The Webcomicker

Who watches the watchmen?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Update on Biggest Webcomic Loser

Ok, I'm officially in the contest now. You can see me over at the participants page. So if anyone wants to pick me as their pony and put up a pledge, I'd only consider that added motivation. Remember, you only pay proportionally to what I lose! (I get the feeling a lot of people that actually know me will go and put up big pledges now, figuring it'll be a sure bet I'll actually end up owing them money at the end.)

I'll try to keep you guys posted on my progress in a fairly consistent manner, perhaps in my monthly roundups. My weight loss method of choice is gonna be Weight Watchers (gimmicky, I know, but I've heard it works), and they require you to weigh in every week, so I'll be able to give a pretty accurate picture of how I'm doing.

And yes, because I am a participant that means from time to time you will get to see my crappy artwork. I'll do my best to make it funny, though.

It's like the Hurricane Relief Telethon every day of the year! *squeal*

from the Biggest Webcomic Loser.

I don't think anyone's picked up this story yet, so hopefully when I see it going up on a lot of websites in the next few days I can attribute it to people reading my blog and get a slight ego boost. Then again, someone I probably don't read has probably already mentioned it, and I'm just another voice in the crowd. (Edit: Yep, Comixpedia beat me to it. They're on the proverbial ball, over there)

No matter. The news must be heralded from every hilltop anyways. Because this is pretty dang cool.

I think most people know by now that the life of a webcomic artist is a sedentary one, at best. Not only are you doing a great deal of drawing, which by nature requires you to sit down at a desk for long periods of time, but you're also doing all your work on the computer, which means even more sitting down while you format everything to be displayed on the web, and being a part of the community means more sitting down in front of the computer and watching a screen.

So, in a nutshell, being a webcomicker does not encourage a great deal of activity. And, because it's much easier to eat some chips or a candy bar while you are drawing or mouse-jockeying than to have a salad in front of you (which requires a plate, a fork, probably some napkins...), there is not a whole lot of encouragement to eat healthier foods (and let's not even talk about the food choices when you go to cons).

So, all told, the webcomicking community is a veritable breeding ground for overweight people. I myself tip the scales at 325 on a good day, so I'm an active member of the obese club.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Honestly, I've seen the statistics, and I know it's just plain not healthy to be so overweight. Your risk for heart attack and diabetes shoot through the roof. I've been blessed with good genes, so my blood pressure and blood sugar levels are actually at very good levels, but my obesity has already claimed my gall bladder, and that was a very painful time in my life, let me tell you.

But it doesn't have to be that way. And that's the rallying cry that began Biggest Webcomic Loser. Philippe Gaboury came up with the idea, knowing that he personally had a fair chunk of change to unload and noticing that a lot of other creators suffered from similar problems, he figured, "Why not get the webcomic community together and support each other on this?" Just like when the webcomic community came together for the Hurricane Relief Telethon, only on a somewhat smaller and significantly longer scale.

And so he set it up. And now it's become something awesome. Not only is it webcomickers getting together and supporting each other in their goals of losing weight, but they're collecting pledges, and all the money goes to charity (UNICEF, to be exact). So the more weight that gets lost, the more money UNICEF gets. And, to top it all off, there's going to be daily comics by participants chronicling their losses and giving encouragement and laughs. Like I said, just like the Hurricane relief telethon, but for a longer time.

In a word: awesome.

I missed out on participating in the Hurricane Relief Telethon because I couldn't get my act together. Well, I'm not missing out on this one. I'm joining up today, to lose weight, get healthy, and help my fellow webcomickers achieve the same goals.

I don't care if I'm the biggest loser. In a competition like this, everyone wins. (Yeah, I know, it's a corny line. But it's true!)

Monday, January 23, 2006

A chance for the fans.

Page one of [Insert Title Here], by the good guys at Panda Xpress.

So, Panda Express turned one year old a few days ago, to which I say: "Congratulations! I thoroughly enjoyed the first year of PX and I'm looking forward to many happy returns!" Panda Xpress really is a great comic, with some of the best use of color (outside of their Pepto Bismol site design, of course) that I've ever seen.

So how did they celebrate? With a self-gratifying pat on the back and a big "hurray for us!"? No, instead they celebrated with something that's purely for the fans: a webcomic written by the fans.

That's right, the Panda Xpress guys are embarking on a new webcomic project that will be written entirely by fan submissions. They've got the guidelines posted up over here, and anyone who wants is free to submit their idea for the next page. If the PX guys decide they like it, they'll lay it out, draw it up, and post it on the web for all to see.

I personally think this is an awesome way not only to give a little present to the fans, but also to develop a more hardcore fanbase and maybe draw in some new readers as well. There's just no feeling quite like seeing your idea get turned into a well drawn strip, especially if you're no artist yourself (like me).

So why not give it a shot? They've got one page up so far and they've selected a page 2, so watch the site, and as soon as page 2 gets posted, dive right in with page 3!

