Monday, November 30, 2009

How to Get Into Webcomics - Part 1

Welcome to part one of my proposed three part series on webcomics from the fan end of things. You, the readers or potential readers of the genre, have an unfortunate scenario. You are most likely thrust headfirst into the wide sea of webcomics with little direction or information. With no map or general sense of direction you can miss out on rescue. So that is why I am here, partially to give you pointers on where to go for a good start in the genre, how to expand what you read and what to do afterwards. This week we will focus on you getting your footing, or your island but either way, lets drop the metaphors.

Nobody starts out with the same webcomic knowledge base or from the same exact point. There are too many webcomics you can start reading and heck, even if you start reading the same one that 500 other people do you can still have a different experience with it based on when you start reading or who you know that is also reading it.

I myself started out with Dominic Deegan and VG Cats which a friend linked me to. Neither of the comics were perfect but I loved that ability to discuss the comics with my friend and we made inside references to it. He read a few other comics I never got into and I started exploring more and more comics until I reached my current point. Along the way I dropped Dominic Deegan because I stopped enjoying it and VG Cats stayed because it rarely updated but it was decent enough when it did. The fact that I was also a forum member on VG Cats helped me to keep reading (but the forums have mostly trended away from reading the comic to become a separate entity which no longer focuses on the comic). Still, these two webcomics set me on my way by exploring what they linked.

Finding your own path is the most important thing because nothing sets off a potential webcomic fan like a failing webcomic. The ideal webcomic to start with is a middle aged webcomic. The creator is dedicated enough that it will most likely not end, the community is small enough to make a mark and you can feel free to be yourself without worrying about people being jerks. It is honestly more important than it sounds because a majority of trolls seem to be those people who started around trolls (people who make others angry for personal enjoyment). Another benefit of webcomics of this size is that they are aware of other webcomics. They will link to them and help you to build your own list. They will form groups and help each other become accessible at conventions and other areas. While you grow you are helping the author grow.

If you go with a big or small webcomic you face threats. If the comic is too big or too small, the ego is a threat. Authors may not update, they may decide to start other projects or they may just go and rest on their laurels. See VG Cats, Perry Bible Fellowship or one of the thousands of webcomics that are under 20 pages long with updated that are months behind schedule. These other comics often have dangerous forums for you as well. The small ones may be dead or filled with bots (which I can attest to - I had more advertising robots on my old forum than posts). The big forums can be harsh landscapes full of those “sage” posters with tens of thousands of posts where the slightest mistake causes you to fall under attack. Monetary dangers, pledge drives and such can also befall these comics killing them. If the comic starts putting out more news updates asking for money than new comics, you have a problem. If the artist makes more t-shirts than pages, you have a problem. Start with a medium webcomic.

However if you want something you can just read, that is fine. These comics are community links and community is what makes webcomics work. These are not the ivory castle of the print comics. These people are fine getting down and dirty. I will discuss community in the next section but here is my list of starter webcomics.

The List:
Nedroid - simple, random comedy
Dead Winter - zombie horror comedy
Unwinder's Tall Comics - Internet culture critique comedy
MS Paint Adventures - choose your own adventure parody
Gunnerkrigg Court - smart fantasy adventure
Allan - autobiographical webcomic

The List consists of webcomics with good communities to try, where you can begin your webcomic reading campaign.

The following list consist of good non-community webcomics.

The Strictly Reading List:
Penny Arcade - The Main Gaming Webcomic
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja - action adventure comic
Scary Go Round/ Bad Machinery - adventure comic
VG Cats - rarely updating gaming webcomic

These comics are not bad but I am simply less familiar with the communities or they are bigger communities. They are still great to read though.

When you have your webcomic list though, what can you do when you want to find more comics you enjoy, how can you reciprocate your appreciation and where will you go. Come back next Tuesday for part 2.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interview with Jenny from The Zombie Hunters

Happy PreThanksgiving readers and visitors (who hopefully become readers).

Today, an interview with Jenny R. from The Zombie Hunters. It is about 10 minutes (9:45) so short enough for that lunch break. Listen to it here!

No update Friday since I will be passed out from family activities and feasting. Have a pleasant holiday or generally good day for the non-North American viewers.


