The webcomics blog about webcomics

Ridiculously Cute

After the last few weeks I was ready for a little cute. (Here’s something that’s not cute: the phone company taking–no joke–a week and a half to fix my phone line.) I found it in Hey Pais, which is the…well, okay, it’s the first webcomic I’ve ever read that’s pitched like the cat is the creator. The conceit is kind of cute, and The Girl mentioned in the comic is Sara Bauer, maker of wicked cute minicomics and some “sporadically updated” online work as well.

Part of why there’s a whole lot of new work is because of the Thirty Days Project, which sounds like an awesome idea. Held in April 2008, it basically states “You create something before the end of the day every day for thirty days.” From there, what you create’s up to you. Kind of an interesting list of participants.

The comic is full of cute images as well as goofy cat-name puns, origin stories, tattoos, and funny jokes on band names (look for the t-shirt). It won’t take you long to read through the archives, but it won’t be time wasted.

My Aching Eyes

My eyeglass frames recently snapped (in a very unexciting way, having nothing to do with rollerderby) and so I’ve been stuck wearing my contact lenses until the new frames arrive. The contacts are both awesome (Holy crap! I have peripheral vision after all!) and really bad (I mostly feel seasick, unfortunately), never mind the repeated poking-of-eyeball action. I tell you all this because I thought I’d find something short to write about this week, to try to cut down on staring at the computer screen.

My plan completely backfired.

I found Ali Graham’s AfterStrife and fell, hard, for the characters and colorwork. According to his website, “AfterStrife is the story of two completely opposite youths who become spiritually attached to one another in their deaths. Megan, a sharp witted, tormentress and Stitch a dark, brooding goth are forced to work together to unravel the mystery of their being. They are transported into a strange hell dimension by the name of Banteurose, where they must work off their debt to reclaim their eternal souls.” It’s an accurate description, but I’ve really been enjoying reading the archives–despite my aching eyeballs–for the banter between the two and just generally watching the story unfold.

Before this project, Graham published HOUSD; it was a daily comic and is where Stitch (the character you see above) first appeared. What I think’s kind of ingenious about these two webcomics is Graham’s kind of interesting cross-marketing; Stitch has a Livejournal (with a particularly funny post about emo). There’s also a great interview with Graham here, well worth reading.

So, what with the two different webcomics (one of which has a truly enormous archive), some interesting other material including a Scary Go Round guest strip, and some really compelling character write-ups on his cast pages, I think I’ll finish up the reading this weekend when I have a little more time and some new eyeglasses…

What Just Happened?

In preparation for this week’s post, I actually looked back at Gary’s post about the recent Eisner nominations, specifically the Best Digital Comic category. One, Karl Kerschl’s lovely The Abominable Charles Christopher, I knew right away. But I didn’t recognize any of the others, which made me feel sort of out of it (and even more so when I found out that one of them is one of Joss Whedon’s many projects). I felt a little better about the whole thing once I looked at the rest of the Eisner nominees (jeez, again with the Joss Whedon…), so I thought it might be worth looking at the different nominations. It wouldn’t have been the list I’d have created, but I figured it was worth finding out what did get nominated.

(Side question: are there similar industry awards for webcomics? There’s the Ignatz, for an “Online Comics” category, and the interesting (though a little repetitive) Web Cartoonists Choice Awards…there are others, yes?)

And, holy smokes, Dean Haspiel’s Immortal: it took me a minute to get into it, but once I did I was pretty much hooked despite it being totally weird and also kind of hard to follow in places (and it’s also kind of NFSW in places, so be warned). It was also a little different for me; I think of Dean Haspiel as someone who…well, mostly works in print. Despite these weird narrative moments, Immortal has a quirky, smart use of color–it looks different from much what I’ve seen before–and though the characters initially felt a little Sin City to me, the whole thing takes a big wide jog into weird in its own freaky way.

It also, from the get-go, caught my eye in a way the other works didn’t (excepting Kerschl’s work, about which I’ve already written); I’ll give them another try, of course, but there’s a lot to be said for something that pulls me in as a reader almost right away. That’s very difficult to do, but this one pulls it off magificently.


