Thursday, August 7, 2014

Webcomics I like


I'm always on the lookout for webcomics that appeal to me, and I've collected enough new ones to justify writing another entry on them.

Back when I was still in the U.S., a client I worked with on contract was a big fan of Order of the Stick, and Doctor McNinja. He talked me into checking both of those. At the time, OotS was also hosting Erfworld, which the client didn't like but I started reading anyway. When I started looking for new comics, I discovered Sam and Fuzzy, and Spacetrawler in the McNinja links, and from the S&F links I found Dead Winter, Boxer Hockey and Broodhollow. Spacetrawler gave me the Abominable Charles Christopher, and then One Way. Then, when someone picked a weird avatar on GoComics and someone else asked what it was, a third person said it came from Romantically Apocalyptic, which I decided I'd verify, and subsequently read.

Legend:
ILTO: I like this one and read it when it comes out.
SRHB: Still reading, hoping that it will get better.
SRBB: Still reading because I'm too bored to stop.
WFCB: Waiting for it to come back.

Order of the Stick
Actually, I've talked about a few of these comics before, including OotS, but I still like it enough to talk about it again. Stick started out as a D&D parody featuring stick figures. While the basic designs are very simple, the overall story does transcend mere jokes. If you like D&D, OotS is worth reading. Unfortunately, the artist, Rich Burlew has never had really good health, and last year he managed to severely cut his drawing hand. So, the strip has been coming out sporadically as he heals and concentrates on creating awards promised to his Kickstarter supporters. (ILTO)

Erfworld
Erfworld is a parody of sword and sorcery-style gaming, and pretty much started out as support for a planned commercial gaming system. All the monster and character names are jokes, while the artwork is about average for webcomics (they've gone through a couple artists already). Initially, Erfworld was about a fat slob of a game master who is accidentally pulled into someone else's game, and followed his learning curve as he fulfilled his duties as warlord of the castle town Gobwin Knob. Then things kind of fell apart when writer Rob Balder over-extended himself and tried to take on too many unconnected storylines at one time. I dropped Erfworld for about 6 months, then decided to catch up on the archives. But, it's not as good as it first was. (SRBB)

Doctor McNinja
He's a doctor AND a ninja. He's Scottish! He's Doctor McNinja! Ok, yeah. We have a comic based on a silly combination of mismatched ideas that snowballed enough to be self-sustaining. The artwork's not that bad, but there's no real story. Instead, the plots involve something that I see as a serious problem with modern comic writing - the idea that if something is inane enough it'll actually come off as funny. This malady can also be seen in Brewster Rockit and Rip Haywire. But, at least Brewster includes real science in the Sunday strips, sometimes. McNinja? Not so much. Vampires. Dracula. Talking Apes. (SRBB)

Sam and Fuzzy
Ok, this one I like, and it was worth the several days spent going through the archives of bad artwork to catch up to the current story. Sam is a down-and-out taxi driver who unluckily encounters a talking teddy bear with a criminal streak. Over time, Sam discovers he's related to a ninja crime family, and figures that it's easier to run it himself than it is to make the family give up its nefarious ways. Eventually, Fuzzy takes over a rival company in an attempt to humiliate Sam for breaking up with him. And now, Sam is raiding the other crime families to make the underground known to the public, while Fuzzy stagnates as the hostage of master thief Hazel Kim. The artwork is much better now, and mixes seriousness in with some really good jokes. (ILTO)

Dead Winter
For unexplained reasons, most of the population turns to zombies, and a contract killer, a female cop, a plumber and a waitress are forced to team up to survive the mayhem. The artwork is good, as are the action scenes. I like reading this one, but the artist has decided to get a sex change and that's kind of put the strip on hiatus. It's not a gory or scary story, not particularly, but it is fun when it comes out. (ILTO)

Boxer Hockey
Ok, this was an inane idea that actually turned out funny. Someone decided that hockey wasn't violent enough, and that it could be made "better" with the introduction of lead pipes, synthetic frogs, and absolutely no protective gear. The artwork was REALLY good, while the story just follows one 4-man team and their coach as they try to work their way up through the ranks by cheating and game fixing. At some point, Tyson Hesse dropped the strip, and then he lost the domain name to squatters. According to his tumblr page, he is working at bringing the strip back in September. I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with. I liked BH for the over-the-top violence, great art and mindless silliness. It helps that some of the characters look like they came from a Gorillaz video. (WFCB)

Abominable Charles Christopher
Karl Kerschl is a professional artist that's worked on Superman, Teen Titans and Assassin's Creed. He's good. VERY, VERY good. ACC alternates between 3 or 4 threads, on a once-a-week schedule. We get occasional love-wanted classifieds for animals, a D&D game run by a different group of clueless animal villagers, the backstory for Charles Christopher (apparently he was a bear in a Russian traveling circus, and severely injured in a fire) and CC's interactions with a variant on the animal-slayer Gilgamesh. Definitely one of my favorites. (ILTO)