The List of suggested webcomics can be found here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Byrobot Review

Byrobot by Byron Hussie

Byrobot falls in the category of comics that I describe as purposefully simplistic. These comics focus on breaking down the comic to the roots. Works in this category usually consist of individual pages that are three to four panels of very sketchy artwork. In fact in my interview with Byron Hussie, he confesses that he doesn't spend very much time on the comic. It shows but honestly the comic works because of that simplicity. This ironic negligence that has caused other similar comics to strike it big - ie Toothpaste For Dinner, xkcd, Explosm (to a lesser extent) and so on.

The art as I said is very simplistic. A primal force that breaks humor to the basics. Sketches. That same term that we use for short bits of comedy. Not always full formed.

The writing for the current comics either come from the readers in the form of loose ideas or from the mind of Hussie himself, a seemingly chaotic world of loose associations and references. The jokes themselves often lack a true punchline.

Besides the fan submissions and the family connections (to Andrew Hussie of MS Paint Adventures) the comic lacks the big draw it needs to stake its claim in the genre. Possibly multiple daily updates, maybe alternate comics or maybe figuring a way to allow people to post comments on the comic themselves

As it stands now it is good for a laugh or for a moment but it lacks completion. Still as a new comic with a long background of older material it may just find that missing piece. B-

Next week I review City of Reality, a webcomic that uses Flash well!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Interview with Rico from Art Souls

Rico does a enjoyable comic called Art Souls that you can find here. The interview is timed at 13:12 (short enough to listen to mayhaps?)

Next Tuesday I have an interview with Jenny from The Zombie Hunters.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fronting On The Internet -A Letter to

Sorry to Byrobot for preempting the review of your comic for this but I got caught up with work. The review will go up next Friday.

I am a man who enjoys webcomics as you 10 or so readers know. I hate the bad ones where people don't realize how bad they are. I enjoy the ones where the creators attempt to improve. What really pisses me off though are websites that list webcomics. Not because they are biased but honestly because they are unbiased. This factor means that a poorly made webcomic is given the same space as Penny Arcade. While it is "fair" and such, webcomics are about quality.
One of the sites that is a major criminal is I sent a list of my grievances to the person running the site:

Dear Mr Young,
My name is Luke "Koltreg" H*** and I like to read and write webcomics as well as run a blog where I review webcomics to help people find good ones. In theory your website, The Webcomic List should also help people find quality webcomics. This is based on the idea of what a search site is supposed to do which is to help people find quality content so they don't need to wade through bad content. Instead though, The Webcomic List is a visually abrasive, poorly managed abyss filled with mostly bad webcomics.
Now, as much as I enjoy webcomics through my pursuit of the genre I have come to the revelation that not every comic is good. Not every comic deserves notoriety. Not every comic deserves a chance. Its like how not every Little Leaguer will become a professional baseball player. A majority of the people who make a business of hosting webcomics and following this practice hold little or no care about the genre that you are supposedly supporting. I am talking about DrunkDuck, ComicGenesis and SmackJeeves. These sites are the tools of the desperate and the undedicated comic creators. There is a reason Chris Crosby of Keenspot created Comic Genesis, to keep the name of KeenSpot somewhat untarnished. To show the cream of the crop. You show all of the crop and this is a bad business practice.
What I am suggesting is that you find people who care about the genre of webcomics to fix the site, to provide content and to generally clean up the dead comics, look for actual quality work and elevate it up. Have editors sections. Have weekly suggestions that you make if you care about the genre. Reach out into the online community and find people who are talking up quality work. Invite comic creators to use your website. Invite blog writers to write content for you for extra views. If nothing else, fix the web design.

A small list of things to fix:
- Orange is a poor color to base a site design on. Change it to something more professional. You are a professional web designer and yet the site is ugly and looks unprofessional and this is coming from a 1st year web design student and the opinions of three other students who are in the work field.
- The square links to comics at the top are annoying, there seems to be no quality control and it seems to serve little purpose other than to scare away potential users.
- Fix the ads that you have and hold some tact. Remove the Evony ads if nothing else so that some webcomics can buy space there and even then, don't sell the ads to any webcomic. Hell, you let The Outer Circle post and that is a horrible webcomic composed of pure copy-paste art, misogynistic-humor and cookie cutter characters. One of your ads is just a black and white blur.
- It is hard to tell what are and what are not links. The W3C made web links blue and underlined for a reason, so you could tell what they are. The FAQs have no underlines at the top so for all that I know, they could be simple text.
- Overall it is cluttered, difficult to navigate and it shows a lack of care.
- Check for update patterns on the webcomics that are on. Yes it is unfair for comics that infrequently update but it is a business. If you were to only make a site every few months, you would be out of a job.