I know I will. I've already got some ideas in mind.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Proof that it is possible for me to do a short review

Just one of many amusing moments from Inside the Box.

When Paul Southworth of Ugly Hill linked to Fleen, he mentioned it as a site you could visit to read about webcomics without having to wade through a 17 page essay. Now, I know he was probably referring to Websnark when he said that, as Eric Burns is famous for writing ridiculously long essays. However, I have been known to drone on in my posts as well, so for all of you out there who prefer conciseness, here's a very concise review for you, of Inside the Box.

Inside the Box is the continuation of The Far Side. If Gary Larson were to suddenly decide to keep doing The Far Side as a webcomic, it would be Inside the Box. It's got scientists, monsters acting like normal people, animals doing human-like things, the generic kid, and, of course, cows.

If you liked The Far Side, you're going to love Inside the Box. If you didn't care for The Far Side, you're not going to like Inside the Box. That's all there is to it.

Done and done.

Some thoughts on Popcorn Picnic

One of many amusing observations about movies from Popcorn Picnic.

All right, I promised this post days ago and never delivered. I've been hedonizing far too much for my own good the past few days and it's going to come back to haunt me down the road, methinks. In any case, here's some thoughts on Popcorn Picnic, by Chris Shadoain.

This isn't a full-blown review, because... well, Popcorn Picnic isn't really a full-blown webcomic at the moment. It's only got about twenty strips in the archive so far, and is only updating once a week. So we don't know much about the direction it's headed yet.

What we do know, however, is that it is a webcomic which consists primarily of two guys making snarky comments about movies. There's no continuity, just a new riff every week. Sound familiar? It should. It's the exact same formula Penny Arcade has used to build its empire in video games.

Other similarities to Penny Arcade? Popcorn Picnic is willing to occassionally disregard it's main characters in favor of an out-and-out parody of a movie instead, should the situation warrant it (ala Penny Arcade's many video game parodies), and it's allready established in multiple strips a washed up drunk character in E.T. (ala Div, who we don't see nearly as frequently as we ought to around Penny Arcade these days). So let's take a look at some key factors to Penny Arcade's success and compare them to Popcorn Picnic.

First of all, Penny Arcade is legitimately good. It's funny, it has ever-improving artwork, and it's pretty much spot-on most of the time in the way it points out the foibles of video games. Now let's look at Popcorn Picnic. It's also funny (the one I linked at the top of this article is one of my personal favorites), Its artwork has improved from the first test strip (and will presumably continue to do so as time goes on. Remember, only twenty strips in), and it's pretty much spot-on most of the time in the way it points out the foibles of movies.

Second, and probably more importantly: Penny Arcade appeals to a larger market than just webcomic fans. It appeals to all people who play video games (and some people who don't. Myself included in the latter group), which is a market that has exploded in the past five or six years. Millions and millions of people play video games, and most major releases these days come with multi-million dollar development money behind them. But still, the video game industry pales in comparison with the movie industry. Billions and billions of dollars go into movies every year, and more than likely there are billions of people worldwide that watch movies every year. You can't ask for a better demographic than "everyone who goes to the movies."

And this brings us to Joey Manley. For, you see, I discovered Popcorn Picnic when I heard Manley reference it in a recent Blank Label Comics Podcast (yes, I am addicted to the Blank Label Comics Podcast now. Curse that catchy theme music!). the hosts asked Manley what he thought a secret to webcomics success was, and he said one of the most important things at this point was to have a comic which appealed to a demographic outside the realm of "people who like webcomics". The number of people in the "webcomic fans" demographic is simply too small to support more than a few creators. If you look at the webcomickers who have been able to make a living off their creation, you'll see that in almost every case they've garnered support from a major group outside of webcomic fans. Penny Arcade and Ctrl+Alt+Del = video gamers, PvP = video gamers at first, and then generic comics fans, Questionable Content = indie rock fans/angsty teens (sometimes I think these demographics are one and the same), User Friendly = Slashdot types, Schlock Mercenary = sci-fi fans, etc. Each one of these comics has been able to find a larger pool to tap into and absorb new readers from.

So what about Popcorn Picnic? In the podcast Joey Manley cited Popcorn Picnic as being a prime candidate for success ala Penny Arcade because it could appeal to such a potentially broad fan base, i.e. people who like movies. And it's certainly got some of the pieces in place. Good humor, good art, low commitment level and easy new reader entry (you don't have to read the whole archive to enjoy "today's strip"). I like how you can click to see a list of movies in theaters and there will be links to strips he has done about them, and I like how the rest of his archive is listed alphabetically by movie under the heading "On Video and DVD". I think that's a great way to connect with his audience, who's used to seeing stuff in that sort of format. In fact, I personally would include the "Still in Theaters" links on every comic page so that someone who happens on the site can look and say "oh, he's got something about King Kong too", and that can help hook them into the site further and hopefully become a committed reader.

