The Webcomicker

Who watches the watchmen?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

You know, I always wondered this myself.

The creepy world of photo development, from Tweep.

If you haven't been following Tweep the past few weeks, we've been mired in a fairly long storyline in which one of the characters undergoes a fairly mundane task, which is pretty much par for the course in Tweep. Nothing too exciting ever really happens in Tweep, it's pretty much a "slice of life" strip. This doesn't mean it's not good, mind you. Tweep does "slice of life" extremely well, with characters that manage to be colorful and fun without being over the top. Basically everyone in Tweep could be the guy or girl next door, and that's really part of the charm.

Anyways, this storyline has been focused on Julie, and she's going to get pictures developed. It took quite a few strips for her to actually get to the photoshop (slice of life, remember), but now she's finally arrived, and we've been introduced to Brigitte and Phillip, a delightful couple of characters that I've totally enjoyed. They're both so full of energy, but in a real way, not like the hyperactive Robin of Shortpacked or the childlike Skull of PvP. No, Brigitte and Phillip just resonate, like your favorite aunt and uncle.

But I especially liked today's strip. And not just because of the great interplay between the characters and the absolutely spot-on expression on Brigitte's face in panel two. I liked it because this is the sort of thing I've always wondered about, too. Do the people at the photoshop really look through all your pictures and check them? Like, not necessarily in the freaky-stalker way like Robin Williams in One Hour Photo, but still...

See, back in the day I used to work as a camp counselor. And one week I had this really awful bratty terror of a kid. And one of his hobbies was to steal people's cameras. I tried to keep mine locked up, but he got his hands on it anyways and claimed that he took a bunch of pictures of the other kids in our cabin in their underwear. Now, when I got the film developed, there were no such pictures. Nothing even close. And I always wondered if the kid was just messing with me, or if the camera shop just kept those pictures and now I'm on the FBI watchlist. They'll probably resurface if I ever run for Congress or something.

Ah well. At least Tweep made me laugh.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Setup

Rising tension, from Starslip Crisis.

Let me preface this post by mentioning that the website I use for tracking my webcomics, Piperka, lost track of Starslip Crisis after Kris Straub redesigned the website, and since I pretty much rely solely on Piperka for my comics browsing, I lost track of Starslip for a few weeks, which means that I actually read the last twelve or so strips as a block rather than in their usual daily format, and that might be coloring my viewpoint somewhat. But still...

Am I the only one who thinks Straub is building to something huge here? I mean, over the course of the strip we've seen the introduction of a number of characters who have been at best indirectly related to the main plot: Zillion, The Chronomantic, and let's not forget Lord Katarikis. They've popped in and out of the strip in a somewhat episodic manner, but if I know Kris Straub (and I don't), he's not writing Starslip in sitcom format, where each storyline is entirely separate from the last. These guys are all going to show up again. And they're going to show up in more direct contact with the crew of the Fuseli.

And now we have the latest storyline. The Fuseli is throwing a party. A big party. A party for the largest manufacturer of starslip drives in the universe. And we've been introduced to Archcount Obdrath von Lucifuge, a man who manages to be both good and evil at the same time. Other attendees at the event include Jovia and her father, and a member of the ever-ominous Directorate.

Is Kris Straub going to let all the most important people in the universe gather on the Fuseli and not have something extreme happen? Not a chance. This isn't just an opportunity to make some riffs on high society and ambiguously evil CEOs. Something's about to go down. Something major. You can almost taste it, as each strip adds another layer of setup. Straub took pains to make sure we understood that Mr. Jinx and Plox were on security. That Jovia's father was there, and does not like Vanderbeam. That Obdrath can't seem to help being evil. The pieces are being carefully arranged. And I would not be surprised at all if suddenly we see the reintroduction of one of those old fringe characters and the whole thing explodes.

Will it be Zillion and Vore, come to rob all the high society folks blind? Will it be the Chronomantic, come to seduce Jovia? Will it be Lord Katarikis, come to exact vengeance on Mr. Jinx? Your guess is as good as mine. This plot could literally go anywhere, and that's what's so good about it.

This is an example of trying to build tension by running an extremely long and elaborate setup, a technique which is often attempted but only occasionally pulled off well. And Kris Straub is pulling it off well. He's got me waiting on the edge of my seat, and maybe after reading this post he'll have you on the edge of yours, too.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Updates + A quick note on minor coincidences... of awesomeness.

