Monthly Archives: August 2013
It’s time once again to delve into the world of comics in the digital medium, where your eyes are bombarded not by inks and tree fibers but rather by the warm, embracing glow of an LCD monitor. There’s been a pretty big gap in my reviewing back catalogue, which for some reason includes something called Loviathan and something called Glam but for some reason doesn’t include the webcomic whose cosplayers overtook Emerald City Comic Con this year.
That’s right, readers: it’s time for yet another review of Andrew Hussie’s MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck!
Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Homestuck, or maybe you’ve heard about it in bits and pieces but really don’t know much about it, there’s one thing you should know right off the bat: it’s a very long webcomic. A VERY long webcomic. And deceptively so. As a result, I’m splitting this review into two segments. The first will reivew Acts 1-4, which focused mainly on the players of John, Rose, Dave, and Jade. (I will call these four “Pesterchums.” I don’t know if that’s the official term for them, but that’s how they appear categorized in their chatlogs.) The second will deal with Acts 5 and beyond, which seems to focus on the trolls.
Is this a fair dividing point? I think so. Back in the day (holy crap, this comic started back in 2009?) fans on the webcomic seemed to be split on how to take Act 5. The focus one trolls cause some to quit. On the other hand, trolls seems to be what maneuvered Homestuck to the big leagues. How much fan art is devoted to trolls vs. that which is devoted to the original crew? I’m guessing a million to one. As a result, my scholarlycomparison of trollspeak to Li’l Abner‘s cornpone dialects is going to have to wait until Part 2. Doesn’t that sound exciting?
… yeah, I didn’t think so either.
I have begun a journey some years in the making. Yes, last time I finally buckled down and started reading Act 3 of Homestuck in preparation for an upcoming review. Now, I’m not as of this moment qualified to make a value judgment, but quite a few opinionated online denizens seem to to prefer it to the earlier Problem Sleuth (which I quite liked). This got me to thinking: which Andrew Hussie project reigns supreme?
Nintendo video game mascot Mario Mario is no stranger to webcomics. Thanks to the crazy video game webcomic boom that gave the world the PAX video game convention, Mario has probably appeared in more webcomics than video games. Shoot, there’s probably a webcomic out there referencing Mario being created as we speak. However, there’s one aspect of the Mario universe that doesn’t get touched upon that often. You know, the one where King Koopa was evolved from dinosaurs and played by a greasy Dennis Hopper? The one where Mario and Luigi were trying to liberate a dystopian cyberpunk alternate dimension, clearly an aspect of the Mario universe that needs to be expanded upon and explored?
Why do webcomic creators always seem to cruelly ignore Mario and Luigi from the 1993 Super Mario Brothers movie?
Steven Applebaum and Ryan Hoss must be some sort of genies, because they’re making all your dreams come true with Super Mario Bros. 2: The Comic. SMB2: The Comic answers the question that has, for 20 years, been lingering on all our minds after the tantalizing sequel bait at the end of the movie: what happens to the Mario brothers after Princess Daisy returns from an alternate dimension, armed to the gills like some 90’s Image Comics superhero? This ain’t no
video game run of the mill fanfic, people, as it’s mentioned that the story ideas come straight from one of the ten screenwriters from the movie. So it’s at least … one-tenthed canon, maybe?
Anyway, it involves going to another dimension which is probably the same world as the one from SMB2: the video game. And like the game, odds are Mario is going to wake up from a particularly vivid fever dream where someone, somewhere, made a webcomic sequel to the Super Mario Brothers movie.
(h/T AV Club)
The Joe Shuster Awards, which goes to Canadian comics creators, were announced this week. The award for “Webcomics Creator / Créateur de Bandes Dessinées Web” have actually gone to some fairly prominent names in webcomics, such as Karl Kerschl, Cameron Stewart, and Ryan Sohmer. Lately, though, the awards seem to be focused on promoting lesser known works. Emily Carroll, for example, is a two time winner who picked up the award in 2011 and 2012.
And that seems to be the case this year. Of the list of nominees this year, the only one I recognized was Salgood Sam… and that’s mainly because I reviewed Dream Life on this site two years ago. (Whoa, has it really been that long?)
