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I like webcomics and have a varity that I follow on a weekly basis. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just strange, but it's still always interesting seeing what's created and the stories that come of that creation. These are a sampling of those that I've read, along with whether or not I'd recommend them to anyone else.

Unshelved, by Gene Ambaum (Librarian) and Bill Barnes (cartoonist): A newspaper-esque daily strip about the going-ons of your local library, and all the things librarians wish they could actually say out loud. Since late 2005, there's also been a weekly full page in color showcasing-slash-recommending various books for your consumption.

If you love books, this is what you should be reading. It's as close to a newspaper strip as you'll find, so there's no worry about NSFW or "edgy" entries, you don't need to know anything going in to enjoy it, and the books they recommend (while 8 out of 10 times going to be sci-fi/alternative earth stories) are presented in interesting ways, usually in-strip as selling the book to a patron. The characters are fairly simple, but not entirely one note; the young adult section snark mouth, the rule-and-office supply obsessed manager, the always cheery, vegan storytime reader, the too-old and been-here-too-long reference desk clerk, the teenage kid who's there all the time but it's hardly for the reading, the library page who never comes out of his mascot costume, etc. They do the job of an unaging comic strip cast, which is be consistant and easy to identify. The art is extremely simple, right-angle limbs and "V" eyebrows aplenty, and while it has polished itself over time (having started back in 2002) there's an extremely lack of growth in the drawings; the simple style makes it able to be done daily and stay on model but it's still very doodle like (which sometimes makes the book scenes drawn look very cheesy and done for a first-grade book report, which distracts from how interesting the book itself may be), but then again they're still above a good portion of what's still printed in actual newspapers.
Recommend? Yes

Nerf This, by Scott Ferguson: A five-a-week comic of varying length, about a guy, his pet monster, and the devil-like figure who wants the monster back. Or an absurd slice-of-life about an escaped mental patient, it could go either way. Lots of non sequitur/self-pimping filler strips.

Run. Run while you can, because despite the high level of art this strip achieves in its later stages, this is a moronically-STUPID comic. The main character Chase is an blathering man-child who operates on the level of sea-slug, ignoring all reality, logic, and the friends he somehow manages to keep around him in favor of acting however he wants inspite of the people and/or situation around him. It's beyond "idiot-hero", he's just (and I'm not joking) full retarded. No joke, he will sometimes recognize that he's doing something uncomfortable to others, but quickly steamrolls that thought away with his next manic act. The most annoying thing is how he's presented to be in the right almost all the time, that his behavior is actually "sweet" and "he means well", but again and again most acts of kindness are his misintruptited brain farts. The longest strings of thought he manages to keep are all about his monster, up to and crossing the extreme point of ignoring his girlfriend, who is at the moment in worry over his sorry ass for some reason, because he doesn't even truly realize she's there. And she loves him. God, I hate him so much.
Recommend? Hell no

Scout Crossing, by Scott Ferguson: A (mostly) one-day a week comic, focusing on hipster/punk/better-than-that-coffeeshop-acoustic-guitar-jackass Scout Crossing and his imaginative battles against the poser kids in the alternative scene. Basically a webcomic hipster version of Scott Pilgram, but more absurb and with less pop/game culure love.

Having just trashed a previous comic by the same creator, let me retrack that somewhat by saying that Crossing is actually really decent. Scout is still a tad half-brained like Chase is, but it feels more natural and he's nowhere near as much an annoying asshat. While you don't quite know what to expect in the first few strips, the action steps up quick and smacks you with a bear (or a shark) upside the head. The art, having started much later than Nerf, is pretty good from the start and gets better as it goes on. Not that you'll notice if you stick with this webcomic alone, but Ferguson has a habit of reusing his basic character designs/traits, especially in the face and hair aspects, so there's that nitpick. Not very long at the moment (you can kill the archive in about an hour or so), it's still worth a read.
Recommend? Sure

Sock Puppet Army, by Nick Hamilton: A Mon-Wed-Fri comic about a new sacrifice to the restaurant serving world, the people who already inhabit it, and not a whole lot more at the moment as it's still fairly new.

