Monday, October 17, 2011

Ye Olde Pet Peeves

It's not like I was hoping for an apology from Skipping Out creator Eric Schlegel. But I'm still disappointed to see that after all the hate I - and a handful of others, on Tumblr - directed at their trans hate fest earlier this year.. has had zero impact. If Schlegel saw it, he's made no mention, and there's definitely been no note on trans issues that might make things somewhat better or more understandable. Meanwhile, the comic is drudging on in its usual style. The strips are less and less frequent in coming, and the characters and plot are going nowhere. Oddly, the header keeps changing now and then even if there's no new strip.

Another comic that never changes is Questionable Content. Actually, there was a rather ambitious and successful visual thing with the camping trip a while back, but out of the main characters, only Marten was there. I just don't feel much for Padma or her niece or this new guy whatshisface. It almost seems like Jeph Jacques gets sick of his characters and discards them to show us some new people. The new characters are then faded out into a small role or disappear completely, while new ones take over. In fact, the only real exception seems to be Hannelore. This has been going on since the beginning of the strip. (See also: Sven, Jimbo, Raven, Penelope, Tai,  Faye's sister, Marten's band, etc.)

It's been my pet peeve for a long time, but I've really almost quit reading QC. Its incoherent time frame and narrative structure has gone on for so long that it's become a thing. It's like, the QC style, and this is not a style I particularly like. Either Jacques is not my kind of author, or he doesn't know at all what he's doing with the comic.

Well Done, Sinfest!

Sinfest has always been awesome, but it totally blew me away with this feminist comic. Patriarchy - it's everywhere.

Funny, nerdy, non-preachy, and so very true. A+.

Everybody Poops

Moments you might want to share with the world: finding a dry wish fountain.

Moments you might not want to share with the world: your son's poop was shaped like the number 2.

Learn the difference, James Kochalka. How do you think Oliver will feel when he gets older and sees this?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Questionable Bodies

This week in QC: Jeph Jacques decides to stop drawing Marigold's AnthroPC Momo as an adorable little chibi, and turns her into another thin girl instead. BLAH. As if that isn't bad enough, we get a dose of the old "if you're not skinny, you're fat" crap. So Marigold should just exercise more and eat better, and she'd be skinny like Dora and Hannelore, right? Now where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, every single time Faye's eating is mentioned.

Sometimes I get an overpowering urge to rewrite a comic. So here we go.
Momo: "If you are unhappy with how you look, you could eat better and exercise more."
Marigold: "Right, that would solve my body image issues. Thanks for the tip."

Or maybe:
Marigold: "You know what, if you get an attitude, I can take your chassis back and switch it to a fat one."

Or even:
Marigold: "Well, but I like eating and don't like exercise. I'm still allowed to have bouts of low self esteem, right?"

Anything other than "That's so much work!" See, it's all about willpower. Thin girls are thin because they work hard, and chubby girls are chubby because they don't do anything about it. As soon as you pick up the slack and start exercising, you get skinny, simple as that. It's particularly ironic that Momo, who did absolutely nothing to earn her figure, is saying this.

The problem with how women - and men too, as a matter of fact - are depicted on QC is twofold:
1. everybody is skinny, apart from a few people, so their slight chubbiness stands out as an anomaly. This is the opposite of how things are in the real world. There are quite a few skinny people, of course, but they're not the norm, and a girl of Faye's or Marigold's size wouldn't raise any eyebrows.

2. Every time Jacques tries to address body image and beauty ideals, he ends up being an ass about it. I'm not sure if he means to be; probably not. I'll admit that it's a really difficult topic to write about, and it's hard not to make some generalizations, since we do live in a culture where skinny is seen as both healthy and ideal. But I do feel like he should look into the issues a little bit before he writes about it. I'm tempted to say "no female body, no opinion", but I won't, because men can and do understand the pressures women are under.

If, by any chance, I've  misinterpreted Jacques and he actually means to say "it's tough to be a chubby girl when everyone else is skinny", I have this to say: learn to write outside of the box of "skinny girl lectures chubby girl about lifestyle". I remember one sweet conversation Faye had about her body with Marten, but every time she brought it up with the other girls, she got this same attitude (including Penelope dragging her to the gym for a torture and taunting session). The question is why Faye chooses to hang out with such bitches.

Last time I dared question the brilliance of Mr Jacques, I got a mob of angry QC fans attacking me for a month, including snide comments on the comic's forum. So if you're a fan and think this is unfair, argue your point in a calm manner. I'm not going to publish flames.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Everest.

So it's Guest Strip week on Questionable Content. I hope it ends soon, if this is the guest artists' best effort. WTF is "My Everest"? Is it supposed to say Mt Everest? Are we body-shaming Faye again? Wouldn't Hannelore know that the buttHOLE is small even on a big butt? There are so many things wrong with this. On the other hand, the fans of the strip must feel right at home, because the dialogue, setup and punchline really sound like Original QC. This travesty was brought to us by Dave Willis, and I didn't click on his comic link, because I've seen enough.

Although I did really like this guest strip by Dave Kellett (are they all called Dave?), which poses the question "why do we never talk about how weird it is that there are all these flippin' robots around???" Yeah, why don't they? Is the strip supposed to be set in a possible future, or in an alternate present? (I guess, by the indie bands mentioned, an alternate present time where nothing but the robots is different from our world.) I wish Jacques explored this, or lost the robots if all he wants to do is relationship stuff and indie band references. It just seems a bit gratuitous. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Drive-By Notes, Part 4

I'm still not totally sure what sprites are, but I'm really liking this personality test at Roby's Sprites. Both the questions (complete with typos) and the answers are pretty accurate.

So let's see what the Webcomics List has to offer, haven't done these in a while.

1-600. I'm not sure what to say about this. The drawings are cute, but the speech bubbles kind of fill the small panels, and it looks crowded. It might work better with bigger panels. The meerkat arc doesn't make much sense to me, so maybe I'll flip back a few strips... No, I don't really see the arc emerging. Slightly confusing to jump into. I really think there should be more and/or bigger panels, this reads too much like a newspaper strip, and the format doesn't do the drawings justice. The art is actually pretty good.

At Wit's End shocks me with the completely black silhouette characters. Why is it shocking? It looks like a simple enough pun strip, but the characters look somehow scary, like they're meant to represent dead people.  It could be a cool original art thing, but the panel division - again, small newspaper-strip esque panels - and puns are far from ambitious. I closed the tab when I came to this one: "That's why they call me 'The Too Fat to Ever Be Loved' Tie Guy". The character is not fat; it's a horrible thing to say even if he was; and I just arghhh whatever. Stop knocking fat people for no reason, random webcomic artists. Moving on.

Buni has some refreshing originality to offer. Very cute drawings with very dark stories and no dialogue whatsoever. It's reminiscent of some silent Perry Bible Fellowship strips, which is always a good sign. I will visit this strip again. (Here, too, bigger panels wouldn't hurt, but it doesn't bug me as much when the content is less newspaper-strip-y.)

Does Not Play Well With Others: nice title, but I always lose interest if there's that much text in small panels. It takes away from the art, which again is cute. Trying to read the text, I'm running into "[reference to this and that character], [gaming] and [possibly character-driven pun I don't quite get]". So it's also a comic that requires a bit of reading to get into. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'm drive-bying right now.

