Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Origins Report - 09

To be honest, I was a bit unsure on how to write the Origins report which may also have a lot to say about my general writing style. Just stuff on my mind.

Origins was enjoyable this year. I say this not because in the past it has been unenjoyable nor has it ever been particularly horrible but the slump in quality I had  previously seen vanished by going and actually visiting vendors. The truth is that previously for me, Origins was all about Magic the Gathering but as the long time readers know, I gave that up. No more spending hours running from card dealer to card dealer looking for more money to feed my bad habit. I still need to get rid of my cards (looking to sell for $300 or so if you would be interested) but the fact that I had no desire to return was pretty sweet. The freedom from that foul beast allowed me to branch out, pay attention to vendors and generally have a much more enjoyable time.

This year, my job was vendor hunting - essentially going from booth to booth advertising the project that I am working on. With about....100 or so booths to see and my laptop in my bag along with my tools of the trade (pen, paper, dice) I actually met some neat people and accomplished my list of personal goals. (Find a new RPG, resist buying any playing cards and have fun). Instead of giving a report on every spot  though, I'll just say I got my goals accomplished. I picked up Ex Machina for $5 (cyber-punk RPG), ended up giving away the trading cards I ended up with (they gave a good deal out), walked with a copy of Say Anything, purchased Apples to Apples and frankly had a lot of fun.

I'm not fully sure what to say. It was fun, visiting and talking to the people was fun and while it is dying (the big sponsors are leaving) with some good planning, you can still have fun.

Also the ads are sort of dead for now. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back For Now

Thanks for putting up with my educational related shenanigans over the past week. Finals as always are a trying time, especially when you get hooked onto the dark and foul beast known as OMGPOP and feel your soul and decency slip away as your multiplayer Tetris, errr Blockles humiliate all those around you before some kid across the globe reduces you to tears. And then you play Balloono.

Over the break, though, I met up with my list of comics to read once more and laughed at it. The list, between friend suggestions and ad space buyers and everything else, is pretty big. I had some comics on my mind that  I'd been meaning to read, though, and so read I did do.

Captain Excelsior by Zach Weiner and Chris Jones

Pedigree of this caliber, or at least anything with Zach Weiner (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) is almost certain to be amazing and therefor doomed to disappoint. Luckily, for readers, Captain Excelsior not only lives up to it's pedigree but it also does not disappoint. 

Captain Excelsior tells the story of Captain Excelsior's family, the machismo-filled namesake, his possibly gay son Kid Liberty, his ex-wife/mindreader Mrs. Mind, socially obtuse daughter Tesla and Ron who has no powers and who nobody likes.

Rounding out what could otherwise be a very generic superhero comedy you have almost all of the characters acting so horribly you'd almost want Galactus or the giant planet destructor of your choice to finish them all off. 

The comic is dark, the art is fresh and the writing is well written. As a bonus for those of you not wanting to worry about catching up, the comic is also currently over so why don't you give it a shot.

TL;DR: Dark, funny and anything but heroic, Captain Excelsior should be read and enjoyed this instant. A+

Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew

Somewhere in my vast number of reviews I mentioned how one well done and profitable stick art comic could ruin the pot by inspiring hundreds more. Welcome to the fantasy tropes version.

Order of the Stick is a fantasy-comedy adventure told with huge amounts of text and  lots of stick art. Normally at this point I'd decide not to review the comic so that you never even hear of it. The art is essentially copy-paste or simple art puppetry with very little work seemingly inserted into it. Unlike other comics though, OotS is actually well written and as with XKCD, that makes all of the difference.

Order of the Stick is the tale of the aforementioned order beginning a quest to kill a lich and retrieve some magical MacGuffin. Long story short, all shit breaks loose, in escalating amounts and as with all RPGs, the party is forced to deal with it.

The comic works well though, slowly introducing plot, characters and tiny Chekov's items that come back and surprise you out of nowhere....almost.