I don't know if you've been following The Biggest Webcomic Loser (you should be), but it recently switched to an automated script for putting up comics, which makes Philippe Gaboury's life a lot easier.

Anyways, it was my turn on Friday, so I dutifully posted a comic, and it just so happens my comic ended up being big number 100. This has caused me no small amount of personal pleasure. 100 comics has always seemed like a fairly major benchmark in terms of legitimacy for webcomics (like, if the comic makes it to 100, that means it's been at least good enough to keep the creator's interest). So even though it's not a huge deal, it means Biggest Webcomic Loser is moving along, and I've been an active participant. So that's cool.

Now, as for what I've been reading. Some new comics to add to the list:
I've mentioned Goats, Banished, Silent Kimbly, and Press Start to Play before, but somehow they never actually made it onto my "official list" here at the site, so they've been added.

Killer Robots From Space: What do killer robots from space do when they're not actively killing? Stand around the water cooler and shoot the breeze, just like everyone else, of course! This strip is very much the Seinfeld of killer robot strips. I'll probably post a full review at some point.

Toyzville: A comic strip about the town where unwanted toys go to live. This strip has kind of a "Toy Story" feel going on, except without the annoying "we've got to act normal when humans are around" plot device. This is another one I plan on giving a full review at some point.

I'm still wading through the archives of Everything Jake. That strip has occasion to get weird. I've also added to my reading list the delightful comic Unshelved. I'm sad to say that Pilli Adventure got dropped without comment because I didn't care for it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I suppose I ought to save at least SOME money to live on...

I got paid today.

What does this mean? Turning in a rent check? Possibly buying some food for my dog-bone bare pantry? Replenishing my deplete supply of Smirnoff Twisted?

Nah, of course not. The first thing I did was buy some webcomic books. My purchases:
The Ultimate Goats Paperback Bundle
Schlock Mercenary: Under New Management (Preorder)
Dinosuar Comics: Your Whole Family is Made Out of Meat (Preorder)

And man, I can barely contain myself with anticipation of the upcoming Inverloch: Volume 1.

Hmmm, now might be a good time for me to get Ugly Hill: Eyes of Liquid Rage as well... But I'm still a bit bummed about the whole black and white thing... Meh, I should just take what I can get.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Prediction.

Ok, time to flex my prognostication muscles again. I predicted at the beginning of the year that there would be some copycat style animations made with the release of the Ctrl+Alt+Del animated shorts and I was right (twice, actually). I also predicted that we'd see some people helping webcomickers better manage their content and really move webcomic sites into current technology, and now we've got RSSPECT helping in that regard.

Now I'm going to make another prediction, a much more specific one. And I hope this doesn't ruffle any feathers, but I just wanted this prediction to be on record, so that if it happens I'll have legitimate proof that I saw it coming. Of course, if it doesn't happen, I guess I'm not as in-tune as I thought.

My prediction: By the end of the year, On the Rocks will be a member of Blank Label Comics.

Now here's the evidence which has led me to this conclusion:
-First of all, On the Rocks is a fabulous new comic which has gained quite a bit of noteriety in it's short run. In my opinion, it's a shoe-in to win "Newcomer of the Year" in any webcomic awards contest. I can't speak for exactly how many readers it's got, but I'm sure the number is not insubstantial. His stuff is already appearing on two other sites (here and here), which means he's probably enjoying at least a reasonable amount of popularity, and they'll only help him grow faster.
-Secondly, I've seen a lot of ties between On the Rocks and Blank Label. Tyler Martin was/probably still is a consistent poster over at the Blank Label Comics forums, and he's known over there. He's done a guest strip for Ugly Hill (and, in fact, he was the only non-Blank Label artist to do a guest strip that week) and a guest strip for PvP (and although Scott Kurtz is not a member of Blank Label, he's made it clear that he is a sympathizer, at least).
-Thirdly, his artistic style is very similar to all the Blank Label Comics, and I know one thing that the folks over at Blank Label Comics value is the fact that there is some cohesion in their comic's art styles. The most striking similarity is the use of strong black outlines around the characters, which can also be seen in Starslip Crisis, Schlock Mercenary, and Real Life Comics, to name a few...