It might be interesting for Shadoian to try putting up his own commentary on movies and movie related items, just like Tycho over at Penny Arcade does for every strip, but then again Tycho is a completely unique creature and perhaps trying to recreate that same sort of feeling that Tycho is able to evoke with his own brand of high-brow colloquial speak would just seem lame in comparison. So whether or not having accompanying commentary to the comics would help increase the popularity of the site or not, I can't say.

In terms of exposure, how can Popcorn Picnic connect with its potential audience? I doubt Shadoian has the money to advertise on such sites as IMDB, RottenTomatoes, or, and neither are those sites in the habit of linking to sites outside their own little close-knit network. And does the average movie watcher stray from these giants to read the reviews of bloggers and other such amateurs? Not bloody likely. So we've got a potentially huge audience, but an almost equally huge obstacle of trying to find some way to connect with that audience and help them to find your comic.

And, quite frankly, I don't know how Shadoian could do it. Anybody out there got any ideas?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More Updates

Ah, the joy which is the beginning of the semester. Lot's of free time for reading webcomics. As such, three more to add to my reading list:

Girl Genius
Inside the Box

Candi got reviewed by William G, but I think he deleted all his stuff, so I'll give it a review as well. Suffice to say, it's kinda like a high-energy Questionable Content with more sexual escapades.

Girl Genius, I think most people know, is a comic which was originally in print and then switched to the web as the primary means of distribution, with at least moderate success (by which I mean, they still do it that way). Right now they are reprinting their old volumes in a MWF schedule as Girl Genius 101 and also putting up new ones on a MWF schedule as Girl Genius Advanced. Because of my intense distaste for reading things out of order I'm just following the 101 storyline right now, but I anticipate at some point I'll get tired of waiting and buy the collected volumes so I can get into the Advanced Class and get caught up to the cutting edge.

As for Inside the Box, it is The Far Side. It's not "inspired by" The Far Side, it's not an homage to The Far Side, it's not even a ripoff of The Far Side. It is The Far Side. It's like Gary Larson got tired of all the publicity and pretended to end his comic, then started anonymously doing it online instead. If you liked The Far Side, you will like Inside the Box.

This is kind of a copout post, and I feel sorry for the lack of meaty commentary lately, so I promise later tonight I'll get a post up about Popcorn Picnic and Joey Manley's Tips to Success! So stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yet more proof that if you don't read Count Your Sheep, you're dumb.

The evidence of mastering the craft, from Count Your Sheep.

I've been thinking a lot about the nature of critical commentary lately, what is good critical commentary, and is good critical commentary the only thing worth reading or are other opinions and ramblings worth reading as long as they're interesting. A lot of my thought has been sparked by the launch of Fleen and all the various debate which has ensued. I've been following Fleen because I like the concept, but so far they have yet to say anything I find particularily insightful, so I wonder if I should keep reading it just because of the potential of what it could be. At the moment it seems to be nothing more than another webcomics news aggregate. Yay...

But in any case, all my musing on critical commentary and whatnot has brought me to the point where I think it's important that everyone knows my own personal biases and aspirations, so they can view my writing through the properly focused glasses. Not to say my criticism is undermined by my opinions and goals (far from it, I feel my writing is driven by these, and most criticism is, and that's part of what makes it interesting).

So let's talk about me for a moment. I am, in fact, an aspiring webcomicker. I already have one monumental failure under my belt, my current comic is something of a learning experience, and I've got a new project in the works which will hopefully hit the 'net sometime in the next month or so. Now, I'm not looking to make a living off webcomics (I'm an engineer by trade, which is a far more lucrative market), but I'd be lying if I didn't say one of my dreams is to someday be wandering around a con and have someone say to me: "Hey, you're that Gilead Pellaeon guy! I love your work!" My main reason for having this blog is not to promote my comics (the main reason is that I enjoy writing and this provides a good outlet), but I'm not against using the blog from time to time for shameless self-promotion. I also am highly committed to trying to expand the world of webcomics, so that will frequently color my writing as well.

And, like any other person in the world, I play favorites. I have certain webcomics that I just gosh-darn like better than others. Maybe that makes me an imperfect critic. Maybe it makes me biased. Maybe it makes my other opinions invalid, because I can't take a completely objective standpoint. I honestly don't care. If I want to play favorites, it's my prerogative. Heck, even Mr. Webcomic Critic himself, Eric Burns, has made it pretty obvious that he plays favorites, and his favorite webcomic is Narbonic. The best I can do is to be up front about it as much as possible so I don't get accused of having some sort of "hidden agenda".

Now, that being said, let's get into the meat of this post, which is about Count Your Sheep. Everything I've said so far in this post was just a prelude to this statement: Count Your Sheep is my #1 most favorite webcomic. It's creative, it's well-written, it's consistently funny, and the artwork is becoming increasingly more awesome. I think Adrian Ramos is an inspiration to us all in how far he's come from the beginning of the strip, with the rough, two dimensional artwork and very simplistic dialogue. I love it.