Frankentoast. Loved the title, but the strip is - a sick child asking, "Am I gonna see God, Mommy? Am I gonna die?" Is this supposed to be funny? I... don't get it. Flipped back a couple of strips and I still don't. get. any. of. these. Is it me or is it the comic? It seems like it could be creative; it's a one-panel strip, which I usually like; but the humor just doesn't compute. Weird.

Flakeday. This one's really interesting. There's a unique perspective going on here that I like. It's sort of like a diary strip, but half-imaginary. The art is simple, but skilful, and the color scheme seems to be sepia, which fits well. I like this a lot. Favorite line: "I think we've been neglecting our cat. He's put on some weight and started talking too." :D

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Slices of Life and Other Issues o' the Week

This week in Questionable Content: Marten realizes he must be... a townie. I'm not sure why that matters, and I came to ponder on how often QC actually does strips where Marten says he's not something and the others say he sure is.

If Jacques wanted to do something fun and new, why not go meta? The kids love meta these days. Watch an episode of Community and learn! Make fun of why Marten goes out for coffee every day. Make him question the need for such a routine. Have him pick up some new hangout and be all "Hmm, this doesn't really fit this strip". It's the lack of taking this sort of risk that makes the strip boring to me.

Edit: revising this post, I realized the strip kind of went meta with introducing the "bizarro coffee shop". Not only do the employees look like the regular cast, they also act the same. So Jacques kind of is making fun of his own concept. It was fun - for one strip. But making them regulars, which seems to be happening, kind of kills the joke.

Edit 2: flipping back through the strips to find the first bizarro coffee shop one - I realize many, many strips start with the word "so". As in, "so you really lived on a space station", "so I think Cosette will move in with me". It kind of suggests this constant stream of dialogue and events, but I suspect Jacques uses it to remind his readers of story strings he hasn't addressed in the last few months.

Slice of life must be hard, because picking the slices to present is the biggest problem. Which brings us to  American Elf: Uh, yeah, people have dreams about other people's genitals. It's just a little creepy if you dream of your kid's penis and then tell the whole world. Or is it? Kochalka seems to have this childlike innocence about genitalia, poop, and various other things that grown ups generally don't talk about. I love his childlikeness, but I guess I draw the line at these taboo topics. Should I? Am I being a prude? Why do I always question myself when I criticize Kochalka? He's not a god. Please don't show your kids' genitals in your strip, people. I know it's not meant sexually, but eww, and what if some kids from his school read it? Moving on.

After such deep and disturbing pondering, Buttersafe gives us more Robot Cat, and I really don't have more to say than - hee, so cute! He looks just like my kittywitty! *coos* (Is being a pet owner mushing up my critiquing skills?)

Marc Johns gives us 100 % natural arm hair. I... :D Johns' talent is, above all, relating random things to each other in a funny way. Not a lot of comic artists know how to do this. It must mean his brain is a little weird and jumps into weird places all of a sudden. I love that.

..while Sinfest's strength is making fun of cultural phenomena and people's silly beliefs. "I'm back. And I'm buff." is so perfect.

At Abstruse Goose, we have a very sad bee story. I love the level of detail their language has.

Question Duck finds his match: Answer Chick! Awesome. Ah, I see this is in fact a guest strip by the author of Roby's Sprites! I realize I don't know what sprites are. I'm such a comics noob. I should look into this and make a separate post. Maybe the sprite-related Question Duck gives some clue.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

QC Rant O' the.. Month

(I'm sorry I haven't been posting much. I got a new job this month. Will resume posting again now. I think. No promises.)

Hey, remember Pizza Girl? She was in QC, like, two or three years ago! She delivered pizza and had a mask on. And Faye has this theory that Penelope is Pizza Girl! Apparently lots of people are writing Jeph to bring her back. And now she's back! For one strip! Which doesn't bring anything new to her character at all.

Also, Tai invites Marten to a party, but Dora is also coming. Instead of just showing us the effing party, we're given awkward dialogue about how it may be awkward that Dora and Marten are at the same party after their breakup. Weak punchline at the end is like a dot on the I. I know it's slice of life, but some slices are not worth showing.

I just realized I haven't read QC all week. I only checked all strips today. Does this mean I'm finally getting rid of my "must read even if I hate it" issues?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Tale of Scott Adams and the Very Sensitive Readers

Dilbert creator Scott Adams has been trolling online forums in the guise of his own biggest fan. An example of his messages:

It's fair to say you disagree with Adams. But you can't rule out the hypothesis that you're too dumb to understand what he's saying.
And he's a certified genius. Just sayin'.

This is deliciously lame and pathetic. Why does Adams feel the need to defend himself and his supposed geniusness on websites? Can't he take a little criticism? Is he really this much of a narcissist? Apparently, he is.

Moreover, he put his foot in his mouth about women's rights in a post he already deleted (but luckily many others did not.

You don't argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn't eat candy for dinner. You don't punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don't argue when a women tells you she's only making 80 cents to your dollar. It's the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles. 

A feminist takedown of his comments here at comicsalliance. I won't write a long feminist response, because many people already have. I'm kind of glad to see his real colors, though. Somehow I'm not all that surprised.

The thing is, I used to love Dilbert. I still think the early strips were creative and original, before the strip became super popular and turned into "don't you just hate your boss?" Obviously, the character of Dilbert isn't all that original (a socially awkward nerd who wears glasses and has a dull office job). There were things, though, that were truly imaginative. There were inventions and adventures. Some schemes Dogbert got up to were really funny. Dinosaurs showed up at Dilbert's house. The strip was coming alive with ideas, new characters, developments. But after it became everyone's favorite workplace comic, forget about any developments. The strips have gotten pretty dull and mediocre, and the Dilbert empire will probably keep churning out merchandise and comics - that come second after merchandise at this point - til kingdom come, just like Garfield.

One thing that hasn't changed is Adams' attitude on mocking people. Whether it's women, minorities, or "ugly" people, he's always been into stereotypical jokes. And he's always been defensive about it.

I give you some quotes from his "Seven Years of Highly Defective People", an anniversary book with his picks from over the years and some notes. It was published in 1997. (Note that it wasn't even a ten-year anniversary; Dilbert was already being published in big books, little books, and books with basically three strips in them, so maybe the time was ripe.) I own this book, because, like I said, I used to love the strip.

In the notes, Adams takes a lot of time to dissect people's complaints at his work. Firstly, all of the complaints he got are, of course, silly and indicative only of people's crazy attitudes.
"Yes, I did get complaints from the vertically challenged." (p 33)  Next to a comic about a short guy called "Les" who insists you mustn't say his name like "less". So you know, short guys have low self esteem and always think you're hating on them! That's funny!

Another example of people misunderstanding him: "I took a lot of heat for this cartoon. I meant it to be about a woman who was gigantic in general, but it comes off as a fat joke." (p. 65). Wow, that's so weird, considering that the woman is clearly drawn fat; Dogbert makes subtle jokes like "the sherpas have made a camp at her feet" and calls her "Jabba the Hut"; and in the end, the woman tells Dilbert he "looks delicious tonight". So she's just a - gigantic cannibal? Because that's so random and surreal and funny?

(He also did a series of strips about Dilbert blind-dating a half-canine woman who had corrective surgery to become a dog. This is clearly aimed at transgendered people, but apparently he got no complaints, or at least not many enough to mention it. Sigh.)

But look at this long apologetic rant about "Tina the brittle tech writer." (pp. 179-180) Sorry, did I say apologetic? I meant entitled and asshatty.

