The Webcomicker

Who watches the watchmen?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's not just a comic, it's a genre. A review of Banished.

Ah, Timbo. Poor, naive Timbo. From Banished.

Let's see if I can get this trainwreck moving again. I've got a lot of writing in the queue, so let's get on it.

With the rise of internet comics, we've seen a lot of crazy strips come into being that probably wouldn't have been successful if they had begun their journey in any other medium (Goats and Dinosaur Comics come to mind). These strips show a high level of innovation in terms of content and storytelling style.

But even more interesting to me than the cleverness of a few extremely talented individuals is the rise of new genres of comics through the webcomic world. Some of these genres were wholly non-existent before the web (like the ubiquitous gaming comic and the infamous sprite comic), and some of them existed in some small form but have been greatly expanded by the web (such as the journal comic) and one of these genres is the realm of the science fiction comedy.

Science fiction comedy is, obviously, a science fiction story told in the comedic style, or alternately a comedy set in the realm of science fiction. This is a genre which has existed for quite some time. Most of the efforts in this realm have been simple parodies of well-known sci-fi works (such as Spaceballs, or Mars Attacks!), but some of them have been legitimate bodies of work in their own right (such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Futurama, although the latter is really a post-webcomics invention). However, I honestly can't think of an example of a sci-fi comedy strip in traditional comics. While the genre did exist in film, TV, and books, I'm not sure it ever crossed the gap to comics.

Boy, did the internet change that. Now we have a number of very good strips that not only fit the genre of science fiction comedy, they basically define it. Among the strips I read there's Freefall, Starslip Crisis, Schlock Mercenary, and Melonpool (and possibly Zap, although that one I'd tend to file more under "general"). And I don't read some of the major ones, like Sluggy Freelance, It's Walky, College Roomies from Hell, or Narbonic. Honestly, there's so many quality strips in that list that these guys really should get together, form a collective, and release anthologies every year. That would be awesome.

Which brings us around to the point of this post: a review of Banished, which is yet another strip in the genre of science fiction comedy. In my opinion, it says a lot about the strength of a genre when so many people can produce work in it and not be tripping over each other's toes. I mean, everybody loves a good gaming comic, but it's really hard to read more than three or four of them, because they're all treading on the same ground. But with the science fiction comedy strips, while they all fit in the genre, they cover a wide variety of styles and storylines, with many different takes on the future. There's art museum spaceships, mercenaries, alien invasions, mad scientists, and just a huge amount of potential which continues to be tapped for more quality works. It's pretty exciting.

But I digress. The point is, Banished is a science fiction comedy strip which does a good job being science fiction and comedy without feeling like it's stealing jokes from other strips. It's being written by Ryan Smith of Funny Farm fame (who actually has a book coming out... Maybe I should secure a copy. I am a sucker for a good book.) and drawn by Jamie Anderson, who may or may not be the man behind Jamie and Nick and The Destructive Tendencies of Us. *shrug* The story thus far takes place on Strix 13, a desolate planet of deserts, monsters, and mammazons. The main character, Rak, has been banished to this planet for generally making a nuisance of himself. He's the type of alien who only really cares about what's in his best interests, and what's in his best interests right now. This makes him not only an arrogant, self-absorbed jerk, but also a very poor planner. Not a good combination for staying out of trouble. On the planet he meets Timbo, a robot explorer whose desire to meet new people is equally matched with a complete naivete about how those people are going treat him.

At the moment, the series doesn't really have a cohesive plot. It's been hinted that the series is headed toward a major event which will set into motion a much more directed plot, but for the moment we've just got Rak and Timbo reacting to situations as they arise. I think some of this is Smith and Anderson still "discovering" their characters and the world they live in. The best way to learn something about your characters is to throw them in panic situations and see how they react. And the best way to flesh out your world is to think about how you're going to create interesting and consistent panic situations. It's not such a bad thing to have a long introductory period, which allows readers to become familiar with the characters and begin to develop a sense of attachment to them, so that when the plot starts heating up you've got a vested interest to stay involved.

