Category Archives: ? Stars
Penny Arcade Expo blew into town last Friday, causing a substantial uptick of enthusiasm at my office. A co-worker, who was once a professional gamer, scored some badges and is probably currently basking himself in fantastic awesomeness. My boss, who was once a pretty hardcore gamer but now is happy to play a few games now and then on the Wii with his wife, was fairly envious. He proposed that my co-worker do a lunchtime presentation so we can vicariously live through his experiences.
Heck, if I want to be brutally honest, so was I. Sadly, the cheapest badges on Craigslist at the time were $65, and I’d have a very hard time convincing my wife to drop that much money just to play video games all day.
It’s pretty humbling to realize that all this, the greatest video game expo in the world, started off with a webcomic about video games. It inadvertently launched thousands of dreams, where webcomic creators everywhere imagined an amazing world where their own webcomic about Mario being a delusional middle-aged man met similar glorious fortunes. I should point out, by the way, that I have nothing against video game webcomics. In fact, I enjoy a fair amount of them. There have been so many of them now, though, that it takes quite a bit of effort to stand out from the ground.
In honor of Penny Arcade Expo, I’m tackling video game webcomics all week. First up is Brentalfloss, by Brent Black, Dan Roth, and — as you may be able to tell from the sample panel posted below — Webcomic Overlook’s favorite webcomic creator, Andrew Dobson.
Abraham Lincoln. Whether or not you agree with his policies, Barack Obama made the right choice when he chose Abraham Lincoln as his role model. You can’t really say anything bad about a man who stuck by his principles so closely that he died for his country. Unless you’re some sort of Johnny Reb, you’d be hard-pressed to name anyone else who’d be regarded as the Greatest US President. The thing that doesn’t get mentioned often enough is that Mr. Lincoln was a wiry guy who, in his younger days, liked to wrestle on his free time. I’d like to think that the classic debates with Stephen Douglas were punctuated by an impromptu no-holds barred match.
Spider-Man. Peter Parker by day, crime-fighter by night. Friendly. Neighborhood. Friend of his Aunt May, Gwen Stacy, and the Human Torch. Enemy of Norman Osborn, The Shocker, and J. Jonah Jameson. Radioactive bug bites turn him into a superhero. Alien symbiotes turn him into a super emo. Recently, a deal with the devil effectively dissolved his marriage to wife Mary Jane, much to the confusion of everyone following along in the newspaper funnies section.
These two heroes, along with Captain America, are finally united in the Amazing Spider-Man: President’s Day Special. (Interestingly, this looks to be the Steve Rogers Captain America, who’s technically still dead. But then again, so is Lincoln, so who am I to talk?) In celebration of President’s Day, the comic is available free online at the Marvel Unlimited site. Yeah, it’s only a six page long story. The rest is a reprint of that over-hyped “Spider-Man meets President Obama” comic. From a comic standpoint, this is the equivalent of those cavity-fighter pamphlets you get at your dentist’s office. So why in the heck should I even give it a look?
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Ah, Japan. It’s the only country in the world that can turn anything into a teenage girl. Most people would find no inspiration beyond pure academic purposed in, say, the Nazi Luftwaffe. But you know some intrepid Japanese anime out that is saying to himself, “Yes, I CAN see dewy eyes and perky, barely covered lady lumps in that Messerschmitt Bf109.” Or, “God, I seriously don’t care how much we piss off China! I simply must make girls out of their air force!”
Judging from his name, I assume that Josué Pereira is not from The Land of the Rising Sun. Yet his webcomic, Nerf Now!!, is undoubtedly a love letter to Japan’s glorification of the adolescent woman.
The mad science of random ratings continues! Today’s Crabcake Confidential looks at a webcomic review request sent to me some months ago, “The World of Roodie Doodie,” a webcomic written and illustrated by a guy named Roodie Doodie. (But really, isn’t it quite cruel of his parents to name him Roodie if Doodie was already an odd sounding surname?)
When you start a website about webcomics, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get a bunch of requests from webcomic creators asking you to review their comic. There are some bloggers who openly mock such requests, calling the creators out for their pathetic self-promotion.
I take another stand. I sympathize with the webcomic creators. It’s tough to get new viewers when the internet boasts thousands of webcomics and millions more distractions. Heck, I struggle to get viewers to this blog, and I get a shiny, happy feeling when it gets linked on ComixTalk or other reputable webcomic sites. So when requests started trickling in, I was up to doing a few requests. Besides, everyone who sent a link asked nicely, and that counts for a lot.
There’s a small problem, though. How do I rate these reviews? What if I truly felt a webcomic was terrible and I gave it a low rating? Doesn’t that seem kinda low since the creator was nice enough to send a link to their comic along? And if I rated the comic too high, I would be forever wondering if I compromised the integrity of my review just to be nice. What kind of person would I be if I liked everything I reviewed? Probably Roger Ebert, but that’s beside the point.
So I came up with an innovative solution: the rating will be totally arbritary … like the name of this feature. Oh, it probably will have something to do with what I felt about the webcomic, but the meaning will be so vague and enshrouded in mystery that you could probably debate what I really meant. It’s all very zen and post-modern. Perhaps you can tell how I felt about a webcomic by the text of the review itself. This is the internet, though, where amateur reviewers tend to be crass about a movie or game that they liked … just because it’s funny to complain (supposedly). So when I start rambling like a grouchy old war vet, am I being truly vicious or am I just trying to be the next Yahtzee Croshaw?
It’s a core duality that powers my art. That’s, like, deep … I think. Hopefully, one day some college student will reference this post in their Senior thesis, “Metaphysical Methods for Reviewing Webcomics,” using words like “avuncular” and “egregious.”
So the inaugural “Crabcake Confidential” is about Beachnuts, a comedy webcomic by Mike Vincelli about surfer culture. “Beachnuts” is to surfing what “Penny Arcade” is to videogames, which is to say that it’s burns with a dangerously obsessive passion. I’m no surfer myself, so I essentially viewed this webcomic as an anthropological guide to the surfer lifestyle.
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