"Do you know anyone who takes personal offense at everything you say, even if you're talking about the weather? I do. That's why I created Tina - to vent some of my frustration at people like that. I labeled her "brittle" as a shorthand for her tendency to be easily offended.  
I wanted some gender balance in the strip so I made Tina female." 
Let's stop here for a minute. So you wanted gender balance, and therefore you made the only brittle, easily offended character female. That's not balance, until you have at least as many non-brittle female characters.

So his "e-mail turned into a river of flame". Men and women alike were offended by the character! "I knew I had a winner here." Adams is so much smarter than all of us put together, he can look beyond our childish gender equality squabbles. He just wants to raise discussion, because he never gets offended by stuff and nor should you.

"I was fascinated by the accusations that Tina was a 'too stereotypical' female character. It raises a couple of interesting questions:
1. Who says 'brittle' is a female stereotype?
2. Is it possible to create a nonstereotypical character?  
Apparently there is a list of stereotypes somewhere and under the female column is the word 'brittle'. I was unaware of this list. I can't say it squares with my own observations." 

1. Apparently lots of people, hence the hate mail.
2. Maybe not. But that doesn't mean people can't dissect stereotypes and discuss them.

There's something very wrong with how he's arguing here. Stereotypes are cultural phenomena. They don't need to be specified in a list of items. Lots of people see them because they've done their research. You obviously haven't. The idea of the list - albeit sarcastic - shows how he thinks about political correctness. You don't wanna offend people, because that's so much work to sort out. So you don't say anything blatantly sexist or offensive, like "women belong in the kitchen" or other 50's wisdoms. As long as you keep away from those, people should be OK with you. That is, unless you're a tightass feminist who sees offense everywhere. Those people should have their hypocrisy blown in their faces.

Adams thinks he is doing just that by describing his mother who was non-brittle. She rode a motorcycle! She shot deer and bunnies! She played baseball! "So what is this 'brittle' thing I keep hearing about?"

Well, I don't know what he reads into the word "brittle", but isn't it possible for a woman to be athletic, a cyclist, a hunter and easily offended? I'm not sure I see the connection here.

This whole response kind of proves the complainers' point: Adams thinks women are a bunch of easily offended, annoying whiners. There's no winning with them! They just keep hating on you because you're a man! If he respected women and our views, he would have attempted to make his characters more diverse.

"Just to stir up trouble, I created Antina (the ANtidote to TINA). Antina didn't dress like a stereotypical woman, didn't talk like a stereotypical woman, didn't have a body like a stereotypical woman, and didn't have stereotypical female interests. 
My e-mail caught on fire again. This time I was accused of making fun of lesbians. Obviously there was no safe ground in this game." 

Just to stir up trouble! (Like, say, a troll at an online forum?) Not to appease your readers, or address their concerns. Just to show them how wrong they are in complaining. Also note "in this game". It's not a game for the people who wrote in. It's not fun to be offended by someone's comic. It feels infuriating and frustrating, especially if you get mockery in return.

The kind of person who gets off on such conflict is a bully. The same qualities that drove him to troll at message boards are showing clearly here, fourteen years earlier. He likes to stir up trouble. He likes it when people get mad. Why does he like it? Maybe just because it gives him attention. It makes him feel superior when others are mad and he isn't. This shows a pretty frightening lack of empathy.

I don't think Antina is necessarily a lesbian stereotype, more like the opposite of all female stereotypes Adams could think of. But here's the problem: Dilbert is threatened by Antina. He's scared because she took apart a coffee machine just for fun. His tie flattens (it's always curled up). So a tall, muscular woman with no hair, who loves math and taking machines apart - is a threat to men and a total freak show. See what monster you've created, readers! This oughta show them I don't hate women!

Adams promises to bring new sides to Tina over time: "That's the only antidote to accusations of stereotyping, but it takes a while to get there." Does it? Because you could have introduced her from the start as a character with relatable issues, a past, some positive traits, etc. At the very least, you could have done it when the hate mails started pouring in. Instead, you wasted time on making a character just to bug your readers.

It makes me mad that I didn't see this as a teenager. I thought it was all funny. I thought people complaining about a comic strip was funny. Surely Adams wasn't sexist because no men really were, feminists were just blowing things out of proportion. Oh those wacky feminists. Oh those wacky Americans.

You can't change your past self and demand money back for a bunch of faded, crumpled comic books, but I will do the next best thing and throw this book into the recycling bin. I'd rather support artists who care about their readers' feelings.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ye Olde Favorites: a Rundown

I think there's a fine line between "amusing but inappropriate sidekick" and "dirty little sidekick who brings nothing at all to the strip", but Pintsize in Questionable Content has managed to frequently cross that line. See also: today's strip. How would Marten fuck him? How would that even... what... eww. Why is Pintsize's only role in the strip to provide even more dumb sex jokes? I don't get it. I hope this storyline ends with him leaving the strip, but I'm not holding my breath.

The "bros shooting hoops" storyline in Sinfest fails to engage me. Maybe it's because I'm not a bro, but it's just not very original. I'm not saying every strip has to be all about religious thematics, but I guess it's why I read Sinfest, because I tend to be bored by the more down to earth strips. (Except for the pet strips, which I love.)

T-Rex creates a new language. I love how Ryan North takes something everybody (well, every nerd) has thought of sometime, and t-rexes it into something deliciously herpy-derpy.

Buttersafe is being awesome and original in Tuesday's strip: veiny origins. I cannot tell you how much I adore Veiny Dog. It's just so RANDOM. Which makes it brilliant? Well, not necessarily, but come on. It totally is. I also love how there are human-like creatures and then - the dog, the highest step of evolution. Awesome.

A very cool math strip at Abstruse Goose. It actually reminds me of Röyksopp's video "Remind Me", with all the graphs depicting a typical day of work for a British woman. Anything in life can be shown in math form. That's both cool and a little sad.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Therapy with the Vampire: A Biased Review

Disclaimer: I fucking adore Robyn E. Kenealy, both as a friend and an author. I will now attempt to write about her new comic calmly and without over-gushing. I may not succeed, but I will at least describe in detail WHY I'm gushing.

Robyn E. Kenealy excels at writing fan fiction, although the term hardly does her work justice. Her Roddy McDowall fandom inspired Roddy's Film Companion (which I attempted to review earlier), and the Battlestar Galactica fandom brought on the brilliant Emissary from Another World, written in character as Gaius Baltar (a very difficult task, as the character is so layered). Her latest work, Therapy with the Vampire, delves into the pscyhological underpinnings of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. The first part can be found here on DeviantArt. For some reason, you must click on "Prev" to get forward.

Ms Kenealy writes slice-of-life. I don't mean the Questionable Content type slice of life where nothing happens and the characters just sit around being witty. Ms Kenealy's writing is like an episode of Mad Men or the Sopranos: every word contains meanings and emotions, the whole history of the characters comes out in the way they interact with each other. Deep issues with humanity and the characters are explored in small moments. It's not really about what happens, per se, or what changes (very little, I'd imagine, it's Lestat and Louis after all). It's what is bubbling under the surface, what is implied. Life itself becomes the plot.

What I love about this kind of writing is that it makes you think. It makes you ask important questions. Like who is Lestat? Why is he the way he is? What general human issues does he embody? What about Louis? What's under Louis' angst? Is Lestat in fact angstier but just tries to hide it? What about me?