And today's strip just struck me as exceptional. I mean, Adis uses the windows on the bus as panel dividers! That's amazingly clever. Is the strip one panel, or is it three? The disjoint is really quite artistic and results in a great effect. Adis has been doing a lot of "multiple panels in one scene" effects lately (including like practically every strip this month), but this one is the first one which really had a clear sense of both a continuous scene AND divided time frames (panels), and it just floored me.

The funny thing is, on top of it all, the joke wasn't really that great. I mean, it wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't one of the more funny offerings, even in the past month. I remember in reading the Calvin and Hobbes tenth anniversary book Bill Watterson made the comment that great art can make up for a lame joke and vice versa, and this strip was definitely one of those cases in which the art saved the day.

Adis, I owe you a beer. Or some sort of juiced fruit beverage.

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's amazing what you can accomplish with a three-day weekend: Updates

Ok, so I'm finally back in front of my usual computer with a fair amount of free time on a weekend. So what do I do? I read comic archives (I also watched some old episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, because that's something you've just gotta do from time to time, you know?).

I knocked out three comic archives so far, and with Martin Luther King Jr. Day ahead of me I'll probably knock out at least one more tomorrow. So here's the new ones added to my reading list so far:
Dominic Deegan, Oracle for Hire
Monkey Law
Popcorn Picnic

As always I'll try to give you guys full reviews at some point, but for now suffice to say that Dominic Deegan rocked my socks off when it wasn't being preachy (I mean, come on, a series about safe sex in a medieval fantasy webcomic?? What the heck?), Monkey Law proved to be a clever and funny webcomic in spite of the fact that I didn't agree with the majority of the political views and stereotypes, and Popcorn Picnic has a Penny-Arcade-esque amount of potential to it. In fact, it could become even bigger than Penny Arcade, given time.

At some point I'll expand all those blurbs into reviews for you guys. Until then, just know that all three comics are on my reading list now.

I also updated my links to webcomics related stuff to be somewhat more relevant (What with Honest Webcomic Reviews disappearing and whatnot). I added Comixpedia and Fleen. I will comment on Fleen here at some point, but I want more time to evaluate it first. It is still in it's fledgling stage right now, and a lot of people have been jumping to conclusions about it. I do not jump to conclusions, and I also hesitate to jump on bandwagons as much as possible. As it stands, Fleen is a site with a lot of good webcomic related content, so it's going in the links.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

It's baaaaaaack...

An announcement of upcoming events from Poppycock Circus

You know, of all the webcomics I read that have announced they were over, or gone on hiatus, or mysteriously disappeared, the one that I thought was least likely to reappear was Poppycock Circus.

Apparently, I was wrong. It's back, and in the form of Poppycock theater. I don't know what it's going to be about, I don't know how it's going to be done, but I know the cast of Poppycock circus is going to be back on a weekly basis, starting January 18th.

And that makes me a happy man.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A brief apology and teaser for things to come!

Sorry for the relative lack of posts lately. I've been meaning to post more (especially with Websnark on break) but a combination of factors have kept me away. I've been working from my parent's computer while I'm vacationing at their house, and I just don't feel comfortable working on a computer that's not my own, you know? Does anyone else ever feel that way? Also I've been cooking some new projects for my ever expanding portfolio, so those screaming kettles have resulted in me putting the Webcomicker blog onto the back burner and turning the heat down to "simmer".

Anyways, one neat thing I've got going that's fast approaching the boiling point is a little experiment with content management for webcomics which will hopefully coincide with a new webcomic experiment of my own that I'm planning to launch. It will hopefully be a learning experience for everyone as I demonstrate a few of the webcomic content management systems available and what can be done with them, and at the same time experiment with a writing form which is completely new for me. I expect fun times.

For those of you that want a preview, the two main webcomic content management systems I'm going to be showing off are CUSP and Chalupa, so you can check them out if your curious to get a sneak peek. If anyone knows of any other content management systems designed specifically for webcomics (not just like some work-around with Moveable Type), please let me know.

What's my ultimate goal in this? To help webcomics artists be able to create the most functional, best looking, most all-around professional websites with a minimum of effort on their part. You shouldn't have to be an HTML, CSS, Javascript, and PHP guru to have a well functioning, nice-looking site. You should have an option which lets you do it simply. And so my quest begins.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Getting the monkey off my back: A review of Zap

A good shot of pretty much all the characters in Zap!

Ok, I've sat down to write this review like four times, and failed miserably every time. It's getting written this time, come Hell or high water!

So let's talk about Zap. The first thing that struck me about Zap is how much it reminded me of those old adventure shows, with the hero sporting a leather jacket and sturdy brown-green pants, the girl in a bright orange jumpsuit. Even the name of the website sounds like an old 30s or 40s serial: "Zap! in Space!"

