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Daily Archives: June 4, 2008

The Webcomic Overlook #44: The Order of the Stick

When you were young, one of the most basic forms you learn is the stick figure. Lines for arms, lines for legs, and a circle for the head. They’re so easy to draw, even a caveman could do it. (And they did, portraying their stick men hunting buffalo or dragging women in their caves or somesuch.) They’re also forever linked to our childhoods, as — in the days before we learned about perspective and depth — they were the first things were learned to draw.

Thus, almost all webcomics using stick figures acknowledge how juvenile it all is. Cyanide & Happiness revels in it, with their characters oozing bodily fluids as if they were characters in a bored 10-year-old’s notebook. xkcd employs the medium to toy with our expectations, launching into subjects that no child would contemplate (such as complex math equations or heartache).

But can stick figures be more? Rich Burlew thinks so. Despite having a degree in Illustration at the Pratt Institute, he decided to primarily use stick figures in his wildly popular webcomic, The Order of the Stick (popularly abbreviated OotS, though its true abbreviation, tOotS, provides a more flatulently melodic acronym). Why? According to an interview at Sequential Tart, Rich believes that “art really is more than just rendering anatomy, especially comic art. Communicating the actions of the main characters is the primary goal here, not to show off how well I understand facial structure.” A lofty goal, to be sure … but does he succeed?


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