Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Break Week

I had a busy weekend recently and am a bit behind in work. Expect the next update to be up Monday. I'm thinking Kinkofry and Moe.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Horribleville and Cronny Reviews

Horribleville by KC Green

This marks the 2nd time within a year that a webcomic I read ends itself (first being Ugly Hill). At least it was a real end thogh. It was not one of the endings where they just stop posting and you figure, might as well drop this like they dropped their update schedule. On the bright side though, KC Green ended Horribleville well and at a time you could respect. 

Horribleville has more or less been the journal for KC Green where his every fear and neuroses comes pouring out. If you are unfamiliar with KC Green Horribleville makes a good starting point. KC Green has been drawing webcomics for ages literally developing as one of the few almost universally liked webcomic makers. Hell, Encyclopedia Dramatica says he has the only worthwhile comics and they trash almost everything. The reason for why his fans love him is a confusing one. Possibly it is because his fans love him for how overly human he is and how open he is with the  his irrational fears. He practically declares "Yeah this thing I fear is impossible but it still controls my actions a tiny bit." Something anybody can relate to. He is almost a being composed of the eschewed fears that many mainstream webcomic makers seem to leave behind. 

The art is classic KC Green art where everything is changing based on mood, feeling and just generally over time. The art is always recognizably his though. Emotional and surreal you can see how he feels through the comics which is something that some webcomic artists doing journal comics seem to lack. The writing is also very solid. I've read through the archive multiple times and the ramping deer scene along with other comics still make me laugh. Not chuckle on the inside but audibly cackle. He is the master of the show though and does a good job avoiding most of the cliches especially since a good deal of the comics aren't based on life or realistic events at all.

On a side note, the comic includes one of the best guest comic runs I am familiar with.

TL;DR version: Horribleville will delight, depress and overall entertain you. A+

Cronny/Jason Lux by Nick Cron-DeVico

In another part of the journal webcomics spectrum sits Jason Lux. Up to a few minutes before writing this review I was living or at least believing a lie. I had not seen that Jason Lux is a biography about a fake character. The fact is that because this isn't based off real life the author really needs to come up with something more interesting.

Jason Lux artistically is a slap together of art styles. The guy can obviously draw. If you look at the backgrounds and settings he shows a great deal of talent and artistic knowledge. The character design though is such an opposition to the feel of that comic though, it makes no sense. It is like the fear of drawing more realistic characters has resulted in the artist going with amazingly unfitting characters for the world he has created. It's like Pollock painting over a Da Vinci sketch. Both styles are good alone but combined its like steak and mayo. It does not mesh well.

The storytelling has become sole crushingly depressing with the realization that the entire story is fake. The fact that he is writing a fake journal comic and it is so boring is horrifying. He doesn't need to make it about fighting a gang of street thugs but a several week long arc about playing Smash Bros is like being given an open canvas and just painting it white again. The fact that update schedule to my knowledge is random and sparse doesn't help either. And then putting up a quick filler is something that just bugs me. Honestly a simple text message on the screen giving a return time is often more helpful and it shows you don't have time to draw.

Overall the comic needs work. It needs to define its art style either one path or the other (realistic or unrealistic). The artist obviously has talent at drawing and it would not seem to be a difficulty. The writing also needs a fix. (I consulted the creator in the middle of writing the review.)  It is not based on real life but sometimes uses it as a jumping point. If that is true, why not improve it, find more interesting things or change the writing style of the comic? 

TL; DR version: The comic has potential but it needs to figure out what it wants to be if it wants to garner a larger audience. C

On a side note, I added some ad boxes so if you've gotten a favorable review from me in the past, I will happily give you some space. If you link me to something I find unappealing as a comic, I won't give you space. Simple as that and I highly doubt I will make money off of the ad boxes for a while. Standards!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Catridge Review and Interview and ChannelATE Review

First off, an interview with Chris Jeffrey 24 minutes 22.2 mb

Cartridge by Chris jeffrey and Alexandria N.

Cartridge is a comic that has taken a lot more flack than it deserves. Originally spawned under the name Cartridge Comics, the series started nonchalantly enough as a generic pop culture reference strip. The art quality was poor with most of the images looking obviously traced or copied but it had a laugh here or there for what it was worth. Then trouble befell the comic under the dark form of Your Webcomic Is Bad And You Should Feel Bad or YWCIB.