Life and humanity for these characters is particularly painful, because they must live forever with all of their issues and problems. They are not intact to self esteem issues, jealousy, anxiety or even guilt. There is nothing glamorous about being a vampire, in this comic; it is the pain of humanity multiplied, and one that goes on forever.

A lot of this is probably present in the books already. I have read none of them, but this does not stop me from enjoying the comic. The history these characters share can be read from just the expressions and dialogue. There's clearly a very fucked up couple here, and it's beautiful. Kenealy gives time to the first scene, letting the characters slowly build up to the fireworks of emotion between them. The first panels are just Louis and a lot of night sky; it takes a while for him to notice Lestat, so it takes a while for the reader too. The buildup is slow and calm, Lestat's appearance almost ghostlike after the serenity of the stars and black sky. Throughout the comic, the night sky remains the backdrop, and it's both beautiful and fitting.

There's something delicious about their constant tug-of-war, Lestat trying to be suggestive or seductive and Louis bringing it back to reality and their issues (see especially this page). This is supported particularly well by Kenealy's drawing style, which is sketch-esque in other details, but utterly precise in the expressions. Lestat's luscious leer is perfect. So is the sulky silence between them in many panels. It's like the conversation keeps starting up and then coming to a halt, over and over again, because Louis refuses to take Lestat's crap. This can prove unbearable for Lestat, whose rage is clearly always just beneath the surface. Louis remains composed and unstartled by it.

It is hard to tell how much of this is Ms Kenealy's brilliance and how much is Anne Rice's. In great fanfic, the border between author and fan is blurred. The fan might have insights the author never had. (This might be why Ms Rice has publicly renounced fan fiction, which hasn't stopped fans from writing it.) Kenealy has a specific talent for peeling the layers of a character and writing them so that every layer becomes visible, every bit of the character's history is always there. This is the thing that is often missing from fan fiction (and let's be honest, even from book and TV sequels).

I also particularly like the dog and his expressions. It's a nice visual detail in an otherwise minimalist comic. You'd think a dog is a bad companion for a creature living for all eternity, though. Also, Lestat's flirtation with the waitress. "It's French, darling - it's French FOR darling". As if no one could help but find him adorable when he speaks French and asks like a charming little boy. (Which might be why Louis calls him The Brat Prince.)

I'm very curious to see how the therapy is going to develop, and how deep Louis can cut into Lestat's onion of self-denial and self-indulgence. The therapist is, at least, not scared of asking personal questions. (Do they even have sex?)

I'm not sure if this was already too much gush and too little substance, but read it for yourselves. A must-read for a Vampire Chronicles fan, and highly recommended for everyone who loves psychological drama.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Drive-By Notes, Part 3

Brought to you by the Webcomics List. 

"Absolute Hot Sister". This doesn't sound very promising. In fact, it sounds just like another male-gaze-hot-chicks comic. And judging by the last five or so strips - it is. Thanks, but no thanks.

Slimfigures - "a webcomic of science, satire and dark thoughts". This, on the other hand, sounds really interesting. But the latest strip baffles me. Some of the letters seem to be underlined, which might mean there's a secret message here, but what I get is "b-e-e-n-o-s-h-t". Is it supposed to be an anagram? been shot? no bees? The noseb? At least it got me thinking, so I give points for that. I have to ask my boyfriend about this comic, because he's more of a nerd than I am, but it looks interesting and original. The author's obviously playing with graphs and math a bit.

Beyond the Black Stump. The comic of the day promises bad things, namely "character A delivers punchline while character B stares at the reader with ennui". This is a pretty standard trope for newspaper comics. Interestingly, you can find comics by topic, so let's pick one at random and see what we get. "Philosophy". However, looking at some of these, they're not very philosophical.
Pun related to political topic. 
Bible reference with bad punchline.  (also, some pretty empty-looking panels.)
Meditation/fart joke.
Is this a newspaper strip? Because it really seems like one. In other words: nothing new, moving on.

Glutton for Pun-ishment. Uh oh. But it's not puns I see, it's... I'm not sure what. Is this a story? It's very confusing. When you go back, you see... I just don't know. Personally, this doesn't beckon me to read further, because I just feel really lost. The Webcomics List can be problematic in this way, because if you're dropped in the middle of a story, you have to be really drawn in to want to read more.

Ball With Hat proved to be the most amusing new find. It's a bit Marc Johns-esque, with just drawings of a ball with a hat and various things. My favorite: ball with cliffhanger and hat. LOL!

Least I Could Do: I dunno. Why does the male character look like CAD's Lucas? Why do most comic men seem to have that spiky hairdo? Why is the joke in this comic so vague? I don't get it. Quick verdict: easy reading, nothing special.

After a couple of these, they all start to look the same again. Time for a break.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hey Look, I'm QC Ranting Again!

I'm being confused by Questionable Content again. When I first saw yesterday's strip, I had no idea who the blonde girl is. (It must be Penelope, right? I had forgotten about her.) And isn't that guy the one Fay is dating?

Today's strip: we see the guy Faye is dating, who looks almost exactly like yesterday's guy, except without mustache. OK then. I can't remember either of their names. Also, men without frail jawlines and strong cheekbones do exist. QC has one of the worst cases of "the whole universe is skinny" that I've ever seen.

This highlights some of the character problems with QC:
-way too many recurring characters
-too many pairings and breakups
-confusion about who the main characters are; Penelope was on the strip every day for a while and then disappeared, ditto Raven
-if Marten is the main character, why is his breakup with Dora not the main plot? They still haven't even spoken to each other since their very brief breakup argument. I'm beginning to suspect that Jacques just got tired of Marten and Dora and decided to break them up and be done with it.

I wonder if I could sum up all the characters and plots going on right now. Let's see.
Hannelore: has OCD and crazy rich parents, is cool. Lives above Faye and Marten.
Marten: broken up with Dora, works in the uni library with Tai, lives with Faye. Used to work for some boring office job and left the job to work part-time and follow his dream, but we still don't know what that dream is. Plays in a band. Oh and his mother is a porn star (S/M) and his father is gay and about to marry his longtime partner.
Faye: lives with Marten, works at Café of Doom with Dora, dating this guy in today's strip. Goes to therapy bc her father killed himself. Has a possible alcohol problem, although she hasn't been drunk in ages.
Dora: lives with her brother Sven, owns Café of Doom, broken up with Marten. Goes to therapy bc she has some issues, but no idea what.
Sven: pines for Faye, ladies man, lives with sister Dora. Was a pop star and had some temp come in and help her with songwriting but that plot was completely dropped.
Penelope: dates this poet guy and... ???? Works in Café of Doom still?
Tai: is bi, works with Marten, can't remember what else
Steve: Marten's friend, dates some jealous girl, had an alcohol problem but doesn't now, used to date underaged Ellen
Raven: used to work at Café of Doom, was emo/goth/whatever, dated a homeless guy and is now studying physics or sth.
Pintsize: Marten's AndroPC. Likes porn, porn and porn. Makes inappropriate comments. Is mostly boring.
Can't remember the name: Hannelore's AndroPC.
Marigold also has a Chibi-style one. Oh yeah, I forgot about Marigold.
Marigold: Lives with Faye's boyfriend. Socially awkward, nerd, plays videogames. Unrequited love for roommate. Not much else to say.
Also, there used to be hipster talk about music, but that's pretty much over.
Am I missing something?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Fake Guy

You know how women always claim they like nice guys? But what they really mean is they want such guys for friends, and want to date Neanderthal assholes with gigantic muscles. And the nice guy is always left there to lie in a puddle of his own hormones and he will never get a date.
Oh those women! Those heartless women!