Things have been a little busy lately. Work’s good (and hectic). I joined the rollerderby (I’m learning to be a referee). I’m in an art show that opened this week in Greenfield (we had Twinkies at the reception), and I was interviewed for a local blog where we talked an awful lot about webcomics. I was actually able to keep up with the conversation, which was exciting, and the reporter and I talked an awful lot about art and commerce and economy. I had a little epiphany in the middle of it, where I realized I’d begun to let go a little bit of my dedication to print. Surprise, surprise.

But all of this is a long way of saying that I’m totally behind on my webcomics reading.

While I was poking around the web looking for something new and different to read, I ran across this page, and it absolutely cracked me up. I know the pictures are kind of old news (last updated about two years ago, I think), but I sort of love the concept. I know there are more out there; there must be legions of Scary Go Round tattoos (and if not, why not?!) and I saw a photo of a cat tattoo in a recent issue of High Maintenance Machine.

I guess my question is less about the why (I have tattoos; I understand, in some way, that piece of it) and more about what images folks might have tattooed. Any image stand out as something you’d have tattooed? Creators, does having your work inked on someone’s skin kind of freak you out and completely rock at the same time?

This Is Not My Beautiful Cube…

Shane Johnson sent us a press release about his My Life In a Cube, which he updates “weeknights” (Monday to Friday, after work), and the second I saw it I knew I had to mention it here. I do actually work a job where some of the time I am in a cubicle, what with this excellent not very corporate for a corporate job gig that I have, and it’s actually…yeah, it’s my first corporate job and suddenly cubicle humor is, embarrassingly, funnier. (In my defense, I have a lot of webcomic-ey things up in the cube, including some extremely cool Teaching Baby Paranoia sketches.)

But in addition to funny (in that bleak cubicle humor kind of way), Johnson’s got this great, fluid style where the lines just seem to naturally flow. It conveys motion and and speech in a direct, immediate way, where the image is both simple and complicated. I also love that they seem to be created on whatever’s closest to hand. The site, like the comic, is simple and kind of spare–there are almost no archives and it seems very, very new, but you’d never guess it by the quality of the art and the droll humor of the comics.

Plus it’s got the best disclaimer ever: ” In no way does this actually reflect what I do at work all day. Obviously.”

I’m totally taken with it. Go have a look.

Pathetic Geek Stories

Last week, while I was down with the weird miserable head cold I’ve been fighting, my friend Chris sent me a link to Maria Schneider‘s wickedly funny Pathetic Geek Stories. Like Jesse Reklaw’s masterful Slow Wave, PGS consists of reader-submitted material. Where Reklaw draws dreams, Schneider’s work is more the stuff of nightmares: true stories from readers detailing firsthand humiliating geekery. What’s not to love?

There’s a seriously impressive amount of archives to sift through, from rattails to inopportune giggles in class to falling asleep on the school bus and becoming the target for a prank. In addition, the FAQ is probably one of the more entertaining, well-written such documents I’ve seen on a webcomic’s site. Speaking of which, there’s also a subcategory–not illustrated–called “Functions.” You’re smart readers. You can figure out what’s happening there. I’ll merely caution that, depending on your workplace, it might be a little NFSW. Just so’s you know.

Submissions are welcome.

Walk It Off, You…Wait, What?

From time to time I ask my housemate, who’s been a webcomics reader for quite a while, what she’d recommend I read. I’m trying, in large part, to seek out things I wouldn’t find on my own. Her taste sometimes surprises me, but there’s something to be said for that: when I asked her this week, she chided me for not having written about Looking for Group yet.

Oops, I said. Remind me what that’s about?
“It’s kind of a fantasy comic and it’s kind of making fun of fantasy comics,” she said. “I assume it’s making fun of World of Warcraft, but I’m not totally sure.”

Oh, I thought. Oh dear.

Written by Ryan Sohmer and drawn by Lar DeSouza, Looking For Group began about a year and a half ago and since then has garnered a fairly dedicated following (as well as a substantial archive, what with updating both Mondays and Thursdays). My housemate is much more of a fantasy reader than I am, so she’d twig more easily to some of the references and influences (turns out there is something of a surface World of Warcraft connection after all).

