…and if you haven’t caught it yet… New Homestar Runner! Not April Fools! (Or… is it?)

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Guess what’s back for April Fool’s Day? If you said the original cast for Les Miz… then no. It wasn’t.

But what did return… was none other than that great … perhaps the greatest … of online flash cartoons, Homestar Runner. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’d considered making this site the Webtoon Overlook because I was a huge fan. (In fact, the HRWiki forums was where I discovered many webcomics and webtoons when most were in their infancy.) I put a stop to that because, well, Homestar Runner was the only webtoon that ever really mattered. Relive the days of out of date computers and questions about how Strong Bad can type with his boxing gloves on with this most welcome revival.

Metapost: next review

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This just arrived in the mail. It will also be the subject of my next review.

Stay tuned!

Whose Voice is it Anyway?

Politics and personal views are almost always a touchy subject in any form of entertainment. Most people are against it, especially when the view held by the author goes against their own. But what if you don’t want to insert your stance on an issue, but the view held by one of your characters as a way to give them more depth and show who they are as a character?

That is a good idea, but there is also the problem in that if you are not careful with how you write, readers are going to start thinking that those are your views, even if they go against what you believe in.

I know, because I have made that assumption many times in the past, especially when it comes to authors with a history of inserting long rants arguing for their brand of politics. If I see a character going on and on about a topic for a few panels without being contradicted or challenged in any way then I tend to come to the conclusion that the audience is being preached to.

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If you’re going to make God the villain, actually show him being evil, don’t just tell us why you hate Christianity. Still a good series otherwise though.

 

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WCO #238: LARP Trek

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The great songwriter “Weird Al” Yankovic once wrote, “The only question I ever though was hard was ‘Do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?’” Also he wrote that he memorized Monty Python & The Holy Grail, and his quote were sure to have you rolling on the floor, laughing.

But back to Star Trek. It’s a heady question. One that has likely ruined friendships and spurred a pointless internet discussion or two. Kirk appeals to renegade adventurer types who crave action and diplomacy solved by bare chests and balled-up fists. Picard appeals to those who love class, civility, and French captains who inexplicably talk with a British accent. (Actually, there is a somewhat canon explanation for that last part… but it is beyond stupid and does not bear repeating.)

Webcomic creators seem to fall firmly in the Picard camp. There are parodies. Videos. Erotic adventures. Plus he’s Patrick Stewart, whose dulcet tones are far more seductive than William Shatner’s hamminess. Thus, the fondness for the OG baldheaded captain should come as no surprise. Many webcomic creators are in their 30′s and 40′s, and when they were kids The Next Generation was the jam. Maybe in a decade or so, there’s going to be a ton of Star Trek Enterprise references in webcomics… but don’t hold your breath on that one.

Ah, but what of the great Deep Space Nine? While not quite the pop culture juggernaut as the original series or the Next Generation, DS9 is nevertheless regarded by many Trek fans as the best Trek series. Well, Josh Millard didn’t forget, and DS9 features prominently in his webcomic LARP Trek.

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Can We Critique?

First, a quick plug, I recently discovered that if you buy one of my comics, there’s an option to receive a discount if you share it on social media. So you get a cheaper book and I get some more exposure. Everyone wins.

This one took me a while to get down properly because it’s a delicate subject and needs to be worded properly.

With webcomic criticism, there has always been a bit of debate over whether it is actually allowed or not. I have seen numerous people, authors and fans alike; respond to negative feedback with “You shouldn’t complain because you don’t have to pay for these comics. If you don’t like it, just don’t read it and stop complaining.”

And I have to call bullshit on that.

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WCO#237: Redd

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In hero fiction, losing an appendage is never the end of the world. In fact, it is an opportunity for more adventure. A missing hand, for example, and be replaced by some sort of robot prothetics, like a claw that can crush through solid metal or a pop-up sword. As a child, who among us didn’t pretend to retract their hands into their long sweater sleeve, then pretend that what came out was a massive Gatling gun, poised to mow down the enemy forces that exist only in a child’s brutal imagination? PVC tubing or bendy straws may have been involved.