There are some other points, such as Tyler Martin proving himself to be a consistent updater (although Blank Label does tolerate Greg Dean) and has a very well-designed website with neat features like the current weather in Antarctica (although Blank Label does have some subpar site designs, which I'm not going to link for fear of incurring someone's wrath). But I think the three main points fairly concisely sum up my reasoning, beyond my general ability to tap into the ether of this here Internet of ours and recognize the patterns that emerge, not unlike the Oracle of Matrix fame.

Now we'll just have to wait and see if I've given you all a spoiler.

Monday, April 10, 2006

And once again, I owe someone a beer.

Wiki addiction, from Shortpacked.

I've gotta say, David Willis is probably about the funniest man in the entirety of comics. Maybe not "overall funniest" in terms of setting up some monumentally huge joke and then blowing the entire audience away in a bout of spasm-inducing laughter, but in terms of consistently making me uncontrollably laugh out loud in front of my computer, regardless of the circumstances, Willis is definitely #1.

Look at today's strip. First of all he sets up the perfect situation. We already know Ethan is over-the-top obsessive about Transformers (he's really just a mouthpiece for Willis himself in this respect). And most of us have at one point or another known the addictive power of a wiki. For me its the countless hours I've spent clicking from subject to subject in the Wikipedia. For others it could be The Homestar Runner Wiki, Lost Wiki, or possibly the Wookieepedia. So we know the setup for the joke is that Ethan is hopelessly addicted to the site. And his description of its effect on his life only ramps up energy level. And we just know the comic is going to end with someone pitying how pathetic Ethan is. So we're just waiting to see it.

Then, in the second to last panel we have what we were expecting: "He needs to get laid." But after that there's the extra, snarky comment which adds a bit more humor: "Yeah, by Optimus Prime." Most people would have ended the comic here, allowing the audience to chuckle at the witty banter of the two girls.

David Willis is not most people.

He adds one last panel for the final over-the-top joke which just explodes the humor to full-out guffaw level: "I can get a costume." It's so in fitting with Robin's character and yet still so outrageously unexpected that it hits you like a ton of bricks. A ton of humor bricks.

David Willis, I owe you a beer.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I guess I'll have to send Ryan a post. Get it? A POST?! Eh?!

Just one of many, many puns from Silent Kimbly.

First of all I want to just give a heads up right now and let everyone know that I have NOT forgotten about my promise to post a review of Banished. However, Banished is so young right now, and has so much more development to undergo before we even reach the premise that I thought it would be unfair to review it until things have at least progressed a bit. So I will be reviewing it, but possibly not for another month or so.

That being said, this post is a review of Silent Kimbly. Silent Kimbly is a webcomic by one Ryan Sias, who (based on his website) seems to have more experience as an illustrator and animator than as a comicker, but that's peas and carrots.

Basically Silent Kimbly is a one panel comic (and therefore technically not a comic, at least by Scott McCloud's definition) about a little girl named Kimbly and her various adventures. There are several other recurring characters, most notably Tenderness, who is the big fluffball in the comic above. The webcomic is called Silent Kimbly because none of the characters ever talk. Each installment is just a single drawing accompanied by a caption.

But unlike most single panel comics, each installment of Silent Kimbly is very lushly drawn, vividly detailed, and surrealistic. The sense of humor in Silent Kimbly is very subdued (more on that later), and as such it stands in direct contrast to most other single panel comics which tend to use strictly utilitarian art and go for the joke hardcore in the punchline (such as with Inside the Box). In Silent Kimbly, the art is everything. If you really want to go for it you can read the whole roughly 200 comic archive in about 30 minutes, just glancing at the picture and chuckling at the punchline, but then you'll be missing quite a bit of the enjoyment of it. Now, this is not to say that the artwork in each comic is so densely packed that you have to carefully examine it all. It's not like that at all. It's just that the artwork is the central point of this comic, and Sias draws all the characters, objects, and backgrounds with so much energy that you've gotta just sit back and bask in it a bit. Otherwise you're really missing the enjoyment of it all.

As for the humor, I must admit that after reading a few strips I was predisposed to enjoying the comic as a whole just because it relies almost entirely on puns. The strip I chose to display up top is pretty much par for the course. Ryan Sias thusfar has demonstrated a mastery of the art of punning which I can only describe as approaching godlike, and only time will tell if he can keep up the pace or whether there really is a limit to how many clever puns one can make with the English language before things start to get absurd. And each pun is worded in the absolute simplest way, which in my opinion matches the artwork and maximizes the overall impact of each strip. You end up with a strip that reads like snapshots of an incredibly vibrant and exuberant world, with representational emotions, surrealistic creatures and one light-hearted little girl in a bunny-suit interacting with it all. It seems only natural that a world like this would lend itself to being described by puns, almost as if Sias were inventing the puns to match the pictures rather than the pictures to match the puns. And that sense of whimsy is what bouys this strip.