Despite its name, SPA has nothing to do with sock puppets, except if you want to think of the patrons and/or employees as straw-figures for Hamilton to expound upon with for all the shit things that happen as, from, and to those inside a restaurant. I kinda love it, but as an ex-server, I'm also part of it's aimed demographic; some things you just have to experience (though I wouldn't want you to). As said, it's not terribly far into itself, only up to the second day of new hire Jack, a recent college grad finding that the world is not as open to those with a degree as one would think, but looks to be a good long term read as it builds a history and expands it's cast. The art right now is average, but looks like it'll improve fairly quickly; right now the biggest deterrant are the faces, one character looks like his cheeks are melting off his lower jaw like a bloblous candle, the two bar tenders and two blond servers at first glance are hard to tell apart (their dialog helps) and expressions are either mad-pissed or half-lidded boredom. The blog below is worth mentioning as well, as almost every (recent) strip is accompanied by ancedotes and/or links to other pages to/by servers in the business and their horror stories.
Recommend? Yes

Happle Tea, by Scott Maynard: A Tues and Fri updated comic about mythology, what it meant then and how strange it looks now. While often just a humorous one-shot look at various myths, there's also main character K, his roommate Sasquatch, God (most often depicted as a floating cat with halo), Allev the either female love-interest or the male schoolmate/friend of K (never disclosed), and various figures of religious, mythical, and fairy tale texts that roam his home and/or neighborhood.

Kinda like Unshelved, if you love stories, especially mythology and legends, you should be reading this strip. Maynard knows what he's talking about, if not a legitimate student of mythology he at minimum could teach a class on it. The strips themselves are sometimes disorienting and confusing (but always funny even by themselves), taking several reads of not only the strip but several reference texts to understand, but once you do it all comes together. Often the strips are just one-time gags related to the absurdance of some old stories, like various Greek myths or urban legends, but done in ways that seem really stupid but still are totally adherient to the original tales. The art isn't bad from the start, staying in a fairly cartoony style and gradually expanding that into a more graphic idealization of it as time goes on. Again, the blog below is worth a look, especially if you don't get the strip of the day; Maynard will often expand and expound upon whatever his topic is, revealing how much detail and knowledge he really has. Sporatic update schedule, but always worth it.
Recommend? Yes

Menage a 3, by Gisèle Lagacé (aka Giz)(art and co-writer) and DaveZero1 (only known alias)(co-writer): a very often NSFW strip updated Tues-Thurs-Sat, M3 follows Quebec based hapless virgin nerd Gary, punk-rock sexaholic Zee, and the big breasted, naive French-Canadian speaking Dee-Dee as they become roommates and the sex-riddled adventures everyone (except Gary) get up to.

This is often a hard strip to stomach, mainly because the main characters of focus are so... so unreal. You've seen The 40-Year Old Virgin, yes? He was believible because of how he was presented. Gary is just so unbelievible in his geekery that you can't see how he functions. So much seems to circle around him but because of writer convience he never learns or reacts to that circling in any way that would make you care about him. You feel sad for him, but only because he is so very sad. Zee or Dee-Dee either don't come across as people you could see existing. And it's probably because they exist, here, only for the writer's want to have sexual hijinks done in pseudo-Archie Comic style. You will see a lot of breasts. You will see characters walk in on gay men having sex on the couch quiet often. You will see sex used at the means, ends and wants way too often to think it real. Zee is a Mary-Sue, never called on her constant shit brewing and always getting what she wants (sex, sex, Gary to not have sex, and sex), while Dee-Dee is a stereotypical Triple B; blonde, busty and brain-dead. Her manner of speaking is that fake half-French, half-English stutter that no one outside of movies uses and she's naive about everything in front of her face (but still has her share of sex). Not much can be said of the art, it's better than it should be for it's story, a very Archie Comic style done as a counter to the sexual escapades that happen, but it's really not as funny-ironic as the creative team seems to think it is.
Recommend? Not in good conscience, no

Dumbing of Age, by David Willis: A five-day a week strip about college and the first years of a very wide and extended cast right off the bat. There are no "main" characters, just ones used slightly more often than others, the comic follows the students on their life and times of exploring their new nesting grounds for the next four years. Character designs are the same from previous (Joyce and Walky) or ongoing (ShortPacked) webcomics Willis has drawn for, with the bare minimum of their personalities in tack and aged for college.