OK, who here thinks this is a tedious and untrue stereotype? I do.

Apparently, there's a whole comic dedicated to this idea: The Nice Guy. This overlong strip is the best example of what the concept is. Jeff is a nice guy. That means pretending to be a friend to women you like, in the hopes that one day they will want to date you. Also, being a friend means lying when your friend asks for genuine advice about a relationship. It means never saying what you're truly thinking. Women are stupid and should be coddled. 

I was offended as a woman, my boyfriend was offended as a man. Yet this comic apparently is out as a book - WHY? Who reads this stuff? The art is mediocre, but not stellar in any way; the backgrounds and colors are dull, the characters look angular and bulky, and basically it contains all the basic flaws of webcomics. The women have huge boobs and small waists (sigh) with white teeth shining out as they flirt shamelessly with men they don't intend to sleep with. The men are animals who only care about sex and sports. 

I'll leave you with this xkcd strip about how DUMB this stereotype really is. 

I think the right name for this kind of comic is The Fake Guy. Pretending to be someone's friend when all you want is sex? Is NOT nice. 

EDIT: Loyal (sometimes only) reader Robyn found another review of the comic. It's much longer and more detailed and AWESOME, and I encourage people to read it. Unless you actually like The Nice Guy, in which case you may be terribly disillusioned.

I'll quote the same bit as Robyn did in the comments. I hadn't even noticed that strip and its horrendous  message:

Yeah, Mike and Tim, it’s fucking hilarious that your goddamn Mary Sue perfect hero wants a “counterpoint” to not committing date rape. ‘Cause it’s just such a crushing burden going around all day not raping women that even Jeff, the nicest guy in the universe, so nice he has twoangels, needs a break now and then. In his own words, he deserves a counterpoint, as if there’s some kind of rate of exchange whereby you’re allowed to treat someone else’s body as your property once for every five times you let someone cut in line in front of you. In case the fucked-upness hasn’t quite hit home yet, I’ll reiterate: This is a comic about how Jeff is so nice that, faced with a drunk woman, he considers raping her, and is annoyed that he can’t properly justify it. In a comic series where Jeff is meant to represent a man who respects women. And it’s a comedy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Grumpy Feminist Comics Reader, Part Umpteenth: Questionable Content, Once Again.

I frequently feel bugged by the way Jeph Jacques writes women. They all act like "one of the guys", and I suppose that's the kind of girls a guy would mingle with. Maybe it's realistic; it's not the kind of girls I've met, but that might just be because I'm a girl. I think I wouldn't mind it if they weren't all so brittle inside. Faye's all fierce but she has major issues, ditto Dora (although we never really delved into those issues). Marigold is a socially inept nerd. Hannelore is exempt because I think her issues are actually believable.

Today's comic is fine, it could be any two girls (or guys) discussing therapy. But yesterday's comic really pissed me off. Girlfriend is mad! She is so mad and insecure that she wants to see the woman her boyfriend flirted with! And tell her that she's the prettier one! And then, instead of telling her off, the flirtee just says: "I still can't believe he's not gay!"
Hahahahahahahahahaha. Not.

Which raises another issue: when has this strip ever had a male gay character? The "less offensive" lesbians and bisexual girls have appeared several times, but where are the gay guys and transsexuals? If they're so OK with sex, why not have some of those too? Why is it still an insult and a burn for a guy to be thought gay?

Sometimes I feel like Jacques only wants to cater to horny young guys. See also: last week's strip where a girl is lulled to sleep on another girl's boobs. Honestly.

Calling Out the Transphobia in "Skipping Out"

My boyfriend wrote this, and I really think it says it best. Skipping Out is a gay comic, and while it has been confusing and unfunny in the past, it has always been tolerant. It seems like it has stepped out into territory where artist Schlegel doesn't feel comfortable and is willing to take swipes at trans women. That's just no ok. 

The trans woman character is portrayed terribly in basically every aspect. She’s drawn atrociously - why is he giving her an more exaggeratedly masculine facial structure than the cis men in the comic? And her name - Kevi with no ‘n’ - har har, she just took one letter off her “real” name! I feel like the way he’s making her so violent and mean/sassy is a way of showing how unfeminine she is. “Real” women don’t beat people up or act like anything other than demure flowers, AMIRIGHT?

What we have here is something very similar to the semi-regular butch dyke barista of the strip. She is bulky, masculine, chain-smoking, rude, will grab you by the collar if you want to order anything but regular coffee. Poor innocent Skippy is always being pushed around by these scary women. The misogyny is loud and clear.

Maybe it's time I stop reading this strip. It's obviously not going to improve, and it just makes me mad. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cartoon Interlude

So this is a cartoon, not a comic, but it's close enough. I adore this video because of both the visual ideas and the verbal fireworks of "Weird Al" Yankovic. The idea is that it's parodying Trapped in the Closet, but instead of plot twists and sexual escapades, it's all about a couple's very banal drive-thru experience. The attention to detail and the sheer boringness of it all is hilarious. (To me. I know some people find this utterly dull, but to each his/her own.)

The song is off "Weird Al"'s Straight Outta Lynwood and the cartoon is by Doogtoons.

Recommendation of the Week

Hyperbole and a Half is awesome. The drawings are intentionally shoddy and childlike, and that adds to the appeal of this childhood story. How dare the annoyingly perky little sister not be scared when you tell her scary stories of monsters! The story is beautifully real and shows the cruelty and selfishness of children, even sensitive artsy children. The characters look amusing, particularly the parents. I especially love the father's chubby white body, complete with a random-shaped wad of chest hair.

I love how the story is drawn out gradually - more and more closets appear, blood appears, the bear turns into a snake-bat-bear thingy, etc. It's like a children's story hour with drawings, except that the events are pretty ghastly. (Although it's amusingly overdone from a grown up perspective, the drawings have the potential to be truly frightening.) The half-child, half-adult point of view works well.

It's a simple childhood memory, but the visuals and storytelling have turned it into art. It's like a textbook case of what to do if you want to make a comic of your memories.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sick Day Ranting.

Called in sick today, so I might as well rant about comics I haven't liked lately. Ahem.

Skipping Out the gay comic is suddenly making fun of trans...gendered people? -vestites? It's problematic on many levels. I can't tell where this is going, partially because the comic moves so slowly and you never know where it's taking us (and sometimes it just goes nowhere). There are many stereotypical things going on here already: "Kevi", the hair, the sassiness, the fact that the trans part of town is called "Trannytown" and their food is "Trannese". Schlegel may have been going for "Chinatown", but the word "N***ertown" comes to mind equally fast. Why is Skippy so horrified to go out to "Trannytown"? Are we supposed to identify with him (trans people are scary) or with the other characters (trans people are a fun and exotic other)? The comic already features a butch dyke barista who obviously hates not just men, but people in general. The main characters are gay, so they're a minority, but they are still cisgendered white men, and this privilege should be acknowledged. "Tranny" is a term reclaimed by some trans women, but I'm not sure if it's OK for cis gay men to use it just like that.

Courting Disaster! It's that comic about how men - ha ha - are so different from women! Ha ha! You see, men are nymphomaniacs and women are bimbos with giant boobs! And all of their interactions can be summed up in one-panel comics! Hahahaha, oh mercy! Somebody tell this artist it's actually 2011.

