The Webcomicker

Who watches the watchmen?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Damn my pathetic lack of funds!

Teaser image from the greatest auction of all time.

So all of the Blank Label Comics guys who were at the San Diego Comicon got together and made quite possibly the coolest con mashup drawing ever. and now it's being auctioned on Ebay.

It must be mine. And yet, after the con I'm almost completely tapped of funds, and I can tell already that this bad boy is going to go for quite a pretty penny. So all I can do is look on with my sad little college student income and pine.

Oh, I'll put in a bid, believe you me, but the extent of my resources is very limited, and with more than six days left the price of this particular piece is already approaching my maximum, and I think any hope I have of winning it is pure futility.

But in any case, someone cool needs to win this, so lets see some bidding, eh?

Ok, I am sufficiently humbled.

Gary Tyrrell is the man, and I suck, apparently. Just compare my coverage of the Comicon with his coverage of the Comicon (1, 2, 3). Of course, there's really no comparison. His stuff is detailed, fully fleshed out, and well presented, with quotes. My stuff is sort of haphazard "I remember so-and-so said something like this" slapdash the whole way through.

I think we've established that I'm a pretty crappy reporter now. I think I'll stick to reviews and commentary.

Eh, and maybe I'll try my hand at interviewing.

But reporting? Not my forte.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Submitted without comment.

For those of you that haven't been keeping up with my San Diego Comicon blogging over at Comixpedia, why not? You can feel like you were a part of the experience even if you weren't there!

Submitted without comment, here's a list of all the new webcomics (in alphabetical order) I now have on my list to read either as a result of attending the Comicon or as a result of my blogging at Comixpedia. I will read them all, but I can't promise I'll get around to reviewing them all.

Looks like I'll be keeping myself busy! Oh, and by the way for those of you interested I did not in fact finish my Masters thesis and will be in school for another semester. Yay.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Best Con Sketch. EVER.

David Willlis is a man who can feel my pain. From Shortpacked.

This is probably one of those "You had to be there" sort of jokes, but let me just tell you that everything in this comic is the absolute truth. If I had to pick one thing about the San Diego Comicon that sucked it would be the freaking San Diego trolley "service".

My hotel was maybe five miles from the con, but it was three different trolley lines to get there. First I had to catch the Green line, then hop to the Blue Line, and finally get on the Orange line. And of course, none of these lines have any semblance of coordination, so you end up waiting for at least fifteen minutes at each of the switchover stations, vainly hoping for your train to come. Oh, and after about 7PM, you had to wait even longer, because the trains run half as often.

And then there was this mystical, legendary "Red Line" which supposedly went directly from the hotel all the way to the convention, but seemed to exist only in legend. You'd hear about it when you stopped to talk to the wizened old man who was rumored to have been sitting in the trolley station for upwards of fifty years, waiting for his train to come. He'd lean forward, eyes flashing like lightning, and regale you with stories of the "Red Beast" emerging on the tracks only on a night with no moon, coming from out of the mist and stopping only for a scant three seconds before once again vanishing into the inky blackness. It makes no sound except for the wailing of souls which it uses for its trolley bell.

Seriously, though. The trolley service sucked. It always took us at least an hour to get to and from the con, and one night it took us two and a half hours! Trains kept pulling up to the station, only to have the driver announce "This train is no longer in service" and then literally back up down the tracks away from us. The only thing missing was the sadistic laughter. One time a train came and was so full of people that we literally could not squeeze any more on, but the trolley man assured us that there was another train "about three minutes behind me". More than a half hour later, that train finally arrived.

And it wasn't just the lousy running times. It was the little things as well. None of the trolley stations had seating for more than about three people, so you were standing the whole time you waited, with your arms heavy laden with con swag and your legs aching from running back and forth between Hall H and the panel rooms. And in another great piece of San Diego charm, the Orange to Blue switchover station had a convenience store which was conveniently located right next to the tracks, but was unconveniently only open from like 9 to 5. So all you could do while waiting for your trolley was stare at the glittering array of salted snack treats from behind the large plate glass windows and curse the man who would be so cruel as to operate a much needed convenience store and then have the gall to close it before the convention hall had even closed. It takes a truly sadistic individual to hate humanity so much that he's willing to throw away that many potential sales.