For those unfamiliar with the timeline of webcomics, around 2005, you had the perfect time to start a webcomic. There was no real quality control levels, people would read anything you linked and people were more willing to donate to support your comic. People started to get annoyed and angry starting with forum posts and escalating to blogs. In 2007, what may easily be the most infamous of these, YWICB, was formed. Under the name John Solomon, a blogger did his best to tear deride the hopes and dreams of the writers and artists of comics he deigned to be horrible with the mouth of a sailor and a pen drenched in pure hate. While containing humorous lines and some underlying truth, the review was often overly harsh and it offered little suggestions besides committing suicide or "stop being such a crappy person". The Internet loved it, Solomon took on the bigger forces of the Internet, PvP, Shortpacked and others where he thought they were somehow living with unjust money or fame. Eventually though people complained and if they were unfortunate enough to have a webcomic, Solomon (and later three other members) would have a target for the next weeks review. The blog died about a year ago leaving behind a harsh reminder of the cruelty of the internet and leaving a void in its place.

Cartridge Comics was targets by Solomon and ripped asunder. Readers of the comic or actual fans saw Solomon was being his normal pretentious self but they weren't the ones who posted and commented about the review. Those who did found the Cartridge Comics almost on the scale of evil as Hitler and despite Jeffrey's concessions about the comic's quality, the hate mail began to pour in. The comic closed down shortly after.

Early in 2008 though, the comic returned stronger than it had been. It eschewed the portents of being a nerdy gag comic for following the path of being a nerdy story based comic. The change has done good for the comic. While the artist is still learning (which he confesses) and is not fully trusting in his abilities, he does a decent enough job though he may focus on running filters for dramatic effect a bit too often. The writing itself is good but weekly updates move the comic too slowly to be able to build up hype. The other problem is the fact that in many ways the comic is haunted by its past. The characters were designed for a nerdy gag strip and it shows in the design making it difficult in a way to cross into the action-comedy genre. I'm not saying they need to be steroid injecting brawlers but cutting down on the nerdy humor might allow the comic to garner some more respect. The writing itself also has a gag feel to it or more of a flavor from the way the comics are set up. Possibly writing the comic without making it a gag on every page would help or making action between pages overlap more. Overall though, the comic shows promise. It just needs to leave it's past behind or get on with the story a lot faster.

TL;DR version: What started as a gag comic but tried to redefine itself as an adventure comic is struggling to define itself but overall shows promise. B-

ChannelATE by Ryan Hudson

I honestly have no problem with simple gag strips. If they are done very well (such as with SMBC) you can have a very popular comic. The problem is not everyone likes the same humor, not everyone appreciates the same joke styles. It's all the human experience really. 

I don't hate ChannelATE, it has its funny parts and is overall a good introduction comic. I can say by reading close to 70 webcomics by now though, basic gags (with a few exceptions) do very little for me. The art is pretty basic in and of itself. Nothing on the Perry Bible Fellowship scale. You might like the comic but like others before it, this is just another gag comic that does nothing for me. Overall, it just bores me a bit and brings nothing new to the table.

TL;DR If you like random gag comics, check it out. If not, ignore. C+

On a side note, I did not watch any of the animations on the site. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Triple Review: LFG, Unwinder and QC

First off, thanks to Allan for linking me and not just posting the interview on his site so people were forced to visit here. I'm sure if I sold out and put ads up on here I'd have made enough mad cash to buy a meal at Wendys. Not a Baconator combo but enough off of the 99¢ meal to be filled. 

Also thanks to everybody who has been kind enough to chat with me on the chat box. I do look forward to no longer needing to just continuously say "Hey Allan reader!" though. The people who regularly read got a bit annoyed with me. Also, I've met a decent amount of webcomic artists asking me to review them so I must say thanks for that chance. 

Reception to the interview itself has been pretty positive though general consensus is to ask more questions and beatbox less. Good hints that I will keep in my for my interview with Chris of Cartridge (and Cartridge Comics). Send in or post questions if you have any.

Looking for Group by Lars and Sohmer Originally reviewed here

I dropped the comic a while back in December of last year because I found the comic was getting stale and was using the same gags (a.k.a. Richard a.k.a. seriously guys play a creative necromancer in my game, dammit, wait you didn't just... yeah you Rick Roll'd me... classy). I came back because my D&D group members along with the guy who I more or less work for (for free) asked me why I didn't like it. They promised the comic was still funny, they promised it was as funny as it ever was. To quote many movie taglines, they were wrong.

For those unfamiliar with Looking for Group, it is your more or less generic fantasy adventure based in a world that in many aspects is pretty creative. In fact, looking at it, the setting and character ideas are probably the most creative things about the series. The comic in a way is like a bunch of pretty bulbs on a Christmas tree ... that you left up for 11 months watering with weed killer. It has yet to follow the generic sissy elves idea, it avoids the generic harlot style female characters (though the comics are what you'd expect from the LICD guys) and overall it doesn't follow many, at least as far as I am concerned. There are plenty of tropes in the writing though and the writing is where the series falls apart, or the dialogue... hold on.