Luke "Koltreg" H***

I was rather unprofessional I confess. I woke the next morning with this reply:

Not quite sure what the point of this email is, other than to offend?

I’m curious what makes you the expert? J


Ash Young

Evoluted New Media


So I replied with this:

I am aware that some of my wording was rather harsh and obtuse in my previous email and I partially apologize for my unprofessional tone. I am not a professional or an expert though and I am far from being an self entitled official reviewer of the genre, I still love webcomics. As much as I want the webcomic genre to grow into something respectable, I know it can't be done through equality for comics. There is a need for echelons of quality in any free and growing media. The comics like Achewood, Penny Arcade and PVP made their way to being profitable by being the best, by dedicating themselves to the art and while some bad webcomics even made it, these popular webcomics earned the fact that they entertain thousands of people. As the owner and manager of the website you have an opportunity.
You can help create something that people want to actually use to find new and quality webcomics. I see that the way to do this is by making is harder to be featured. If a person pays the $15 fee and then stops updating you have the money but you also have a dead webcomic. The lists themselves are hard to navigate and unless you know the exact name of what you are searching for it is a hassle to find it. If this is what the visitors to the site are doing then they normally have their own link to the webcomic and then your site serves no purpose.
I spent my time looking at other webcomic websites where people at least make somewhat of a profit. These writers and managers do things different and while not perfect, they do something that I see is better. Other webcomic sites reduce what they advertise to what they see as being worth it, not to any site waving a stick (and most use Project Wonderful created by a webcomic creator supporting the genre). Other webcomic sites hold actual reviews and create a sense of community by having recognizable names and personas for the people who work on the site. Other webcomic sites have been able to get actual webcomic artists to create content for them for free and for more than just being a publicity stunt.
Like I said though, I am not an expert at all. I am an amateur (which is what any reviewer is until they are paid). I am still an art student learning a lot of the generic stuff. It is my love of the genre that gives me a reason to send these emails though. It is the fact that when I used your site to find new comics randomly, 18 out of 20 that I found had not updated in over at least a year. It is the fact that I showed the site to web and graphic designers, they said that the site look unprofessional. It is the fact that you are the third site that comes up when I google "webcomic" and this should mean it is a useful site.
I really have no strength though. I have no power and nothing of value that makes me right or that means you have to listen to me. I am just one person on the Internet trying to improve a site on something that he loves and love is worth fighting an impossible fight.

Luke H***

It has been about a week without a reply. In discussions on the topic and the site friend of the blog Chris Jeffrey commented
"Well when it was launched (which was at least 5 or 6 years ago) it kicked the shit out of other comic list sites. (4) However, the only things added since then have been the Twitter links and the forum user-run awards. (5)"
which says a lot about the website and how it is being run.

I doubt anything will come from my single email but if you agree, feel free to send him an email or 12.

1) "Koltreg" H, Luke. "The Webcomic List." Message to Ash Young. 7 Nov. 2009. E-mail.
2) Ash Young. "RE: The Webcomic List." Message to "Koltreg" H, Luke. 7 Nov. 2009. E-mail.
3 "Koltreg" H, Luke. "RE:RE:The Webcomic List." Message to Ash Young. 7 Nov. 2009. E-mail.
4) Jeffery, Chris. Twitter. 7 Nov. 2009. Web. 13 Nov. 2009.
5) Jeffery, Chris. Twitter. 7 Nov. 2009. Web. 13 Nov. 2009.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Byron Hussie Interview

The Koltreg Blog presents an interview (chat style) with Byron Hussie of Byrobot. Come back Friday for a review and Tuesdays for Interview type stuff.

Koltreg: Indeed. This interview is setting Koltreg Blog history. The Kol-Byro-Intro-Show.

Byron Hussie: Huge. Huge.

Koltreg: Massive.

Byron Hussie: Shall we?

Koltreg: Oh, we already are. But lets get down to the business. How would you describe your comic?

Byron Hussie: not very well drawn

Koltreg: Haha.

How would you describe it so people would want to read it?

Byron Hussie: I'm not much of a salesman but you know, I'll take an idea and do something that maybe you wouldn't expect. Lots of bait and switch and non-punchline punchlines. Also maybe it's kind of cute?

Koltreg: In a way.

Koltreg: It reminds me a lot of your brothers older stuff.

Koltreg: Manimals and such.

Byron Hussie: Humanimals

Koltreg: Yeah.