So yeah, David Willis pretty much hit the nail on the head here. I can literally think of no good thing to say about the San Diego trolley, and if there is any sort of justice, someday there will be a terrible vengeance wrought upon them.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Strike while the iron's hot.

Hello out there to anyone visiting from Starslip Crisis or Comixpedia, and welcome to The Webcomicker. This is my blog for writing about webcomics, the whole webcomics, and nothing but the webcomics.

Yes, I am quite the huge fan of webcomics, and my list of comics I read seems to be ever-expanding. If anybody out there has a comic they think I might like, feel free to email me and I'll give it a good, hard look, and most likely a review. I can't always promise the most timely reviews because I'm as mortal as the next man, but I will try.

I've really enjoyed dressing up as Memnon Vanderbeam for the Comicon this year, with my roommate playing Cutter. It's been great having people come up and ask me for pictures, and I've been able to tell quite a few of them about Starslip Crisis, which has been fun. I really should have gotten like a stack of Starslip flyers to hand out as I've been walking around, as there have been a lot of interested parties. It's been really great getting to talk to Kris Straub himself and getting to know all the Blank Label guys a little more. They really are a class act group of guys.

I've been blogging about my experiences at the con over at Comixpedia at the request of Xavier Xerxes, so be sure to head on over there and take a look. I think the con has given a lot of indicators that webcomics are taking over in a major way, and I comment a lot about that in my posts at Comixpedia. So be sure to check them out.

And after the con, I'll be back here at Webcomicker, faithfully blogging away whenever I have a free moment. I hope you all keep me in your feeds and check out what I'm writing, and leave some comments. After all, community is always a good thing.

Oh, and if you get confused about the whole "What's my name" thing, my real, legally binding name is Matthew Young. But I've honestly never liked that name and I try to go by Gilead Pellaeon whenever possible. I think it just fits me better.

Monday, July 17, 2006

You heard it here second.

So, if you haven't already seen the news somewhere else, the winners of the WebCartoonists' Choice Awards have been announced. Looks like the ceremony is still upcoming, at least as of this writing.

Let's break them down, shall we?
Outstanding Comic: The Perry Bible Fellowship - This was actually the dark horse candidate, with Achewood coming off a critically acclaimed year and both Inverloch and Scary Go Round giving out a lot of the good stuff. Still, it's nice to see Perry Bible Fellowship finally getting some acclaim after toiling in obscurity for so long.

Outstanding Newcomer: Gunnerkrigg Court - In my opinion this award really should have gone to Wally & Osborne, but they didn't even make it to the final nominations round. All I've got to say is, how did Starslip Crisis not win this award? I mean, Gunnerkrigg Court does look like a pretty cool webcomic, but Starslip has been fabulous. I think this is just an example of the awards committee being somewhat biased toward more artistic strips than more mainstream ones. But that's just conjecture.

Outstanding Artist: David Hellman (A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible, design for OhNoRobot) - I don't think anyone's going to question this one. The art in A Lesson is absolutely stunning.

Outstanding Black and White Art: Digger - Digger wins this award, like, every year. I think it would have been nice to see it go to someone different this year, but really, Digger is the best.

Outstanding Character Art: Ugly Hill - Nice to see Ugly Hill win this one, as Paul Southworth truly has created a unique, distinctive, and utterly perfect character style for Ugly Hill.

Outstanding New Character Design: Templar, Arizona - Not much competition here. And the characters in Templar are among the most vibrant and utterly alive that I've ever seen.

Outstanding Environment Design: Copper - You've gotta throw Copper at least one bone every year, and this one's not a bad bone to throw. The thing which most sets Copper apart from the rest of the webcomic pack are the lavish environments that Kazu Kibuishi manages to throw Copper and Fred into on every page.

Outstanding Layout: A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible - A Lesson really wasn't competing with anyone here. The other entries were Inverloch and Copper, and none of them is nearly as layout intensive as A Lesson.

Outstanding Use of Color: A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible - This one's kind of a toss up. I mean yes, A Lesson has a really wide range of mood-setting colorwork, but I've never seen anyone who can do subdued colors the way Kazu Kuishi does in Copper, and that's a heck of a lot harder than bright colors or dark colors, or even contrasting colors. I probably would have given this one to Copper.

Outstanding Use of Flash: Alpha Shade - See also: Only use of Flash in a meaningful way. And even they don't do it well.

