Category Archives: The Webcomic Overlook

WCO.240: The GaMERCaT

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Once upon a time, two guys write a webcomic about video games.  This got everyone’s attention because no one had ever done it before.  The comic seemed to say, “Hey guys, we have a hobby that no one has ever made jokes about really. Come here and enjoy our gamer jokes and our references that people in the mainstream won’t make because they  think it’s too obscure.”

There guys got successful, and people paid attention.  Many readers loved video games too and also loved to draw.  Suddenly, new comics seemed to pop up all the time with jokes about video games.  People kept reading them and buying T-shirts depicting licensed products like the kind you’d find tightly sandwiched between other shirts on a table at the  neighborhood flea market.

But as video games became more mainstream, a lot of the humor seemed tired and repetitive.  There are only so many times you can mock politicians who are critical of video game violence, after all.  Especially when that fount of rage ceases to become a pressing issue anymore.  After almost 20 years, there had to be some way to keep the humor fresh in a world where The Big Bang Theory is the highest rated show on television.

What about a website that combines the internet’s biggest obsession in the aughts: video game webcomics … and cats?

No, not that one.  A different one.  I’m talking about The GaMERCaT, Samantha Whitten’s far more recent webcomic with a feline twist.

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So yeah, Axe Cop

Lauren Davis talks up “51 Eisner-worthy webcomics”

Eisner Awards, eh? What is this malarkey! Some people are bechuffed — bechuffed, I say! — about some of the candidates that were passed over this year! Why, it’s enough to incite a riot!

… OK, so no one is bechuffed. They’re barely even bedraggled. I mean… there’s like a dozen comic-related award ceremonies this year.

But that doesn’t stop Lauren Davis from listing 51 Awesome Webcomics that she believes are deserving of recognition come Eisner time.

The category for Best Digital Comic launched in 2005 and it’s always been perplexing for avid followers of webcomics. We’ve hoped that the category would be an opportunity to highlight independent comics by lesser known creators and in some years, it has done an excellent job of doing just that. However, the nominees tend to include creators who have strong ties to the world of print comics, and sometimes digital offerings by big-name creators edge out people who have been working in webcomics for years. (Case in point, Joss Whedon and Fabio Moon took home the 2008 Eisner for Best Digital Comic for the Dark Horse digital release of Sugarshock!)

You dare impugn the name of the Honorable Master Joss Whedon, Ms. Davis? What, are you just asking for a thousand browncoats to be mailed your way? Because if you are … can … can you loan me one? It’s sorta chilly out here. My size is Extra Large.

Lauren Davis’ list is quite comprehensive, ranging from JL8 to Unsounded to Dresden Codak to Something Positive to… well… there are 51 of them. Read it for yourself, homies!

(Full disclosure, Ms. Davis mentions this humble site in her piece. Thanks for the shout-out!)

What did you think of STRIPPED?

The Dave Kellett and Frederick Schroeder joint Stripped! hit Kickstarter donators last month. The video was made available last week on iTunes, with the option of getting it on DVD. The movie is filmed in interview style, with a bunch of sit-down chats with comic strip and webcomic luminaries. The narrative takes viewers from the history of comic strips to the newspaper crisis, and provides different viewpoints as to the future of comic strips. Also, Bill Watterson totally drew the poster for it.

But I’ve spoiled too much. What do you, the viewers at home, think of STRIPPED?

News: Amazon buys Comixology

Hat tip to Morgan Wick via Twitter: Amazon buys Comixology.

Amazon has just announced that they will acquire comiXology, a service that offers digital versions of comics from Marvel, DC, and many others.

To date, Comixology offers upwards of 50,000 comics for sale. In 2013, the company launched a self-publishing platform for comics that allows comic creators to upload and sell their own work — a strategy which fits hand-in-hand with Amazon’s own self-publishing efforts for books.

It’s a boost of confidence, I think, that online comics are now considered a profitable medium. Comixology has indeed been doing good business, and the acquisition is a pretty interesting wrinkle in Amazon’s continued quest to expand to the field of entertainment media (what with the Instant Video aspect getting way more press).

WCO#239: Dresden Codak

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Aaron Diaz’s Dresden Codak is a strange creature. It debuted back in 2005, back when webcomics were developing a reputation as the sophisticated alternative to their comic strip brethren. xkcd launched in the same year, and A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible not long before that. Perry Bible Fellowship was starting to gain a strong following. At the core of these comics as a brainy just-out-of-college mentality. The gags were still sometimes juvenile, but at its core were concepts and ideas that were smarter and more clever than ones on the Sunday Funnies. Except Marmaduke. That comic is pretty dang subversive.

And all of them, including xkcd sometimes, would surprise you by hitting you with some great looking art. It may be easy to forget, since a lot of art grads now know of webcomics as a great way to expand their portfolio, but aesthetically webcomic art was pretty dire. The medium, after all, was originally conceived as an amateur hobby where some folks got lucky despite the artistic merit, e.g. tons of pixel comics. As a result, comics like Dresden Codak were incredibly eye-catching in comparison.

Typical of early Dresden Codak is a comic like “Li’l Werner.” It’s a one-shot comic with no continuity baggage. Diaz is still experimenting with his art style: this time homaging the black-and-white cross-hatching of Edward Gorey. The strip hinges around a tongue-in-check parody of Aryan physics (the Nazi nationalist scientific movement to discredit Jewish scientists like Albert Einstein). There’s a sharped-toothed Philip Lenard recalling anti-Semitic caricatures, a tiny Heisenberg, and something about “current momentum.” I don’t pretend to know what the heck any of this is about. But it sounds smart and the multiple tiny Heisenbergs is a cute visual gag. It’s a lovely comic to introduce to your local Tesla fan.

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The 2013 Reuben nominees were announced… and it’s surprisingly a good list

Let’s face it… very few people had heard of last year’s Reuben winners. It was the second year, and the categories were split into two: Long-Form and Short-Form for Online Comics. While it technically spread the webcomic awards by double, I don’t know many people who’d heard of either Ten Cats (the Short-Form winner) or Untold Tales of Bigfoot (the Long-Form winner). Both comics were alright, by the way.

This year’s nominees, though, are a solid mix. Let’s check out the Reuben noms:

LONG-FORM
Dicebox – by Jenn Manley Lee
Family Man – by Dylan Meconis
Red’s Planet – by Eddie Pittman
Tuki – by Jeff Smith

Of these, the only one I haven’t read is Tuki. And, man, it’s Jeff Smith (Bone, RASL). Of course it’s probably good. I really can’t process these categories through the Sugarshock-o-meter to predict a winner, because I think all four have an equal and very deserving chance of snagging the award.

SHORT FORM
Watson – by Jim Horowitz
Buni – Ryan Pagelow
New Yorker Online – Mike Twohy

… I’ve heard of Buni. Still, I am not opposed to the New Yorker competing in a webcomic category. The New Yorker comics have been upping their online presence as of late, running caption contests and commission works from prominent webcomic types. Watson looks alright… if a little unremarkable.

Still, there’s your Reubens, and the fight over who wins the Long-Form category should be interesting at least!

(h/t Robot 6)

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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