Byron Hussie: Yeah, we have been drawing comics like this for years. He used to do them on a website called "Team Special Olympics." He'd do kind of tossed off stuff like I do called scriblettes. Then he had another tier where he'd work a little harder on the artwork called "blurbs." And then occasionally he'd do really detailed expansive stuff like whistles. I basically can only do the scriblette type stuff. I have not worked very hard on my art. But yeah we have been doing this kind of crap since we were children.

Koltreg: I have a brother so I understand that whole competitive relations and interest thing.

What would you say are your favorite webcomics right now?

Byron Hussie: Achewood is probably my all time favorite. I also like Jeffrey Rowland's stuff, Wigu and Overcompensating. I like KC Green because I kinda see his stuff as what I would do if I was better Same with White Ninja and uhhh Dr. McNinja is classic. MSPaint Aventures is good too.

Koltreg: I do see a lot of similarities between some of the comics you are mentioning, KC Green and White Ninja. The humor and the art and such.

Byron Hussie: White ninja i think has kind of a similar backstory, two dudes just drawing little comics to amuse themselves for years. Then eventually putting it online. KC probably too although I don't really know what's going on with him.

Koltreg: Oh, I thought the creator was the third Hussie brother.

Byron Hussie: White Ninja?

Koltreg: Yeah

Byron Hussie: Nah no relation there I'm afraid. Just two Hussie bros. It would be kind of weird if there were a third. I wonder what that guy would be like.

Koltreg: Probably living in an attic.

Byron Hussie: Or maybe a sister. I wonder what it's like to have a sister. I have a step sister but it's not quite the same

Koltreg: I have a sister. Its mostly annoying.

Byron Hussie: Is she attractive?

Koltreg: No. She's like, 15.

Byron Hussie: Oh ok, probably a deal breaker.

Koltreg: Yeah. The whole unattractive and underage thing going for her.

Byron Hussie: I dunno i mean you probably aren't being objective, maybe she is a real beauty.

Koltreg: Well, I'm pretty sure women aren't objects. Except for washer women.

Byron Hussie: Interesting theory, next question!

Koltreg: What do you do when not creating comics?

Byron Hussie: Which is most of the time. I think I've put in maybe 2 hours in the last two weeks actually making comics. I could probably be doing 2 per day. I have a job at a financial consulting firm.

Koltreg: Ah. Making the money feel better?

Byron Hussie: Just doing stuff with financial data, not very glamorous but they give me all this money that I can use to buy food with. And other things.

Koltreg: Horses?

Byron Hussie: Not that much. I don't know how much horses cost ... probably at least a grand. And then you have to stable them which is like getting a second apartment I imagine.

Koltreg: So you find it hard to pony up for them?

Byron Hussie: Yes, neigh impossible.

Koltreg: Yeah, installion a stable is pretty expensive.

Byron Hussie: Um. whatever floats your oats?

Koltreg: I see what glue mean?

Byron Hussie: Dude, not funny.

Koltreg: :(

Byron Hussie: I mean um...not filly? Just kidding it was funny. Its funny when horses die and are made into glue.

Koltreg: It must be a sticky situation for their riders but moving on would probably be best.

Byron Hussie: Other than the job and the 2 hours of webcomicking I don't actually do that much because having a job takes up almost all of your time and is basically terrible.

Koltreg: Yeah. With all that compensation and such. An atrocity.

Byron Hussie: I mean, I feel like the universe owes me that without my having to work for it. The universe doesn't seem to feel the same way.

Koltreg: So, what can we expect to see in the future of the comic?

Byron Hussie: I intend to expand my production er.... increase since I'm basically doing all requests right now. It doesn't give me much room to work on some of the series I have. Serieses?

Koltreg: Seriouses?

Byron Hussie: I'd like to produce maybe like 10 comics per week and have some way the readers can toggle between the daily random strip and whatever series i am working on. I also at some point am going to go back and add alt text to all of my old strips because that lets you do an extra meta joke. Everyone loves that kind of thing. Also "comment on this strip" would be fun. Very web 2.0.

Koltreg: You could go secret Web 5.0. Let people post comments on the comics themselves.

Byron Hussie: That would be really metaphysical.

Koltreg: Eventually posting nothing and letting the reader imagine the comics.

Byron Hussie: That would be very PoMo, maybe PoPoMo.

Koltreg: PoPoMoTro

Byron Hussie: Yes, not sure what the tro is there.

Koltreg: Troll

Byron Hussie: Hmm, not sure what that means in this or any context.