While most of the humor is simple, there are a few more nerdy RPG jokes that I myself didn't get at first (thanks Wikipieda) but in general the comic is accessible to just about everyone. While the comic can also be wordy, there is actually value in the words for once.

TL;DR: A well written, simply illustrated fantasy comic that is pretty much an industry standard. A-

In other webcomic news, Fanboys, Bear and Kitten and Hockey Zombie all are back and updating. Hopefully Fanboys will get better, hopefully Bear and Kitten will keep a schedule and hopefully Hockey Zombie will finally get that ruby slipper or whatever it needed besides a schedule.

Until next week, which will be a nerdy game review for old times sake, I am out of here to play some OMGPOP (look for Koltreg).

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Doomed to Repeat Itself

Looking back at the original posts, there was a two week break between my first and second articles. I do not remember why honestly but long story short, finals is making me do it again.

Also Plants vs Zombies is digital crack. 

Back in two weeks.

Monday, June 1, 2009

An Anniversary Bonus Article

I decided that I'd need to post something for the anniversary so I whipped this up.

Since about a month ago, my brother/editor has been working on reviewing the blog, at least when possible. It helps to have somebody run a brief check for the blog before I post it. It also gets me to reread what I wrote before I post so that I can reaffirm what I write what I meant. Recently he pointed out something that suddenly bugged me. Why don't I write more negative reviews. Honestly the question has been posed before by others who have viewed the blog, Scott Smith for example. The reason itself is simple enough: there are too many good webcomics that people need to see.

Reviewing webcomics is different than reviewing albums or movies or even television shows. With webcomics, the review media is always composed of online people working for free and often without training. I have yet to hear of an actual printed periodical taking interest in a webcomic besides Penny Arcade. As a reviewer you are faced with a genre where anybody can create work and many people actually do. Some of the work is horrible errr.... actually most of it is. Very few webcomics are actually decent enough to garner a wide audience. While some people may only do comics for their friends, you need to ask the question, why are you posting it on the Internet then? As I said though, most webcomics are horrible. I then pose, why should I as a comic reviewer working for fun, spend my time on something I don't like just to tell you that you should not like something?

Now, don't get me wrong. Many readers do enjoy negative reviews. Your Webcomic is Bad and the progeny of Internet hellspawn from that infernal womb has shown that there is an interest in negative reviews. Who does that really help though? All it does is perpetuate the Internet hate machine. The creators mostly are just told they need to stop, they receive hate mail and generally just give up. They are never or at least rarely given actual help to improve. Nothing good usually comes out of the situtation.

Now if requested, I will read any webcomic. This doesn't mean I will review it. So far, three webcomics artists have asked me to look at their work at least. Two of them were good enough to get reviews. The third literally caused me physical pain when reading it. I did not review that one obviously. Why? Besides the obvious fact that I wish my readers no harm, I was faced with something so horrible that I would not want anybody to deal with it but also to help the author. The author was alerted to what I thought, thanked me for my help and decided to try and change what he was doing. If I had posted a negative review on the blog, all that would happen would be that more people would have the same opinion and might not be as polite about it. 

If your comic is horrible, I don't review it to help you the readers, to help the author and to make my work a little easier. By not reviewing, I can find you decent content that you can actually enjoy or at least try to enjoy, I instead give the writers tips to improve so that I will actually review it and I don't have to force myself to read a comic. All in all, everyone is helped with a little bit of quality control. 

If you want me to see your comic, you can know what to expect. If I don't like your comic, I try to make the reasons clear or general enough so you know to change areas. Just putting that out there and thanks for reading.

A Year! - KinkoFry, Moe, Abominable

First off I apologize for missing last week's update. Life got in the way and I needed to take a week off even though I really only do this in about an hour or two. To make up, I added in a third review for this week and for those cynics who say I need to review four comics, I reply "nert nert nert" (see Hockey Zombie).