It's not bad. The characters are various levels of charming or annoying and the cast, even from the outset, is wide enough that even if there's one or two you don't like there's bound to be at least one you do, and even then the time focused on them won't be too long. For fans of Willis' previous or current comics it's a fun game of "spot the character" and trying to determine how close they are to their original incarnation. For those who are coming in fresh, there's not much to worry about as knowing who they were has no impact on who they are here. The art started out strong and will probably continue to do so, seeing as Willis has had quite a bit of practice before this. The characters are all easily recongnizible, the biggest peev of mine being the too-closeness in looks of Dorothy and Amber; expect for a minor bang realignment, they're the same character with different hair color. But it's a minor nitpick.
Recommend? Yep

Schlock Mercenary, by Howard Tayler: A full-colored daily sci-fi strip, the epic and continous adventures of the space ship the Touch and Go and its mercenary crew. Central character Schlock, a morphous pile of looks like and has been compared to mudshit, roams several universes with Captain Tagon and his crew of various personalities, looking to eat his enemies, drink massive amounts of an Ovaltine-like liquid, and have fun and get paid while doing so.

I'm not quite sure how to explain this one; it's like if you crossed Flash Gordon serials with Neal Stephenson's level of complexity and filtered it though Adult Swim onto a comic strip. And even that doesn't do it justice. Schlock is one of the most complex comic strips period, counting anything in print. It's universe is galaxies long, and ever expanding, it's cast even more so (in spite of how often old friends/enemies are run into), with several levels of thought out worldbuilding and science that makes sense inspite of not existing. If anything, the weakest joke this whole strip has (and right now it's several thousand strips long, starting back in 2000) is there's an entire race of lawyer-snakes, and even that is still funny. The art starts at a mediocre, if function, level and had only improved with time, my only annoyance being how people standing still always seem to be angled forward from their ankles. Various storylines take place at once, but not concurrently; one storyline will play out until its finish, then the next one (happening at the same time) will go, until the fourth act where the two (or more) stories come together. Having these large and detailed stories finish gives quiet the satisfaction to the reader, and you want to see things kinda slow down and explore the whole crew together, but then the next multi-tailed arc begins. And you can do nothing except hang on and see where it'll lead or end (if it even will).
Recommend? Yes, but must love (hard) sci-fi

Multiplex, by Gordon McAlpin: A sometimes 2-, sometimes 3-day a week comic about the people who give you your ticket, point out your theater, and ask if you want butter on your popcorn. The staff of this Chicago multiplex theater all love movies (some more than others) and enjoy their work; that or they just enjoy seeing new releases for free.

Of the three or four movie related webcomics I follow, this one comes out on top for a few reasons; a) it updates the most and on time, b) its opinions on movies are varied amongst the cast, not just on McAlpin's alone, and c) it's the funniest. Central character Jason loves/hates movies; he loves them so much as an art form that he hates the average piece of cinema for the entertainment it is (or tries to be), and comes off as a little pretencious for it, but his snark is still funny and he will get called out on it if he goes too far. Others have been at the 'plex for years, like Kurt, Melissa and Becky, while others are fairly new and only there for the summer (newcomers Tease and Jailbait), and some are just there because it's a job they enjoy until they move on (like recent cast-off, Whitey). There's a general sense of time going by, with characters who come and go, relationships that move on, end or begin, but at the same time there's no real "aging", which isn't bad but is kinda weird when you try to think of how old/long someone's been there. But it doesn't take away from how good or fun it is. The art style is one of the more unique ones amongst the web, starting out as a spiritual cousin to South Park in it's construction paper style,and has evolved over time to still have that feel but be twenty times better, allowing for various angles, sets, and so on to be used. Real posters are used in the backgrounds as well, so often I've spotted upcoming movies I didn't even know were upcoming, and they're ever changing just like a real theater.
Recommend? Yes

I Am a Hero

Apr. 2nd, 2011 02:55 pm
ravenswept: (Default)
A review.

Techs; I Am a Hero is a slice of life/horror/social commentary manga written and drawn by Hanazawa Kengo, published by Shogakukan in Big Comic Spirits magazine since 2009. Currently at five volumes, it is still on-going but with no set date for any future releases. Hero is the story of 35-year old Hideo Suzuki, an assistant manga artist and social wayside, who struggles to be the lead character in his own life in spite of having few, if any, redeeming values towards himself, his girlfriend, or reality in general. Perverse, a loser by any standards, and trapped by social norms, not to mention suffering from severe psychological handicaps and hallucinations, the manga follows Hideo on the slow climb from normal Japanese loser in life through the maybe dellusional/maybe real breakdown of the world around him.

And I'm not sure I get it. In fact, I may hate it.

There's no falling down a rabbit hole; instead the rabbit comes out and bites you )


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