I'm going to stop here and say, as I think about, Looking for Group has all the makings to be a very good comic. The art is well done, the world is fresh and full of life, the character ideas are/were new but in the end it seems more like a frat boy road trip through a war torn country. There isn't much depth, its full of stupid humor and it wears thin fast plus it doesn't respect its background at all. The necromancer Richard who I have grown to hate is basically the joke in every single comic. It's like this:

Old Man 1: Our town has been ravaged by raiding monsters. My wife was killed and raped.

Old Woman 1: All of our warriors are currently battling hordes of monsters.

Good Guy: We will help you.

Old Man 1: Thank you sir.

Good Guy: I am simply doing my job sir.

Richard: Hey look at me! I'm doing something wacky!

Basically whatever emotional complexity starts to build up is ruined by the last panel or the sub story (within one page). I used to be very entertained with the series actually. I'd link it everywhere. Then they did a rick roll in the comic. Then they did several 300 references. Then the just seemed to make references that made no sense for a fantasy comic. I'd stopped laughing, I stopped being entertained. If the comic was serious all of the time, I'd actually like it a whole lot more. Sadly it is bipolar and won't give up on what it wants to be and that kills it.

TL;DR version: It's like you attend a beloved family member's funeral. Each member goes up and says some really heartfelt words about the deceased. After each person finishes speaking a clown throws a cream pie at the cadaver. It is funny at the beginning because you don't expect it but they you realize "Hey, that's pretty wrong" and it stops being funny. 

At least they have a catered meal afterwards. B-.

Unwinder's Tall Comics by Wilson "Eli" Parker

Unwinder's Tall Comics is a comic for the cynic, jerk and smartass within everyone. It does a beautiful job with hitting around all of the bases of comedy and comes with some of the sharpest wit on the internet. With that blurb said as a more or less favor, it is time for the review.

Focusing on Unwinder and his friend in a small suburb in Minnesota, Unwider paves a trail of genius. The writing is the main draw to the Tall Comics where everything is hit from memes, trolling, current events and more. Interspersed within the comic is it's own world of fake authors, movie script ideas and views into the dark id that the Internet age has inspired while definitely calling to mind Watchmen's tale within a tale storytelling.

The art itself is easily recognizable with a bright cast that seem almost like rejected Saturday morning cartoon characters. While the format does create a bit of panic as the comics are tall and intimidating they read easily enough and create a sort of faux zen to the entire layout.

Overall though, the comic is still young but if it keeps at the pace that it is going, it's going to get a lot more popular.

Also spend the time to read through the steampunk filler along with the notes. I'd love to play in that campaign.

TL;DR version: Don't be a lenient park ranger, just start reading this amazing and scathing review of pop and internet culture. A

Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques

Unwinder actually lead me into reading Questionable Content along with wondering who the bearded masked Twitter figure was the webcomic top tier seemed to be following.

Questionable Content is a comic that has aged very well. When I began reading the comic I was struck with what seemed like a horribly dense indie comic. Too many bands referenced, overused puns and art on the poorer side on the spectrum. It was almost like CAD but with indie music complete with an annoying and wacky robot. I was ready to quit reading it. I thought about it though and I decided to push through with the comic though as was my duty and it paid off in spades.

After a while Jacques definitely shows growth as both an artist and a writer eschewing the overused indie music references (for the most part - but I did know of most of the bands). The characters suddenly became real, their problems mattered and frankly, it did the anti-CAD. The characters became relatable and the humor changed from overly gag based to that humor that you share between friends. It felt more like a dramatic series but still allowed itself to let in the right bits of humor without it throwing pies at the proverbial corpse. 

For those unfamiliar, Questionable Content is a situational drama-dy focused around a group of friends in the indie crowd in a semi realistic word. As a warning against those with prejudiced music tastes, indie music is prevalent. In the beginning of the series, indie bands are thrown around more heavily than a medicine ball on Jupiter but they start to cut it out. The story almost evolves into a soap opera for the youth but the humor and writing are well enough to keep the comic going strong. 

TL;DR version: If you like indie music and can trudge through a slow start, you get well rewarded with rich characters and a realistic and personable cast. A

Next week I hope to have the Cartridge interview up, a rereview of Cartridge and one or two comics off of my list. Only if I am lucky though. It's midterms this week.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Layout Update

I changed a few of the bars on the right side of the blog. I changed the alert notice about the chat function and then added quick lists to all the comics I suggested (35-ish, I grouped KC Green's stuff and only counted Rumblo) and a list of comics I've mentioned (minus a few) that I have dropped or are now defunct (dead). Doesn't mean they are bad though, I just didn't care for some.

I have the next blog post all ready and the comics are on the "to read list" minus LFG.

I'll see you Monday!