Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Comic I Love.

I discovered this comic just now, via my Toby, and I must say I love it. In fact, I like almost all strips I've seen, and thus I have nothing interesting to say. Lovely color palette (unusually periwinkle too!), original and funny ideas. The world view seems benevolent, slightly strange and hilarious. I love comics like this. This is what I aspire to.

Tuckered-out gentlepups.

Dr Grover is in every hospital.

Stop thinking about dicks. 

The inspector was lonely.

Cranky Feminist Comics Reader

"Once you hit that, all other girls seem flat". I know I'm just a fat humorless feminist (like many QC readers told me when I last dared complain about size issues in this comic). But honestly. There are so many offensive layers to this. In the QC universe, Faye is the only buxom girl, so possibly the others feel flat because they ARE. None of the other QC girls have even realistically small boobs, so this might actually be the problem. Faye is about average, with an hourglass figure - not fat, or really even chubby. On the other hand, not all guys like big breasts. Not all girls like being objectified, either.

Once upon a time in another blog, I criticized the depiction of Faye as the only "chubby" girl in QC and the way her body is constantly played for jokes - not hatefully, but it's an issue and it marks her as different. I was ridiculed at the QC forums (where I chose not to respond) and flamed at my blog for about two weeks. Feisty readership. Jacques responded - possibly without reading my blog - that "every time some girl complains" about this, we apparently ignore how Faye is a SEX OBJECT. Even if she's chubby. To my mind, this does not mean equality, or respect, or realistic depiction of female bodies. But if Jacques thinks it does, that explains a lot. I know he means well, but this is what happens when an artist completely ignores issues like sexism and objectification of women. It's a hot mess.

Casual Fur Day recommends "keeping your bitch on a leash". Yes, I get it, it's about dogs. That doesn't mean it's funny or appropriate. And what about this lewd-looking publicly breastfeeding cow? Breastfeeding: all about sexual titillation! Domestic violence: funny!

"Outlandish humor" is author Mr E's own definition of his style. It looks more like "outrageous" to me. We're meant to find it funny because it's so wrong yet so true! Well, it's not true. But of course, I'm just a humorless feminist if I don't find this funny.

It's also offensive to men, of course. Hey, your son has no digestive tract, head or limbs! Oh great, less work for me. Then there are racist overtones. And ha ha fat people who eat too much, you don't even need a joke or pun really, just show how in denial they are!  It's almost so outrageous that I considered not mentioning it, because this type of reaction might be exactly what they're looking for. "Look at me, I piss people off! Woohoo! I'm cool like those South Park guys!" You know what, you're not. And when they just go out of their way to offend people - they're not either. (South Park does have good social commentary and parody sometimes though, which this comic doesn't.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Cranky Comics Reader, Part 2

Today's Questionable Content strives to answer the age-old question: 

You know, there could have been plot, or character development, or something funny, but when you have such a popular comic, these kinds of juvenile ideas must come first. Most of the readers are adolescent boys (mentally or physically), after all. 

Jesus, Marvin, how many setup strips do you need for the joke "Marvin's Dad is a giant nerd"? I know that when you have to do seven strips a week, thinking of a new drawing and joke for each one is a bit of a chore. But you know, that's what they pay you for. Doing the same exact joke three or four days in a row, with almost the same picture over and over is just... the reason why newspaper comics are dying. 

(x, why) bores us with yet another pun that has to do with math. It's just not very clever, or funny. I'd like to give some points for originality - I haven't seen this idea before. So I will give points for that. But the jokes in this comic always sound too much like "I am now going to be funny. Wait for it.. here it comes! Now laugh!" 

A Cranky Comics Reader

I'm in a bad mood today, so I intend to complain about any comic that rubs me the wrong way. Grrr! Let the hating begin!

Questionable Content is back to the old boring stuff: two characters talking about a third character and sex. I don't think I've ever laughed at the sex jokes. They just seem somehow too purposeful, like "isn't it cool and daring that I talk about sex in this way?" Also, I dislike Tai, perhaps more than any other character. It seems like she was brought on just to be the Wild Sexy Lesbian Who Has Wild Sex Adventures With Other Girls. As a bisexual I say boo-urns. I'm sure such girls exist and read the strip, but it could just be a cheap way to lure in young guys who like to imagine hot chicks making out.

Skipping Out has our titular hero, Skippy, returning home. He promises to be a new man. Well, that might bring some life into the strip. The old format reads way too much like Garfield. Skippy even looks like Jon, with his baby blue shirt. Mattie is the Garfield, the rude and snarky one, while Skippy is the Jon, the responsible yet loserish one. Laird is the Odie, dumb and blonde. This bugs me to no end. I also dislike the way you can't navigate with "previous"-"next"-"first"-"last" like with most comics. You have to go through the comics page, where you can't even click on individual strips, but rather get clusters. Also - the strips are tiny and compressed, so the banner actually looks better. I'd like to like this strip, but it's making it very hard. The "s-smite the homo" one is funny, actually. That's about it.

I only realized today that Bellen isn't going to be updating anymore, ever. :( I loved this comic and its depressing, yet somehow funny ponderings on life. This is the third beloved strip that dies, after The Perry Bible Fellowship and Animals Have Problems Too. I have a lot of respect for artists who quit while they're ahead, but it still makes me sad. Box Brown has a new comic, linked to on the Bellen page, but I'll look at it and write about it on another day. I'm in a bad mood today so I wouldn't want to spoil that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why Is This so Awesome?

Question Duck. OK, this is honestly just... wow.

This strip looks amazing. Every drawing looks detailed and the color ones are just... I was reminded of Calvin and Hobbes, that's how good it looks. Take this strip for example. (It may actually be a conscious nod to C&H, because they're sitting under a similar tree thinking philosophically.)

In each strip, the boy and his duck go to some place and then the duck asks a seemingly unrelated question. I can't really explain why this is so great. It's just a very novel idea and it's rendered beautifully. Not sure if it's meant to be "funny ha ha" - I didn't laugh at any strips, but I greatly enjoyed them. Especially the duck's gleeful expression when asking a puzzling question.

Found, once again, thru the webcomics list. Many strips have funny names but are disappointing when you see them, and then there are these little masterpieces. I will keep looking for more.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Delights

I really enjoyed today's Questionable Content. Visual joke, surprise element, and Hannelore. The nightmare panel looks really good, especially the evilly gleeful devil character. More of these please, Mr Jacques.

Observations about cats in a Finnish comic blog. Mostly just visual, so should be cute for non-Finnish-speakers too. Amusingly, she renders the cat's throat sound as "Pör" (which is usually used to denote a bee's buzzing). I like to use "krrr" myself.

Speaking of observations about cats: I loved this strip at American Elf. Diary strips can be dull if it's all "this is what I did today". But Kochalka mixes his everyday observations with whimsy and imagination, and it's an irresistable mixture. Also, my cat licks like that all the time. Hee!

And a new find: Brainless Tales has got me excited. I love the vintage style and the one-panel ponderings. This usually works well for a comic (Family Circus and Ziggy being, obviously, the exceptions). There's something original to this comic, and it seems both good-hearted and hilarious so far, somewhat verging on the surreal, which is always enticing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Recap Comics

Instead of ending the fork storyline, Sinfest is now recapping it in this strip where absolutely nothing happens. Also it's not funny at all. I really hope this isn't the beginning of the end for Sinfest. It has been funny and innovative, and it's sad to see it muddle down into boredom.

Questionable Content is doing much the same in today's comic. Of course, with the pace of life in this strip, we're talking about something that possibly happened last night, but it's many, many updates ago. Namely here. After spending so many days going over this between Dora, Faye, Sven and Marten, it's nice to see that Faye and Angus are also discussing it. You know, like life proceeds by something minor happening and leading nowhere, and then a bunch of people talking about it.

Last but probably the most read of the bunch, Ctrl+Alt+Del has two characters discussing a third character while standing in one position with huge speech bubbles over their heads. (My girlfriend, who's read the strip more, pointed out that the story itself has been done before in the strip.)

You have an established style, a readership and thus a podium to say whatever you want. So why does this happen? Too many expectations on you? Drawing the same strip for too long? Updating too often? Either way, it's not a proud day for webcomics.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Doing It Wrong vs Doing It Right


(x, why?) has a strip on the miners who were underground for two months. "It was just a miner incident." Eh. No. That's not funny. It's not an amusing pun or an amusing situation, and this comic just rubs me the wrong way. Puns don't really work in comics anyway. A pun is essentially a textual joke (usually an unfunny one), and if you might as well write it in text, why have any drawings at all?

I Fell Down the Stairs demonstrates making a visual joke instead. So here the drawings are essential. However, the joke doesn't really work. It's a nice idea, but it's just not funny enough. It might be in the delivery - I just don't buy a teacher saying "here concludes our lesson at [lesson topic]". Feel free to spam me with angry comments if American teachers actually say this. It just sounds like a clumsy way of saying "This is the joke. Now laugh."

The good side of a randomly hilarious comic is that it doesn't need a conclusion for every story. Sadly, today's Sinfest tries to conclude a story that has already run its course. It's beginning to seem like the evil fork will chase them forever and they will patch the hell roof forever. I love the strip in general, but sometimes it seems out of ideas. Like all strips that run daily.

I love the title of Gentlemen's Beards Monthly, and I love the intentionally simplistic art. And it's funny. But DON'T KILL THE SNAIL! Snails are your friends! *sniff*


I didn't get today's Abstruse Goose, but I still loved it. It's an unusual angle and a funny joke, even to non-nerds. It's probably funnier to a nerd.

Buttersafe urges us to get over it!

Crowbar Benson instructs us at how to stay regular.

IDGet  seems like a fun strip in general. But I especially like the text bubbles - it seems like the author actually took the time to make the text tidy and readable while it still looks original. Um, and I really love the content and drawings too, but that just stuck out. (Is that as bad as saying a movie has "local color"? I do think it's a good comic. Really.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Purfect People?

I hate Marvin. I probably won't talk about it much because it's best mocked by the Comics Curmudgeon.

However, I stumbled upon the Wikipedia page, and I just have to comment on this:

In 2010, the Millers got new neighbors, the Purfects, who are so perfect they make the Millers feel inadequate. 

So the Purfects are... perfect? Oh, my! Marvin has been running since 1981, so there must be a need for some new ideas, but this doesn't sound like a very interesting one. In fact, it's a very worn-out idea in comics and TV shows: the perfect neighbors who put our protagonists to shame. Even if the Purfects are, undoubtedly, braggy and loathsome, the Millers will want to spend every moment of their free time with them, so that "hilarious" moments of envy and inferiority may occur. Wouldn't a mature grown up just shrug it off and spend their time with someone who's friendly and doesn't brag about their achievements?

Rodney Purfect has a Ph.D. and is a company president, has won the Heisman Trophy and climbed Mount Kiliminjaro. He is 6 feet 5 inches tall and very manly.

So the perfect man is tall, manly, athletic, and a business genius. Which is, of course, a bit much to ask of all men. Not to mention that "perfect" is always relative. These same qualities might make him an insecure, pretentious jerk who doesn't have time for his family and friends. But I didn't get mad until I read the female bit:

Barbie Purfect is a housewife who attended cooking school in Paris, was a cheerleader, class president and sorority president. 

Wait, what? So she was sorority president. That means she went to college. What was her major? What does she like outside of being a housewife? Why does it matter that she was a cheerleader and class president? That only means she was popular in high school, ages ago. Rodney's achievements were at least all achieved while he was an adult.

The cooking school in Paris is so comically old-fashioned that I had to laugh. This reads like it's still 1950, and a woman may go to college if she feels like it, but her most important achievements will always be in the fields of cooking, cleaning, and child care. It's troubling that the "perfect" woman is depicted as a housewife. Marvin's mother is a writer, so it would be more efficient if "Barbie" - groan; at least Rodney isn't named Ken - were an accomplished novelist or Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist. This would also put her on even keel with Rodney. But no. A woman's highest ambition is to be a trophy wife to a very successful man.
Rodney Perfect II is two and a half but reads at a third grade level, performed his piano composition for Queen Elizabeth II and was potty trained at 6 months.

Well, this is just ridiculous. Rodney Jr is actually putting his own parents to shame, because there's no mention of them performing to Queen Elizabeth II. (Why is it the queen and not the president - this is an American strip after all?) It's a bit confusing that Rodney's achievements are in the field of art, while his parents don't seem artistic at all. Is the idea of the artistic "wunderkind" still this pervasive?

I know Marvin is not the place to look for modern ideas, but do we have to be this backwards? Maybe we could agree, as a culture, that some stereotypes just deserve to die.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quick Hits, Part 2

Mystery of the day: what does the dog's speech bubble say? I can't make it out. Something, something, people? There's intentionally sloppy, and then there's unreadable. Here, while the man and puppy are well drawn, I had to cringe at the tiny-headed woman (?) in the right margin. If you can't fit her to scale, only show her legs. You can still draw in the speech bubble. As it is, she looks like she's from another, evil dimension.  I know my comics are shoddily drawn too (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not). It can be good if you try to work around it. Always act like it's intentional, is my advice.

All that said, it's an interesting-looking new comic. I liked this one a lot, and will keep checking how this develops.

I love this comic. I'm not sure I get it. It freaks me out. I love it.

This is gross and wrong and I probably won't read it again, but I recognize a good-in-its-genre gross-out comic. So linking to Saggy Nutbag. Yes, that's right. Yes, they drew the nutbag. Eww.

"BirdBreath is a light hearted satire. It offers a unique perspective that is guaranteed to make you laugh."

Is that sarcasm? Because if it is, not bad. If not - don't call yourself unique, and don't tell me what will make me laugh. (Incidentally, I didn't laugh; this is why you don't say "guaranteed".) Also, if you make your archive like this, the days with a new comic should be the only ones with links. The art is good, but this reads more like a newspaper comic. In other words, I'm not sure about the unique outlook. Maybe it needs to be pushed further.

