Category Archives: The Webcomic Overlook
Tycho, who is one of the Penny Arcade guys (the bald one, right?) was very reflective on Friday. It may have something to do with Penny Arcade being a decade-and-a-half old. It may be because it is December, a time of solemn reflection of past accomplishments. In any case, he made a declarative statement that Penny Arcade was going to be about the comics again.
There was never a lot of time to think about what we wanted Penny Arcade to be like. It’s like us, I guess, by default; sort of a mess. We just tried to make the best decisions we could, any time a decision was called for. It doesn’t always work out. And sometimes, you do things because “that’s what you do.” You “grow your business,” for example. You “extend verticals.” I honestly don’t know about the second one. I’ll ask Robert. But at 15 years, we’re taking a minute to figure out what we want to be when we grow up.
Child’s Play and PAX have lives of their own, now. They’re vital, and they need an obsessive level of care. We will do everything in our power to ensure that these things outlast us by a wide margin.
But I don’t think I want to “grow my business” anymore; I sort of want to do the opposite. And I’m tired, sick to death, of saying “Maybe Someday” when it comes to the things we really want to make. So, we’re not going to do that anymore. The next year is going to be a pretty big one, one of the biggest yet; it’s the year the previous fifteen have been leading up to in the literal sense but also in other ways. I think they’re going to be “big years” from now on, frankly. And it hurts pretty bad, but I don’t know where PATV as a “channel” for third party shows and The Penny Arcade Report fit into that. We’ll be shutting those things down at the end of this year.
It isn’t mentioned in the post, but I guess with PATV gone, this means the end of Strip Search, too? I suppose. But with the video channel and the news/opinion arm gone, where does that leave Penny Arcade?
… it’s time to start making good on some of the promises we’ve made in our work. Recognizing that things like the Pins or The New Kid or Daughters of the Eyrewood or Thornwatch or The Lookouts or Automata deserve every ounce of our resources. Novels and albums, too – all these things that got put off in the interests of Empire. Essentially, we’ve decided to be Penny Arcade.
So there you go, boys and girls… Penny Arcade is all about the webcomics! which is… kinda unexpected.
Darkseid: the Satan of the DC Universe. Dr. Doom: Marvel’s most recognizable villain. Thanos: … the guy that was in the post-credits sequence of the Avengers movie. No, not the shawarma scene. The… the other one. When these three villains are together in one place, you can expect… discussion about Breaking Bad. And The Wire. Basically, just three dudes hanging out in a car, passing the time. That’s how Justin Jordan and Rafer Roberts envision it in Thanos & Darkseid: Carpool Buddies of Doom.
I used to draw a comic when I was younger. It was called “Ninja Bears,” a pretty transparent reinterpretation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If, for any reason, one of those pages ever turned up again I would shriek in terror and then shred the paper maniacally.
John White (a professional illustrator) is far more game. He recently unearthed his comic adaptation that he worked on when he was between 9 and 14 years old. Rather than destroying his primitive efforts in a fit of embarrassment, he released everything online as Star Wars: Age 9.
Now, is this comic readable? Technically, yes. It’s actually impressive to see what a kid can accomplish with little formal training. (Though, to be fair, White does admit that a lot of his panels were copied straight from Howard Chaykin’s Marvel Comics adaptation.). At the end of the day, though, it’s still a comic written by a kid, and that’s hardly ever appointment reading.
The real fun is in the annotations. From rediscovering where he picked up certain lines that weren’t originally in the movies to cheeky observations on his own art, Star Wars: Age 9 is just as much a written record of the fandom and their wild, impressionable imaginations as it originally took hold in 1977. The tone is nostalgic and wistful, with a touch of bemusement and a whole lot of images of vintage collectibles.
The webcomic includes all new illustrated panels drawn by an older John White… But sadly, these pale to the originals. After all, can these new panels claim the bold artistic decision to incorporate a collectible bubble gum card? I think not.
Fantasy is rooted a little bit in actual history. Most of the time, this means the European Middle Ages. Knights in shining armor, kings and queens, towering castles, and legends of dragons and elves. King Arthur stuff. However, there are tons of challenges in setting things at a certain era. As fantasy writer Poul Anderson once elaborated in his essay “On Thud and Blunder,” “Beneath the magic, derring-do, and other glamour, an imaginary world has to work right. In particular, a pre-industrial society, which is what virtually all hf uses for a setting, differs from ours today in countless ways.”