With character names like Zap Vexler, Reona Lightstar, and a robot named "Robot", and with our forces battling evil empires and psychics, Zap (the comic) seems to draw heavily from that old style of storytelling. When reading through the archives I half expected a disembodied narrator voice to start talking at the end of every strip: "Will Zap and his friends be in time to save the ship? Can they overcome the evil of the Galactic Earth Federation? Will Zap and Feona every express their unrequited love? Tune in next time for another exciting episode of..." (with heavy echoing effects) "Zap... in... space!"

So let's talk about the comic itself for a moment. The strip centers on the adventures of the crew of the starship Excelsior (which, I believe, was at one time a ship on Star Trek as well). Zap Vexler is the captain, who was chosen by the ship and seems to be somewhat slow in the head, despite possessing powerful psychic powers. Zap also suffers from amnesia. Reona Lightstar is the first mate, who is still trying to find the previous captain of the ship who has gone missing, but is unintentionally beginning to fall in love with Zap. Grontar is the mechanic, he's a giant four-armed alien who seems to be fiercely protective of Reona and the ship in general. Robot is the pilot and is insufferably acerbic and always ready to put Zap down. Together they fight against the Galatic Earth Federation, pirates, and whatever else seems to come across their path. There's also a lot of minor characters worth noting and a fair amount of political intrigue over on the bad guy side, but it's too much to go into for a short summary. Zap does a good job of weaving an intricate plot onto a relatively simple premise, so while you may get confused as to what exactly is going on at any given moment, you've always got a pretty good idea where the series is going and how the characters will react.

The artwork in Zap has progressed substantiall as the series has worn on, as seems to be the case with most every webcomic. I think it would be a great encouragement to many people to go back and look at the beginnings of most of the big webcomics out there. They'll probably find that in almost every case the artwork has substantially improved as the comic has matured. And it's encouraging to think that your pathetic scrawls you're putting up now will probably evolve into something much better if you just keep putting the time into it.

And, at it's core, Zap is nothing more than what it appears to be. It is a space opera. The characters are pretty one-dimensional, the storylines are very episodic in nature, and there's no real building of suspense or intrigue as the plot winds on. They solve their problems on one planet and then they're off to the next to engage in new and exciting adventures, leaving their enemies shaking their fists at the sky and vowing revenge.

But is that so bad? Sure, the relationships and drama don't run as deeply as they do in Megatokyo, and the humor isn't as daily funny as in Starslip Crisis, but Zap does have that sense of wonderment that is lost in most modern sci-fi. Everything in Zap's world is brightly colored, fast-paced, and just generally exciting. It hearkens back to an older era when people were still amazed by technology and what feats it could perform. When the idea of spaceflight and psychics and casinos in the stars kept young kids up late at night just thinking about the possibilities and dreaming of what might be. Zap has that certain sense if giddiness that seems to have gotten lost as our technology has been approaching the level of our dreams and we're content to play with what we have instead of imagining what we could have. And it's a roller-coaster ride that I for one find refreshing.

So if you like sci-fi strips, and you like bright colors and exotic locales, dashing heroes performing deed of derring-do, evil villians, and romance, then stay tuned for Zap... In... Space!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Initial fullfillment of New Years resolution: the December Roundup

Ok, I promised you all I'd be giving a roundup every month for all the comics I read, and I've decided to make it one of my New Years' resolutions. This post is going to be long enough without all the chit-chat, so let's dive in.

The Roundups are going to be in alphabetical order because I can't think of any better way to do things.

Applegeeks: Despite what I'm sure must have been some grueling Fall Semester finals, Hawk and Ananth have continued to produce some excellent work. We're seeing a quasi-continuation of the "Eve goes Berserk" storyline by having the little kid whose bike Hawk stole coming back for revenge. The guys returned to their normal style, putting aside the more serious look from the berserk Eve story arc, and I'm glad they went back. The other look was just way too serious. My personal favorite Applegeeks comic of the month is this one. "A million hojillion" just cracks me up every time.

Argon Zark: Nothing happened.

The Big Three-Oh: Personal issues (remodeling a house) got in the way of Philippe's comic. Hopefully we'll see a return in January.

Bolt City: We got yet another fabulous Copper page for December. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I wish Kazu Kibuishi had more time to devote to Copper. If we could get one Copper a week, that would be fricking amazing.

The Adventures of Brigadier General John Stark: Mysteriously stopped updating about halfway through the month. Eric Burns will probably claim it's due to other concerns taking the forefront, but I'd wager dollars to donuts the real reason is he's running out of good ideas. See my post on the subject. Still, there were some good ones concerning history's apparent misrepresentation of the figures of Benedict Arnold and John Andre. My personal favorite for the month was this one.

Count Your Sheep: Every time I think Count Your Sheep can't possibly get any better, Adis steps it up another notch. I've been practically begging all my friends and family to start reading, this comic is just that good. Trying to pick a favorite for the month is like trying to choose which of your children you like best, but I did get an especially good laugh out of this one.

