Category Archives: WCO Poll
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?
I have begun a journey some years in the making. Yes, last time I finally buckled down and started reading Act 3 of Homestuck in preparation for an upcoming review. Now, I’m not as of this moment qualified to make a value judgment, but quite a few opinionated online denizens seem to to prefer it to the earlier Problem Sleuth (which I quite liked). This got me to thinking: which Andrew Hussie project reigns supreme?
I’ve been reading John Teti’s excellent article over at Gameological about the nature of reviewing called “Chasing The Dragon.” The article calls out Warren Spector, who posits that video games won’t gain legitimacy unless there are noted reviewers like Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert on the movie side to filter the content through tastemaking outlets. Teti counters, though, that the internet has changed much of that dynamic:
It makes more sense for the shape of the discourse to shift over time, regardless of the supposed authorities in a given moment. As art evolves, criticism changes as well, not just in its content but also in its form. Criticism ought to be (and inevitably is) more responsive than any one-size-fits-all maturation process could accommodate.
Teti points out that TV criticism, for example, didn’t take off until it was implemented in an episodic format.
That has changed in recent years as the episodic review format has taken hold online. Newspaper and magazine critics tended to check in on programs sporadically—typically during premieres—and then the conversation would end. The space constraints of print made any more intensive converage impractical. On the web, though, writers like Alan Sepinwall and Stephanie Zacharek—not to mention the staff of Television Without Pity—discovered that they could comment on TV with a frequency and depth that did justice to the episodic form.
Naturally, this got me to thinking about this site. There really are two ways of doing webcomic reviews online. Websnark, perhaps the most well known webcomic review site, follows Teti’s recommendation of episodic reviews. This site — and most other sites I’m aware of — treat each webcomic as an individual entity, assessing the whole work in one post.
But … which is right? The episodic format often demands that you stay to the same ten or so webcomics. A one-review-per-webcomic format lets you cover more, but reviews tend to get obsolete quickly.
If you read a lot of webcomic reviews, which is the type of review that you prefer to read?
(Apologies for the self-serving nature of this post. I should have a proper review up by the end of this week, by the way.)
The inaugural season of Strip Search, the first ever reality show to pit webcomic creator against webcomic creator, is coming to a close. I didn’t care much for the first couple of episodes, but I know there were plenty online who loved it (including my webcomic blogging compatriots Xaviar Xerexes and Gary Tyrrell). Granted, I didn’t stick around past Episode 5, so I’ll allow that the show got orgasmically awesome in its later installments.
What do you, the viewers at home think?
There seems to be two schools of thought in how to present comics these days (and these include webcomics). The first is storytelling in the most traditional approach. Explain events using little comment boxes and exposition. It paces things out so you can get a somewhat complete story in around 22 pages or so. Generally, webcomics in this category are Spacetrawler and Order of the Stick. Simpler pictures, heavy on dialogue.
On the other end, there’s the “show, don’t tell” school or comics — decompressed storytelling. These are usually the ones heavy on mood and imagery. They take their time. The joke with some recent comics, for example, is that it takes 6 issues now for comics that used to take 1. (I think Bendis’ run on the Avengers titles are good examples of this.) In this category, more contemplative comics like Ectopiary and What Birds Know.
Both have their advantages, and it usually boils down to narrative vs. visuals. There are also plenty of comics in the middle ground. However, between the two extremes, which do you prefer: compressed or decompressed storytelling?
Sometimes, you really hate a webcomic. But it’s not the webcomic’s fault. Not really. It’s actually the presentation. I mean, this is 2013. Why do a lot of webcomics look like they’re on interfaces designed for GeoCities?
So, readers, I ask this question: outside of the comic itself, what are your biggest webcomic turn-offs?
If there were a thing such as “Webcomic of the Year” — you know, perhaps emblazoned on the cover of Time Magazine or some other archaic format — which would it be?
Would it be Axe Cop, which got its own animated series?
Would it be Hark! A Vagrant, which, despite being on semi-hiatus, managed to net its second Harvey Award?
Would it be Digger, which concluded yet won a Hugo Award?
Maybe it’s Battlepug, winner of this year’s Eisner for Best Digital Comic?
Is it Scenes From A Multiverse, winner of this year’s first ever Reuben Award given to a webcomic?
Perhaps it is The Oatmeal, which brought the internet to its knees with all the lawsuits and such?
Is it CAD, for pulling the plug, then putting another plug back in that looked slightly familiar but came in four different colors?
Or is it Order of the Stick for its ridiculously successful Kickstarter?
Maybe it’s none of these, and there’s another great webcomic in 2012 that deserves praise and accolades (or maybe jeers and snark like that one year Hitler was Time’s Man Of The Year). If so, speak up now, fellow friends, Internet Romans, and countrymen.