Blog Archives

Discussion: rereading old webcomics?

ps859

It turns out that I was super busy last week. My football team, the Seattle Seahawks had won the Super Bowl, something which was directly tied to a number of ancillary events. Super Bowl parties everywhere, freezing my toes off at the victory parade, etc.

And now there’s the Olympics, which I can zone out in front of for hours on end while an unknown athlete (to me, anyway) places gold in a sport I don’t follow. It’s hypnotizing. I’m usually not very patient, but I can mainline twelve or so speed-skating competitions in a row.

Between that, though, I’ve been reading an old webcomic. Namely, Problem Sleuth (reviewed here). It’s probably because I’ve been reviewing Homestuck lately, and I was curious to see if it held up. The last time I’d read it was in … 2010?!?!? (Good Lord, where did the time go?)

Despite being less polished (especially the inventory system, which I can see being more animated in the Homestuck era), I found myself enjoying it a lot. The story actually breezed by a lot more now that I knew when, exactly, the story would ramp up from adventure game parody to a world populated by parallel-dimension characters.

I also found myself increasingly amused by how much of Problem Sleuth paralleled Homestuck. (For example, I’d forgotten about the plugged-in windows that were portals to a world of imagination. And that the afterlife took place on very Homestuck-y lotus flowers.)

This was also the first time I’ve read a comic that I’d already finished. Perhaps it was that magical Olympic influence: the constant drum of something repetitive and familiar made me very receptive about rereading a webcomic I’d finished some time ago.

So here’s a question for y’all: have you ever felt the need to reread a webcomic you’d already finished? Perhaps to either see if it was as good as you remembered… or to gain a new perspective on the comic?

WCO #231: MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck (Act 6)

wcotitle-v4a

(For the rest of this multi-part review, check out my thoughts on Acts 1-4 and Act 5.)

You’ve got to hand it to Andrew Hussie. They guy seems to go out of his way to be as alienating as possible. Just when it seems like the story’s gaining traction, he’s all, “Nuts to that sh*t. Time to roll with something that makes even less sense.” When MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck started, it bore a lot of similarities with its predecessor, Problem Sleuth, as a parody of an adventure game, complete with confusing inventory systems and glitchy controls. But then, all of the sudden, it became this complex world-building mythology, with multiple planets and a core system of light and darkness anchored by two planets with two moons.

And then Act 5 rolls around. Hussie introduces a bunch of abrasive new characters with orange horns that were so myriad that they seemed impossible to track. Oh yeah, and they’ve got their own alternative world and a complicated system of romance. Clearly, Hussie has disappeared straight up his own butt, right? Well, that maybe so… but the gamble paid off, and Homestuck became more popular than it ever had been before. At least with the costume stores supplying gray facepaint to all the troll cosplayers out there.

When we get to Act 6, then, the question isn’t, “So, what’s Hussie going to do to answer all these puzzles and mysteries?” It becomes more, “What sort of ridiculous bull is Hussie going to make up just to needlessly confuse and deliberately obfuscate the story even further?”

There are drawbacks to being this experimental, though. At some point, the mythology can get too top heavy, and the characters the readers learned to love over the course of the story get lost in the shuffle. Hey, Losties: remember Lost, Season 6? The experimental one that discarded the format, explored all new characters with a sideway universe where the cast had different adventures because they were living in a parallel world?

Me neither.

04296

Read the rest of this entry

The Five Greatest Webcomic Fights

Tom Spurgeon started it all with Greetings From the Land of Beatings: Five Superhero Fights I Like. Chris Mautner at Robot 6 followed up with Six Great Non-Superhero Fights. So naturally, like the homer I am, I asked myself: “Where are the greatest webcomic fights?”

The answer, of course, is that webcomics are well known for snarking on video games and spurring internet memes, but perhaps not so well known for action sequences. But there are some pretty goods ones. Leave it up to me to provide an answer to a question no one was asking in the most trivial way possible.

5.) Mr. Blank vs. Mr. Black, Sam & Fuzzy

The rivalry between the costumed Mr. Black and Mr. Blank plays throughout the entire “Noosehead” story. We learn about their previous friendship and how their life decisions caused them to take opposite sides in the conflict over who gets leadership of the Ninja Mafia. It even sucks in the main characters, who have to decide whose side they’re on. So when they come to blows, it only makes sense that it ends up being a battle royale with everyone in the cast, including Gertrude the ninja girl and the perpetually fearful Sam.

4.) Dr. McNinja vs. a horde of ninjas, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

One of the earliest of the Dr. McNinja fights, and one of the best comes from “D.A.R.E. To Resist Ninja Drugs and Ninja Violence.” Dr. McNinja is off to rescue his father and his young ward, Gordito, and he has to hack his way through a horde of ninjas. On the way, you get the usual silly touches like chainsaw nunchucks and butt punches. I mean, this is Dr. McNinja, after all. But it’s still an incredibly solid action sequence from beginning to end.

Read the rest of this entry

The Webcomic Overlook #124: MS Paint Adventures: Problem Sleuth

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.


Read the rest of this entry

MSPaint Adventures update: Put … the bunny … back … in the box

I’m not going to pretend I’ve been following MSPaint Adventures recently, but can tell you that I am a sucker for a good Con Air tribute. Check it out… preferably with the speakers set to 10.

%d bloggers like this: