Thursday, December 31, 2009

Guest Review - dinosaurs vs robots

The first review is by James from the webcomic SketchCountry.

The 'versus' comic has been a cornerstone of the publishing industry ever since Trog vs Grunt was lovingly inked on a cave wall in 3000BC. There's something instantly appealing about two classic comic characters going head-to-head in the ultimate showdown. Robocop vs the Terminator, even Batman vs Predator if only for novelty value.
In the grand tradition then, Robots vs Dinosaurs puts two classic comic standbys together. A robot and his pet cyber-hound move into their new home, to fine it's been pre-occupied by two decidedly odd dinosaurs. Cliché as it may be, hilarity genuinely does ensue. I discovered Dinosaurs vs Robots a month ago, and I've been a fan ever since readingthis strip, closely followed by this one.
Presentation is high quality throughout. The classic inking style is well executed and more importantly the website is tidy and navigable (based on comicpress' superb plug-in for wordpress). The only colour special to date is further evidence that the author, BWGunner, has talent to spare. This isn't a comic that's standing still either, a move tophotoshop recently was another step up in terms of quality.
The plot has moved on too, from the surreal beginning to the start of an epic space opera with the introduction of the FIB, a tiny pirate hunter. To be hyper-critical, his introduction (with a healthy dose of exposition) has been the only slightly clunky episode to date, but having passed that bump we're back to a fast-paced comic with good pacing. The comics end on a good gag, build the story and keep up momentum, a tough challenge for any writer but managed admirably here.
So, fifteen comics in, where are we? This is a hugely promising comic, from someone who can clearly write as well as draw. With too many webcomics you get one or the other, so here's hoping the regular Sunday updates keep coming.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Heads Up

Apparently I misjudged the number of days I will be gone so his will count as the Tuesday update. I have two coming up though on Friday and Tuesday. The review for next Friday will be up late Friday if at all.

Happy New Year.

If You Book Faces

If you are on Facebook, I suppose you may want to advertise the blog by becoming a fan in which case you should click here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The First Annual Kollies

Welcome to the first ever semi annual Koltreg's Nerding Review Blog Awards Blog Blog Blog or the Kollies. The awards come with nothing except a few views, some nice words and a pair of robot hands if you come and meet me in person to receive them in the next ....5 days. I came up with a decent number of categories so I hope you enjoy. Honestly though, I was not able to award every comic I wanted so just because something does not appear it does not mean it is not good.

Either way, enjoy. I'll meet you after the list.

Best Added Webcomic (Older Than A Year)

*MS Paint Adventures* I added it and fell in love really quickly with the comic. I spent an entire night reading the Problem Sleuth archive and I have done so twice since. Epic, hilarious. Check it out.

Daisy Owl


Best Added Webcomic (New This Year - Mostly)

*Gunshow* KC Green's newest piece of work is immature, intelligent and dangerous. Check it out now, funk soul brother.

Hanna Is Not A Boys Name

City of Reality/Love Me Nice (Tie)

Best Art - Minimalist:

*Nedroid* Simple, crisp and yet he has proven his chops on Dr. McNinja (as the colorist) and through his more advanced art.

Bear & Kitten


Best Art - Adept:

*Boxer Hockey* Simple, colorful and bright - Tyson Hesse shows why he may very well be the next great animator n the country.

MS Paint Adventures

Love Me Nice

Best Art - Advanced:

*Lackadaisy Cats* I confused an illustration of a cat with an actual photo. Need I say more?

The Zombie Hunters

Hanna Is Not A Boys Name

Best Writing - Comedy:

*Unwinder's Tall Comics* Deep, ironic and somewhat delusional. Amazing but in more than just a guttural laughing way.

Scary Go Round/Bad Machinery (Same Series)

Daisy Owl/MS Paint Adventures (Tie)

Best Writing - Dramatic:

*City of Reality* Dark with a story that is deepening as the story goes on.

Gunnerkrigg Court

The Meek

Best Character - Comedy:

*Rittz - Boxer Hockey * Psychotic, disturbing and immature.

John Egbert - MS Paint Adventures

Dr. McNinja - The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Best Character - Dramatic:

*Luca deSadar - The Meek* Just read it to understand why.