Right now the story has a lot of energy. Rak acts very impulsively, and while he doesn't plan well, he does adapt well, which is why he and Timbo are living inside the carcass of a giant worm monster that had an unfortunate allergic reaction to eating Rak. Timbo has a bouyancy and an inquizzative mind which drives him to find new and exciting experiences. The plots are typically kept short and consist mostly of action of the "running away" variety. The humor is sharp and to the point, and in general the whole strip just feels well put-together. I've been enjoying the various random twists and turns the strip has taken as everything's being set up.

The breaking point for Banished will be in the transition from its current shortform storylines to the planned long plot, which based on my reading looks like it will be more than just an major storyline but actually the overarching plot and therefore a part of the premise of the strip itself. the question is whether Smith and Anderson will be able to keep the energy level high and not get bogged down in the minutae of storyline development. This is a very difficult thing to do. With only four panels to work with and a thrice-weekly schedule, setting up a plot can result in quite a few "wasted strips", strips that are heavy on dialogue and background without much in the way of action or a joke. And that can take the wind right out of your comic's sails. So that's something to watch out for.

Banished as a strip is almost a microcosm of the science fiction comedy genre as a whole. Its fresh, its new, its funny, and its got a huge amount of potential to be tapped. It's been set up well, and it's ready to move on to the next stage of development: full, and broad-spectrum deployment.

So good luck, Ryan Smith and Jamie Anderson. And good luck, science fiction comedy comics. I wish you all the best.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Hey all. My free time this week is so small you could only view it with a microscope, so no writing until the weekend. But I did want to give a quick shout-out to my peeps over at Blank Label Comics, who are celebrating a hugely successful first year of working together.

Congrats, guys, and many happy returns.

When I have the chance, I'm going to write up a detailed post detailing some reasons why Blank Label Comics is such a success story, and some lessons that other webcomickers can learn from it.

Be sure to check out the official announcement on the Blank Label site and throw your name in the drawing for free books. I'd enter myself, but I think I already own basically every book they have to offer, so I'll let them share the love rather than trying to hoard it.

Coming up next week: Book reviews, Webcomic reviews (I've been sitting on a couple for far too long), and hopefully some exciting news about Birdsworth (crosses fingers)

See ya.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

This post is not about PvP. Really. It's not.

Freaky-looking Cole and Brent, from PvP.

So I'm having a little trouble adjusting my sleep schedule. I'm taking a morning class this summer which starts at 9 AM (and is a twenty minute walk from my apartment), but with the way CUSP is set up to release comics, I have to go in every night at 2 AM and run a script to put the comic "into production", so to speak. I could set that up to run on a cron job, but my web hosting doesn't give me that much access. And not to mention the fact that I've got to enter the OhNoRobot transcription every time I release a comic.

I know some people out there are perfectly fine with 5-6 hours of sleep a night, but not so much with me. I'm a bit tired. I may have to start taking afternoon naps until I get the comic releasing thing resolved.

So this post is going to be somewhat "stream of consciousness". I blame the tiredness.

First off, yesterday's (today's? Kurtz has been updating so late it's basically like he's uploading early for the next day) PvP features some rather scary looking head-on shots of Brent and Cole. I know some people criticize Scott Kurtz for only drawing his character from one angle, but in my opinion he's found an angle which really works for his characters and fits well with the tone of his strip in the three-quarter view. I know that makes it a bit more difficult to portray talking to the audience, but Brent and Cole in panel one just look downright freaky. Maybe it's just one of those things you've got to get used to. Kurtz is always saying he should develop his art some more, and I suppose I should encourage it.

Still. Freaky.

In other news, while I've been light on reading new stuff lately (I'm still working through the archive of Everything Jake. I haven't given up yet!) I did take some time last night and ripped through the archive of Radioactive Panda. It's some good stuff, and I'll definitely give it a full review when I have the energy and I'm caught up on my reviews (still in the queue: Toyzville and Banished).