Ctrl+Alt+Del is too boring for commentary. Just saying, it's "Most popular" at the webcomics list, and has been going on forever and has a bunch of paid content but who reads it anymore? It's like it's not even trying.

Questionable Content takes us to the bar where guys leer at hot chicks and nothing happens. I tell you, this Marten/Dora breakup really perked things up. Yawn.

Not a huge fan of this Question Duck. The question is a little too "celebrity joke" to be timeless and unanswerable. But so far, it's the only Question Duck I haven't liked, so I'll forgive this.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Familiars

I was going to do one of those "browsing through Webcomics List" posts, but the list is down, once again. Well, I've always got my favorites...

Brainless Tales: Concatenate. Cats will not let you do that though! At least mine won't. As soon as you touch the tail, it gets all rigid. Try to make a braid with another tail, and he'll bite you. I guess it would be too adorable to be real...

I may have said it before, but I worry about James Kochalka when I see strips like this. But maybe we all get those moods. The point is, he chose to cuddle with Oliver, and that's beautiful.

Regular sex puns and flirtation - unfunny. Flirtation dissected scientifically by Hannelore - FUNNY. More of this please.

The true meaning of superbowl, according to Sinfest. I shouldn't read this strip when I'm hungry. *goes and fries some bacon*

Is this gay comic anti-trans? Or is it just some gay man in-joke? Is it talking about transsexuals or transvestites? Huh?

Thank god for Rooster Tails. The real super hero - binary challenging gender identity! Could. not. be. more. awesome.

Life Before Google

I try not to post/hotlink other people's comics in here, but honestly I can't find this strip at the shoebox blog. And also, I feel like the blog looks kinda dull without any pictures.

I had a dream last night where I went back in time and tearily explained to my younger brothers how the Internet would come and change everything. I really feel it's changed my life, mostly for the better. Stop talking about "online" vs. "real life" - the Internet IS real life. And it rules. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

This Week in My Favorites

Marc Johns waxes deep and somewhat political: we are all holding the spear. So true. I think he should do more texts in the illustrations.

Sinfest warns us against letting the cat sleep on the laptop! I especially liked "aaaaasssss". Unfortunate keys to step on, indeed!

Continuing with the cat team: the legend of the turbo cat! Bravo, Buttersafe, you've done it again. Utterly surreal yet so good. Surreal stuff+serious/dramatic tone = WIN.

And still more cats! American Elf can hear Spandy's angry motor. I heard my cat's angry motor this week at the vet's, when a dog tried to say hello to him. I also loved this strip, where the boys imagine they're ghosts. A big snowfall can make you feel pretty invisible. And while I'm at American Elf, I must comment on this strip. It's beautiful - the idea that you shouldn't delete your least favorite artworks, because they may be someone else's favorites. What's more important - the artist's own opinion or the audience's right to have the art? It's actually a very deep discussion to be having with a seven-year-old. I love that Kochalka doesn't talk down to his children.

T-Rex is excited about the snowmageddon - time to reinvent society in our own living rooms! This is actually amusing from a Finnish point of view. Granted, we've also gotten more than our fair share of snow, but the plow trucks are going early every morning and the roads are always clear. No cancelled school or work here. It's just par for the course. (The trains can't handle it, though.)

Isaac Newton sits under the tree - and down falls a squirrel! What would have happened? Abstruse Goose gives us the answer.

Here's a Finnish comic in English! Rather chaotic and very true to her style, a travel diary entry from Norpatti at En Vaan Osaa!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday... Quickies.

I thought of a really bad pun for Thursdays but I'm not using it because I'm not twelve. *giggles*

I Phone, You Tube on Brainless Tales. Eons more creative than Marvin's inane IckyLeaks. It's not enough to coin a pun. In fact, if you make fun enough characters out of the brand names, you do not need a pun. Watch and learn, Marvin. Or evaporate in a cloud of smoke. Please.

Also from Brainless Tales: Pipe Dream. I love how it's a bearded man. Possibly a pirate? Do pipes really like such men? Interesting idea.

In the strange and wonderful life of Kinoko Fry: too much rice - or the exact right amount?! Also, the lettuce is half full. How much do I love this? A lot.

Mike's Convenience - ha ha, those old timers! They start every sentence with "when I was your age"! That's so funny we don't need a joke here.

(x, why?) - ha ha, those women! They have impossible demands! Poor undemanding men, what are they gonna do?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shameless Fangushing.

T-Rex's personal diary becomes a NES game in binary. This was hilarious - although I wonder if it weren't funnier if we were shown, not told. Qwantz's strength and weakness is that the images are always the same. In fact, I think this gives Ryan North no easy way out; the pictures are seen-before, so the content has to be really good. The mental image of the game is, once again, brilliant. I admire him.

I also admire The Oatmeal, whose "this is the internet in winter 2010" post inspired Tumblr to get a fail whale type error image. Straight from this post. This is awesome. The adorable Tumbeasts now greet us when Tumblr is down.

And to end our fangush o' the day, American Elf's James Kochalka has been picked Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont. Congrats! Once you finish making the grapefruit peel candy. There's something adorable about this, both in his priorities and the childlikeness of his attitude. But I'd still be pissed off if I were the agent. His cat is apparently also pissed off, for no discernible reason. My cat does that too. Don't take it personally.

Finds of the Day

Browsing the Webcomics list again, let's see what I hit upon.

2816 Monument seems interesting. It's a new comic, and we've got setup: a guy is looking for a roommate, and the first applicant is Captain Kittyface. I thought the "Meow?" was hilarious. However, quite a few strips are just setup with no real joke. I'm not super excited about the smoking joke either. This could get interesting, and I'll probably keep an eye on this strip.

A Town Called Alandale - the latest strip doesn't really give me any idea of what this is. The previous one seems more interesting: someone's been turned into a duck. I could have done without the "a duck?!" repetition though. The funny thing to me is the deadpan expression on the girl's face. This strip, where the duck-changing happens, is nicely paced. I love the sunglasses on the duck. This also seems like an interesting comic.

Almost Cute confused me, so I flicked a few strips back to find this reference-to-other-webcomics one. It's confusing, especially with the umbrella-ella-ella ending. But I kinda loved the whole "your sexuality is questionable" dig at QC. Heh heh. Ah, looking at this longer, it seems to mock how similar most webcomic characters really look. Heh heh, some more. I'm liking it.

Angry D. Monkey. Awesome name but - what the fuck is this? I.. huh... *stares* I feel like I'm trapped in someone else's acid hallucination.

The Brightest Comic. Hmmm. The dialogue doesn't seem any more enticing than that of QC. On the other hand, I like the girls' bodies and especially faces; they're not your typical webcomic babes. I kinda feel at home looking at them. Nice work there. Of coufse, there's a comment on the brown-clad girl's boobs, so I'm not sure if it's meant to mock her physique.

This is a very depressing comic, apparently about some kind of monster apocalypse. But the mood, the tone, the narrator's voice! It's like reading a story. I really like it. Not sure where it's going, but it seems really creative. Hughmanity - check it out.

That's all I can take at once. Might make another one of these later today or tomorrow, or might not. It seems like you can click on about ten comics, give or take; the newness and different-ness of it all gets overwhelming. Lots of great comics out there for sure!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Multiple Monday Musings

Shameless nepotism: my boyfriend Toby discusses Question Duck briefly in his tumbrl. I don't have much to add, so just linkage!

