Posts relating to webcomics.

Around the web

This month’s edition of “Around the Web” features a comic titled “Joseph & Yusra.”  It is written and drawn by Monique Blaize.

So, a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim walk into a Manga comic…nah, I got nothing to follow that up with.  What do you get when you add a long standing religious conflict, super powers, and  Manga?  You get this webcomic.  Of course, you probably could figure that out, because otherwise, why would I bother asking the question.  Simply put, this is the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a Muslim girl named Yusra, and a Jewish boy named Joseph.  Yusra was sent to live with her Aunt in America after an attack kills her parents, and her other relatives only wanted her brother.  On a playground, she meets this boy named Joseph, and they become close friends.  What makes this more extraordinary is that (spoiler alert) she can’t speak any English.  They’ve been communicating telepathically.  Things get complicated a few years later.  I won’t detail how.  For that, you’ll need to read the comic.  Though I will say that it includes super powers, mysteries, intrigue, moral values, etc…

I really want to like this comic, and as I read all 387 pages of it, I mostly did.  Where I think this comic excels is with the day-to-day lives of the characters.  The characters are well defined, and I genuinely cared about what they were going through.  The things that took me out of the story were developments that had to deal with their special abilities and (spoiler alert) Joseph’s Catholic cousin named Mary spying on and testing them.  It’s not like it was bad.  It just make it feel like there are 2 different stories going on.  The story of two friends from opposite sides of a conflict is a fine story on its own.  An unsuspecting person having a special gift, and a larger role to play in the conflict is also a fine story.  But I feel that combining those two elements doesn’t work.  I think it’s the use of a real world conflict that makes it difficult for me to accept.  Had a different world been created with the same circumstances, I may not find any issues with it.  That may be my personal bias, though.

The art is done in a Manga style.  It’s okay.  It’s Manga.  If you like that style, you’ll think the art is fine.  If you don’t, then you’re not going to like it.  There’s really not much more to say about it.  You can tell the characters apart?  That’s good.  I also want to point out my favorite ongoing joke in the strip.  Joseph takes great care not to touch Yusra, because that’s the proper thing to do.  However, there are many moments throughout the story where this just can’t be avoided, and they always lead to humorous, awkward moments.  But, they are rare enough to be enjoyable, and not tire out.

In the end, I do recommend that you read this comic.  Despite what flaws exist, there is plenty to like about it.  And it shouldn’t take you too long to start at the beginning and read all the way through.  I did just that yesterday.


Arounding the web

Both J.R. and I try to spin around the interwebs when we get the chance and check out the seemingly limitless supply on web comics offered throughout.  He usually checks out new ones for our monthly Around the Web feature (which I am not allowed to write ever since I no-showed a month of Crossover Madness) while I peruse for both entertainment as well as pointers on working on my own very long-in-development web comic.

To search out new web strips, I usually Google search a webcomic link list and randomly follow links from the middle of their ranking system (since the top spots are usually reserved for the likes of Penny Arcade and other such “mainstream” strips).  Over my several years worth of searches I’ve found a surprising number of themes (ranging from dull to horrific), schemes and styles, but for every roaring success there are literally scores of half-bred and abandoned failures.  And with that, I feel like I’ve been able to create a sort of guide for the fledgling web comic-er.  It’s what I’ve kept in mind when creating my own.

1) Pick a format
There are basically two types of web comics out there.  The first is the storyline comic – it’s what the typical comic book fan thinks a comic should be.  A cast of characters starts somewhere and a story unfolds.  There are plots, settings, themes, conflicts, resolutions, development, etc.  These are the types of comics that we look at Around the Web.

The second type is what I call the “zinger” type.  This is the type of comic where an edition will have a group of characters basically setting up a joke and hitting the punchline, usually about a specific theme.  Penny Arcade is this sort of comic, where a strip sees its two characters bantering about a certain hot topic in video games.  The two characters really aren’t too developed, nor do they need to be.  They only exist as funny mouthpieces to tell jokes.  There might be small story arcs, such as the characters going to a convention, but the strip still follows the same format, with each edition of the “arc” being a topical zinger in the usual format.

I differentiate the two forms because I see a bunch of comics try to bridge the gap between the two, usually at the cost of storyline pace in the former.  If the storyline comic wastes an update stopping the action to tell a joke about something going on in the news, it leaves readers feeling like they’ve been used as listeners to a soapbox.  This is easily fixed by having a separate area in which the characters might speak on other things out of the normal story.  But if you’re selling readers on a specific type of story, it’s best to stay with it.


Around the Web

This month’s “Around the Web” leads us to a webcomic titled Snow by Night.  The main story is written by Eric Menge, and drawn by Brittany Michel.

In their “About” section, they summarize the premise of the comic as:

Life is pretty good for Blaise and Jassart. The pair of thieves makes an easy living in the rich, frontier town of Sherbourg. The fur trade is booming and wealth is there for the picking. And down on Iniquity Row, the saloons and gambling hells provide plenty of opportunity to spend their ill-gotten gains. But when a mysterious rival steals their prizes and robs from their wards, Blaise and Jassart are forced into the unfamiliar role of thief-catchers. How do you find a thief who can slip locks and leaves no traces? Regardless, they must catch the thief. Their gloire and fortunes are on the line.

The comic is updated every Monday and Wednesday, with an Almanac entry coming on Friday.  But enough boring information.  Let’s get on with if this comic is any good or not.

In short, I’d say it’s enjoyable.  The characters are well crafted with defined personalities.  The story is engaging.  It’s clear the author has created a large detailed world, but he doesn’t make the mistake of trying to throw that world at the reader all at once.  That restraint should be commended.  It would be easy to get ahead of yourself and want to show the readers just how much effort you put into the creation of this world.  But had that happened, we’d have much less character development, and character is what is important.  You can come up with the greatest story line ever, but if your characters are uninteresting, then no one is going to care.  (Done beating the dead horse.)

In between chapters of the main story are small vignettes.  These are used to flesh out the world a little bit more.  My favorite was the first one that was a fable of why leaves change colors in the Fall, and birds fly south for the Winter.  It was creative, and still plays a part later in the story.

The art is alright, too.  I never say much about the art, because it’s not something I focus on.  Yes, comics are a graphic medium, and the art is important, but for me personally, a story is what keeps me reading.  But long story short, the art here was fine.

In the end, I do recommend that you read this.  I will warn you that it make take a few pages to get into it, but you should enjoy it after that.

Around the Web

This month’s “Around the Web” features a comic titled “Cloudscratcher.”  The comic is written and drawn by Cody Baier.

On the comic’s FAQ page is the following description of the comic:

Cloudscratcher is the story of a group of freedom fighters in their struggles against the Margoth Empire. Squaring off in a world high above the clouds, where people build their civilizations atop craggy mountains and lifeless plateaus, the crew of the Cloudscratcher–a motley crew of various heroes of great skill, all united by lives torn apart by the Empire’s machinations–fight the seemingly endless fight for the future. It won’t be an easy fight, however, as the Margoth Empire boasts superior numbers, advanced technology, and leaders that are as skilled as they are ruthless. And making matters worse, a terrifying new Emperor has taken control, and under his rule, the Empire has grown even stronger, and their goal of complete global domination seems to creep ever-closer…

Cody also says that the comic was inspired by the 1990s Disney animated shows, and the Don Bluth animated movies from the time.  I can see that.  The art style is very reminisent of the Bluth films, while the content of the strip is pretty kid friendly.  But, there’s nothing wrong with that.  It is a serious story told in a lighthearted way.  With the opening dog fight (airplanes, not two dogs fighting, though one pilot is a dog) it is a death-free encounter because of villain blunders.  However, we do get some references to an Imperial nation (of snakes) that is seeking global conquest, and has already wiped out the Pig nation.  One of the pilots on the Cloudscratcher is a Pig, and revenge has been foreshadowed.

So yes, it is a story with cute animals as the main characters, but unlike so many other stories, there is actually substance behind it.  I believe that far too often, writers rely on blood and cussing to try to make their comic seem “edgy,” but they often forget that they are there to actually tell a story.  In closing, I recommend that you read this.  There’s only one chapter currently up, and it consists of 25 pages.

