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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.


At 3:28 AM, Anonymous shank said...

Hey, I have been reading your blog for sometime now, you seem to have missed a few good ones, Userfriendly & phd-comics strike me as quite decent..just thought you might like to look them up

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Gilead Pellaeon said...

I've considered walking down the UserFriendly path several times, but the "archive from hell" has always turned me away. Maybe I could just bite the bullet and pick it up sans-archive, though.

I'll give phd-comics a look-see.

At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Philippe Gaboury said...

So you're saying UserFriendly isn't ?


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