The Webcomicker

Who watches the watchmen?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Moving forward, moving onward.

One of my New Years resolutions was to take this blog more seriously.

And I've decided that the only way to take it more seriously is to end it.

...And move it to it's own site. So update your links to I figure maybe if I'm paying for my blog, I'll be more motivated to keep it up to date. There won't be any more posts here at Blogger, so please update your links and your RSS feeds, because things are going to be interesting at the new site.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

...And a happy new year

Welp, I'm finally done with college. And it looks like I've got a job lined up, at least temporarily. So it looks like I can finally get back into webcomics the way I've been wanting to. Look for some exciting new things from me in January (I may not have them ready to launch right on the 1st of the new year, but they'll be coming out soon).

Also, I just thought I'd mention that I asked for a lot of webcomic books for Christmas, and it was not the best idea. I thought it'd be a great way to get some books without spending what little money I have left. Instead, it meant about a month and a half of not knowing which books I would be getting and therefore being unable to buy ANYTHING, which was quite annoying.

In the end, I received The Good, The Bad, and the Pugly from Sheldon, and The Blackness Between from Schlock Mercenary. Both are incredibly awesome. Sheldon never ceases to get me laughing out loud, and Schlock has such great layouts and bonus material that it looks beautiful in print.

However, this also means I did not receive
A Brief History of Webcomics from Checkerboard Nightmare
Inverloch Volume 2 from Inverloch
Evil Inc. Annual Report Volume 2 from Evil Inc.
Dandy & Company Volumes 3, 4, and 5 from Dandy and Company

Fortunately, thanks to awesome Grandmas I got quite a bit of money this year for Christmas, so I've already gone out and purchased Inverloch Volume 2 (which is available at Borders and Barnes and Noble as it actually has a distributor: Seven Seas Manga) and while I was there I picked up American Born Chinese, which has been on my reading list. I also ran by a comic book shop and picked up Cowboys and Aliens, which I'll be talking about here soon. The other books will be ordered soon.

Oh, and I also ordered A Well Balanced Meal, since Dave Kellett said he was about to run out. And when someone says you may NEVER HAVE THE CHANCE AGAIN to own something, that almost always suckers me in.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Yeah, yeah, shut up already.

The ComicSpace logo, from ComicSpace.

I'm really not a big fan of social networking sites. In all honesty, to me it seems they serve no purpose beyond letting people recreate their high school cliques in an online format, where all anyone's worried about is getting into another person's "top 8 friends" or whatever. I've never really cared about stuff like that. Online social networking is just so cheap, in my opinion. Heck, it took me a long time to get into blogs, until I realized that people were using them to post interesting criticism and debate and not just "Today I drank two glasses of orange juice... Hyuk."

That being said, I've created an account for myself on ComicSpace, the new "MySpace for webcomics". Why? Well, first off it's because I wanted to park my name there. I like to park my name on most popular sites just so that some yahoo can't go around ruining my reputation. But secondly, it's because it looks like ComicSpace is going to be much more than just a social networking site. It's going to have tools for tracking your webcomics (although I've always preferred Piperka to, and even the ability to add your own comics (and I'm guessing with that, the ability to subscribe to the comics of others).

So it's not just a social networking site, it's also a site full of webcomics tools. And that sort of thing is right up my alley. So I'm signed up, and I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes. You can even request to be my friend, if you like, although I can't promise I won't be curmudgeonly about it at times.

Oh, and in case you hadn't noticed, I've gone back to using images of "the old man of the Empire" for my avatars. I figured you guys were sick of seeing my boring face. Besides, I particularly liked the one I've got on the blog now, which shows me as an angry old man, which is how I feel when I type here sometimes.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Followup to the last post

So, by taking the hardline stance against Kurtz in the last post, it seems I've generated a lot of discussion, which is good. We fleshed out some more of the details and I've got to say I'm really happy with the results.

First there was a rebuttal to my post over on Wax Intellectual, which made me rethink my stance a bit, and generated a bit of discussion.

Then, I got quoted on the front page of Comixpedia, and that post is where we really managed to hash things out, with me refining my thoughts and Kurtz responding to all the criticisms with some really great explanations. I'm completely satisfied now, and I think everyone should head on over there and read through those comments as they provide an excellent example of how to defuse webcomics drama.

I'd like to thank everybody who participated in the lively discussion, because this is just the sort of thing that needs to happen from time to time to keep everyone honest. Now go sign up for PvP The Series. I did.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Promotional logo for the PvP Animated Series, from PvP.

Ok. Not to rag on Scott Kurtz or anything, but someone's got to say it. We've seen lots of announcement posts, some discussion, and a somewhat tangential piece by Eric Burns on voice acting, and people have been dancing around the topic, so I'm just going to come right out and say it:

Scott Kurtz is a hypocritical man and he's ripping Tim Buckley off.

It's a gross oversimplification of actual events, completely one-sided, and a half-truth at best, but someone had to say it.

When Ctrl-Alt-Del: The Animated Series came out, the general response from the webcomic illuminati was a general "who cares?" I personally figured it was a pretty monumental step forward and predicted that other webcomics would soon follow suit, but no one else seemed to really think it was that big of a deal. In fact, I couldn't even find a decent review of the animated series after it came out, so I had to write one myself. And while the quality of the show wasn't spectacular, I felt it deserved much more than the "ho-hum" it got from the "enlightened" webcomic community.