One of the things that writers often do is just ignore the historical nuisances. Don’t worry about people’s hair not looking perfect; just assume that everyone has access to soap, mirrors, and plumbing. Pay no attention that there are no city lights; our heroes can travel by night just as easily as by day. One of the biggest historical running blocks are the roles of women. Joan of Arc aside, women in the Middle Ages were typically not trained to be warriors. It was dudes. But, since in these days it’s not in the writer’s or the reader’s best interest that the adventurers be one big sausage party, fantasy authors tend to either ignore or minimize male chauvinism. Lady warriors just show up dressed in trousers made for men, and the townspeople rarely bat an eye.
The limited opportunities for women, though, is the driving narrative in Ed Cho and Lee Cherolis’ Little Guardians. The story centers around two characters: Subira, an unassuming shopkeeper’s daughter who has great potential, and Idem, an unlucky boy who’s training to be the next Guardian.
Some pretty sad news today, as Robot 6 reports that Modern Tales founder Joey Manley passed away at the young age of 48 due to complications from pneumonia.
A publisher, editor, podcaster and author, Manley launched Modern Tales in March 2002, establishing one of the first workable (and profitable) subscription models for webcomics. He soon spun off Serializer, an alternative-comics site originally edited by Tom Hart; Girlamatic, a female targeted site initially edited by Lea Hernandez; Graphic Smash, the action comics site; and Webcomics Nation, a webcomics-hosting service.
The collective “Modern Tales family,” which closed in April, had published work by such creators as Gene Luen Yang, James Kochalka, Howard Cruse, Chris Onstad, Shaenon Garrity and Dylan Meconis, among many others.
Manley was also an early comics podcaster, launching “Talk About Comics” in 2001, and co-hosting the “Diva Lea Show” with Hernandez, beginning in 2003. His first novel, The Death of Donna-May Dean, was released in 1992 by St. Martin’s Griffin; he serialized his second, Snake-Boy Loves Sky Prince: a Gay Superhero Teen Romance, online as a work in progress beginning in 2011.
He “was a true pioneer of webcomics,” retailer and convention organizer Chris Butcher wrote last night on Twitter. Cartoonist T Campbell went more in-depth about Manley’s contributions on his blog, writing, “There was a brief moment, hard to remember now, when webcomics and the Web in general seemed to be unsustainable through advertising. Ad rates were in freefall, panicking artists who, a few years prior, had thought they were more or less set for life. Joey knew how to talk to people, how to bring talent together, and he was the one willing to address the elephant in the room: maybe we needed to change the business model.”
(On a personal note, a very close relative died of pneumonia just a week ago. Please, I implore all of you to see a doctor and catch it early if you exhibit any symptoms.)
Welcome, boys and ghouls, to another frighteningly fun edition of the Deadcomic Overlook … um, Hotel! Ha ha ha ha ha! This is your ever fiendish host, El Satan, bringing you another chilling review of …
Is it November already?
Well, pilgrim, get ready to feast on another review. This time we’ll be looking at a little giblet of a comic called Girls of Monster Paradise by Stephanie Gladden. Will this webcomic leave you feeling thankful, or will it be turkey terrible?
I think Homestuck is seeping into the most treasured crevasses of my brain. I had a generally busy October, which prevented me from updating this site too much. And while I can be a typical LiveJournal parody about how real life got in the way, and how I’m totally going to update and blah blah blah blah blah, but I won’t. I’m a bigger man than that.
I’m going to blame Homestuck.
Darius3 made a humorous comment that clearly Homestuck was the reason for lack of updates, and honesty… it’s not that far off. Not the way that you think, though. For one, typically I can catch up on webcomics by, say, pulling up my iPad or iPhone and reading on my free time. Homestuck is so heavily reliant on Flash that I pretty much have to wait until I get home… and honestly, that’s where I have the least amount of free time. Second, it’s very much a time investment. Someone mentioned it’s longer than the Bible, which I will not doubt for a second. However, reading Homestuck means not reading other webcomics, which, in turn has caused this here webcomic review site to lie barren and fallow.
As a result, I have resolved to take a short break from Homestuck and browse around the other fine webcomics available for perusal. Time for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! One that caught my eye on a purely aesthetic level was submitted for my “Shilled” drive and still has a link on the right sidebar. It’s a little thing called Olympus Overdrive. Created by Oskar Vega, it stars a guy … with the horns … and discolored skin….
There are generic sounding webcomic titles, and there are generic sounding webcomic titles. There’s one variety that follows the Perry Bible Fellowship nomenclature and just tosses some random sounding words together. And then there are the ones that look like they’ll never show up on any online search engine whatsoever. Such is the chase of Internet Webcomic by Mary Tanner, which, against all odds, is somehow the first result to pop up on Google when “internet webcomic” is typed in the search field. Seriously, I expected this to be buried on page 3 or so.