Of course, it is much different than most webcomics and newspaper comics. And you could interpret the overly energetic artwork and simple puns as juvenile rather than whimsical. And you could go back to the cynicism and sarcasm that we've all come to know and love. But in my opinion, you'd be missing out.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I mean, come on! It's a SEAT in the SHOWER!

Truer words have never been spoken. From Real Life.

This is why I read Real Life. This is why I've stuck with it through the server issues, website crashes, hiatuses due to moving and culinary school. I read Real Life because deep down, I can relate to Greg Dean.

I'm pretty sure Greg (at least, the comic version of him) and I think very similarily. He tends to get excited about the same quirky things I get excited about. In fact, I think the last time I put up a post about Real Life here it was for much the same reason as this post, except at that time it was in relation to 80's residential architecture.

This time, it's about seats in the shower. And I am one-hundred percent in agreement with Greg in this comic. Having a seat in the shower is AWESOME. I don't know why. And it's not really because of the convenience of being able to sit down while you get clean. I've never really been a fan of baths or jacuzzis or anything. But there's something about sitting in the shower, letting the water fall on your head and run down your body that's just so soothing, so relaxing...

Sometimes I sit on the floor in the shower, but it's just not the same. If you want to change the angle of the showerhead or the temperature of the water, it's this huge long ordeal to struggle to get back up to standing again, and then to get back down on the floor without breaking your neck.

I also tried buying one of those "shower stools", but they're all of cheap quality and break pretty quickly, plus they're not very comfortable to sit on. At one point I was using a metal fold-up chair, which actually worked pretty well except I needed some place to store it or I'd have to explain to everyone who ever used my bathroom why I had a folding metal chair in my shower.

But a shower with a built-in bench for sitting. Man, that'd be sweet. When I buy a house, that's going to be like the first remodeling job I undertake.

I'm jealous of you, Greg Dean. You'd better take advantage of that seat while you've got it. I know I'd be taking like five showers a day.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Congrats and Good Luck!

In case you missed it, Jon Rosenberg announced today that he is quitting his job and going full-time as a webcomicker. Then, in a surprise move, Ryan North decided to piggyback announce (scroll down to see the announcement, if it's still up. I haven't figured a way to tap into North's newsfeed) that not only is he a full-time webcomicker, he has been for over a year now!

I've gotta say, this is pretty exciting. It's amazing to me how many new people we see every year becoming full-time webcomickers. And while most of them are members of this-or-that collective, in general these collectives are just a promotional tool, and the webcomickers themselves have no real commitments they are required to make as a result of being in the collective. No obligations to the collective itself, persay, it's more of a "you get out of it what you put into it" sort of thing. Which means they're basically making it on their own. They're taking the thing they love and making it their life's work, supported solely by their fans, and owing nothing to anybody except the fans.

Seeing more and more people making webcomickry their full-time job is extremely encouraging for the rest of us. It means the field of webcomics must be broadening, it must be getting more and more attention from the world at large, there must be increasing numbers of people reading. And seeing Rosenberg and North go full-time is especially encouraging because both of them do strips which don't have any strong fan subculture to draw on.

You see, almost all of the extremely popular webcomics draw on a subculture for the vast majority of their popularity. Sure, once they achieve a large following they start to get fans from all walks of life, but their initial fanbase, and the most hardcore fans who will buy up all the merchandise and keep the strip afloat through the hard times have come from a very hardcore fanbase. Penny Arcade and Ctrl+Alt+Del built from gamers. PvP started with gamers, then moved to the nerd/geek/comic book culture. Megatokyo rings true with anime/manga fans. User Friendly got the Slashdot crowd. Sluggy Freelance... ok, I'm not so sure about Sluggy. Questionable Content appeals to the indie rock culture.

