like something straight out of a random word generator: Buttersafe, by Raynato Castro and Alex Culang.
On one of Halfpixel’s Webcomics Weekly podcasts, Kris Straub identifies with an e-mailer who claims that he has way too many ideas to contain in one comic. (The person who sent the e-mail got roundly mocked by everyone else at Halfpixel, though in a playful manner. At least, I don’t think Dave Kellett actually wanted to beat the snot out of him.) Now, he might have been facetious, but I imagine Kris Straub really is a man of a million ideas. He is, after all, responsible for comics with high concept ideas, like the one about a starship that displays art exhibits (Starslip Crisis) and a band that’s resigned themselves to the fact that they’ll never become famous (F Chords). Straub also does a third strip, one that’s more conventional and far less polished. It may, however, be Kris Straub at his funniest. Today, One Punch Reviews basks in the deliberately low-tech glory of Chainsawsuit.
When you were young, one of the most basic forms you learn is the stick figure. Lines for arms, lines for legs, and a circle for the head. They’re so easy to draw, even a caveman could do it. (And they did, portraying their stick men hunting buffalo or dragging women in their caves or somesuch.) They’re also forever linked to our childhoods, as — in the days before we learned about perspective and depth — they were the first things were learned to draw.
Thus, almost all webcomics using stick figures acknowledge how juvenile it all is. Cyanide & Happiness revels in it, with their characters oozing bodily fluids as if they were characters in a bored 10-year-old’s notebook. xkcd employs the medium to toy with our expectations, launching into subjects that no child would contemplate (such as complex math equations or heartache).
But can stick figures be more? Rich Burlew thinks so. Despite having a degree in Illustration at the Pratt Institute, he decided to primarily use stick figures in his wildly popular webcomic, The Order of the Stick (popularly abbreviated OotS, though its true abbreviation, tOotS, provides a more flatulently melodic acronym). Why? According to an interview at Sequential Tart, Rich believes that “art really is more than just rendering anatomy, especially comic art. Communicating the actions of the main characters is the primary goal here, not to show off how well I understand facial structure.” A lofty goal, to be sure … but does he succeed?
This is my first post of The Webcomic Overlook, in which I will review various webcomics on the net. It will be something similar to Your Webcomic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad, except I’ll look at both good and bad webcomics, and be at least a little less cruel toward the bad ones (unless they really, really deserve it — like Minimum Security).
Webcomics are not typically tied to a publisher, which, you would think, means that they’re more free to pursue more creative avenues. However, this is often not the case. Look at enough webcomics, and they easily fall into a few distinct categories: manga-style comics, furry-style comics, fantasy comics, and Dilbert-style comics. Some of them are not published in newspapers because their novel concepts are considered too counter-culture for family newspapers. Or some are rather good, but the artists don’t have the right connections or don’t have any luck when it comes to publishing. However, most aren’t in your local paper because … well, because they’re terrible.
This first one doesn’t fit any of those categories. I present Nedroid’s Bad Comics Challenge. Nedroid claims that someone challenged him to create 200 comic strips that are bad. It’s apparent, from the very first panel, that he’s failing spectacularly.