Around the Web

This month’s “Around the Web” features a comic called The Poperty of Hate.  I couldn’t find an actual name for whoever is writing and drawing this comic.  Just the username “Mod.”  Which is sad, because I would love to acknowledge whoever is creating this imaginative, little comic.

There’s not a whole lot of story to summarize.  This being with a television for a head named “RGB” recruits a child to be a hero.  They pass through a doorway in the sky into a…unique world.  In this world, ideas like lies and doubts have become creatures.  Their peacefulness is interrupted when they are attacked by a set of scratchy lines.  And that’s where the series leaves off.

I know I’m doing a horrible job describing it, but you really need to take a look at it yourself.  The charm of this comic really is within the art.  And I really don’t have much else to say about it.  There’s just something about this comic that I like, but can’t quite put my finger on it.

I think you should check it out.

Around the web

It is once again time for our monthly installment of Around the Web, where I search the entirety of the series of tubes that compose the Internet, to find a web comic to read through.  My past history with this column has told me that if I find an ongoing series, I’m not going to like it.  And so, that is the mindset that I set out with, browsing through a list of “recently updated” webcomics, and found Pirates of Mars.  I use quotes because this webcomic hasn’t actually been updated since October 10, 2011.  But that doesn’t really matter.  There are just over 100 entries in this series.  The first 96 entries compose the first volume.

The story is about a widow named Victoria Lovelace, that became a pirate captain after the death of her Naval husband.  She must lead her band of pirates that includes the loyal Chief, the disgruntled Sadir, and a murderous robot.  Like all pirates, they have to deal with the day-to-day problems of being pirates:  how much money am I going to get, how high is the crew’s moral, will I get to kill lots of humans.  (Well, that last one is just the robot’s concern.)  And aside from the concerns of being pirates, they find themselves tossed into the middle of a rebellion.

After reading the entire series, I must admit that I really liked it.  It was a very fun.  The dialogue was entertaining.  The characters were all given distinct characterization.  The story seemed well thought out and focused.  It didn’t try to do too much.  The story mostly stayed with the main group of pirates, which helped to develop the characters personality, and endear them to the readers.  I believe this is what separates this webcomic from others that I have read.  When the characters are put in danger, I care what happens to them because I’ve gotten to know them.  It’s amazing how simple of an idea this is.  If people get to know and care about your characters, then they will care about what happens to them.  The action and plot twists will have meaning.  If people don’t care about the characters, then it simple doesn’t matter how amazing the action is, or how surprising your twists are.

The art is also pretty good.  The website says that volume 2 will be in color, so I’m interested to see how that changes things.  Currently, it is in black and white.  There were a few panels here and there that weren’t very clear, but those were in the minority.  There were also a few spots where it was difficult to tell exactly who said what.  But those are few, and since each character has their own voice, the reader can figure it out.

In the end, I highly recommend that you read this story.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Around the web

The last two times (only two times) I have done this feature, I’ve ventured forth into the depths of the Internet and sought out a webcomic to read.  Overall, it was not a pleasant experience.  Both were serious, ongoing tales that I felt had problems with characterizations.  Or lack thereof.  So, not in the mood to make it three months in a row, I wimped out and selected a webcomic from one of the one’s that the Joystiq blog on Huffington Post highlighted.  This webcomic is titled Awkward Zombie, and is written and drawn by Katie Tiedrich.

I’m not really certain why it’s titled Awkward Zombie.  The closest thing to a zombie was an undead World of Warcraft character.  But whatever.  In a nutshell, the strip is mostly a satire on video games.  There are some instances where she does a real life comic strip, but mostly, the strips point out the humor, often unintended, within video games.  Or, as with her Super Smash Bros. strips, some funny “behind the scenes” moments that could be happening.  The strips mostly have Nintendo properties (Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Super Smash Bros.), but there is also quite a few World of Warcraft themed entries as well.

The art isn’t really good, but it’s good enough to get the point across.  She makes fun of her own art in her comments section, adding things to the list of stuff she can’t draw.  But, the strips are usually funny.  In prepping for this entry, I had only intended to read some at the beginning and some at the end, but I ended up reading all 237 of them.  There were only a couple strips that I didn’t get, but if you have any history with popular video games, you should get the jokes.

I highly recommend that you check out this webcomic.

Below the break is one of my favorites.