But here we have Goats and Dinosaur Comics. What's their fanbase? Goats is pure absurdist humor, with every adventure getting more off the wall and insane than the last, while at the same time resonating a very familiar cadence. That appeals to people who like a certain type of humor, but those people certainly don't categorize into any homogenous group. Dinosaur Comics began as an experiment into the fixed art form. Relying entirely on the strength of North's writing skills to carry the comic. I imagine almost all of its readers initially found the strip and started reading just because of the uniqueness of it, and those that stayed did so because they liked the writing style and the sheer silliness of it all. But that's certainly not a homogenous group either.

No, both of these comics have been building their readers on a one-by-one basis. Sure they depend on word of mouth and advertising around online and at conventions like any other comic, but they don't have the "if you're a gamer you need to read this" or "if you're a manga fan you need to read this" sort of mantra spreading their work. It all got to be "Hey, this is a cool strip. I think you might like it". You might like it. The individual you, not the collective you. And that's a much more difficult road to travel to success. But they've done it.

This gives hope to all the little guys, no matter how off the wall their comic is, that if they really keep at it, make a commitment to quality and consistency in their work and just keep tirelessly promoting and spreading the word, they too might be able to make their passion into their full-time job.

I wish both North and Rosenberg the best of luck, and I look forward to seeing how they advance in the future!

Now we just need to have Eric Burns quit his job and go full time as a webcomic critic. That would give a lot of hope for the rest of us out here!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Well worth the wait.

A classic Kimiko take, from Megatokyo.

Fred Gallagher is up to his old tricks again. Sometimes I wonder if these missed days are on purpose just so he can build up his audience's "OMG When's he going to post the next installment?!" factor, and then hit them with a strip like today and just completely blow us all away. If so, then Gallagher is an evil, evil man, because he does such a great job of it that I'm completely hooked.

I made a post about Megatokyo a few months back in which I expressed some concern with the way things were going, as it appeared Piro was going to degenerate into the "I'm not good enough to be with Nanasawa-san role" and it really looked like the strip was going to get all soap opera-y, and I was worried.

Well, Gallagher couldn't have proved me more wrong. From that point, things have been nothing but uphill. We saw Piro and Largo gain new strength. we saw a return of the zaniness. We learned yet more interesting information about Miho. We got the classic Megatokyo humor. I think we can all agree now that Largo and Hayasaka are perfect for each other. We've seen Kimiko learn that there are consequences to her actions, and sometimes living with them is nigh impossible.

But most importantly we've seen a radical change in Piro. Check out this strip. In the first strip we see something in Piro that we've never seen before. An expression we've never seen cross his face in the history of Megatokyo: resolve. Piro has always been the kind of person to run away from his problems. Heck, that's pretty much the whole premise of the storyline. Piro didn't want to deal with his problems after getting kicked out of E3 and Largo got drunk. And throughout the story we've seen Piro not dealing with problems. He apologizes to people, he backs away, he tries to portray himself as stupid and incompetent as much as possible. He never tries to solve anything. That's where Largo shines. While Largo is impulsive, dim-witted and clearly mentally unbalanced, he's a problem solver. To him, every problem's got a solution, and dangit, he's going to find that solution! Piro never showed that kind of resolve. Until that strip. And now we're up to today's strip, with him surprising Nanasawa at work and demonstrating to her that he's here to help, he's here to get her through this, he's here to faces problems. And it's been great seeing all the characters evolve and grow, rather than being stuck in an endless rut.

And through it all we've had the same old unreliable Fred Gallagher, with Dead Piro Days, filler art, and the dreaded Shirt Guy Dom. He's missed days, weeks, even a full two-week period leading up to today's strip. These past four months have been a microcosm of the strip as a whole. You either love the strip and therefore tolerate Gallagher's inconsistency or you loathe the inconsistency and therefore come to loathe the strip as well. This is why I say that Gallagher should simply drop the facade, tell people he's not going to pretend to hold to an artificial MWF schedule anymore, and just produce actual comic books. He'd be free from the crazy deadlines and the hassle of trying to keep his site up and running and up to date with the latest technology, and I think Megatokyo would be greatly improved as a result. Sure, it'd probably be an initial hit in the income at first (I imagine he makes a significant amount off advertising revenue), but he's signed on with no less than freaking DC COMICS, and I'm pretty sure they'll take care of him, especially since Megatokyo is going to be like a springboard for a whole new division of comics for them.