One Way
I'd seen Spacetrawler a few years ago, and wasn't really interested in the story. The artwork and character designs were ok, but not enough to pull me in. About a year ago, I tried again, and this time it took, about a ragtag team of humans kidnapped by some aliens to help overthrow the intergalactic government. Mostly it's tongue-in-cheek satire, the artwork's good and I liked a couple of the main characters. There is some gratuitous sex, but nothing graphic. But. The story ended just as I started reading it. It's been replaced by One Way, an unrelated epic about a group of misfits that Earth's government has sent off for its first contact with aliens. The problem is that the aliens don't want to be contacted and have promised to kill anyone that comes close. The crew of the ship have just decoded this rather important message at about the same time a hull breach dumps half their fuel into space. Now they have some time to kill before coming to terms with their guaranteed demise. The story still manages to be funny under the circumstances, but the character designs are much too blocky for my tastes. The artwork on the ship is really good, though. (ILTO)

Broodhollow
I just started reading Broodhollow a few weeks ago, backtracking through the archives in a couple hours. It's an interesting little horror tale that follows Wadsworth Zane, a down-on-his-luck neurotic encyclopedia salesman who receives a letter telling him that a distant relative that he didn't know about had died and left him an antique store in the small town of Broodhollow. Over time, Wadsworth discovers that the monsters don't just lie under his bed or hide in the closet. While most of the characters are cartoony, the monsters are down-right frightening. Which is a good thing. Turns out, though, that the artist, Kris Straub, also did the inane art strip called Starslip. SS is pure dumb, about an idiot museum director on a space destroyer that has been refitted as an art gallery. Bad art, bad jokes. Starslip got better towards the end, but not enough to make it really worth reading. Broodhollow promises to be a major improvement, but does share some of the same basic character design ideas. (ILTO)

A Girl and Her Fed
I might as well mention this one and Genocide Man while I'm at it. I don't remember where I found the link, but the original story seemed intriguing. A young female slacker haunted by the ghost of Benjamin Franklin, is being spied on by a federal agent equipped with a neural-implant internet interface called Pocket President (the one he gets is a broken version of George W. Bush). Through a series of adventures the woman and the agent fall in love, and discover that they can talk to the dead. And that there's currently a LOT of dead to talk to. The artwork has never been all that great, and the action poses aren't convincing. The pocket president idea was funny, though, although it's been dropped as part of a technology upgrade. There were moments when I did like this strip, but I'm afraid the writer, K.B. Spangler, has fallen in love with his own writing. (SRHB)

Genocide Man
Mass deaths as a sitcom. It could work. Genocide Man started out as a kind of satire, following the path of destruction left by one Jacob Doe, a member of the Genocide Project that has had a change of heart. He's still deadly, but the other members of the Project want him erased just because. The character designs have never been all that good, but some of the early stories were fairly entertaining. But, the current artist is too generic for me, and the introduction of a "Naruto-type" female enemy ("how dare you fail to die when I stupidly try to kill someone who drastically outclasses me in every form of combat known to man? I will have my revenge!") is just stupid. She's going to get killed, it's just a question of how many volumes it will take. (SRHB)

Romantically Apocalyptic
Finally, we get to the end. Literally. Charles Snippy was a tour Guide for the Dead Zone, a burned out area outside of New York. When mankind was wiped out, he was left without a whole lot of reason to continue showing up for work. He's discovered by "The Captain", a looney who recruits him into the country of "Captania", along with the brain-damaged-but-loyal-follower Pilot. They wander the wastelands looking for food and other survivors, but mostly they just encounter mutant creatures (i.e. - "puppies", according to Captain), and angry extragalactic union members. It's a VERY weird strip which generally consists of scans of oil paintings accompanied by several paragraphs of related text. Over time, various guest artists get involved, changing the art quality and messing with the story. We do get backstory on Snippy and Pilot, but things remain unclear regarding Captain and "how the world ended". It seems that one other survivor, network designer Dr. Alexander Gromov, had created the ultimate search engine, named "Annie", to look for the world's luckiest person (Captain). Annie got too powerful, tried to enslave the planet, and Gromov initiated a nuclear winter in order to fry her servers (forgetting about the ones still on the moon). The first couple years' worth of strips are absolutely beautiful, and simply surreal. The stuff in the middle falls apart, when the story gets more mainstream and easier to understand, and Captain starts talking without his French accent, but the last few months' worth of pages are falling back into the original pattern. Lots of nightmare creatures, bones, and scalding hot tea. What else could monsieur Snippy ask for? (Ignoring the pleasantries of things like having a working heart again. He's got lots of spare organs now to more than make up for the absence of that one. And there's ALWAYS Photoshop...) (ILTO)

3 comments:

ko-kun said...

You ever check out Olaf?

ko-kun said...

*Oglaf

TSOTE said...

Actually, I have. It's "not safe for work".