I love reality zone! Nice way of breaking the fourth wall. I must admit I'm not totally excited about the "flying evil fork" story, but even when Sinfest fails to engage me with plot, it delights with the visual and/or verbal wit.

And Kuvatuksia has more people spotted lately. I never get tired of these. Synth player in the subway? A lady who goes around with her (papery) home office? A lady who only changes hats and not the other clothes? So much fun. I love the expressions in particular.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Tried, Robyn.

I find it a bit hard to write about Roddy's Film Companion. It's one of my favorite webcomics, but I know the author personally. And let's not forget that, when I'm writing this, she's probably the only person reading this blog, thus making it unnecessary to advertise her comic. But you know, I am hoping to gain some new readers eventually.

The dialogue in this comic is just so... natural. It's like a real couple talking to each other. It's intimate, subtle, human. It doesn't go for easy punchlines and puns. The expressions are the same way: real and human, yet somehow comically endearing.

I especially like this strip. And eh... *feels self conscious*

Maybe I'll give this a shot later.

Quick Hits

I found this strip totally empowering and touching. And, well, read my comment at the strip. I don't feel like going into that much personal detail here. Either way: Rooster Tails, highly recommended if you like genderqueer/gay/well-drawn stuff.

I have nothing to add to this, only laughter. "If you do this in an email, I hate you" at the Oatmeal.

I thought I'd be on board with The Bible Belt, a strip poking fun at Christianity. But it's less poking fun than preaching that Christianity is wrong and illogical etc. Which isn't inherently funny. Each and every strip seems to have the same girl and minister, and we're meant to think the girl is right and the minister is wrong. A little subtlety wouldn't hurt.

Growth spurt! at Buttersafe. I love "growth spurt!" as a sound effect, and the way the strip is set up as "the average guy's life". The baby panel is especially amusing. I must say he has a great family if they allow him to have his band and play video games at the stairwell. Not to mention bringing the dinner table there. (But how is he ever going to masturbate?)

The title of this comic sounded fun. But then I looked at it and - it's half-nude babes. Really? Is that all you want to say as an artist? You can obviously draw. We don't need more comics like this. Also: No one is going to wear a top like the one on the girl to the right. You may as well go out naked. (In case it's a parody, I'm willing to take my words back though.)

Dirty spiders. Yes, I might end up linking to each individual Oliver strip, but he's just too cute!

And now for something completely different: a sock.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nerd Recommendations

This post is mostly brought to you by my very nerdy girlfriend. She loves Brown Sharpie and I do urge you to check it out, at least if you know something about math. I found these a lot of fun, even if I didn't get all the mathematical implications:

Sigma Freud: functional analysis
Sigma Freud: motivational speaking 
Sigma Freud: couples therapy

One of my new favorites, Abstruse Goose, shows us what exactly happens in our brains during the average phone conversation. Awe-inspiring or kind of disturbing? I'm not sure. Probably both.

Meanwhile, xkcd continues to make graphs about topics that are too often ignored by science.
Frequency with which various adjectives are intensified with obscenities. It's also good to include some unusual words, like peristeronic. On the other hand, if you have to define them, maybe the answer is obvious. At least I learned another new word through xkcd.

Last but definitely not least, if you're a fan of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace's work, do check out 2-D Goggles. The ongoing saga of Lovelace and Babbage vs. the Organist has reached episode 7. In reality, Babbage was an avid hater of street musicians. He even had a chapter in his autobiography called "Street Nuisances". You can read more on that here. The comic's depiction of him as a crazy-eyed organist hater who's trying to end all music as if it's a battle of good and evil - is really pretty close to the truth, if you read his book. What I love about this comic is that it makes superheroes out of math geniuses. It's also damn funny.

Random Panel Reviews

..because I have ADD and just had too much Coke so I keep flipping around tabs of comics eeee sugar high.

Buttersafe gives us the Earth's giant butthole. It's a pretty depressing strip - like Buttersafe often is - but this image was a barrel of laughs. Or really, maybe it's the mental image of the Earth having a butthole. Insert mandatory fart joke here.

I complimented the art of Questionable Content, and I still stand by that. BUT. Some of the city backgrounds he draws are just so... dead. Look at this strip from Friday. Why are there no people walking down the street? Or, even if we assume they are above street level, why are there no lights in any windows? Where are Sven and Hannelore dining - Silent Hill?

I love the last panel of this Sinfest strip. The Devil is a menacing sight here - something you cannot take for granted with Sinfest. The opening door, the silhuette in the light... Reminds me of some old-timey comic villains. A fun little play with styles.

"People I've spotted this summer" at Kuvatuksia - it's in Finnish, but the text isn't really instrumental for getting it. This artist has a great skill for capturing people's expressions. If you liked that, check out all the strips with people she's spotted.