In other other news, I know I just launched Birdsworth, but I'm not content to just sit on my laurels (since I don't have any yet), and there's going to be something exciting and new coming soon, hopefully next week. I don't want to give it away yet, but I will tell you that it involves The Walter Boyd Band.

Lastly, I don't think I announced this yet, but I will be in attendance at the San Diego Comicon again this year, for the full time (Wednesday night - Sunday), and definitely looking forward to actually meeting some webcomic types this year. I bought merchandise, attended panels, and got sketches last year, but I never got the chance to really talk to anybody, and I'm hoping to remedy that this year. So let me know if you're going to be there.

Oh, and I will be owning up my beer debts at the Comicon. So if I owe you a beer, you can be sure that I'll at least try to buy you one.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Because every webcomic critic has to try this at least once.

The very first comic, from Birdsworth Comics.

Ok, I'm proud to announce that my new project has finally launched! This is a moment of great excitement for any webcomicker, when they launch a new webcomic.

This is something I've actually been working on ever since I made it little post about fixed art comics about five months ago. In that post, I made the following comment regarding Indie Tits: My suggestion to Jeph Jacques is this: If you want Indie Tits to be more interesting and be able to do more with it, extend the length to 4-6 panels, and have different birds, with some birds flying in and out in different panels. Then you should be able to do some good things.

After putting up the post, I thought to myself: "You know, that's a really good idea. And Jeph Jacques is probably not going to go for it, since he seems to be happy enough with the way things are." So I decided to give it a shot myself. The first thing I did was email Jeph Jacques and let him know what I was planning to do, and asked him if he'd like to draw the birds for me (I offered to pay him, obviously). He never responded to my email, so I figured: "At least he doesn't care enough to out and out tell me I'm a jerk who's ripping him off."

So I went ahead and asked a good friend of mine to do the artwork for me. He's a fabulous artist whose forte is painting, but has been looking to get into the digital realm recently, and fortunately my request for five panels of birds would give him some good practice, so he was happy to do the drawing for me. He does a fabulous comic called My Life in Records which is still in its early stages but will accomplish great things before its run is done, I'm sure.

He produced the birds you see above, and I was thrilled. He based his pictures on old Audubon plates, which fit perfectly with my idea of wanting to name my birds after Romantic poets and have them be flowing with old poetry every week.

I intend to be very professional with this project. There will be a new Birdsworth comic every day, seven days a week, until I flat out run out of ideas, which I'm hoping will never happen. I was smart enough to set myself up with a 28 day buffer running into this thing, so I've got plenty of ahead time to work through writer's block or to take a vacation without a break in the strip.

But while I'm keeping things professional on the comic side, I'm going to be wildly experimenting on the administration side. I intend to use Birdsworth to experiment with a variety of different comic management scripts and archiving features, and pass on my gained knowledge to The Webcomicker readers. At the moment the site is powered by CUSP and I'm running the archives with Oh No Robot. You can be sure you'll hear more about the quality of these programs and others as I try them out. I also had a friend of mine set up RSS feeds for both the comic and the news on my site. I'm not much of an RSSer myself, but some people appreciate it, I guess?

So go, read my comic, add it to your daily links, and enjoy!

Oh, and add a link to Birdsworth on your website. Please? *smile*

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Call me a skeptic.

Ok, I'm breaking the rules and talking about something not directly related to webcomics. I'm going to talk about Network Neutrality.

Here's the thing. This has become a hot issue online lately. I've seen a lot of webcomickers link to stuff like Save The Internet and a lot of talk about the "evil telecom companies" that are trying to control our content.

You know what I haven't seen? Evidence.

This is not to say that I don't believe all these people. It's just to say that if I've learned anything from my time on the internet, it's to take everything said with a grain of salt. If there's one thing the internet is, it's a gigantic rumor mill. So-and-so said this, and so-and-so said this, and the story gets passed around so quickly no one bothers to check their sources.