Ctrl-Alt-Del: Tim Buckley sent shockwaves through the webcomic world by announcing that an animated version of Ctrl-Alt-Del, professionally done, was coming down the pike. The repercussions of this will not be fully known until probably the end of next year, if not later. But I did make some predictions concerning this in the Comixpedia year in review, which I'll discuss in another post. I'm beginning to think I'm actually psychic. But, lost in the shuffle of all the drama was the Ctrl-Alt-Del comic itself, which was actually pretty interesitng with the resolution of the "Evil Emma" storyline with Zeke (the X-bot) regaining the group's trust by saving Ethan and Lucas. We also got a little bit of the "extracurricular" humor that we've come to expect from Ctrl-Alt-Del, and one of those strips came in as my favorite for the month when Tim made fun of RPG game cliches. Sure, it's been done before. But it's still funny.

Dinosaur Comics: Continued unabated. Nothing really stands out as spectacular in my mind, but Dinosaur Comics is always a good time. That's really the hallmark of Dinosaur Comics, consistency. You get good pacing, good writing, and an all around solid joke almost everyday. If I had to pick a favorite, I would say that this one stood out in my mind. Those last panel gags are the best!

Dandy and Company: Went on hiatus due to general emotional burnout on the part of Derrick Fish. Don't feel like you have to rush back, Fish. Times can be tough sometimes, and we understand.

Dork Tower: Dork Tower went down the continuity road with a parody of "It's a Wonderful Life" starring the game store owner, Bill. And while the storyline did have it's moments, overall I felt it was a somewhat subpar outing. Still, subpar for Dork Tower is pretty good compared with many other tabletop gaming comics. My favorite from the series was this one.

Elf Only Inn: remained on hiatus.

Fantasy Realms: Put up one new page, letting us all know that they are not in fact dead. But we haven't seen anything from them since that one page, so they're obviously still very very tied up in other things.

Freefall: We finally saw a resolution of the looooong series involving Winston and Florence. That series did see a lot of character advancement for those two, but it just didn't have enough Sam for my tastes. Fortunately it looks like we're heading into a Sam-heavy plotline as he takes Florence fishing. Hopefully this signals a return of the high energy Freefall which we haven't seen in quite a while. My favorite strip for the month was this one, because it so accurately portrays what my Mom's dog is like.

Gossamer Commons: Taking a month off from the normal storyline (presumably to allow the new artist to build up a buffer of strips), Gossamer Commons ran a Christmas story which I didn't read. Why didn't I read it? I don't, I just didn't feel like doing all that reading, I suppose. *shrug*

HOUSD: We saw a lot happen over at HOUSD last month, but of course a lot happens at HOUSD every month because the strip has near-frenetic pacing. We saw Stitch and Maggie get together, leading to Maggie transforming herself into a super-goth. Unable to stand it, Jess sabotages the relationship and tries to set up Maggie with Craig's brother, Marco. Yeah, it sounds like a soap opera. But it's actually quite funny. Here's a representative example. HOUSD just never seems to lose momentum, and I'm loving it.

Inverloch: December was the "Lei'ella and Varden show" at Inverloch, with the rest of the characters barely even getting cameos. We definitely saw those two advance their relationship quite a bit, and we got yet more awesome artwork from Sarah Ellerton. I don't know how she manages to put out such consistently amazing work, artwise. As for the progression of the story, it seems to have slowed down considerably as we've been exploring the relationships between the characters. I hope we get to see more of the cast in the upcoming month, especially Neirenn, who is still somewhat one-dimensional. As for a favorite page, I'd say this one, which demonstrates the advancement of Varden and Lei'ella's relationship more than anything else.

Mac Hall: We saw a grand total of three new strips from Mac Hall in December, which is disappointing, but I don't really expect any more than that from those guys, unfortunately. I get the feeling Mac Hall is slowly dying. Still, the few strips they are producing are still quality work, as evidenced by this entry.

Megatokyo: With Megatokyo the question is not "what's been going on?" but "where do I begin?" I've been meaning to give Megatokyo a whole post for some time now, but haven't been able to get around to it yet. Maybe tomorrow. Fred Gallagher has been weaving the story so thick the past month that I imagine even many of the longtime fans are getting confused. We now know that Inspector Sonoda, Tohya, and Erika have a linked history. And, it seems, Tohya's manipulation of people goes far beyond just winning over all the people the world in a MMORPG. Once again Megatokyo has me locked in it's vice-like grip, and I can't get enough.

Melonpool: In perhaps one of the more interesting stories, Steve Troop seemed to get down-right fed up with Melonpool and called a hiatus. Now, I understand that a lot of personal issues factored into the decision as well, so the acid test will be seeing how he comes off the hiatus, whether it will be with a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm, or if he comes back under a sense of weighty obligation and necessity. Hopefully it will be the former, because the new Melonpool is starting to look really good. I especially liked strips such as this one.

Mousewax: Mousewax continues to be one of my favorites, with the insightful Jesus jokes (as opposed to many Jesus jokes I see which are just outright base). I loved this strip, which once again managed to cram two good jokes in, with the old "saves" pun and the admission by Jesus that he and science and technology don't get along. Classic. Brandon Lewis mentioned in a strip that he may not have time for Mousewax this year, and I just hope that isn't the case. I think he needs to join a collective or something, and spread the word on his strip, because I think a lot of people would like it.

