Monthly Archives: June 2013

Metapost: The Webcomic Overlook’s going on a month-long hiatus

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Even bloggers need a break now and then. The Webcomic Overlook is taking a month-long hiatus for July! I’m going to be off in another country for most of that time, and I don’t think I’ll have much time for reviews and updates until about early August. I’ll check in every so often, but until then assume I’m in that silver DC-3 going on grand adventures and whatnot.

To tide your webcomic hunger, make sure to check some of the comics in the sidebar under the “Shilled” header. (Or here if you’re viewing on a mobile device.) Or check the many other webcomic review sites available!

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Open post: do you seek out help when making webcomics?

Brigid Alverson posted on Robot 6 today that Brad Guigar is putting together a sequel for the How To Make Webcomics book entitled The Webcomics Handbook. This time, it’s without Scott Kurtz, Dave Kellett, and Kris Straub. Guigar’s new book will be based in part on Webcomics.com. Incidentally, Ms. Alverson also conducts a pretty nice interview discussion the modern state of webcomics, which is well worth reading. For example, when asked what might be less important than when the first book debuted, Guigar replies, “Comic conventions are a little less important than they were in the first book.”

Here’s a question to all you webcomic creators out there: do you generally seek out guidance when putting together your webcomic? If so, where? Is it from an online community like DeviantArt? Do you refer to the How To Make Webcomics book? Is it through seminars or art teachers? Or do you generally fly solo and let Fate, more or less, decide of your webcomic is going to be a success or not?

Sugarshock-o-Meter Predicts the 2013 Eisner Winner for Best Digital Comic

On Friday, July 19, at the San Diego Comic-Con, the Eisner Awards will be handed out to the best-of-the-best in the world. They will join luminaries from yesteryear such as All-Star Superman and …

Uh ….

Well, to be honest, the only reason I remembered that All-Star Superman got the award was that I just downloaded the issues on Comixology during the recent sale, and the “Eisner Award Winner” circle was on all the covers. Seriously, comics folks, if you want to have your award breathlessly mentioned in the same vein as the Oscars, you’re gonna need to do a better job of branding.

And each year, the Sugarshock-o-meter is around to select the winners. Named after its first official triumph, when, over at ComixTalk, it correctly predicted that Joss Whedon (director of Cabin In The Woods, Much Ado About Nothing, and a little passion project that some folks call The Avengers) would bring home the award after penning a little comic about an intergalactic rock band called Sugarshock.

Since then, the Sugarshock-o-meter has had an 80% accuracy record. It stumbled a little the next year after failing to predict the 2009 winner: Finder, by Carla Speed MacNeil. (The Sugarshock-o-meter foolishly predicted the winner to be Vs.) Since then, it’s been running smoothly on all gears. Sin Titulo, The Abominable Charles Christopher, and Battlepug were all solidly selected by the Sugarshock-o-meter as the eventual winners.

After priming the pump and turning over the engine by handcrank, the infernal machine at the heart of the Webcomic Overlook churned out the chances of the various candidates. Here are the results:

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Strip Search Episode 31: Finale, Part 2

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And now we finally get to Part 2 of the Finale! Now… I do understand that some readers had some issues with how I viewed the first part of the finale. I make no apologies. However, I will say that Part Two? I thought it was a pretty strong one, mainly because pretty much everything focused on what I tuned in to watch: what makes a webcomic succeed, and the potential within all the artists. Perhaps if I’d seen more episodes like this, I would’ve liked Strip Search much more.

The show starts with some lightweight banter. Gabetycho all of the sudden notice Abby’s hair, namely how it’s shorter on one side than it is on the other. Abby, who seemed very nervous in the initial episodes, is far more comfortable now with snarking back and forth with the Penny Arcade guys.

Katie, on the other hand, seems very nervous. I mentioned that she seemed a little edgy in the first part of the finale, and that continues here. I think there’s far more riding on this for her than the other two contestants. She has a current job in the animation field, but the show she was working on hadn’t been picked up for another season and there seems to be a lot of uncertainty. Still, out of the three contestants, her illustrations are easily the most polished.

At the end of the last episode, she hit a mental roadblock while she was working in Photoshop. So, rather than continue, she decided to rough it out old school with a Sharpie pen and paper. Maki is the last contestant toiling away on a computer while Abby and Katie sketch it out with pencil guildelines and thick ink. And you know what? It’s a much more interesting thing to see on video than a guy on a computer.

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Gabetycho look over the submittals and remark about Abby’s natural affinity toward drawing creatures. While her style is loose, she clearly has a good grasp of anatomy. They ask her if she ever wanted to get into taxidermy, and she says she thinks about it all the time. Girl’s got moxie.

They’re less complimentary when looking at Katie’s stuff. There’s something in her comic that strike them as a teference for reference’s sake. “We don’t get to explore the idea that pop culture is a currency for kids,” say the two headed judges of doom. Katie sorta grunts in assent. I think she’s trying to make up for lost time and filing the white noise buzzing around the room for future reference.

Meanwhile, Gabetycho decide to do some weird visual gags with food. First, they eat some rotisserie chickens and egg the contestants on the moistness of it.

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I was actually wondering aloud to myself where those chickens came from. My gut instinct is someone picked them up from Costco. However, there’s a sign in the back that says New York City Comic Con. Would there be Costco’s at the Convention Center? Maybe there was a street vendor outside selling rotisserie chickens? I mean, that’s a New York thing, right?

And later, the bald one puts his face in a cake.

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Maki sorta disappears for a while, only being mentioned when Gabetycho start to speculate on which contestant they would’ve eaten. Maki does mention that Strip Search is good at marketing me as a character and winning would be a big reset button careerwise. But… well, given how little attention he’s been getting thus far in the finale, he shouldn’t get his hopes up.

Maybe he’d get more attention if he was more snarky like Abby? Gabetycho lampoon their early reality show baiting by asking her if anyone in the house was kissing. Abby just sorta rolls her eyes, makes a quip about falling back on old tropes, and then makes fun of her own weak attempts at being a reality show character. Clearly, Gabetycho are in love with Abby. And really, who wouldn’t be?

The clock winds down, the contestants stand together, and Gabetycho ponder their etchings.  I mean… no, not in that way.  Get your minds out of the gutters, guys!

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Both Gabe and Tycho agree that the drawings that Abby put together in four hours were better than the results that came out of her studio.  They wonder if maybe she’s better when she works under a constraint.  Next is Maki’s stuff.  Gabetycho look at it in a bit of a daze.  They are clearly not big fans.  Gabe, I think, mentions that it’s “anthropological in nature.”  I…. think that means he thinks it takes the character studies too seriously.  I have no idea why “anthropological” would be used in that context, though.

It doesn’t matter though, since, despite Gabetycho claiming that they love all three strips, the subsequent discussion is whether they should pick Abby or Katie.  Katie’s drawings were less great than her studio drawings.  However, the stuff she came out in four hours time was still pretty good.  They know that the winner’s going to be working in a studio environment, and Katie’s studio drawings were definitely up to their standards.  Abby’s, meanwhile, were not as good.

Gabetycho realized that that person they selected would have to be treated as a peer.  They wouldn’t feel confortable trying to give advice to a fellow cartoonist in the same way that they let Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub pretty much do their own thing without supervision.

And thus, Gabetycho make their decision.  The winner of Strip Search is Katie Rice.

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What can I say?  She definitely deserved it.  Katie’s drawings were easily the best illustrated, which should be no surprise given her animation background.  Even after switch from computer to pen an hour into the competition, Katie’s drawings looked far more polished and dynamic than either Abby’s or Maki’s.

Thus ends the first season of Strip Search.  While I can’t say I was the biggest fan of this show, I thought that the second half of the finale was especially strong.

Metapost: It’s over 3 million!

Just an aside, the Webcomic Overlook has reached over 3 million pageviews! Woop, woop, y’all!

Thank you to all the readers who keep checking in on this site for webcomic reviews, news, opinions, and historical comic tidbits. Here’s to 3 million more!

Strip Search Episode 30: Finale, Part 1

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So followers of The Webcomic Overlook may know that I’m not someone who was too keen on Strip Search. From the standpoint of a reality show, I thought it was too boring. From the standpoint of a webcomic show, I thought it was baffling. (A t-shirt design show? Really?) So before they even got to the show that had to do with contestant interviews, I was out. I mean, geez, if I have to sit through people sweating why they need to get a paying job, at least I should be getting HR money, feel me?

It seems that I may be the only person feeling that way, though. A poll on this site showed overwhelming approval of Strip Search. Or… overwhelming approval of Shakira, perhaps? The YouTube views support it. As of this writing, Episode 30 has had 20K YouTube views. I mean, that’s not Game Grumps bank, but it’s still super respectable. Thus, I suppose it’s time to tune in for the last couple of episodes and see if the show has anything more to offer.

We are down to our final three contestants: Katie Rice, Maki Naro, and Abby Howard. Surprisingly, I’m actually kinda happy with these three. I mentioned in a previous review that Maki and Abby were my early favorites just because their personalities were so appealing. And I’m happy to see Katie Rice there, too. She’s the one who looks like Kate Beaton.
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Guns of Shadow Valley gets a Kickstarter

While I don’t typically report Kickstarters, I do like this particular comic quite a bit. So when the creator notified me that they were starting a Kickstarter to finish it off with a hardcover edition, I was happy to pass the news. From the press release on the Guns of Shadow Valley website:

Wild West Webcomic “The Guns of Shadow Valley” kicks off Kickstarter campaign

Santa Barbara, CA – June 14, 2013 – Dave Wachter and Jim Clark are comic creators and Wild West aficionados. Starting their comic book “The Guns of Shadow Valley” in a traditional format five years ago, they could not land a publishing deal, so they began a webcomic instead in the summer of 2009.

Since this humble beginning, they have had a large following of thousands of readers per week, over 100 pages of story, and nominations for Eisner and Harvey awards for excellence in digital publishing.

Then, everything came to a screeching halt.

“I’ve loved working full time with IDW and Dark Horse comics, but the paying gigs kept me from my dream project. It’s the one that I was really wanting to make a reality,” said Wachter.

So, the two decided to bring the story full circle by finishing the epic tale with an oversized, hardcover edition of The Guns of Shadow Valley.

“We have everything else in place, now we just need the financial resources necessary to complete the project,” said Wachter. “We are turning to Kickstarter and comic fans across the world for help.”

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site where individuals can invest in projects they feel are worthwhile. The Guns of Shadow Valley campaign will kick off on June 14th and end on July 15th. The goal is $24,000 which will complete the second half of the comic storyline, print the entire story as a hardcover book, and throw in lots of extra incentives.

“For us, this is our opportunity to finish what we started. Our readers have been begging us to start it up again,” said Clark.

Readers can pre-order a signed and numbered copy of the hardcover edition for $30, and there additional benefits and rewards, such as T-shirts, original paintings, and even cameo appearances in the story.

The western motif is infused with other elements such as sci-fi, steampunk, superpowers, mysticism, and folklore. “If you can imagine ‘X-Men meets The Magnificent Seven’, then you have a good idea of The Guns of Shadow Valley and its theme,” said Clark.

Interested parties can visit the Kickstarter page at www.gunsofshadowvalley.com/kickstarter to learn more about the plans for the project and pre-order the book.

“We can’t wait to show everyone how this ends,” said Wachter.

To see the actual comic, visit www.gunsofshadowvalley.com

Know Thy History: Teen Titans

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It happens every single time. There’s a new interpretation of a superhero out… but it’s totally different from what we’ve seen before! We grumble, whine, and complain about how the new directors are pandering to the terrible sensibilities of kids these days, ignoring the elements that made these heroes so beloved in the first place. But you owe to to yourself to step back a little. Dig up the source material and really look at it. Read the first issue encased in that anthology series, or even that first self-titled comic, and ask yourself: isn’t this always what Bob Haney and Nick Cardy intended?

That’s right, I’m talking about Teen Titans Go! It’s positioned in the enviable task of following up the highly well regarded Young Justice series. The way fans are going after it, it’s like … well, it’s like when the original Teen Titans cartoon debuted in the shadow of the much beloved Justice League series. (Teen Titans eventually became a well loved franchise in its own right, hence this new series which follows the character design of the original but is geared at a much younger age set.)

Yet, while the first episode of Teen Titans Go! follows “the team on a trip across the globe to find legendary sandwich ingredients”, you gotta realize that the original Teen Titans? They were pretty far out, man.

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