Here's what I do know: The government has taken a pro-network neutrality stance in the past. The FCC regulates telecom companies and has been shown in the past to actually enforce network neutrality. In fact, they have a policy statement which seems to support network neutrality.

Now I hear about this new bill called the "Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Efficiency Act of 2006". And everybody's saying that this thing is going to eliminate network neutrality and let telecom companies slow down or even block certain websites. But you know what? I haven't seen anybody quote the section of the bill that does this. I haven't seen someone pull up the text and say: "Look here! There it is!" I haven't even read any quotes from these supposedly "evil" congressmen hinting that this will be the case.

So I did some research. And here's what I found. First of all, here's a link to the actual bill itself. (Note that this particular copy is before the bill had a name. For a history of the thing, check out this page). The vast majority of the bill just has to do with new regulations for creating "franchises", that is rules on how to become a cable provider and set down your lines and whatnot. At the end there's some discussion of Voice Over IP services and how the government can't show favoritism to any provider. That's all well and good. Now, the part that we're interested in is pages 25 and 26. Go ahead and read it.

Go on.

Ok, not too exciting, right? All it does is give the FCC the right to enforce their "broadband policy". Which policy is this? Well, at the bottom of page 26 it tells us: the term ‘Commission’s broadband policy statement’ means the policy statement adopted on August 5, 2005, and issued on September 23, 2005, In the Matters of Appropriate Framework for Broadband Access to the Internet over Wireline Facilities, and other Matters. Ok, fine. Whatever. So I go ahead and pull up this particulr document as well, and here it is. Now, this document is much more interesting, because it outlines exactly how things are going to change.

Here's where it starts getting weird. That FCC document outlines the FCC's new policies to support their policy statement. The policy statement is this:

  1. Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice;
  2. Consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement;
  3. Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network; and
  4. Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
This sounds a lot like network neutrality, doesn't it?

Or does it? Notice that nowhere in that statement is there any assertion that all content be provided equally, only that it must be provided. And that's the distinction.

HOWEVER, this does not mean the government is eliminating network neutrality. If you read the FCC report (and you should, it gives a pretty interesting history of the government's stance on these issues), you see that the real truth is that the FCC is no longer going to enforce network neutrality. The stance of the FCC is this: by enforcing network neutrality, we basically force all broadband internet companies to provide the exact same content. By forcing them to provide the same content, we eliminate any possibility of competition between telecommunications companies. By eliminating competition, we eliminate the drive for new technology and better services. If we stop regulating so harshly, not only should new and better technology emerge, but the market should also converge to some sort of new "network neutrality" driven not by government force but by competition.

Are they right? It's difficult to say. Look at it from the telecom companies' point of view for a moment: They are, in terms of physical reality, the internet. They provide the actual wires, routers, switches, and solid infrastructure on which the internet runs. They don't own the servers, but they own all the transmission lines and are responsible for the maintenance thereof. And as the internet grows by leaps and bounds, that structure is becoming increasingly taxed. The average user demands far more bandwidth these days than they used to, and providing all that bandwidth is neither easy nor cheap. How do you recoup the loss? You can either charge the user more, which isn't going to work because then they'll flock to your competitor, or you can charge the content provider who is using all your bandwidth. And what's the only incentive you can give a content provider to pay you money? Offer to deliver his content faster. Only, you can't do that under the current system of network neutrality!

So you can see the predicament of the telecom company. But at the same time, you value the principle of network neutrality. So what are you going to do?

My advice: let the legislation pass and see what happens. I think it's funny that people are usually so opposed to government regulation of things, but in this case, when the government actually wants to regulate less, everyone's up in arms. And honestly, I don't think it's going to result in the mass-blocking of websites that don't pay so-and-so telecom company money. If companies start blocking sites they will only reduce the amount of content they have available to their customers and therefore become less desirable. Competition should drive the companies to try to increase their content in any way possible, and the costs levied to content providers should only be applied to those companies which are a massive drain on bandwidth, such as high volume multimedia providers (like, say, Google Video).