No Need For Bushido: The thing about No Need For Bushido is... I've been ejoying the alternate scripts a lot more than the actual storyline. Now, perhaps part of this is because the main storyline was off on a sidequest, with the characters acting in a kabuki play, but still, the alternate scripts have a sense of timing to them that rivals even Dinosaur Comics. I especially enjoyed this one, with a last panel gag rivaling even the best work that Dinosaur Comics has produced.

No Room For Magic: Adis continued his introduction of the characters. No Room For Magic isn't good yet, but I get the feeling that once we get past the introductions and into the story, it's going to be very good indeed. I did enjoy this silly "in-betweener" strip.

Nodwick: I just realized my link to Nodwick in the sidebar has a typo. Oops! Nodwick continued it's storyline with our plucky band of adventures seeking out a dungeon destroying undead cloud, with all of the party except Piffany getting sucked in. This storyline seems to be taking a much more leisurely pace than most Nodwick outings, so we'll have to see where it ends up. With Nodwick, the payoff is always in how they resolve the problem, not so much in the progression of the story itself. Still, there's always a chance for humor as the characters interact, as evidenced by this exchange.

Nowhere University: I don't think I've ever actually talked about Nowhere U on this blog, which is something I'll have to remedy at some point. But the month of December was pretty much shot for the comic. There seemed to be some kind of half-hearted attempt at a crossover which fizzled out (thankfully... that crossover looked like it was going to be painful), then just some uncomfortable silence, like Allison McMullin didn't quite know how to get over it. Hopefully Nowhere U comes back strong in the new year, because it's in danger of being dropped by me right now.

Panda Xpress: Panda Xpress reached an anti-climax, of sorts, with the confrontation between Wikkity and Weatherby/Dahlia, in which Wikkity discovers he's been duped by the goat, and I'm guessing he'll be joining the good guys now. We also saw a short Christmas story involving Santa and pirates, which was my favorite Christmas story in all the webcomics I read. Why not read the whole story here? It's short!

Penny Arcade: Penny Arcade also had a Christmas story, this one involving The Merch. And I wasn't a big fan. I thought The Merch was funny when he was first introduced as a parody of the obviously commercialized kids shows we all used to watch that existed for no other purpose than to make kids want to buy toys, but I wasn't a big fan of him as an actually character. The jokes just didn't really click for me. But the PA guys still managed to turn out some decent strips before the Christmas continuity, and I particularily liked this one.

The Pet Professional: We actually got a Pet Professional animation this month, which was pretty sweet. The Pet Professional continues to be a quality comic, and I'm hoping in the new year that the strip can become a bit more consistent in updating.

PvP: This December, we actually got to see Brent get into the Christmas spirit, which was a welcome change of pace. We also got to see yet another example of the PvP cast being resistent to change as Jade disliked the holly jolly Brent. We also got to see some fun jokes involving Scratch Fury hiding in a Christmas tree and scaring Skull. And those were the jokes that hit home with me this month. I especially enjoyed this one.

Questionable Content: Quite a bit happened in Questionable Content this month. First there was the frank discussion between MaArten and Faye in which Faye finally reveals her past, with her father having committed suicide, and tells Marten she can't have a relationship with him until she gets emotionally healthy, which may never happen. This whole exchange caused a HUGE amount of discussion in the webcomics world and certainly garnered Jeph Jaques a lot of attention. All in all, well done. Then, the QC cast took a break from being so serious with the boys and the girls separately going out to have a good time. We also saw Marten meet yet another girl who seems to be interested in him. He is, quite possibly, the luckiest man I've ever seen outside of an anime (where this sort of behavior seems to be common. I call it "Tenchi Syndrome"). Fortunately, this girl doesn't seem to be interested in any sort of sexual fashion, but I'm sure it will still lead to some interesting times to come, especially since they happen to live in the same building (which hints at the fact that perhaps their meeting is not so coincidental as it may seem...) So yeah, Jeph Jaques has given us plenty of reason to keep reading.

Real Life: To say that Real Life has been having issues lately would probably be the understatement of the century. Their server has obviously been straining under a heavy load, as the site has been breaking quite a bit lately, and the updates have been spotty at best as Greg and Liz have moved to San Francisco and Greg has been getting adjusted to his new job, and getting ready for his new school. In a word: hectic. So he can be forgiven for the inconsistency. Hopefully when everything settles down, we'll see a fresh new Real Life with fun new characters, new situations, and a return of the silliness. I can't pick out a favorite for the month right now because his site is currently having issues.

RPG World: remained on hiatus.

Shortpacked: We saw some interesting plot at Shortpacked this month with one of the extra staff hired for the holidays vying for Ethan's job. We already know Ethan's position is tenuous thanks to his dislike for selling the toy insurance, and the new guy is obviously trying to make him look bad as well. So we'll just have to see what happens. We also saw a number of really great one shot pop culture gags this month as well, including my favorite with a return of Batman. As for the normal continuity, I particularily liked this strip.