Annie - Gunnerkrigg Court

The One Electronic - Rice Boy

Best Comedy Webcomic :

*MS Paint Adventures* See best added webcomic - comedy listing.

Boxer Hockey

Bad Machinery/Scary Go Round

Best Dramatic Webcomic:

*The Zombie Hunters* Zombies in a scary and realistic world with even scarier characters.

Rice Boy

The Meek

In the next year I hope to see some major changes in the K-blog. First things first I will be going and moving to my own server off of this. In doing so I hope to foster a larger community, gain some credibility and be able to have some more freedom with design. Here is to the next year. I will do my best to update on time though I am going away for a week. I will send it to my associate who should be helping out while I fight Aztecs in Mexico for their gold.


Also if sending me an article, please send it by Monday at the very very latest.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Double New Comic Review

Both of these comics are new but I want to help them grow them with my blessing since I apparently have a few big webcomic reviewers watching me. Share the love bigger and more well known reviewers!

Also I apologize for any errors in the writing. I wanted to get the article up today and my editors were both busy. If there are any errors that you see, feel free to contact me with the handy contact box.

Hanna Is Not A Boy's Name by Tessa Stone

Hanna Is Not A Boy's Name is a mouthful. It is also one of the most artistically energetic comics I have seen in a while. Each page is charged to the tip with color and excitement. Not to mention the coloring is amazing as well as the linework and the writing and generally the comic has a style that is all its own. I mean jeeze the comic is great. I feel overly energized just writing about it.

The art for HINABN is as I said, very stylistic. The lines are all varying in size and shape and made with skill and care. The colors have a beautiful watercolor look to them. Even the font and the lettering choices work well and seem to have consideration applied to them. I can hardly stop giving praise for the art of the comic.

The writing is equally as strong with well defined personalities and relationships already prevalent. The comic mostly focuses on Hanna, a boy (or man really), who runs a paranormal detective agency. Thus they deal with the paranormal. The storytelling itself also has a great sense of irony as the energetic story is told by a dead man with no energy or ability to convey it. Purposeful irony points are gained.

I love the comic, the art is amazing and the writing is great. Start reading it now and you wont be disappointed.

On an unrelated side note I'd love to see the comic go into print based solely on the looks.

Final score:A+

(Sorry for that but my brain literally starts going wild when discussing or thinking about the comic, I enjoy it that much.)

Love Me Nice by Amanda Lafrenais

Love Me Nice reminds me of the all too short-lived series Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. The show was intelligent, witty and catered to that crowd. The tone and the pacing between the show and the comic are similar as well. The comic has a great deal of potential for attracting a bigger, more intelligent audience and getting more critical praise than the average webcomic. Basically I am saying the comic is refined and intelligent. It is a good thing that there are no funding or ratings for webcomics like tv shows have because it would probably fall to be replaced by yet another gaming strip. A comic as great as this with a more niche appeal deserves love.

Love Me Nice is essentially the tale of cartoon characters working in a world where they exist as actors and real people instead of just drawings, sort of like Who Framed Roger Rabiit. As a new comic there hasn't been as much storyline developed since there are only 27 pages but it is not rushing into things which is appropriate. There are hints of things though and I enjoy reading each page.

The art for Love Me Nice has mostly been black and white linework and it works for keeping the comic grounded in the false reality that it creates. If it were all brightly colored like the first few pages it might be too distracting and lose the sense on realism that it is building. The characters are also well designed and diverse and prove that Mrs. Lafrenais has the talent needed to blend multiple styles of characters into one setting with making them look overly different.

The comic is intelligent, creative and well drawn and deserves your attention. A+

Coming up this Friday will be my Year In Review article where I discuss my favorite new comics, the comics that did the best over the past year and my predictions for the next year. Following that I have a few guest articles including on from the infamous Angry Webcomic Geek that should prove well opposed to my normal stance on comics and then maybe one or two other guest articles.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reach Out And Touch Space

In a recent discussion with Rico brought on by my sudden need for a topic, he pointed out the fact that comic characters rarely touch each other. I had never thought about it before and had to see for myself. I quickly looked at the most recent comics of my current reading list (as it was a random sample) and only 5 comics had people fully touching (or 6 if you want to count partially off panel stuff). The comics were Gunshow, Lackadaisy Cats, Nedroid, The Meek and Three Panel Soul. This brings up the question - why the hell don't more creators draw their characters touching? The reasons themselves fall into three categories - they don't need to be (which is self explanatory), they can't be drawn that way or the artist is afraid to draw them that way.