In the words of Fred Upton, one of the supporters of the bill: "Finally, I want to briefly mention the net neutrality provision in the Committee Print. While there is virtually no evidence of actual bad behavior in the marketplace, I believe that authorizing the FCC to enforce its Broadband Policy Statement -- on a case-by-case adjudicatory basis -- is a better framework to ensure that the public Internet remains open and dynamic versus alternatively adopting anticipatory regulation, which would have a dramatically chilling effect on broadband deployment and the development of exciting, new services."

Look, I know there are also good arguments out there against letting the telecom companies regulate themselves, especially since it's been shown in the past that companies are more likely to collude than to compete and generally are more interested in driving other people out of the business than improving their services and content. But all of the arguments being made on the internet are so incredibly one-sided and based more on assumption than fact, that I really felt like I had to present the other side of the issue.

Above all else, I urge you to actually read the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Efficiency Act of 2006 and the new policy it is going to put into effect, then make your own decision about the issue. If you end up disagreeing with me, that's fine. But please, disagree with me using an informed opinion rather than because of "what you read on some guy's blog". Don't believe the spin. Look at the facts.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Can I get an Amen?

Simple, yet brilliant: Applegeeks Lite.

Is anybody else out there loving Applegeeks Lite like I'm loving Applegeeks Lite? Can I get a witness?


The more Applegeeks Lites that Hawk and Ananth produce, the better, in my opinion. Now, this is not at the expense of the normal Applegeeks strips, mind you, because the Lite strips are only really funny in the context of the normal strips, but the Lite strips really give you an excuse to check the site more often, and if those two post Lite strips during the off days from the normal strips, they might find themselves with a full time job when they get out of college.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Maybe this will get him to start updating again: Review of Killer Robots from Space

Two robots angering each other over at Killer Robots from Space.

Man, it's been a while since I've posted a full-out review here... ...and that's all the incidental commentary I have to give out right now.

Killer Robots from Space is a strip I found when it got linked from Dinosaur Comics. Now, let me say that while I tend to check out most of the strips that Ryan North links, the vast majority of them don't make my reading list because most of them I honestly can't make heads or tails of. I don't know if they're engaged in many-layered subtextual ironic humor or what, but they lose me pretty quickly.

Killer Robots from Space, on the other hand, caught my attention and never let go. Killer Robots from Space is basically a webcomic about what robots do when they're not destroying humanity, or battling aliens, or whatever. And as it turns out, they're doing what most humans do when they're "on break". They stand around shooting the breeze. The comic has a very dry sense of humor, which is right up my alley, and the format suits the subject perfectly, but more on that later.

The first thing that I noticed about Killer Robots was the robots themselves, obviously. Each robot is clearly a duplicate of all the others, with just it's colors changed. While this may seem like laziness on the part of the artist (and I'm sure that played at least partly into the decision), to me it comes off as genius. You see, each strip has an entirely different cast of robots. There's no "characters" in the comic, so to speak, just an endlessly shuffling array of robots without names, distinguishable only by the colors on their chassis. On the surface level, you can say it's only natural that all the robots would look the same because presumably they're all produced at the same factory from the same set of parts, why should they be any different? But it you ply a level deeper, you realize that by making all the robots on the same model, what Adam Greengard has done is created a sense of continuity in the strip, a sense of identification and familiarity in the readers without having any specific characters. People don't identify with any particular robot, but they will identify with the "killer robots" in general. It's not unlike the familiarity that Gary Larson was able to create in The Far Side. There were never any specific characters, but when you saw a Far Side cow, you knew it was a Far Side cow.