Staccato: Shawn Handyside actually showed a surprising amount of consistency by updating Staccato twice over the course of the month (two out of four ain't bad). Neither of them stood out as spectacular to me, but what are you going to do?

Starslip Crisis: For most of the month of December Starslip was running a story with the Fuseli crew going in search of the greatest piece of artwork in history: The Spine of the Cosmos, and running into some trouble with the man who owns it, Lord Katarakis. Katarakis demands that they hand over Mr. Jinx, who is apparently needed by him to interpret the piece of art. And, I dunno. The storyline just hasn't really clicked with me. I'd much rather we get back to Vore and Zillion (the guy with the strange accent). But I do see how the introduction of a villian such as Katarakis adds some interplay to the story. So I'm holding on. And some of the strips have still been good. I did like this one.

Todd and Penguin: Perhaps the most dramatic turn of events within a comic this month was in Todd and Penguin. Todd's wife got in a car accident, killing their unborn baby. Now, dramatic turns of events like this one are nothing new for poor Todd, but this is the first time anyone else has been dragged along with him, and this is the first time he's really had anyone to share his pain with. There's definitely going to be some gut-wrenching moments coming up in Todd and Penguin, but I think we're going to see a much better ability to cope and a lot less depression than we've seen in the past. At least, I hope so.

Tweep: Not a whole lot going on in Tweep this month, with many of the strips being devoted to showing silly dreams the characters are having. Still, that seemed like a fitting way for Tweep to end the year, perfectly in tune with the melody of the strip, somehow. And it also managed to provide some rather amusing in-jokes for fans of the strip. I especially liked this one.

Ugly Hill: We finally saw the resolution of a very long Thanksgiving story arc and we got a pretty long Christmas story arc as well. I liked the Thanksgiving one a lot, and the Christmas one had it's moments, but wasn't as good. I'm just not a big Snug fan, what can I say? In my opinion Ugly Hill is at it's best when Hastings is on the screen. One of my favorite strips of the month was this one, which shows that in Ugly Hill, no one is perfect.

VGCats: The amazing thing about VGCats (and the thing which keeps it running, I think) is Scott Ransoomair's unique ability to take an inside joke and make it still be funny even if you're not getting the inside jokes. Take this strip from December for instance. I've never played Final Fantasy VII. Heck, I've never played ANY Final Fantasy game. I imagine for an FF7 fan this strip would be the most hilarious thing ever. But even for me, without getting the in jokes, the strip is still pretty funny out of context. And that's talent.

Winger: Winger actually began as a strip in December so this comment is actually on the first set of strips ever to run, and I've gotta say, this strip has captured my heart. Maybe it's because I'm a conservative (actually I like to think of myself as a moderate with conservative leanings, but I'm guessing I'm more conservative than I claim to be). Maybe a liberal would absolutely hate this steip. But somehow, I just don't think that would be the case. Sure it paints conservatives in a better light. But all the characters are sympathetic, and Minion is far from the typical liberal typecast you see in many conservative arenas. As for a favorite comic, I did enjoy the trolls, but I'm going to have to give the award to the last strip of the month when Carson Fire just hit on all four cylinders, humorwise.

Zap: A full review of Zap is in the works. In fact, I even had half of one written when I decided I didn't like what I had to say and deleted it. Hopefully the review will go up before the end of the week. But as for this month, Zap spent the entire time dealing with a sultry blue-skinned, tentacle-haired alien named Demonica. We're not sure entirely what her intentions are with Zap yet, but we know she's going to factor into the storyline in an important way somehow. Still, the month of December was pretty much just a bunch of sexy poses and tentacles flying around. A little scary...

Ok, that does it for the comics. It's also worth noting that the Daily Grind Iron Man Challenge lost four people in December, which is quite a lot. And now, since this post seems to be in danger of killing Blogger with it's length, I think I'll stop talking now.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Fear my Psychic Powers!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that I'm psychic. Or, at least, I do have a few prognostication skills.

Direct your attention to the Comixpedia year in review article, where at the end I make predictions for the upcoming year (you'll have to scroll down a bit to find me. Or just search for my name). Note where I say: "Tim Buckley's Ctrl+Alt+Del animation is a resounding success. As a result, some other major webcomics creators (PvP, Penny Arcade), not wanting to look "behind the times" jump o­n the bandwagon and get some animated versions of their characters going o­n."

Now, it would be a bit early yet to say that the Ctrl+Alt+Del animation is a resounding success (it's not even OUT yet), but Scott Kurtz already tipped his hand at not wanting to be left behind by launching PvP Alive. Would he have made this quickly thrown together animation demo if Tim Buckley weren't on the brink of releasing a major animation series? I think not.

We're only a day into the new year and already one of my predictions came true. How long before the next one? We'll just have to wait and see.