The winner of the 2013 Webcomic Creator Award goes to one Michael DeForge. Who, you ask? Well, he’s the writer of probably one of the weirdest webcomics that ever got nominated for a Best Digital Comic Award at the Eisners: Ant Comic (which I reviewed this year). While I like the comic (I gave it four stars), it’s definitely not for everyone and a YMMV sort of of thing. In any case, congratulations to Mr. DeForge and his bizarre, psychedelic webcomic.
The Shuster Award site had this to add:
Michael DeForge was born in 1987 and grew up in Ottawa and lives in Toronto, Ontario. In the few short years since he began his pamphlet-size comic book series Lose for Koyama Press, Michael DeForge has announced himself as an important new voice in alternative comics. His semi-weekly webcomic Ant Comics, which began in the fall of 2011, will be adapted into graphic novel format as Ant Colony, to be published by Montreal publisher Drawn and Quarterly in early 2014.
It’s getting to be a familiar site these days to see animators flexing their creative juices in webcomics. Just about 5 years ago, it seemed like a novelty when Chris Sanders, animation director of Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, brought his verve to the little electrical screen with Kiskaloo. An actual animator! Deigning to illustrate webcomic! How about that! Man, webcomics aren’t just for bored college liberal art students with a poor grasp of MSPaint anymore!
Nowadays, it’s a little more commonplace. Katie Rice, the winner of this year’s Strip Search, to point out one of the most prominent examples, is herself an animator. I suppose it makes sense. As an animator, I’m thinking that most of the time you’re shackled to someone else’s brilliant vision… like, say, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. Sure, there’s some creative leeway there. Maybe suggestions on the character design. Or ideas on fun little background elements. Or animating the letters “S-E-X” in the clouds near Aladdin and Jasmine.
I, too, wanted to be an animator once. Inspired by the Disney Renaissance of the early 90’s, I even once bought a book about how to break into the biz. If these animators were anything like I was, I’m guessing a lot got into the field because they wanted to tell stories. Their stories. There’s a creative force gnawing inside, waiting for the day when it can be finally unleashed on the world. Something like … a crazed little demon.
Speaking of crazed little demons, that’s sort of the premise for Ava’s Demon. The webcomic was created by Michelle Czajkowski, who, as I understand it, is an animator at Dreamworks.
I’ve been reading John Teti’s excellent article over at Gameological about the nature of reviewing called “Chasing The Dragon.” The article calls out Warren Spector, who posits that video games won’t gain legitimacy unless there are noted reviewers like Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert on the movie side to filter the content through tastemaking outlets. Teti counters, though, that the internet has changed much of that dynamic:
It makes more sense for the shape of the discourse to shift over time, regardless of the supposed authorities in a given moment. As art evolves, criticism changes as well, not just in its content but also in its form. Criticism ought to be (and inevitably is) more responsive than any one-size-fits-all maturation process could accommodate.
Teti points out that TV criticism, for example, didn’t take off until it was implemented in an episodic format.
That has changed in recent years as the episodic review format has taken hold online. Newspaper and magazine critics tended to check in on programs sporadically—typically during premieres—and then the conversation would end. The space constraints of print made any more intensive converage impractical. On the web, though, writers like Alan Sepinwall and Stephanie Zacharek—not to mention the staff of Television Without Pity—discovered that they could comment on TV with a frequency and depth that did justice to the episodic form.
Naturally, this got me to thinking about this site. There really are two ways of doing webcomic reviews online. Websnark, perhaps the most well known webcomic review site, follows Teti’s recommendation of episodic reviews. This site — and most other sites I’m aware of — treat each webcomic as an individual entity, assessing the whole work in one post.
But … which is right? The episodic format often demands that you stay to the same ten or so webcomics. A one-review-per-webcomic format lets you cover more, but reviews tend to get obsolete quickly.
If you read a lot of webcomic reviews, which is the type of review that you prefer to read?
(Apologies for the self-serving nature of this post. I should have a proper review up by the end of this week, by the way.)