A picture of my webcomic shelf. Click on the picture to see it in convenient desktop wallpaper size, so you can bask in my reflected glory!
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned on here before that I'm a fan of reading in the bathroom. Also, I love having the opportunity to sit down and read my favorite webcomics without having to suffer through the annoying wait for each individual comic to load.
Reading webcomics online can actually be frustrating sometimes. It sounds weird, since you'd think webcomic=meant to be read online, but it's true. Especially when you're reading a comic with a continuous storyline, the little breaks while you're waiting for the next comic to load, coupled with the hassle of occassionally having to scroll or move your mouse around to find the "Next" button can really make you lose the flow of the story. It also makes it take a lot longer to read.
So if a webcomic I enjoy comes out with a print collection, chances are I'll buy it, and the webcomic shelf stands as a testament to that. In fact, on two occassions I've bought the complete line of books for a webcomic before I even read the comic (Melonpool and PhD), so yeah, I'm a fan. Anyways, let's take a look at the shelf, from left to right:
- Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Ok, technically not a webcomic, but Scott McCloud's name has become synonymous with webcomics so I figure it counts. And yes, I know it'd be more appropriate if I had Reinventing Comics, but Understanding was the only one the store had, and I just haven't gotten around to ordering the other one yet.
- Melonpool volumes 1-5. As mentioned before, I bought these before ever reading Melonpool, partly because they were uber-cheap and partly because I knew I would like Melonpool but wading through the archives online would be tough. These are definitely a good buy, with commentary on all the strips and a ton of extra material. Probably the most extra material of any of the books I own. Plus, did I mention they're cheap?
- That really skinny one is the Webcomics Hurricane Relief Telethon collection. While the quality on that one is not the best (probably due to the fact that it's an ammalgamation of strips which were probably sent in a variety of different formats and qualities), it's a piece of webcomics history which will definitely be remembered by future generations.
- Next we have the Nodwick Chronicles 1 & 2 in one volume. Now, I might be mistaken here, but it's my understanding that this is material that's not on the web, but actually from comic books. It's actually the one book on the shelf I haven't read yet, so I can't really comment on it.
- Following that is the PvP Dork Ages collection, which I've attached PvP issue #0 to (issue #0 was actually a recent PvP comic book which sold for 25 cents and was meant to introduce new readers to the comic. But it was only 25 cents so I figured what the heck and picked it up). I also have the other three volumes of PvP way over on the right side, since the shelf is organized by book size for the most part. The PvP books don't really have any extra material, but the material that's in them is stuff from the comic books, which varies somewhat from what appears on the web. In general it's the same stuff but what's different is actually pretty cool.
- Next are two out of the four Dandy and Company books. I had originally planned to get all four, but after seeing the quality of the first two I decided to wait and see if Derrick Fish doesn't try to get them published in a new and better way in the future before buying more. I don't know if the problem stems from upsizing his web-quality strips or if it's just that Cafepress has really crappy print quality, but in any case both those books are jaggy-city.
- Now we're up to the infamous Penny Arcade book. And of course, being printed by Dark horse means the quality is good. And there's commentary on all the strips, but I don't really consider that to be extra content since the commentary is basically required as half the strips wouldn't make a lick of sense without it. Also in the back of the book is the infamous "Webcomics Manifesto", which was really nothing groundbreaking at all, just Tycho saying that webcomics ought to be available to read online for free, which to me just seemed like a cheap shot at Scott McCloud and Joey Manley, but whatever.
- The Real Life Year One Collection gets a lot of brownie point with me for being by far the longest book on the shelf (except maybe Nodwick, which again I haven't read yet). It's definitely got over 300 strips in it. And Greg Dean comments on all of them, although for the most part the commentary doesn't really add anything, and it's got a lot of typos. Dean seriously needs to get a better editor (hopefully his wife can help him now).
- The Ctrl+Alt+Del books began with a somewhat sour taste in my mouth because Tim Buckley uses ZeStuff as his distributor, and ZeStuff is the most ridiculous shipping gouger I've ever seen. If you ever want to buy Ctrl+Alt+Del, VGCats, or 8-bit Theater stuff, wait for a con because otherwise the price will almost be double thanks to the shipping. As for the books themselves, they are very much Ctrl+Alt+Del, with commentary by not only Buckley, but many of the characters themselves. Not much in the way of added material, but nice pretty full colors.
- I got the two volumes of PhD at Jorge Cham's university lecture before having read his strip, and they are good. Not a whole lot of extra material, but volume 2 does have about 6 extra strips that never appeared online, and in my opinion they are absolutely crucial to the plotline, so if you're a fan of the strip you've pretty much gotta buy the books. Pretty sneaky, Jorge.
- After that comes the first Starslip Crisis collection, which narrowly wins out in the coolest name contest with "A Terrifying Breach of Protocol". A more cleanly presented book, it doesn't contain any commentary but it does have character bios, which is pretty cool.
- Volume 1 of RPG World suffers from the same jaggy issues as Dandy and Company, which makes it very tough to read sometimes. Which sucks because RPG World is a really cool strip.
- Lastly, we've got the Megatokyo books. The first one has commentary to fill space before the strip went "manga style", and each volume has a special story/short comic at the end. But what really makes these books worth it is that this is really the way Megatokyo was meant to be read. Fred Gallagher groups together all the Shirt Guy Dom strips, Dead Piro Days, filler, and other random junk at the back of the books, which leaves the story to run uninterrupted for the whole book. And it's so much better than reading it online. If Gallagher had the guts, he'd shut down the website entirely and run Megatokyo solely as a print comic, releasing comic books maybe four times a year and collected volumes once a year and not only would that shut up the critics, but I think it would give him the freedom to make Megatokyo even better than it is already.
So that's it for the books I own. I'd like to mention that I also tried to order Girl Genius books and a Mac Hall book, but they appear to be out of print.
Some books that I may need to buy:
-Word on the street is Dinosaur Comics has a super-awesome book on the way.
-Dominic Deegan has a book, but with only a bare 100 strips in it out of his whole archive of over 1000, it hardly seems worth it.
-Dork Tower has a lot of books. Too many for me to buy them all, and also too many for me to decide which ones are worth buying. So I'm caught in suspension.
-Goats has several books, which can be purchased in a handy dandy bundle pack. Come next paycheck, they will be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine.
-HOUSD has a book, but it's even shorter than the Dominic Deegan one. It's on my "include sometime when I'm making a big order" list for awhile.
-Inverloch is getting a book come May. I'm practically foaming at the mouth for that one (the web presentation kills Inverloch, in my opinion).
-Schlock Mercenary is getting a book "soon". Not soon enough, in my opinion.
-Ugly Hill has a book, and I was on the verge of ordering it when I checked out the preview page and saw the the whole thing was in black and white. Not grayscale, mind you. Straight up line-art black and white. And now I'm on the fence. On the one hand I love Ugly Hill and want to support it, but on the other hand the comic just looks lame without the colors, in my opinion. It robs it of all its charm.
So there you have it, a brief summary of books from the webcomics I read. I'm pretty happy with what I've bought, and I only look forward to buying more. Keep 'em coming, boys.