Gallagher himself has said on many occassions that he doesn't feel Megatokyo is a webcomic, but rather a comic that appears on the web. Well I say: put your money where your mouth is. Stop pretending to be a webcomic and start publishing with a normal print comic schedule. You'll stop angering people with your inconsistency and I think the freedom will lead to a Megatokyo which exceeds even what you've accomplished so far. If you still aspire to the "available free on the web" concept, post the pages in batches (ala Inverloch) or just the whole comic book each time a new one is ready to go out.

And that's my two cents. Maybe some other people have other opinions?

Sunday, April 02, 2006


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

This could be trouble.

I received a rather interesting email in my Gmail inbox today:

Blogger Support < > to me

It has come to our attention that your blog is generating quite a bit of
traffic. First off, congratulations! We are always happy to see our
users achieving success in their pursuits, and we hope you've been satisfied
with the service provided by Blogger.

However, we have encountered a problem with one of your blogs: The
Webcomicker (
We have a monitoring program which looks for suspicious spikes in bandwidth at
certain blogs, which is usually an indicator of illicit activity. So when
the program informed us of a spike in your bandwidth usage,
we investigated your blog for any evidence that you were engaged
in activities outside our Terms of Service.

We were relieved to discover that you had not, in fact, violated the Terms
of Service, but we are still somewhat concerned by the heavy load your blog
has put on our servers. The amount of bandwidth being used by
your blog is disproportionally large, and in order to commit more of our
resources to the task of ensuring fast load time for your pages, we needed
justification from the content of the blog itself. It is on this matter
that we felt the need to address you in a formal email.

As you are probably aware, Blogger is home to many high-traffic blogs in
addition to the many, many low traffic blogs we support. In all previous
cases, high-traffic blogs have been associated with topics which are widely
accepted as relevant and supplemental to the overarching social discourse.
This includes topics such as politics, mainstream media entertainment, and
homo-erotic firemen. However, in our investigation of your blog, we were
surprised to discover that your express purpose for writing was the generation
and elaboration of literary criticism on webcomics.

To put it simply, we do not view this topic as legitimate enough to justify
our continued support of the massive bandwidth your site requires. It is
widely known that webcomics are nothing more than the amateurish chicken-scratch
of hack artists without enough talent to become properly syndicated. To
make the claim that such boorish creations can even be subjected to proper
literary criticism
is utterly preposterous. Therefore, your blog is
clearly not supplementing social discourse in any way, shape, or form, but
simlpy pandering to deluded, geekish fanboys who only see the light of
day if they attend a comic book convention which happens to
be held in a convention center with skylights.

However, this does not mean we are simply cutting off service to your
blog. Rather, we have a series of restrictions which you must put into
effect immediately. If you comply with the restrictions, we will allow you
to continue posting on The Webcomicker. However, if you violate any of
these conditions, we will be forced to close down your blog and remove it from
our databases.
  1. You must refrain from storing thumbnail images of the comics you are
    reviewing on the Blogger servers. Instead, direct-link to the image
    on the original webcomic site. While this will cause the bandwidth costs
    for each comic you review to skyrocket, we feel this will actually result in an
    overall improvement of the internet by driving many of these no-talent
    hacks of the internet. In fact, we suggest you direct-link as many comics
    as you can.
  2. You must refrain from using more than 500 words in any given post.
    Seriously. Who wants to read a 1400+ word post about a subpar comic
    changing from one subpar artist to another subpar artist anyways? We've
    got a word for that here at Blogger: insipid.
  3. You must talk about subjects other than webcomics and webcomics-related
    news. We were pleased to see that in many posts you complain about a lack
    of free time in your life, suggesting that you do know something about how to
    blog properly, but a vast majority of your posts are simply wasted space, filled
    with the "insulating foam" of mental masturbation thinly veiled as legitimate
    criticism. You may use any of the following starting lines to begin a more
    appropriate blog post: "George Bush is a flaming retard...", "George Bush is
    trying to take over the world and hates gays and hates black people and wants us to worship him as a god and he's really the devil...", "X-men3 is gunna
    roXorZ...", and "As I felting his pulsating member pressed up against my
  4. If you must talk about comics, at least talk about good comics,
    like The Family Circus, or Momma.

We thank you for your time and consideration in this matter, and hope to
continue to have a good relationship with you under these new restrictions.


-The Blogger Support Team

So I guess we'll be seeing some changes around here starting today. You just can't fight City Hall, you know?

So... uh, George Bush is a retard.