Outstanding Use of Infinite Canvas: Five Ways to Love a Cockroach - Actually, this one should have won best use of Flash, too.

Outstanding Web Design: Applegeeks - I'm going to assume Applegeeks won this one because professionally designed sites like Penny Arcade and Ctrl+Alt+Del were disqualified. Otherwise I think one of them would have been a shoe-in. Oh, and if the category had been "Website with Outstanding Functionality", Starslip Crisis would have won hands down. Unfortunately, the actual design of the Starslip website looks somewhat cluttered, thanks to all the functionality (and advertising).

Outstanding Writer: Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics, Whispered Apologies) - This is a tough category, and honestly I would have given it to Megatokyo (which had a fabulous year), but I think Fred Gallagher is in general on the outs with the webcomic community. Among the actual final nominees, it's hard not to choose Achewood, which really had some awesome stuff going on with the Great Outdoor Fight. Looks like Chris Onstad really got the shaft this year, with Achewood not taking home any awards at the end of it all. And I think Dinosaur Comics really had a subpar year, overall.

Outstanding Character Writing: Templar, Arizona - This was a tough category, with a lot of heavy hitters in terms of great characters (Order of the Stick, Questionable Content, Scary Go Round, Something Positive...), but I honestly think Templar deserved this award. Those characters are pretty fantastic.

Outstanding Dramatic Comic: Something Positive - Something Positive certainly did bring the drama this year, and without any other serious contenders in the category, it was a shoe-in to win.

Outstanding Comedic Comic: The Perry Bible Fellowship - Eh... you already gave Perry bible Fellowship Outstanding Comic, shouldn't that preclude it from winning the Outstanding Comic's little brothers? I would have given this to Shortpacked, which consistently had me in stitches this year.

Outstanding Long Form Comic: Inverloch - At last Inverloch wins one of the awards it was nominated for! And honestly, it deserves it. Inverloch is a classic example of a long form comic, with the story slowly unfolding and growing, rather than playing out in episodic format, which is what we so commonly see these days. A long form comic should feel like a movie, not a TV show.

Outstanding Short Form Comic: The Perry Bible Fellowship - Again taking a sub-category to an award it's already won, I would have instead given this to PartiallyClips, and actually I'm surprised it didn't go to Overcompensating, which seems to be popular among the webcartoonist crowd.

Outstanding Single Panel Comic: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - This is kinda like choosing the best dish at a mediocre restaurant. Chopping Block used to be great, but it's really lost a lot of its edge of the years. There still hasn't been anyone from the webcomic ranks that's really mastered the single-panel comic.

Outstanding Story Concept: Girl Genius - Girl Genius certainly does manage to have the most uniquely frenetic storyline generation of any comic out there. It goes to crazy places, and yet somehow it all ends up making sense.

Outstanding Anthropomorphic Comic: Digger - Digger wasn't really competing with anyone in this category. Feral Calf is interesting, but the other nominees aren't so much anthropomorphic as they are normal humans trapped in different bodies.

Outstanding Fantasy Comic: Order of the Stick - Inverloch could have taken this, but D&D fans will always carry the day in any sort of online competition. And Order of the Stick is worthy.

Outstanding Gaming Comic: VG Cats - VG Cats didn't really impress me this year, what with a lot of missed updates and half-conceived comics. This category Order of the Stick actually deserved to win. After all, a gaming comic doesn't have to be a video gaming comic, you know.

Outstanding Slice-of-Life Comic: Devil’s Panties - This one I think could have gone to Candi, which didn't get nominated. But from among the nominees, I think Devil's Panties was a good choice.

Outstanding Romantic Comic: Questionable Content - Questionable Content is practically a shoe-in to win this category every year, despite it being more of a "Romantic Tension" comic, as there's very little actual romance that occurs. Still, Questionable Content had a heck of year, and it deserved to win something.

Outstanding Science Fiction Comic: Nine Planets Without… Starslip Crisis - Nice to see Starslip finally win something, especially in such a tight category. Science Fiction is a pretty popular genre for webcomics, and there's some very good ones out there. It was also interesting to see Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life come basically out of nowhere and get the tie against some much heavier hitters.

Outstanding Superhero/Action Comic: The Green Avenger - Let me just say this: When the winner of a certain category is hosted by Comic Genesis, there's some serious deficiency in that category. Superhero comics are probably even worse off than single panel comics in webcomics, most likely because most people seriously interested in making a superhero comic prefer to go the traditional comics route, where there is already a majorly established market.