If the scene doesn't call for the characters to be touching, then there's no need for the creator to draw them touching. The last thing I would like to see infact is more and more people having their characters touch solely because of this article (haha, that would never happen). Touching can be an important tool in storytelling though. The embrace is one of the most telling signs of body language.If two characters are having a discussion there is likely no need for them to touch. If nothing else, there is a need to understand anatomy and it is a reason a lot of comic makers struggle. They must be able to grasp anatomy and use it like the tool that it is, otherwise they are in trouble.

If their grasp of basic anatomy and physicality is so poor that they cannot draw their characters touching, then the artist must figure out how to get past that hurdle. This is possibly the fault of the author though in my experience as an artist, drawing these interactions between fully imagined characters can be difficult. They must cease to be 2-dimensional figures and have a more real depth. They must now be able to exist more outside in the reality than before. Basically it is more difficult.

The difficulty here is overcoming that fear. I honestly hate artistic fear more than anything as it has the power to destroy and distort dreams. Unlike that average trope the schoolyard bully though, standing up and saying you are not afraid of anatomy is enough to master it. Anatomy is a difficult thing to learn as you must still find the skills needed to overcome it. Perhaps this fear is what keeps some artists from progressing. Perhaps it is that force of progress though, that may cause webcomics to become a more respected medium.

Fear, difficulty and necessity are all forces that gather to stop the webcomic artist. This truth extends beyond simply being able to draw characters touching. It becomes the sole truth of drawing anything. You must learn and gather what you need, be able to do it no matter what doubts you have. Those five comics I pointed out are all drawn by artists who know this truth in one way or another. They are not the only ones on my list who do. Either way, the next time you are drawing take a look at their work for inspiration. Leave your comfort zone and try something a little different.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Obviously Running Late

I forgot that the holiday season required a great sacrifice of personal time. Still I can't complain. I will do my best to get the articles (double update!) ready for Tuesday.
Pax for Now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How To Get Into Webcomics - Part 3

Apparently at least two people have found the previous articles in the series helpful. The number is rather small and I dare say that I wish I could be sarcastically joking about my number of readers, but alas this is not the case. Nonetheless, as part of my promises that I make from time to time, I must finish this series and then just maybe, my goal of summoning a talkative and positive community of blog readers shall be completed successfully. Holding off on this article any longer would increase the likelihood of instead summoning an elder god whose very presence and eldritch typing would reduce me to a gibbering shell of a man.
In the previous sections I have discussed finding comics you enjoy in Part 1 (will link this) along with the building of communities, an idea I expanded upon in Part 2 (will link


So far I have only talked in detail about joining a webcomic community while reading webcomics as if this were the only way to "read" webcomics. While I am a rather social animal and desire this relationship between myself and similar fans, not everyone desires the companionship and community that I do. This is in the same way that everyone may not desire a companion as seen in Firefly or a community as seen in the TV show of the same name (both are highly recommended for viewing).

The point of being in a community is to be socially interactive as you, most likely a nerdy person, may not be prone to be. While on this note I am basing the lack of a social life on stereotypes of the nerdy community at large. I am aware of the following facts as well:
Not all people who read webcomics are nerds.
Not all nerds are the pasty, skinny, glasses wearing nerds.
I myself am rather tanned, have good vision and I also enjoy popular music, consorting with people in "the real world" and eschewing my former nerdy habits and hobbies as a sort of ritual cleansing to prepare myself for the adult world. I ramble though and for that I apologize, you nerds.

If you want a rich experience from reading webcomics without the social interaction, then simply read them. I wish that I might be more specific than that but I can’t. You simply need to read webcomics.

