Monthly Archives: February 2013
Where did all the Zuda Comics go? DC’s experiment in the world of digital comics was a little short-lived but it generated plenty of concepts due to its elimination-style format, where several creators would put out eight-page sample at a chance for landing a contract with DC Comics. Short answer: they were scattered to the winds of the internet, appearing in secluded far reaching corners. It’s a shame, because there were some great story ideas out there with some great-looking art. There was an image of a steely-eyed young man in a prep school uniform that caught my curiosity recently, for example, and I owed it to myself to follow up.
Model Student, by Jake Bell and Joe Bowen, was a Zuda entry in 2009 that didn’t make the final cut. Joe Bowen, though, couldn’t quite let go of the concept so he returned to the story last year.
The main character is Kevin Thorne. He’s a high school student who’s had problems keeping his rage under control. He’s been kicked out of many schools for fighting. One more strike, and he’s headed to Juvie. His last chance is Vendrell Academy, a stately-looking prep school where the students wear ties and fashionable blazers.
I’m going to assume that, at some point in Chris McQuaid’s Celtic Shaman, we’re going to learn that a portal to the Forgotten Realms must have opened in Canada. There’s mystical creatures everywhere. The hero, a rugged loner named Mannix, punches his way through several of these creatures as he tours the country’s backroads: a sea monster in New Brunswick, succubi in Quebec, and an ogre dressed up as a mall Santa in Mississauga, Ontario. Fortunately, Mannix is a man blessed with magic powers, fists of steel, and a sexy genie named Dru at his side. It’s a light-hearted and breezy comic where shamanism is grumblingly referred to as “spiritual pest control.”
The most eye-catching aspect of Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life was its excellent use of the infinite canvas. The technique is often touted as the future of comics. It was well executed and tied thematically to a story about two robots traveling in the solitude of the solar system.
For the follow-up, author Kit Roebuck goes with something more traditional. The webcomic Opplopolis, which is really tough to find on Google due to its tongue-twisty name, feels very old-school. The panels are laid out like a traditional comic book page. The colors are solid and not very flashy. Character designs are retro, but from eras that are difficult to pinpoint with precision.
In fact, Opplopolis feels very much like a Vertigo comic published in the early 1990’s. Specifically, Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles… only not nearly as weirdly metaphysical. And that’s a good thing.
As a relative newcomer to Tumblr, I have only lately come to a surprising realization: animated gifs are everywhere. Like, on every single blog that has “F*** Yeah” as the title. They are back in a bigger way than when that dancing CGI baby was all the rage. (Readers under 20, please disregard this horribly dated reference.) I’ve also noticed that seeing a bunch of animated gifs in a row, usually recapping a segment on TV, is not unlike reading a comic.
So it should come no surprise that there are some webcomics out there following suit. Jen’s Thunderpaw follows two anthropomorphic friends, Bruno and Ollie, as they go on a journey that seems to fracture their very mental state. During the comic, looped animated panels make everything jittery and haunting. I can’t say Thunderpaw makes sense, exactly, but it’s long on environment and is pretty to look at.
(h/t to reader gosicht)
Nearly two years ago, I posted a link here to a critique of a comic called Roswell, Texas. In my mind, it was an innocent gesture. I like posting reviews to other webcomics in an attempt to further the cause of webcomic reviewing. It’s partially for selfish reasons. One of these days, when this blog ceases to update, I want to have a clear conscience, knowing that somewhere out there someone is still writing reviews of Ctrl+Alt+Del.
This particular post, though, caught some flack. One of the co-creators, Scott Bieser, took particular offense at the reviewer: Leonard Pierce, was a disgraced AV Club reviewer who lost his job after posting a review of a comic that hadn’t actually seen print yet. I believe in second chances (which I think Pierce was reaching for in his new blog), but there is still the lingering question of credibility.
More to the point, though: why wasn’t this stuff being addressed at Leonard Pierce’s blog? Why was all the stuff being brought up at this site? I felt like that one friend who’s stuck in the middle of a squabbling couple, and I’m stuck repeating lines like, “Well, she told me to tell you that if you’d just taken out the trash like she told you three days ago, none of this would’ve happened. Her words, not mine.”
With the link to Mr. Pierce’s article being dead, I figured that today’s the day to rectify the situation: The Webcomic Overlook is reviewing Roswell, Texas! Created by L. Neil Smith, Scott Bieser, and Rex F. May, the comic ran from 2006 to 2009 and is now available in print.
All vitriol, please direct it to this write-up now. Thank you.
Not many newspaper funnies characters have a.) campaigned for president in the real world (and not the in-universe cartoon world), and b.) actually started a student riot. I know what you’re saying. “El Santo, you silly goose. Garfield the cat and Garfield the president were two different characters! And that lasagna-inspired student riot in 1873 was totally unrelated.”
But see, I’m not talking about Garfield. I’m talking about Walt Kelly’s Pogo.
These days, webcomic creators trying to drum up business by emblazoning T-shirts with catchphrases. For Walt Kelly, that would’ve been kid’s play. His marketing tactics were far more ambitious. Such as, say, using the 1952 American presidential elections to sell books. In those days, the candidate to beat was Dwight Eisenhower. His infamous slogan — “I Like Ike” — was printed on a ton of buttons.
Kelly followed in kind. He launched a button of his own with the phrase “I Go Pogo.” The publicity stunt was a huge success. (Hey, kids, if you think that your generation invented irony, this is what your grandparents were wearing on their jackets.) Papers gave out 2 million Pogo buttons. Kelly hit the bookstores and campuses, selling books and urging people to vote. He sold 100,000 Pogo books.
Things went a little off the rails when Kelly made a stop at Harvard, though. In an incident that somehow wasn’t written by Dan Harmon, an “I Go Pogo” rally turned into a full blown student riot. The cause? A delayed flight that prevented Kelly from showing time, and 1,600 restless students.
Even when Kelly finally did show up, his speech was interrupted by students racing each other on pogo sticks. The entire riot was masterminded by the editor of the school newspaper (The Harvard Crimson), Laurence D. Salvadore. In a rather Jeff-Winger-esque description, he is recalled as wearing “silk chartreuse socks” and his success with the ladies. Salvadore apparently picked up Kelly, but decided to hang out with him at a nearby bar, fully intending to cause the absence that would escalate things to riot levels. It’s kind of insane that the plan actually worked. Hey, remember the days when cartoonists were such rock stars that people would cause public disturbances if they didn’t show up?
Sorta makes multiple episodes about blanket forts seem tame and believable by comparison.