So there you have it. The big winners were Perry Bible Fellowship and A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible, taking home three awards each. Templar Arizona and Digger both managed to snag two, which serves to highlight that most of the winners this year were the more artisitically done webcomics, rather than the more mainstream oriented ones. Inverloch and Starslip Crisis, with 11 and 6 nominations respectively, each managed to only pick up one award. Achewood, in spite of being nominated for four categories, didn't win anything! And that's the way the cookie crumbles, I suppose.

I look forward to seeing the actual award ceremony, which is always a lot of fun. Definitely be sure to check it out.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Me. From Piled Higher and Deeper.

I'm consistently amazed by how eerily accurate Jorge Cham is in his depections of the grad student life in PhD. I mean, yeah, I know the guy suffered through a PhD of his own while doing the comic, but I figured every grad student has a pretty much unique and different perspective on graduate school. So I'm always pretty surprised when Cham posts a strip that has me looking over my shoulder, expecting him to be standing there with a notebook, sketching what I'm doing.

But I must say, today's strip is the most accurate depiction of me I've ever seen. Unnamed Guy is doing exactly what I've done every single night of this summer while trying to write my thesis. And here I sit, three weeks from publication deadline, knowing full well that next week (not this coming week, the one after it) is shot because of the Comicon. And what am I doing? Dutifully plugging away, getting data and writing about it?

Nope. I'm rewatching the second season of Rurouni Kenshin (which, by the way, is quite possibly one of the greatest pieces of anime ever made. Now, I'm only talking about the second season, mind you. The rest of the series was only average). Why am I doing this? Beacause I am the Unnamed Guy. And I imagine very many grad students have had this exact same experience in their lives. It's just something you won't understand until you've been one of us. It's just how we operate.

But right now, I need to go to the video store, and rent more volumes. Because I've finished the ones I have.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Wally & Osborne

The new banner from On the Rocks- er, Wally & Osborne.

So, on its one year anniversary, On the Rocks changed its name. And along with the name change comes a snazzy new website design that puts Wally & Osborne with one of the best looking websites in all of webcomics.

You should definitely go check out Tyler Martin's post on the front page explaining why he changed the name, it's a great look into the strategy of marketing your webcomic. The name "On the Rocks", while clever, is mostly associated with mixed drinks and rough times in life, whereas Martin's comic strip is clearly intended to be an innocent, fun romp. Also, it seems that a lot of the fans of the strip are kids, and if Martin wants to continue to build a fanbase in that demographic, the name "On the Rocks" might make some parents wary. He also makes the point that naming your comic after your characters provides an instant association whenever someone mentions the comic by name, which can definitely help with trying to spread the comic by word of mouth.

It's been fun to watch On the Rocks grow as a comic even in the short time I've been following it, and I'm looking forward to seeing where Martin will take it in the future. It's a very marketable strip (even I broke down and bought a "Penguins is Serious" shirt. They were just too cool), and it consistently brings a smile to my face, even if it doesn't very often make me laugh out loud.

Oh, and I stick by my prediction that Wally & Osborne is going to become a member of Blank Label Comics in short order. Perhaps the new name and new look are another step in that direction?


The return of Dandy & Company. From... uh, I think you can figure that part out yourself.

So once again I fell silent for about a week, but I feel justified by the fact that I have a Masters thesis due in less than one month's time which I've barely scratched the surface of. Yikes. Not to mention that I'm losing 5 days of this month to Comicon.

But in other news, today we finally saw the return of Dandy & Company. This is a day I've been awaiting for quite some time, as I've missed the cartoony flavor of D&C from my daily reading, with its lush backgrounds and expressive characters.

I like the way the Derrick Fish decided to reintroduce us to the strip, with the implication that the characters have been continuing in their wacky adventures, we just haven't been lucky enough to see them taking place. But it does raise some questions concerning some plot points that were left hanging when Fish went on hiatus. Is Maryweather still soul-searching? Is Bernard still trying to be cool? In this first strip back, Maryweather, Audrey, and Mistake are conspicuously absent, presumably not having been involved in this latest adventure with Bernard, Dandy, and Koko. The ambiguous nature of today's strip leaves me begging for the next episode. And that means it's doing its job of hooking the audience back in. And that's a good way to come back from hiatus.