As this article deals with social interactions involved with webcomics, if you are not a person who enjoys this topic then I can say your interest might fade after this point. I am about to further discuss the webcomic social interactions as pertaining to forum activity and conventions. I apologize as well for being longwinded right now as a side effect to listening to books on tape (It is John Hodgman's first book if you wanted to know).
Now, the forum community is a rarely changing place, except on the very minute scale. The general face and feel will stay the same (unless some massive mod action occurs) and as such, the chances are that you can tell the state and alignment of the forum after a short time there. As I am a recovering nerd, the word alignment made me apply the Dungeons and Dragons alignment scale to forum types. For examples examine The Table Below.

The Table Below:
LG: The forum is run mostly with moderator control and the rules are enforced but only as a way to make sure little or no trolling happens.
LN: The forum has mods but they only act when things truly get bad or when there are spambots.
LE: The forum has mods who are dicks and use the rules to ban members often for their fun.
NG: The forums are self moderated usually by karma with people quickly weeding out troublemakers.
NN: The forums are self moderated but they allow people to mess around as long as nothing too bad happens, unless it is hilarious.
NE: The forums are self moderated in theory but about 6 people really control everything.
CG: The forums are a social ground where there are no rules and people simply believe in working together.
CN: The forums are a social network with people who you like or dislike and avoid if you hate them.
CE: See YouTube, 4chan and pretty much the stereotypical Internet. Chaotic but entertaining. You ask them for computer help and you end up erasing your memory with a magnet.

The alignment of the community generally affects how you should act and if you should be there at all. If you are nervous when you are about to post a comment, you may be at the wrong forum. Once again, I cannot speak any more specifically on the topic nor can I necessarily find a good example for each alignment as it is your journey to make.
I myself am currently active on a LN forum, the VG Cats forums and a LG forum, the MS Paint Adventures forum. I was previously on hybrid LN/LE forum over at the Slackerz but my actions there garnered me some derision and I have since vacated it.

Conventions are the final topic of the article and are the aspect of the webcomic community that I am least familiar with. I have attended gaming conventions which I reported on and I also have attended a comic-book convention though it was small and only had two webcomic artists there (thank you again Mr. Guigar). I have so far lacked the transportation, motivation and money to travel to a webcomic convention so far

though I hope this will soon change.

As such is the case I cannot say much on the topic other than if you are going, treat each webcomic artist with respect (though you may loath them in some cases), respect everyone there (even if they reek of onions) and try and support the artists if you can by buying something (as booths and travel and hotels are all expensive). If nothing else tell them that you enjoy their comic and what you like about it. Also if you get stuck in line, be patient and don't seem like you are in a hurry. You don't want the webcomic people to rush your turn so make them not rush other people’s turns.
Hopefully now you know more about the world of webcomics than you previously did. I know slightly more myself though my knowledge pertains more to the school of not promising three articles when you give the basic stuff you need in the first article. That is all as it is currently late and I am behind on several projects.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Review This Week

I am taking the weekend off to focus on finals week. I will attempt to have part three of "How To Get Into Webcomics" up on Tuesday though. If not, finals will be why.

Also, are you interested in guest writing an article for the blog on webcomics, either personal reviews or an essay on theory and practice and trends and such? If so shoot me an email and contact me via chat.

Edit: I ended up googling myself since I got a big link yesterday from Akira the Don for a sound project. Apparently much more famous webcomic reviewer El Santo found my blog and commented on it thanks to help from Art Patient. Kudos to everyone. Now just comment a little more and show me that you readers all exist.
I am off to bed at a late hour.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How To Get Into Webcomics - Part 2