What drew me in, despite my substantial initial reticence, was that I actually found myself laughing out loud at my computer screen as I was reading. I started at the very beginning (I mean, just look at the archives–the design is compelling, eye-catching, well designed, and easy to navigate) and read through. It didn’t take long to figure out which character was which, who was the ‘good’ guy (Cale’Anon, generally just called Cale) and, well, who wasn’t (Richard, an undead Warlock, who’s a little Red Robot-ey; my housemate invoked Jack Sparrow). There’s a stack of other characters as well, ranging from panthers to imps to dwarves, but I’ll let you discover them on your own. It’s kind of cracking me up, even still, and I’m enjoying it very much.

I’m Late To This Party Too

Right, everyone who already knew about the awesomeness that is Rachel Nabors, put your hand up. (You folks can skip right to the fundraising link in the following paragraph.) She creates weekly webcomics for, where she’s been publishing for years, but has a mighty impressive list of accomplishments on her Portrait of a
Comicker bio page
(and particularly for someone who’s still fairly young). Her work’s influences are evident, but they really work; it’s sort of charming and autobiographic and very accessible. (It reminds me a little of Karen Ellis’ work as well.)

I first saw her site because of a link to her fundraising drive on Barry Deutsch’s Hereville (which I will write about at some later point). I was struck by her smart webdesign, even though the home page can be a little tricky to navigate. In addition to an impressive gallery of work, her webcomic work is funky, and quirky, and totally something I would have loved to have found as a teenager (I mean, as an adult I still love it).

(A note on that fundraising thing: go look. Holy crap.)

What I think I enjoy most is that the whole site, from the comics to the bio and back again, seems to be really infused with this creator’s personality. It’s vibrant and dynamic, and really caught my eye in a way a lot of webcomic sites don’t. (In part it might be because her site includes more than webcomics; there’s a lot of other material there, but overall it creates this fascinating portrait of a webcomicker. It’s worth your time to go through the site.)

All-Weather Rider

I thought I’d offer something bite-sized this week, in the form of Rick Smith’s Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery. It’s a very new webcomic, started on 22 January of this year, but it’s updating daily, apparently. It follows the main character, Yehuda Moon, who owns a bike shop, called (yes, you guessed it) the Kickstand Cyclery.

I’m waiting to see how it develops. In part, I’m pre-disposed to like it, I think, because I get some of the references (like what a ghost bike is), and because I’m one of those folks who’s a fair-weather rider. I don’t ride in the winter, and I’ve been missing it like mad lately. It keeps snowing. There aren’t bike lanes near my house. You get the idea. Some of it’s poking fun at bike commuters, and others very much making fun of, well, …just look here.

Since the webcomic itself is so new, the storylines are all fairly nascent. We don’t know, for example, how these characters will continue to interact, how Yehuda’s commute will change (if at all), what happens come spring and everyone wants a bike…but the comic’s done by someone who enjoys biking, at the least, and is kind of right on with bike shop culture (from what I’ve seen of it).

It won’t take you long to get through the archives, but it’s worth a look. The color is snappy, the dialogue is funny, and I think it’ll go in some interesting directions.

A Post About A Post

I thought this situation was kind of interesting. I’ve read a lot of webcomics over the past year or so, but I’ve read fewer discussions of those webcomics. I know many sites have forums where folks can get together and discuss them, which is totally fascinating both from a marketing/advertising standpoint and thinking about reader-response. Many of the webcomics I follow have blogs or forums or some way for readers to post and discuss.

That said, I don’t know Randall Munroe’s xkcd very well. It’s always been one that’s highly regarded and comes well-recommended. An associate recently pointed me at the Pandagon blog, particularly a recent post where author and cultural critic Amanda Marcotte posted (it’s titled “Musing on autonomy”) a piece writing about the panel you see above. It’s an exceedingly interesting and well-written piece, and I was struck by the discussion.

The xkcd forums for this one comic include a very wide range of comments, but many of them don’t have too much in the way of analysis. (Which is fine; the forum isn’t so much the place for that?). Pandagon, however, is. I think Marcotte’s post is right on, and it’s fascinating to see how very much these straightforward, simple lines are charged in this particular context.

What I mostly wanted to highlight with this post was how evocative this specific xkcd piece is; I mean, look at all these posts about this very spare composition which all elicit this kind of wide response. That’s the mark of doing something well, I think, and I wanted to make note of it this week. There are many folks out there reading webcomics, and when a debate goes this wide-ranging, I think it’s good for webcomics as a whole.