The second thing I noticed about the strip was its infinite canvas format. People, this strip is a hallmark example of how infinite canvas should be used. It might be fun to create crazy twisting and twirling non-linear comics, but it's really not valuable to anyone beyond the level of "hey, that's neat." It'll take you about a billion hours to work it all out, and you'll post it and a bunch of people will visit your site once, and that'll be the end of it. Killer Robots from Space demonstrates an understanding of the true value of infinite canvas: it allows you to create a continuous line of storytelling, as long as you like, with no breaks in it. In short: with infinite canvas you never have to turn a page. Greengard allows each Killer Robots strip to run as long as it needs to run. He never worries about trying to set up a joke in three or four panels, he never has to be concerned with "fitting something in". In many ways, Killer Robots is the exact opposite of Dinosaur Comics in terms of form (maybe that's why Ryan North likes it so much). Whereas Ryan North has to somehow wrap his writing style around the six panels he has given himself, Adam Greengard gets to wrap his panels around however he wants his conversations to proceed.

On a side note, another neat application of infinite canvas in Killer Robots from Space is its ability to turn space into time. Greengard creates long pauses in the conversation with long black portions between the panels, which is illustrated perfectly by the strip I thumbnailed a portion of above. Click it!

Killer Robots from Space is a great example of a creator constructing the artistic style of his strip to perfectly match the content. the cookie-cutter robots perfectly suit the mundanity of it's tone, and the no-panel-limit approach perfectly mimics the rambling pace the most conversations take. The humor is pretty dry, but if that's what you like (and I certainly do), then Killer Robots from Space is the strip for you.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Samurai and pizza without the cats? Genius!

You MUST click on the picture to enjoy the brilliance of No Need For Bushido.

If there's one thing I love about No Need For Bushido, it's the little side projects. Now don't get me wrong, I like NNFB simply by itself, but it's certainly nothing so amaznig that it single-handedly distances itself from the pack. It's just another decent webcomic with a nice blend of action and humor. One reason I picked up NNFB was because it has more action than most; the majority of webcomics these days are highly dialogue driven because in general action plays out too slowly in page-a-day release format for you to keep an audience engaged. When you're doing action sequences you can blow ten or twenty panels for about ten seconds worth of "real time", and this makes for very slow progression in the audiences mind when they only get to see a small chunk of the action at a time.

But I digress. This post is about No Need For Bushido's side projects, most notably their alternate scripts (although I do greatly enjoy No Need For a Player's Guide, especially this strip). I think every serious webcomic (meaning a webcomic with serious themes, not a webcomic in which the creator is serious) needs to publish alternate script pages on the side, because the juxtaposition of humorous text with serious images provides no end of humor. It really makes you look at each page in a whole new way, and allows the author no end of self-parody. And quite frankly, Joe Kovell does a brilliant job with the alternate scripts. Now, since I follow my webcomics using Piperka, and Piperka doesn't always catch updates, sometimes I'm late in finding an alternate script (as I was with this one), but I always make sure to catch myself up and read them all.

When I read the one thumbnailed above, I almost wet my pants. Each panel just adds another layer onto the humor with all the assassins toppings suggestions, and the final line had me rolling: "And may Buddha have mercy on them if they don't have stuffed crust". Oh man, that is so entering my daily lexicon. It sounds especially funny if you say it out loud with a very deep and menacing voice.

Alex Kolesar and Joe Kovell, I owe you a beer.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Now THIS is cool.

This site is a ridiculously useful resource for anyone who's a big fan of webcomics: The Webcomic Crossover and Cameo Archive. Wanna know any time someone's taken a shot at Penny Arcade? Now you can (sorry I linked out of the frameset there. You'll find your way back).

Not only does this site have an incredibly huge archive of crossovers, it's got a feature where you can report your own. So anytime a favorite comic of yours makes a clever reference that you think everyone else on the web missed, you can add it up there and revel in your own deductive ingenuity.