Now, about a year later, we've got Scott Kurtz announcing that he's coming out with an animated series. Produced by the same production house, no less (Blind Ferret Entertainment). And sporting an eerily similar subscription pricing model. Kurtz makes it abundantly clear that it was Blind Ferret which approached him, and practically hounded him into making the series, but still... Do you think he wasn't suffering at least some animation-envy watching Tim Buckley's characters slickly walking around and interacting while he was playing with finger puppets?

But you know, I can excuse all that. Seriously, who cares? I mean, don't you think Tim Buckley was hugely envious of Penny Arcade when he first started (and probably still is, to a certain extent. I mean, who's not envious of those guys? They're living the dream)? The "I want in on this action" spirit is probably the driving force behind the existence of webcomics, and has spawned most of its greatest works. There's nothing at all wrong with that.

Here's what Scott Kurtz is doing wrong: He's touting PvP: The Series as some spectacular new thing, when Tim Buckley already did it a year ago. I mean, in Kurtz' own words: "Spread the word and help us make this a milestone in webcomics." It's a milestone that's already been past. If anything, the milestone that Kurtz is setting here is legitimizing that Ctrl-Alt-Del The Animated Series was a success, because another successful webcomics artist is following suit. And Kurtz doesn't even mention CAD in his announcement post (although he does address the issue in the comments, it's only because someone else brought it up). The closest he comes is when he mentions that this time Blind Ferret is using in-house animation instead of outsourcing, so it's going to be better then before. Yep, the closest he comes to mentioning CAD is with a subtle jab at the quality. That's class right there.

When I watched the preview for PvP: The Series, do you know what I saw? I saw Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Animated Series. The same style of animation. The same level of voice acting. The same pacing on the jokes. The same awkward "we're used to writing stuff with panel breaks" disjointedness. Kurtz claims the animation is going to be a whole lot better because it's in-house this time, but quite frankly, I thought the quality of animation in CAD: The Animated Series was darned good; far from being the low point (which was the poor writing). And he talks about the great voice actors, but CAD had great, professional voice actors as well, and in my opinion, at least from what I've seen so far, I think Tim Buckley did a better job matching his characters with voice actors than Kurtz has done.

So what am I saying? PvP: The Series sucks? No. I don't have enough information for that. I'm going to have to subscribe to it and see how things pan out. I had to subscribe to Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Animated Series to see how it was, and it was a show with very high production values and sub-par writing. I fear that PvP: The Series may have similar problems, but it's too early on at this point to tell.

What I am saying is that Scott Kurtz needs to give credit where credit is due, and not pretend to be the trailblazer that he isn't. That's all. Besides that, I wish him the best of luck and I look forward to seeing where this leads. It should be interesting.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My old chess coach was named Sheldon... not that that's relevant.

The first strip. From Sheldon.

This is not a review of Sheldon. Nor is this a commentary on the latest joke or the ongoing storyline or the overarching societal themes subtly undertoning the seemingly shallow geek humor (yes I did just use undertone as a verb there).

I linked this strip from Sheldon for one very simple reason: it's the first time that I can.

Yep, that's right, Sheldon has slipped from the surly bonds of and touched the face of, uh, the full archive diety. We shall call him Archivo. I think it's very striking when a comics author that's got a deal with a major syndicate (granted, a crappy deal, but a deal nonetheless) decides that he'd be better off just going it alone. It says alot the sorry state of syndicated comics these days, and a lot about how the major syndicates don't know how to communicate with the internet audience. 30 day archives, poorly designed, ad-ridden sites, no way for the artist to really connect with his audience...

I'm pretty sure Dave Kellett's not going to regret this decision. And when he's making his living solely off his comic strip (and with the quality of his work, he really should be), he's just going to look back at the syndication deal and laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

And I, for one, intend to go read his archives and join in the laughter.

Monday, November 06, 2006

NaDruWriNi Wrapup

Ok, so National Drunk Writing Night was a lot of fun. I showed up kind of late to the party (and then made myself even later by skipping out in the middle to go see a movie), but I still got a chance to chat a little bit with some guys from the Robot Army, so that was a lot of fun. I can't really comment on my personal post except to say that I really rambled on for a long time there and I'm surprised that even while drunk I was remarkably dedicated to proper spelling and grammar. I was going back and fixing sentences like two or three times to get them right while I was writing that post. I really need to learn how to let loose a little more, geez. I blame grad school for this.

Anyways, there's two other webcomics-related NaDruWriNi posts that I know of, so I'll point you to them:

  1. Phil Kahn, Zen Master, wrote for awhile about the future of webcomics. And while he claimed to have lost his lucidity last night amid the various toxins coursing through his blood, I think he's actually pretty spot on. Those of us around here might be "the pioneers" or whatever, but we really are just a bunch of indie artists appealing to niche audiences (although, granted, some of those niches are quite large), and webcomics aren't going to be huge until someone huge embraces the concept in a very real way (not just "Hey, I'll make the last thirty days of my archive available online! Hyuk!")
  2. Andrew Araki of Comics Rock actually experienced his first time getting staggering-giddy-face-to-the-floor drunk for NaDruWriNi. Brings back memories. I remember my first time really letting go, on a New Years a few years back. Good times... In any case, he wrote mostly about the greatness of music, and how it is possible to be a fan of more than one genre. As an avid fan of Pandora, I can say word to that. There are entire genres of music that most people are too narrow-minded to even discover. Up until a couple weeks ago I'd never even fathomed the possibility of a band like The Bob Crewe Generation. Now I can't imagine ever having lived without them. And Araki, I don't think you have to worry about this hurting your career as a teacher. Alcohol has been the steadfast companion of some of the greatest teachers of all time. But yeah, let someone else drive.

So, a good time was had by all! Now I've got to get back to work. Talk to you again soon.