Monday, May 17, 2010

Webcomics in Print - Issue 1: Issue Harder

Greetings Internet and welcome back. I am now freed from the burden of online class, while my on ground classes continue, but the lack of a highly quickened pair of work intensive classes is appreciated, especially as I continue my job working in the grease soaked empire of the world.
Yet, money brings the ability to make purchases and so I raise up a collection of 4 printed books currently in my possession.
Also for sake of being awesome, I have included links to where you may purchase the books.

Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories by Nick Gruewitch
This book I literally stumbled upon about 4 years or so ago in the local comic shop and subsequently purchased. The print is high quality and the colors are bright. It even has a ribbon for saving your place which, while not necessary is still appreciated. I enjoyed using it to share favorite comics at a moments notice.
The bone I might have to pick with the book though is that there is not much extra included. There are 9 "bonus" comics, three or so of which were on the site and those are the only ones that are actually commented on. The main bonus seems having all of the comics printed out but even then, some strips are missing and it leaves an odd feeling of detachment. Then again, Gruewitch mostly stopped updating soon after and then released another larger collect including a lot more so, make of that what you will. B
Fun fact: This book is currently out of print so yeah, collectors item! Also Andrew Hussie is mentioned in the comments.

Shortpacked! & Roomies!: Brings Back The Eighties, Pulls the Drama Tag & How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Beer
To start off, I purchased Roomies! first through preorder and ended up waiting about 4 months to get the book. It is marked book 3/200 so suck it David Willis collectors because I am slightly more awesome than you. I also preordered the upcoming Shortpacked book (Shortpacked Is Totally Gay!) as well. I think I am month 3 or so of waiting for that.
Roomies! (How I Learned to . . .) itself is the collection of David Willis first year of his first comic published in the college paper. As such the art quality is a bit lacking as it is all black and white. The book does include additional bonus comics made for the series and also strips for a syndicated paper version which are better done. Willis also includes comments on a majority of strips that are occasionally funnier that the strips themselves along with commentary.
The downsides of the book lie in the fact that the art is dated with some comics looking chicken-scratch-esqe. While there is a benefit to the original art, he improved afterwards so reworking might have been nice as Jeph Jacques and Dave Shabet are doing reworks for their webcomic collections (though Jacques is waiting to finish the book before preorders). The other complaint is that the pages are glossy. With black and white print it feels weird since under strange lighting conditions it can make reading annoying. This may sound weird but I'd prefer cheaper normal stock paper, it worked for my Calvin and Hobbes collections.
Shortpacked! which started off black and white and then transferred into color meanwhile was dealt with a bit more tactfully with pages having been recolored. Willis still inserts commentary, bonus character intros and bonus comics though so you can feel like you are getting your money's worth.
The Shortpacked books also have shiny stock paper but the color makes it more reasonable, which sounds weird.
My question is though, why might I want to spend the money on the books. With PBF, the art is beautifully rendered and so you can't really survive without the art. Willis' work is well done but having a collection of it seems more like financial support, which is fine). Just an idle thought. B+
Fun fact: The first book is being released with a new better cover. Get on that. Just like how I got on your mom.

Gastrophobia: The 12 Trials of Gasrophobia by David McGuire
I enjoy Gastrophobia for some unexplainable reason, see my review of it. The book I love slightly less. McGuire took a risk to do 2 color printing (black and orange) and some chapters it works exceedingly well since the other comic was similarly done. On the chapter For Heifer in my Heart though, which is rendered in single color sepia style tones originally, the comic is almost unreadable in the book making the chapter a struggle to look at. Not to offend but it seems like there might have been a lack of planning somewhat. Additionally the book offers little extra for the reader, aside from an index (actual toted feature) and a new comic on the back panel. For the price ($12) it isn't bad but considering the other books inclusions it seems lazy. C
Fun fact: David McGuire is some kind of cyborg, most likely. Just saying.

MS Paint Adventures: Problem Sleuth Book One: Compensation, Adequate by Andrew Hussie
I have mad love for Problem Sleuth and MSPA in general. The book only amplifies the love by making it something I actually would love to bring along with me.
For those unfamiliar, Problem Sleuth (and MSPA) is a comic set up like the old text based adventure games. I have met at least 4 people though who could not figure out how to read it. The book is for them. I have several images I love from the comic that I'd love to have on hand (since my laptop is not really portable anymore). The book is for me.
Hussie crammed the book with commentary, a fancy introduction (with one misspelling), additional art and amazingly made a comic that features a lot of animated pages INTERESTING. I cannot see him doing this easily with Homestuck but then, I never though a MSPA book would work. The pages are easy to read and the product is classy. The pages are even glossy without being overly glossy like Roomies! (as the book is mostly black and white).
My complaint with the book though is that it slightly spoils or hints at things which may harm people unfamiliar with the series but I cannot say that most people unfamiliar would give it a shot unlike the Perry Bible Fellowship book which is a shame. A+
Fun fact: I got this in my package. This book has too many prices and values!

On a note about preordering while still in production - have an estimate of when you are going to finish the comic or have it ready. I ordered the Dead Winter book without knowing a lot of the art is being redone and mistakingly ordered a copy as a birthday gift. That was about 3 months ago though it is partially my fault. I still look forward to the book.

Also if you strangely feel obligated to have a print copy of your book you would like me to review that you are willing to send for free, I would not be opposed to it.

If you are going to make a book though, put in comments, put in bonus features, put in additional art. They can always read your comic for free online so why publish it without doing that? Giving you money is/should not an adequate reason.

I have also looked through Gunnerkrigg Court Vol 1 and Hark! A Vagrant and used both as gifts. I don't have them on hand but if I recalled, GC lacked bonus features and Hark! had commentary.

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