The Webcomicker

Who watches the watchmen?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Now that's what I call a Jesus joke.

Jesus gets banned at Mousewax
I alluded to this in my previous post, but Brandon Lewis has been doing Jesus jokes over at Mousewax for almost a month now. It's been pretty hit or miss with me. It was novel at first, with the whole story arc about Jesus "dying" and them interviewing for a new Savior, but once the strip turned to George Bush jokes I got bored pretty quick. I mean, people have been making George Bush jokes for nigh on five years now, and they've trod over the same ground so many times there's just no grass left there anymore, you know?

But back to the point of this post, which to draw a contrast between this strip and Scott Kurtz' Jesus strip of a few days ago. This is the type of joke I enjoy, because the humor is found not in the mocking of a specific group of people or beliefs, but in the discordance and absurdity of the situation presented in the strip. Not only is JESUS, THE SON OF GOD, playing World of Warcraft, but he's getting banned for cheating at it. The administrators claim he has broken the rules by playing in "god mode", to which Jesus can only reply, "But... I AM God." And that's the line that really did it for me. It works on so many levels. Being God, shouldn't he have the right to play on god mode? In fact, would it be just a little concerning if he played any other way? He's only doing what comes naturally to him, and here he's being told that he, GOD, is wrong by some punk sysadmin. How else could he possibly respond but with complete incredulity?

Of course, if we want to delve down another level, we could ask, since he's God, wouldn't he have known this was going to happen? And how can God be surprised by anything anyways? But travelling that path can only lead to headaches, so I'm going to simply sit back and enjoy the joke.

If I were Eric Burns I'd be giving Brandon Lewis a tasty, tasty biscuit right now, but I'm not, so all I can offer him a saltine cracker and some peanut butter.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Scott Kurtz is a jerk. But, of course, we all knew that already.

Religious hijinks from PvP
Ok, before you all judge me, let me say right out that this post is not going to be one of those "How DARE Scott Kurtz be so anti-Christian" type of things. Penny Arcade has had a few Jesus Jokes over the years which I've had no objections to. Heck, Mousewax has been making Jesus jokes for about a month now and I haven't stopped reading him yet.
My point here is that Scott Kurtz is up to his old tricks of insensitivity. I know he's trying to be funny here, but to me it just comes off as him saying "Oh, you were offended by me using a profanity in the strip yesterday? Well, now I'm REALLY gonna offend you, so there." And that's really unnecessary.
If you get aggravated because a bunch of people complain about something you thought was pretty benign (and it was pretty benign. You people watch TV anymore?), you can do the polite thing and say "Well, I guess we disagree. Sorry." Or you can even do what most people would do and tell them "Shut up, I could care less." Or at the very least make an angry blog post stating "You people are all idiots, stop emailing me!"
But you take the very thing which is so important to these people, the thing they hold so dear that they flamed you with emails just for using his name out of context, and you put him in your comic where HE mocks them for their beliefs??? That's just being a jerk about it. And Scott Kurtz (or anyone) should have more class than that.
I get the feeling this particular comic is going to have repercussions. I can't say what they will be yet, but they are forthcoming. After all, we all remember The Jack Chick Incident.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Real Life jumps the shark?

Life changing events from Real Life
Most people have noticed the changes which have been going on at Real Life, but Friday's comic is the first "official" word we've heard of it, I think. Anyone who's familiar with Real Life knows that the comic strip is meant to provide a (somewhat fantastical) depiction of the real life of its author, Greg Dean. Now, obviously Greg deviates from his actual real life quite a bit over the course of the comic (at least I hope so. We do NOT need someone like Tony with that much power running around our country. That would be a VERY BAD THING), but he has consistently kept the strip at least quasi-updated with the actual event going on in his life. As he's made new friends we've seen the characters change somewhat. We've seen Liz evolve from a "Hey, I've got a girlfriend in real life, let's throw her a few comics" into a full time character who is probably second only to Greg himself in terms of importance to the world of the comic now, which is as it should be if he married the woman and he wants his comic to in any way represent his real life. You can't just marry someone, not have her in the comic, and still title your work "Real Life". First of all, your wife would probably kill you.
That being said, it doesn't change the fact that the comic has jumped the shark. In fact, in this comic, Greg openly admits it. He basically outright says, "Hey guys, my life has changed. I'm not the hardcore gamer I used to be. I'm married! I'm moving into a new place! I'm MATURING, for goodness sake!" And I can't fault him for that.
But the real question here is what this means for Real Life the comic. This is a fundamental change in the premise of the strip, and I don't think some people fully realize the ramifications because it has happened so gradually. It's like your favorite sitcom that starred some child actors. You watch it year by year, and the kids grow up and lose their cuteness and energy which gave the series so much strength in the beginning, and you don't even notice it until they start releasing old episodes on DVD and you see just how much different the beginning of the series was. Go back and read through the old archives of Real Life. It's a DIFFERENT comic strip. The characters are different. It may be the same people, but they had different interests, different likes and dislikes, different things they would and would not do. It started as essentially a gaming comic, but the characters have evolved. I personally like to think the characters in the comic have become a lot more like their real world counterparts than the parodied, stereotyped versions of themselves that they were back in the beginning. And this makes the strip much more subdued, much more relationship driven than "gag a day". Back in the day Real Life much more closely resembled Ctrl-Alt-Delete (although it preceded Ctrl-Alt-Delete, I know), now it more closely resembles Questionable Content.
Now, combine this with the recent announcement by Greg that he has joined Blank Label Comics, the new spinoff group from Keenspot. Most people probably don't remember this, but Greg Dean used to be on Keenspot, in fact, he was one of their biggest draws back in the day, which is why he decided to go solo. Now he's back in collective land. Sure, it's a little different than Keenspot, a more loosely associated "Let's help each other out" group than a "Let's make the single best place for webcomics online and dominate the industry" group, but a collective nonetheless. And I can't help but thinking that Greg is using this opportunity (and the potential new readers it provides) to sort of "reboot" his comic, to recreate it in some new fashion, aimed toward a slightly different (possibly wider) demographic, trying to make his comic break out of it's old mold and soar to new heights. It seems like the perfect time to do it, with his life changing and a new collective to support him in his experiment, so why not? Why not jump the shark, and take a stab at pushing your comic into a new realm of existence?
I'm personally wary of where Greg Dean might end up at the end of this, if he manages to alienate his current readership without successfully building a new one, but I'm hopefully. It's always exciting to see someone try something new, and when they succeed at it, it's just that much more of a joyous celebration. So good luck to you, Greg Dean! I can promise you you've got at least one reader who'll stick it out and see where you take it.