As of Tuesday of this week, the blog will be officially one year old. Looking back at the original post I find it funny, originally I got into the blog industry because I expected my webcomic site to take off and I wanted to be some Internet phenomenon. Since then I've faced reality with a greater deal of cynicism, frugality and intelligence; or so I say. I would just like to say the past year that I have had the blog has been a great time for myself and 4th edition is still touchy for me.

Onto webcomics!

KinkoFry by Rebecca Clements

The comic has been making the Internet rounds on the few forums that I visit but for those unfamiliar or unexposed, KinkoFry is an absolute visual delight. In a Seussian illustration style the comic builds beautiful setting and landscapes creating background setting that is both engaging and enjoyable.

The humor itself varies from comic to comic but is mostly above the standard level. Based around a group mushroom people, the comic enjoys taking them on adventures in a strange and wondrous world. Adventure though may not be the best term to use. Something more like montages. The story if any is told in bits and pieces and doesn't add much as there is not much story to add but it works for the comic. Some of the best gags though are the ones that completely seem to not fit the genre or at least what one might see as the genre i.e. the masturbation genie.

The art though as I mentioned is the main selling point for the comic. So many comics completely ignore the background and this comic glorifies it. Even the backgrounds that could easily have been copied and pasted are carefully or not so carefully redrawn. The characters and simple. I just really love the art in the comic. I might as well stop here to fall into rambling about the art over and over.

TL;DR: If you want something that looks great, imaginative and doesn't bore you with story, KinkoFry is for you. A

Moe by Michael Firman

Moe is yet another comic with a very newspaper style setup that, due to the freedoms of the Internet, is allowed to breathe and be creative. Based around the eponymous Moe, a vagabond bean shaped character working to make a life for himself, the comic creates a psychotic odyssey involving museums, corrupt officers and a store that holds a special place in my heart known as Best Pie.

The art for Moe is simplistic but it fits the storytelling. On the other hand though divining the ages of characters can become difficult at times. On the bright side though, the colorful cast is almost constantly changing. Characters from the first 20 comics haven't been around for ages or even mentioned and you eventually begin to recognize that the only characters around are Moe and his brother. 

The story and writing are my main reason for keeping with the story. The humor ranges from the basic slapstick to the more complex visual puns and all mediums of humor in between. Also incorporated into the stories are a series of convoluted and confusing but none-the-less entertaining plots and subplots. A brief romance story in the comic turns to a creationist protest to a horrible date and then to a who knows what. I personally love that about the comic though.

TL;DR: Moe is enjoyable unless you happen to hate humor and have a dark spot in your heart where you are slowly devouring yourself. A

The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kerschl

The Abominable is one of those comics in the medium that does drama well. Most Internet comics confuse the differences of drama and melodrama creating boring sob-fests that end with the writers writing soap operas in previous Soviet Block countries, if only.

The easiest thing to compare the Abominable to is Bambi. It is a beautiful and amazingly well-drawn comic that takes place in a forest full of colorful characters (though the world itself lacks hue). Varying between the humorous side stories and the main plotline, The Abominable shows you what an actual comic artist can do with the webcomic medium. The pacing can seem disrupted though as the main character is constantly introduced to new companions who seem to add little to the story i.e. the rabbit and such. For all I know though, they could all be Chekov's guns creating a massive arsenal to pull from to launch an attack of emotion on the reader. Honestly though, the writing and the art work together so well it is difficult to describe one without the other.

All in all, the comic is amazing (I really need some bad comics in here to seem less biased). I picked it up, read it in a few hours and now must wait for Wednesday and frankly when it comes to comics, I finally have something to look forward to for that day. A

Thanks to everyone who has linked, chatted or commented over the past year. I do this for you, the people wanting something new and nerdy, and maybe in a small way, for myself. 

Come back next week when I scrounge the bottom of the barrels and ruin the dreams of aspiring webcomic artists by ranting for several paragraphs about their DrunkDuck sprite comics.... or I can just find more entertaining comics the people should read un-ironically.