It's actually surprisingly fun to look up some of your favorite webcomics off the list and take a look at how other webcomickers have spoofed them and slipped them into their stories. Sure it's got an archive of the full-blown crossovers as well (such as Melonpool/It's Walky, and Goats/Bobbins), but if you're a follower of a strip which does a major crossover, you're obviously going to know that crossover already. It's a lot more fun to see all the random, off-the-cuff references your favorite comic has garnered over the years in the cameo section.

So check it out, add your own contributions, and enjoy!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Yay! Wait, I mean, Noooooo!

Some people doing something at Dominic Deegan.

Ok, now that I'm finally clear of schoolwork for the semester, it's time to catch up on some webcomic reviewing. I've got SO much to talk about.

But let's start with Dominic Deegan. Dominic Deegan is one of those comics that I've been considering dropping for quite some time, not because it's bad but because most of the time I have NO idea what the HELL is going on. No offense to Mookie Terracciano, but Dominic Deegan has FAR too many characters, who seem to come at will and never really go away. Combine that with long, twisted, winding storylines and post it all in a daily format with no Cast page to speak of, and you've left me standing in the middle of a maze, completely lost.

I seriously just can't keep track of all the characters in Dominic Deegan. I don't know if anyone can, without constantly going back in the archives and refreshing their memory. A few days ago we had this strip, in which an infernomancer comes along and gives a bunch of characters the stabby-death. And in that strip, I really can't tell you who any of the characters are beyond the infernomancer, who I know is associated with the orcs somehow. I'm pretty sure the goal of that strip was to envoke some sort of emotional response in the reader, but I really have no emotional attachment whatsoever to a bunch of random characters, so instead I just found myself cheering: "All right, Mookie's finally going to thin the cast!"

Only, he didn't. Now here we are two days later, and pretty much everybody's ok.

What's the only thing worse than having an overload of characters in your strip? Having an overload of characters and never being willing to kill any of them off. I mean, Terraccino could kill off a great many of his support cast and I honestly wouldn't give a rip, and with all the violence in recent strips, he'd be well justified in doing it. It would get us back down to a nice core of characters that we could actually relate to and sympathize with. Instead, we get a miraculous healing of someone we didn't care about to begin with. Whoopty-doo.

It would be hard for me to give up on Dominic Deegan, because I do greatly enjoy the long-form story, and it's very difficult to do, especially in a webcomic. But it's a drama strip, and the key to drama is tension, and it's just impossible to build tension if the viewer doesn't care about the characters. There's no getting around that point.

I'd like to hear from some real hardcore Deegan fans, though. Are you guys following all this? Is the delicate interweave of so many characters just another example of Terracciano's brilliance? Am I just completely missing the boat? Let me know.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Brief Note on Drama

So, if you haven't heard yet, there's been yet more tension between Tim Buckley and "the rest of webcomicdom", by which I mean Scott Kurtz. I wish I had more time to elaborate on this clash of egos, but I'm deeply embroiled in finals. If it's still going on about a week from now, I may say something more salient.

As it stands, I think you can read some viewpoints on the controversy in this forum thread. And I think the entire argument can be summed up in this single sentiment from that discussion: "there are worse webcomics than Ctrl+alt+del, but I dont think it's deserving of its popularity."

That pretty much sums up the attitude of Scott Kurtz and his merry band. Anytime Tim Buckley bashes anything, they'll come down on him because of this attitude they have. I don't care how much they may deny it. This is the underlying emotion which drives them. I'm not excusing Tim Buckley. I happen to disagree with him about the quality of Aaron William's work (The Spawn of Santa thing had me in stitches). But, quite frankly, he does have a right to express his opinion, and it seems there are a great deal of people who agree with him.

Obviously there are more complicated issues at hand here than I can address with a short post. But remember this: the shortfallings you see in others are most often a reflection of similar shortfallings in yourself. Why does Scott Kurtz get so mad when he sees Tim Buckley declaring Aaron William's work as undeserving? Because in it he sees Buckley accusing Williams of being essentially on the same level that Kurtz sees Buckley as being on.

There is no right or wrong here. There is only opinion. Never forget that.