This week's QC has involved some new backgrounds, a singing fairy princess, and a café populated by dark-skinned doppelgangers. I'm really not sure what to say. In one way, it's a change of pace; it shows Jacques wants to develop the strip, and he's clearly worked hard on this. I may gripe about the stories, but I'll never claim he just doesn't bother with the strip. The backgrounds look alive and colorful, there's something new to look at, which is enjoyable. On the other hand, although I laughed at the fairy princess, I'm still not sure if this takes the comic far enough in a new direction.

xkcd is being awesome: The world according to Americans, and the nananana chart. I love how Finland is a part of "Scandanavia" on the map. The nanana chart reminds me of how xkcd introduced me to Katamari Damacy and its amusing, cheerful Japanese pop soundtrack.

Sinfest did a silent Sunday, which I always love. There's quite a lot going on, though, so it took me a while to get. I love today's strip even more; right-wing Christian militia madness and Sarah Palin. I sometimes wonder if Tatsuya Ishida is really vehemently against Christianity, or just approaches it with this intellectual, yet warm irony. The strip can be read both ways.

On the subject of religion: don't apply way too much logic or your head will explode. Also on Kinoko Fry: the good dog, the bad dog and the ugly dog. :D

Finally, Buttersafe ponders on the moth's attraction to a flame. I found the philosophical pondering fascinating, more so than the silly punchline. I recently had a conversation with someone about how elks walk under cars because they can't comprehend how fast a car moves. The ones who learn how fast cars move tend to die. So it's impossible for them to warn the other elks. Maybe this is also true of moths?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

QC Rant O' The Week

Maybe I give you coffee, maybe I give you PUNCH IN THE FACE. OK, I did laugh at that, and the blood splattered on the window pane. Today's strip offered some fun new visuals. However, as always with QC, I have a pet peeve to pick at. This time it's the idea that Marten has to find a new regular coffee shop. I've always hated this cliché on sitcoms: how the protagonists have to meet somewhere outside the home, so they pick a favorite coffee shop and get every breakfast, snack and dinner there. No matter how broke or unemployed they may be, they eat and drink out all the time. The reason, I always thought, is that you only have to make so many sets. Sitcoms are usually done with a tight budget. No such constraints in comics.

I can see the point of Marten visiting Dora's Café of Doom, because, well, he'd get a friend discount. Also, a busy entrepreneur may not have a lot of time to sit at home with him. But he is doing what, part-time work at a uni library? How much could he possibly make in a month? Surely not enough to sit in coffee shops all the time, drinking overpriced beverages.

The funny thing is, I wouldn't gripe if Marten's new hangout was Mars or a weird temple for an unknown deity, or something else that's creative. It just bugs me that Jacques borrows sitcom clichés for his setting, banter and events at times. Comics don't have to resemble sitcoms.

This was my QC rant of the week. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Notes: My Favorites

Lovelace and Babbage Against the Organist - the Finale!!! Very exciting. (I love how Babbage doesn't mind notes, as long as they're not expressed in noise form.)

Guy friendship can be odd and painful, at Sinfest.

This Abstruse Goose took me a while to get. It might be because I'm drunk. But then my boyfriend isn't, and he didn't get it either. I think I get it now - he wants to see the stars better, so he leaves the party. Which is kind of awesome.

At En Vaan Osaa!: I loved this little thing, it's like old-timey photos turned into a manic comic. Norpatti, the author, is a vegetarian; I'm not, but I still think people who call vegetarians childish are LAME.

American Elf is back to really cute childlike strips. I really liked today's strip where Oliver, quite nonsensically, decides to trample over his daddy's drawing in the snow. Awww. I also love his doggy hat.

The farmer's pride doesn't depend on the farm size, at Buttersafe.

And Ursula V has some flower seed ideas:
Berserker Bluebelles
Delerium Daisies

What can I add? Awesome, awesome, awesome.


I don't often read or write about the plot-based comics, because I seem to have no energy to get into them. But I wanted to give this one a chance, because it's by the awesome Ursula V, who invented the LOL WUT pear - or the Biting Pear of Salamanca, which is the real name.

I haven't read very far yet. It looked dark and strange at a first glance. But then I read the text -and it's about a wombat on a digging spree, and it sounds really philosophical and awesome. Start here. Hallucinations plan on eating him. And he ends up in a Hindu temple. This is a very interesting beginning indeed.

The art is black and white, with lots of emphasis on black. The wombat protagonist manages to be so very cute, even if the general tone of the images is dark and somewhat scary. This is true talent.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Report: My Favorites

Qwantz asks another important question: Is there life in space? If so, why not in the form of puppies?

A somewhat disturbing nature comic at En Vaan Osaa! On the one hand, it's about an animal's eye randomly falling off. On the other hand, it's the circle of life: one animal's lost eye is another's dinner. So all is well, I guess?

Question Duck is lured into a trap with a particularly sparkly donut. But he still asks a question! (What does a purple donut taste like?)

Ughhh giant bugs! Yet they kinda look cute, like everything in Kinoko Fry. Also, I really want the floating bear and bee to visit me for stress release purposes.

Elevators are awkward. I'm not sure I get it, but I still kinda love it. Buttersafe rules.

This American Elf was really dull. It's like - you keep your beer out to keep it cold. So? I know many people who do this in Finland in the winter. Maybe it's just unusual in the US, or maybe he really had nothing to write about. It reminds me of that strip where he drew how his crap looked in the toilet bowl.

So I may not love every strip, but the idea of Kochalka quitting Elf upset me. My boyfriend also seemed upset. Is he serious? Would he really quit such a long-standing comic? Aren't we going to see his kids grow up? I know he can't go on with the strip forever, but it's so addictive, I can't imagine my everyday life without it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Grumpy Comics Reader Strikes Again.

QC may be my "comic I love to hate", but Mike's Convenience is quickly gaining more foothold in my heart as "the comic I love to hate the second most". Today's offering has a kid saying "What's up bra". Mike says nothing. End of comic. That's not a joke, it's not even a... I don't even know! I could get really hooked on a comic like this. It takes all of two seconds to look at each strip and decide it's a dud. 

As a chocolate-loving fat woman, I find this strip offensive. I'm not sure what it's trying to be, but it's just an annoying depiction of a chocolate-eating fat woman. Ugh. And I'm not sure what to say about the poem. It could be awesome and surreal, but I can't get into the world of this strip. It bugs me when this happens. Some surreal stuff is great and dreamlike, some just seems to be from another planet I don't live on. Although this isn't strictly surreal, it's more like a comic universe I don't know parodying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And I know there was fat hate in that one but it doesn't have to be repeated. 

It seems near-impossible to get into comics by reading the Webcomics List, because so many of them are plot-heavy, rely on knowledge of the story and have small details you need to look at many times. I seem to prefer one-off strips and rarely get into long stories. Does that mean I'm dumb? 

However, I love Brainless Tales and the candle who enjoys making candles. On that positive note, it's good night from me.

LOL WUT - The Origin. And Other Awesome Stuff.

So everyone has seen the LOL WUT pear, but I had never come across the original image, which is both cuter and more awesome than the LOL WUT thing. It's The Biting Pear of Salamanca. Which is apparently posing for a chipmunk's photo. So awesome.