Koltreg: Troll as in work the audience to your amusement. Trolling forums and such.

Byron Hussie: I am familiar with the concept. Are you suggesting that my comics are kind of like trolling the reader?

Koltreg: No, but if you were to post a blank page that filled up with comments over the comic. Post Post Modern Trolling.

Byron Hussie: I'm a pretty good troll, check this out.

Creationism is real.

How does that make you feel?

Koltreg: :O

Byron Hussie: More like Evo-lie-tion.

Koltreg: My mind sir, has been blown.

Byron Hussie: God Bless the Men and Women in our Armed Services. Freedom Ain't Free!

Koltreg: :O

Byron Hussie: Next question?

Koltreg: If you could play a game of pool with any two famous people, who would they be?

Byron Hussie: I'm really bad at pool. I dunno let me think.

Is Cokie Roberts still alive?

Koltreg: They don't need to still be alive

Byron Hussie: Ok well nevermind her anyway.

Koltreg: She is by the way.

Byron Hussie: Did you just wiki her

Koltreg: Yeah

Byron Hussie: Hard question. How about Robert Downey Jr and Morton Downy Jr. Morton Downey Jr loved smoking so much that it killed him.

Koltreg: Sounds like an interesting game.

Byron Hussie: That is rare, right.

Koltreg: That pretty much wraps up my questions as well.

Byron Hussie: Oh ok. Cool, thanks for interviewing me. I hope it was enlightening

Koltreg: It was.

Byron Hussie: Cool well i'm actually gonna go draw some comics. I did 2 already tonight. One is called "Give me back my eagles."

Koltreg: Well, have a good evening then and keep up the good work and I look forward to the updates.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lacakdaisy Cats Re-Review

While I enjoyed How To Make Webcomics I must admit, rereading it at the current time has been uninteresting to me at best and my attentions have been focused towards graphic novels and such frivolities. Thus, you get this instead.

Guilt over dropping a good comic is one of the worst feelings that can assault the faux professional webcomic reviewer. I know, because I am one.

This guilt trip has brought me back to comics being returned to the list in a series I'd call "Back from the Dead List" except the Dead List is dead and Nietszche is god or however that goes. I don't read enough actual literature, but I do it because I love you...errr love comics. Yeah....

Lackadaisy Cats by Tracy J Butler

Booze: fuel of the greedy, drunk and the MacGuffin hunters of the comic Lackadaisy Cats. Set in a much fuzzier version of the United States in the in Prohibition era St. Louis, the comic follows the employees of a speakeasy. The plot of the comic develops naturally on its own with dubious actions, shady (and sepia-toned) characters and well researched dialogue as opposed to it being forced..

Property damage, murder, rumrunning and dirty clothes: sins for characters in this world where the law holds little sway. The story in the comic is still developing but with the way that it is building its characters and background, the world is already a rich one. Characters interact in a real way, the aforementioned MacGuffin works as a great draw and the fact that everything is period appropriate make the writing attractive. Also, there are some bits of pure poetry in the comic that make the comic even more worth reading. The comedy is rather black so be prepared to get your hands and conscience a bit dirty for liking it since good and evil are a mixed bag in the comic.

The art is a jumble of images and panels, a sense of disarray matching the mood of the comic. A seemingly ordered monologue suddenly derailed makes perfect sense. The art itself is very beautiful to look at. the creator is adept, even with basically monochrome sepia-toned art, at convey the characters' emotions and humor. The whole package is just great.. The characters can be slightly confusing though if one does not pay attention. And yes, while are the characters are anthropomorphic cats, the comic avoids the....ugh... furry fetishes by not converting the comic into a furry art fapfest while still allowing the characters to hold a, dare I say it, sexuality.

My one and only complaint about the comic is the schedule of updating once a month with all of the pages. I find that it is a rather cumbersome thing to check for three pages (though they are worth it) for a single comic. This was my reason for originally dropping it and as the last update was late in September, the problem still is prevalent.

I digress though. Finish this review and then immediately check out the comic. The art is great on its own and the site has enough bonus features to merit actual bonus feature pages (I'm looking at you sites with pointless extra pages!). If you don't like the comic, I'd honestly be surprised. If you haven't read it, give it a try, if you did but dropped it, pick it back up.

Grade: A+

Next week:

I probably talk about Sandman and other graphic novels I have been reading.

To The Readers:

Any Thoughts On The Comic?

Any Comics You Want Me To See?

Have You Noticed The Chat Box Moved?

Just leave a message or drop me a line.