Hence, you have a host of super tough dudes who have amazing prosthetics. You’ve got Cable, a beefy mountain of a man who has one metal arm. Surprisingly, he doesn’t tip over or develop back pains. You’ve got Robocop, who’s sort of a jumble of replacement limbs, including a leg that awesomely contains a gun holster. Awesome robo-appendages can also be found on the ladies, such as Kimiko Ross from the webcomic Dresden Codak.

However, all those assume that the characters were born with functional arms and/or legs. What about characters who never had such a luxury? Maybe flippers hands or … perhaps … not even having arms at all? Where is the superhero for the handicapped… or rather, the handi-capable?

What’s that? Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a … plane that seems to be missing its wings! It’s Redd!

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Apartment 16

So writer’s block for a new article has struck me again, so I decided to share one of my projects that didn’t get off the ground because of all the down times my sites were having last year.

Most people have probably heard the horror stories of famous creators dismissing criticism, even if it’s well thought out and presented constructively, as just trolling or bashing. And with the internet, those types can just ban and delete as they wish. But what if someone like that had to live with someone who could not stop pointing out their flaws?

I’ve referred to the website That Guy With the Glasses in a couple of my past columns. I used to be a big fan of the man himself, Doug Walker, but around 2011 he stopped appealing to me. Nothing bad, it just was not my thing. In 2012 he brought an end to the website’s flagship title, The Nostalgia Critic, to move onto a show called Demo Reel, which was a comedy that parodied well known properties, while also following the lives of the studio making said parodies. I gave the pilot a chance, but it just did not grab me. A day or so after the first episode premièred, I was talking to a friend about the show. I told him I wasn’t going to be following the series and he started to get a little defensive, which he tended to do whenever he felt someone was attacking something he cared about. I might have been, actually, I could be a little over critical back then. So we go back and forth, arguing about the series, until he delivers his trump card: “Well how would you do it differently?” I was unfazed and told him that I would just take out the parody angle and make it a sitcom about an indie studio struggling to find their big break through original properties. We dropped the conversation, but the idea stuck with me for a while until it started morphing into something else.

 

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This was the first time I ever did set designs. It really helped me with keeping the backgrounds consistent.

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WCO #236: Camp Weedonwantcha

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I have a startling confession to make: I’m a pretty big fan of the probably cancelled NBC series Siberia. (I was also a fan of The Cape, so maybe I’m just attracted to failure.) Siberia starts off by fooling viewers into thinking that they’re watching a reality show. Contestants are dropped off via helicopter into the forbidding wilderness of northern Russia. Like all reality shows, they start things off with a silly challenge. Race to the cabins! The last two get eliminated! The trappings are familiar to anyone who’s watched TV in the last decade. There’s filmed confessionals to flesh out character personalities, alliances being formed, and mugging for the unseen cameramen.

Show’s true format and statement of intent reveals itself by the end of the first episode, though. One of the contestants is presumed dead. Brutally mutilated. It slowly dawns on the characters (and the viewers) that nothing on the show is as it seems. Slowly but surely, the safety net disappears. The characters arrived in Siberia with the assumption that, no matter what goes wrong, there’s a support team hiding just out of view to deal with the really serious stuff. Like food rations, medical care, or keeping away dangerous animals or people. Scary moments are initially brushed off as just being part of the show. The real horror creeps in when the characters suddenly realize that nobody is in control, and they are all at the mercy of whatever dark, unspoken mysteries lurk just beyond the campgrounds.

The same sense of primal eeriness permeates Katie Rice’s difficult to spell webcomic Camp Weedonwantcha. (“Weedonwantcha” is a play on words: it’s both a parody of camps that takes on Native American names and what Avengers director Joss Whedon says when he wants to pick up chicks.) The encroaching sense of desperation isn’t at the forefront, though. This is primarily a humorous comic about kids having adventures at camp. One that they seem to be unable to leave. And not because the crafts classes are super fun.

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