This artist has many beautiful surreal drawings, sometimes with hilarious stories underneath. It's very random and strikes me as kinda similar to my comic attempts. (Except with 100 x better art.)
The Radish Wore Goggles.
Steampunk Rooster.
The Hare in the Road. (bears a resemblance to Kinoko Fry's stuff, perhaps?)
The Hedgehog's Balloon.
Battle Hamster Raid.
The Pearaphim.

I have no words. These are just too good.

Weekly QC Rant

 I don't buy Marten's Mom. I just don't. I don't have the best experience of pornstars-as-mothers, but really? "I habitually sleep with men who could be my sons"? And you tell this to your son WHY? And and... I dunno. This whole "Marten's Mom is a porn star" thing feels so fake. Marten was supposed to be the character based on Jeph himself, right? (Or was he?) The one who hates his job and loves indie music and bla bla. It just doesn't seem very likely that he
a) has a mother who's a porn star
b) is not ashamed of her mother the porn star
c) acts this way about women and sex and life in general if his mother is a porn star.
It's a weird retcon like Faye's father's suicide. It just doesn't work. You can draw it and you can tell the story but it's not believable. It might be if QC were more of a surreal/ silly humor comic. It might if weird stuff kept happening and it didn't try to be both rad and all about sex AND a relationship comic with realistic dialogue.

Also, relationship/sex puns are unfunny and the comic frequently stands at a still where nothing at all happens and no one says anything interesting. Yet I continue to read it every day. WHY?!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Drive-By Notes, Part 2

Flu strikes again: the son of the flu. But no fear, because Webcomics List is here, and I'm way overdue for another post about random comics.

(Not Quite) Daily Comic. "I'm so goth, I was born black!" Um, isn't that offensive? Or is it? Actually I'm too white to say. The drawing style of that one reminds me of a picture my grandmother had on her wall. It was made in black lace and portrayed a gentleman in a top hat and a lady with a parasol. Maybe that impression is intentional: traditional imagery, unconventional message. The previous one is also interesting: a girl dressed in a traditional dress hunting a ghost at the graveyard. Very dark and strange. Are we meant to identify with the girl's evil expression? Is she on the good or bad side? This one, on the other hand, is just disturbing for various reasons. Oh, it's only milk. But still. This is... strange. A weird and interesting comic.

Mike's Convenience. I read several strips, and I'm not sure what to say about this one. I recognize the wish to write about your own job and share the dullness with the world. I get the dull look of the comic and the Paint-esque font and everything. But if you make your main character a zombie who stands in one position with one look on his face in all strips, you're not making me like him. The customers may be idiots, but the clerk should be above their level.

Not sure what I think of Out At Home - it's a character-based comic, which may mean it's really funny or kind of dull. I haven't read enough strips to know, but this one with the various Christmas cards made me laugh. A nice way to show the characters' personalities, plus mock Christmas card traditions. Also, the rhyming card comes dangerously close to what I write on mine...

Peticanoe is another very interesting-looking strip. Careless erasership costs lives! I love that visual idea, and the idea of a stick figure drawing another stick figure. Also, Facebook: it's... just like this, really.

Panthera also piqued my interest. This Captain Planet reference is awesome.  "We made warm, bubbly mud." The drawing style is reminiscent of old school cartoons, so it's fitting. Then there are one-picture strips that look more like anime. All in all, not sure what to make of it. I'm not a huge fan of anime, mainly because it's all over the place, but I do love a comic reference back to my childhood. I'll probably check this comic again.

Hungry Roots: I haven't been reading, but I enjoyed this "thank you for reading" pic. Great mood, lots of attention to detail. It made me check some of the other strips. But I didn't get what universe it was on, or what the story was. It seems well drawn and minimalistic, but I'm not in the mood for plot-comics today. I may not really be into fantasy strips anyway, because I seem to pass on them all. Maybe it's a taste thing, or maybe I should give them a shot? Feel free to convince me I need to read fantasy strips.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cute Overload.

Question Duck, why must you be so cute?

Popping a CD in the microwave brings much excitement.

Bath time with a gleeful dog/ship toy. And squinting at "brushie brushie". Stop, I'll melt!!

And as if that weren't cute enough, Kinoko Fry wishes us happy new year by doing the tiger dance. But remember: don't try things at home! Especially the sex bit. Rabbits - cute but lame? Not sure if I agree. Tigers are more fierce, I must admit. This strip reminds me of Calvin and Hobbes. I recall Hobbes had the praise song for tigers - maybe several versions? - and a general belief that tigers are more fierce and handsome than any other creature on Earth, especially compared to humans.

Other cuties of the week:
I love how James Kochalka draws the ladies at Eli's school as colorful groupie creatures. They're all staring at him like they have a huge crush on him!

Dog comforts owner over at Sinfest. Note that the cat, who caused his misery, couldn't care less. The dog is even willing to give up his bally. For a little while.

...And then I looked at Buttersafe. The perfect antidote to overly cutesy feelings. I must say, the new year's comic there is even more depressing than usual. Yet somehow brilliant. I haven't seen this idea before. That's why I love Buttersafe.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Utterly Random Notes.

QC this week: OK, Marten's mother's reaction to Dora is surprising. But since I always find something to criticize - Dora's physique is very odd. Firstly, her breasts seem to vary in size; they look much bigger than they should in panel 3. She's almost two-dimensional in panel 2, so there's no way her breasts would be that large. Also, if the shirt is long on her, as it is in the other panels, it should not rise that high in panel 1.

Question Duck, on the other hand, continues to be adorable. Goldfish crackers! And - what is polyester made of? I love the duck's smile in panel 2, like he doesn't care if his master is dozing off at the computer. He's there, ergo, a question might be asked! It's the attitude of every pet. "Oh, you're here? Good. FEED ME." Only Question Duck feeds on questions.

Pets may also cyber-embarrass you, like on yesterday's and today's Sinfest.

I feel like I should think of more to criticize and not just bash QC all the time. Frankly, I do think Sinfest's four-panel style is a bit small and cramped for a webcomic. Webcomics can break form, because they don't have to be confined by the newspaper strip space. But the stories have been consistently good again lately, after a short slump, so I don't really want to complain.

The girl in this comic is just like my boyfriend. He will have no under 192 kbps. No wonder he often identifies with xkcd. I'm becoming nerdier because of him, though; as soon as he showed me this strip, I knew what they were talking about. I like the signs saying "Sale!!!" "Sale!" and "Sale?" I feel like there might be a hidden mathematical joke there - something about them being decreasing or.. hmm? Maybe I'm overthinking this. (like a true nerd might!)

We are the red umbrella. This Marc Johns reminds me slightly of Russian children's books my mother would read to me (no, she's not Russian, she just knows Russians). If you haven't seen any, think of "Worker and Parasite" on the Simpsons. Just about that jolly and cheerful illustrations. So - negative connotations, but the red umbrella is really pretty awesome in its randomness. Except that now I'm relating it to the Soviet Union, and Worker and Parasite, and it seems to really make sense why it's a red umbrella, and why there's the we spirit. Oh dear! I don't mean to ruin the comic for everyone.

In a similar vein, Kinoko Fry continues to amaze and confuse me. There's Submameen and... an octopus with Rubik's Cubes and an eyepatch with an eye... You can click on "random" below, but every strip seems equally random and genius. This is like something out of my dreams. (Not that my dreams are genius.) (Well, why be modest? They are. Holy mental fireworks, Batman.)