So let us say for a second now that you've been reading the webcomic for a few months. You get up early on the mornings it updates to check for the new page and to post about it. You like to check the forums at work or at school and see if somebody replied to your pun about “robots” and “bolts”. Well even if you are not to that extreme, my point is that you are enjoying a comic now. You are ready for the next step. Now you need something more: a new comic, a new way to validate your fandom or even to try and make you own comic.
It took you three weeks of heavy reading to get all that way through the MS Paint Adventures archives or you wanted to slowly savor Unwinder's scathing critique of internet culture in small doses. Suddenly though you are lost. You get to the front page of the site and the next button leads nowhere. You have caught up in your reading! Now without that immediate-content high you are feeling like you need a buzz. Something else to focus on. This is where look to start reading bigger webcomics or try something that you see randomly in an ad or on a forum. Feel free to pull something randomly off of the list. You have your main comic so far to stay with. Take chances, make mistakes, get messy as the saying goes.
After a few weeks of trying new webcomics, you feel that urge. You still have feelings for your first webcomic. It was there and it introduced you into the form. You want to repay the feelings. This return for the hardwork and labor is why some webcomic artists get into the game. The easiest way for you to repay the good feeling the comic gave you is to simply donate a few bucks directly to the artist or to buy something that they are selling (or even have somebody get it for you … the holiday season is coming up, after all.) If monetary compensation is out of the way, find a way to increase the audience to the comic. Can you link it to friends who may like the comic? What about using Facebook/Myspace/Twitter to discuss the comic? If social networks are not your thing, write the artist a note of thanks explaining what you like and dislike about the comic. If you’re involved in the comic’s forums, post your thoughts or fan-art there. This is positive reinforcement that webcomic creators enjoy, knowing they touched somebody personally.
Now you may feel that you know the world of webcomics now. You think you might be able to make one yourself. First off, take a moment to think about it. Making a webcomic is a big commitment. You need to go and dedicate your time to do this. Have you ever drawn or written before? Is there any sustainability in the idea? Yes, I DO mean to discourage you from rushing headfirst into the form just because you like it. It is hard to get into especially with little training or talent or background knowledge. As authors working in all literary fields will tell you, you need more to be a good writer than just being an enthusiastic reader. I have written an entire article on the topic here though so that may benefit you if you want to make your own.
Part 1 discussed getting in your first webcomic and community. Here in Part 2 we covered where to go from there. Part 3 will be
next Tuesday where I discuss a bit of forum Netiquette, conventions, and how to have a fulfilling webcomic life without the forums.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

City of Reality Review

City of Reality by Ian Sampson

I pointed out in the Byrobot review that webcomics nowadays need a flare to be seen in the stale sea of the Internet. It takes a flare that is not only bright but also useful. If you shoot a flare that is too flashy and gaudy, it can be ignored for being tacky. Comics that use Flash usually fall into this category especially if they use it as a cheaper form of animation (Note: This does refer to MS Paint Adventures which uses Flash well). City of Reality actually uses Flash well, both creatively and as a device to tell the story.

City of Reality is a comic about a city called Reality which exists in what seems to be part of a vast network of virtual worlds. The comic has revealed only a little about what the entire universe is but from what I can tell it is a bit of virtual reality and video gaming with each section of the world having its own society and laws. The main city is an idyllic place where everyone gets along perfectly, even to that sitcomic level where cats and dogs would shake hands and be friends. This lifestyle of peace and perfection in and of itself could easily destroy the comic but by making it only one world, by introducing the universe and by dealing with actual issues and philosophy, albeit a little light in some areas, the comic develops realness.

The story mostly follows the exploits of three kids as they work to save the world. As a superhero team, they learn about the world and go on missions, learning about life at the same time. It sounds hackneyed and uninteresting but the way the comic is set up, it works. It balances comedy with enough drama to be able to be taken seriously.

As I mentioned in the beginning though, I am a big fan of how City of Reality incorporates Flash. Without giving it away, it allows for time travel, choose-your-own-adventure and a lot of other interesting ideas. Most of all, it feels like it fits with the comic.

The art in and of itself is not necessarily stylistic but it is solid and cartoony at least early on. There do seem to be hints of changes in art style depending on the world. The use of lighting in the comic is also well done and Ian Sampson knows how to create a mood.

The infrequent (bi-monthly!) update schedule could be a problem, but actually works for the comic. "How", you might ask? By posting an entire chapter of about 30 pages or so with each update. It makes the two updates worth the wait. Each section is satisfying and you want to come back. Not to mention you avoid getting lost in long running storylines or by forgetting details between updates.

All in all, the comic is excellent. If the art were tweaked a bit more to be more stylistic (the thin lines art doesn't do too much for me) I would have it on my list of all time favorites for dramatic comics. It deserves a look and a spot on your reading list. A+