Statement of Purpose

Blog hatred from Todd and Penguin
When you're running a personal website (by which I mean a site pertaining mostly to information about, concerning, or generated by yourself) I believe it is of the utmost importance to maintain a high standard of telling the truth. Why, you ask? Why not just say whatever you feel like, be it true or not? It is the internet, after all, not your real life. Well, for me, the internet IS my real life. It's not the only facet of my life, by no means. But it is a part of my life, just as it is a part of other people's lives. When I talk to people online, when I post on a message board or comment on a site, I'm not just throwing out random bits into the ether. I'm communicating with real, live human beings on the other ends of their keyboards. There's nothing about the fact that I've never seen anyone I know online in real life that makes them any less of a real person. And for that reason, I believe you should conduct yourself online in the exact same manner in which you conduct yourself in real life. Which means if you want to build trust with people, you need to BE HONEST.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I am about to be totally honest with anyone who is reading this post, my first post here at the webcomicker. And I hope to always keep myself to the same high standard that I am setting the trend for here. So let me just out and say it. I HATE BLOGS. I really do. I think David Wright shares my hatred, at least in a subconcious sort of way. Blogs are the biggest waste of time I've ever seen. No one wants to know about your latest trip to Canada and all the fun things you did there. The only people that care are you, your friends, and your relatives. And if you're too lazy to CALL THEM and communicate with them on a personal level, don't waste their time with some asinine post on a crappily pre-designed webpage.
Now, that being said I need to dig myself out of the hypocritical hole I've dug myself here. Yes, I am aware that this website is, technically, a blog. I'm aware that in the URL itself is the word "blog", and that makes me the worst kind of hypocrite of all, the one who says "everyone who does this sucks except me, because I do it better, so there!" And I fully accept your denouncements. Maybe I am a hypocrite. Maybe I have no right to be talking bad about blogs when essentially what I'm doing here is blogging my own random thoughts.
Well, I don't care. You know why? Because I'm INSPIRED. I've been inspired by a website that I'm sure anyone reading this post would be familiar with because it treads the same ground I tread, only in much larger and more ostentasious shoes: Websnark. Eric Burns is an amazing man, bringing to life Webcomics and the webcomics community in a way that I never thought would be possible. His excellent writing skills, keen intellect, and surprisingly diverse knowledge of pop-culture in general and comics in specific make Eric Burns a joy to read. He takes comics which I give a cursory glance at and analyzes them in detail, pulling out gems of insight that I never would have imagined. And he makes it seem so natural. I first found his site when he posted a "snark" (to use his clever lexicon) of Max Powers from PvP, and stuck around to read a few more posts. When it became obvious to me that this guy was not just some dude with a blog and was actually a CRITICAL COMMENTATOR, I gave the site a bit more in depth look. I read some of his reviews. I checked out his Daily Trawls. I read his in depth post about why he stopped reading Megatokyo. Before I knew it, he'd gotten me hooked on about ten more webcomics, and my downward spiral was just beginning. I became a Snark addict, checking his site multiple times a day and hoping he'd post something new. I never commented on his site (not my style. I prefer to keep away from the general sqwaking of the masses), but I've given him a lot of hits over the past few months.
Some days I would be angry when Eric posted about something going on in his job, or his health issues. Some days he'd start talking about something completely unwebcomics related, which is hit-or-miss with me. Sometimes (rarely) he wouldn't post anything at all. And I would be very disappointed. Not in him, persey, but in his inability to get something up that would interest me. And I began to realize, Eric Burns is just one person, and he can only cover so much territory. I mean, just like the rest of us, he's got a life outside of his website, and I can't fault him for that. I appreciate him for keeping up such a high rate of posting at such high quality, actually. I doubt I could do what he's doing for more than about a week.
But that's exactly what I'm here to try. Eric Burns has paved the way. He's the pioneer. He's the guy who showed us all that you can have a critical commentary site devoted to webcomics. You can write intellectually and coherently and people will READ YOU and APPRECIATE YOU. Now, I seek to humbly follow in his footsteps. Not to compete with him, by any means, but simply to fill in some of the gaps he misses. Like I said, he's only one man, and I figure that the more commentary there is about webcomics, the better. So here I sit, at my keyboard. I don't claim to be a professional writer. I don't even claim to know a lot about webcomics, really. Eric recently confessed to reading over 600 different comics, I read about 15. But I'm going to do my best to add to this community, and try to cover things just a bit more.
So this is my promise to you. I will not let The Webcomicker become a blog. I will not tell you about my dog, or how bummed I am about my job or my girlfriend. I'm not even going to tell you what music I'm listening to. I'm going to talk about Webcomics, and topics of interest to the Webcomics community. Ok, maybe I'll cover something a little bit different occasionally, but this site is for webcomic commentary, so webcomic commentary is what you're going to get.
I just had to get that off my chest. Thanks for reading. I promise I'll talk about actual webcomics next time :-)