Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on July 15, 2004 - 15:26
Update: As is often the case, the blog is fast and furious and sometimes.... still not sure. Although we had earlier suggested that Modern Humor Authority was a parody, based in large part on a PVP forums thread and the fact that webtoonist Kristopher Straub was the registered owner of the domain name, the site itself claims to be the online version of an established small-press Canadian review journal.
The website features reviews of Something Positive, Sore Thumbs, and a look at Sluggy Freelance's seventh anniversary. The August launch issue also includes an interview with R.K. Milholland of S*P, and several other review features.
Original Post: I would welcome the debut of Modern Humor Authority as the third publication to give heavy emphasis to coverage of webcomics except....
Or maybe not. Although this site URL is registered under Straub's name it may actually be a serious site.
Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on June 4, 2004 - 01:31
In his blog, Hard says no one should review webcomics because they're free to readers. Let's take a look at more of his post:
I don't think reviews have any place in the webcomics community. Period. Why?
1) Because they're FREE. If you complain about something that is free, you're being ungratuitous. If you critize people who are essentially doing unpaid volunteer work, you're a jerk. Reviews exist so that people gather opinions about something before they buy a ticket, or buy a product.
(One may argue that TV reviews are similar. Well, you don't see a lot of TV reviews, and the people who make TV shows get paid for what they do. They get PAID to entertain you. Webcomic artists do NOT.)
First of all, anyone who paints a review, negative, positive or mixed as "a complaint" is just missing the point. A review is an attempt to point out the characteristics or a work, what works, what doesn't and why someone may or may not want to experience the work. Anyone can review something. You do in a sense everytime you recommend or pan a work to a friend. Your friends know something about you however so they may not need anything more than a yea or nay. A review such as published at Comixpedia tries to explain why we're saying yea or nea.
And why review webcomics other than everyone working at Comixpedia loves webcomics and thinks it's the future of the comic artform? Hard suggests that only a jerk would criticize free art. Nothing's free I suppose is the answer. From a purely transactional point of view most readers don't have time to read everything. Time spent reading one thing when they would have enjoyed something else is not free. So I say, no, free art gets no pass because nothing is truly free from the reader's perspective. But more importantly from the larger perspective of the medium it is important to take the work seriously. To treat it as any other medium which is treated seriously. Actions can change attitudes. Comixpedia may not be the voice that changes attitudes regarding webcomics but for now we are leading that charge as best we can. Webcomics are an innovative splinter from the comic medium, something that began as merely a repurpose of existing forms of comics (comic strips, comic books) and is even now pulling at those conventions to become something else: new, different, more.
Serious work should be reviewed. Serious artists should be familar with other work and go beyond it, not just repeat it. Reviews play a vital role in disseminating information in a community of artists, publishers and the audience. There are in fact a lot of people making webcomics. We are not reviewing everyone. In fact Comixpedia early on made a decision not to review work that was not arguably serious.
What do I mean by "serious" here? No matter the level of popularity or visibility of the artist, if the work is worthy it should be taken seriously. Even flawed work can be worth taken seriously. That's half of it. The other half is work that is popular or supported in a highly visible way. At this stage in the development of webcomics something published on Modern Tales or PV or Keenspot or part of a collective like Dumbrella is meant to serious in the sense that I'm using the word. Some fairly high percentage of webcomics is probably not meant to be taken seriously and they are never part of the ongoing dialogue between artists and the audience that is going on in the webcomics community. Hard's webcomic, in my opinion meets both criteria for "serious" and therefore should be reviewed.
In general, I try to stay away from posting hotly negative things about other people's comics. In the interviews and such I am more apt to point out comics I like than comics I don't like. It's because I know that most people, like myself, are doing the strips for little money or no money at all. Simple manners tell you you don't slag on people who are doing their best with no tangible reward in what they do.
I don't see anything to disagree with there. A review is a far cry from Hard slagging on someone in an interview though. Every review at Comixpedia has come from a reviewer who has read the entire work in question. It is edited by the staff. There is a huge difference between what Hard describes and a review on Comixpedia.
People often post reviews to get the attention of the comic artist. It usually works too. I don't link to reviews -- I link to interviews, but not to reviews. Why? Because, if you're reading the links page you've already formed an opinion of my comic. What someone else has to say is irrelevant. So why give reviewers hits?
I'm not sure I have much to add to what I already said other than to repeat that most people are interested in what other people have to think about a comic. Friends' opinions are important obviously, but reviews play a different role. Reviews in fact can be tremendously relevant to ongoing discussions of the evolution of webcomics as a whole in addition to evaluation of the specific work being reviewed. The fact that Comixpedia publishes online increases the "conversational" aspect of everything we publish. What I'm writing right now is really only possible because we're online, Hard writes online and we can link to each other.
I've always thought that people who want to get popular in a chosen field but don't have the skills to become popular in that field will become critics instead. It's a cheap and transparent way to become an "authority" in that field, without having the skills to master that field.
A charge as old as time. True to some, true for others. Ultimately irrelevant to why criticism and reviews are important to the ecosystem of an art form.
Anyways, I'm still pissed at Comixpedia and refuse to read it anymore. Checkerboard Nightmare hit the nail right on the head.
I think this is a shame as Hard was a thoughtful poster on the boards at Comixpedia. I will say that I think the webcomic from Checkerboard Nightmare was pretty funny. I'm not entirely sure Straub meant it to be serious (in fact I have it on decent second-hand authority that no he didn't) but even if he was it was pretty funny.
Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on May 12, 2004 - 22:23
Dalton's latest column uses PVP's infamous Naked Jade gag as a starting point to bash on webcomics that use sex to "sell" the comic. I think the point is (although I'm not always sure Dalton has a point) that webcomics should be trying to explore sex in interesting ways, artistic ways. Not just slapping a sexy label on something - essentially retreading cheap sex visuals and/or jokes.
Straub of Checkerboard Nightmare says:
And further in (Comixpedia, not the ass), it starts to feel like these guys... do the ones writing the articles read any webcomics? I think they dropped the ball on this one. Among the opinions tarted up as fact, Kurtz is accused of sexing up PVP as a publicity stunt. I don't even know where to approach that. Anyway, I guess the lesson is, if you use any sexuality or inappropriate language in your work, you're a manipulative juvenile sellout? I guess some things aren't allowed to be funny.
I'm actually a fan of PVP and liked that series of strips. No it wasn't terribly original but it was mostly funny. PVP is a little like Full House (or whatever the hell that Bob Saget series was called) sometimes. That's ok. I don't know why Dalton picked up on it. I think it does illustrate his point although there are probably other examples with fewer redeeming qualities.
But Dalton thinks I'm kind of an ass so it's not like he'd listen to me anyhow...
Submitted by Anonymous on October 15, 2003 - 20:44
Keenspot seems to be going through a significant growth spurt this year.
Kristofer Straub's Checkerboard Nightmare, Michael Terracciano's Dominic Deegan, Frank "Damonk" Cormier's (Naught-)Framed!!!, and Paul Taylor's Wapsi Square are the most recent additions in what seems to be a massive wave of new blood at the popular entertainment hub. With these latest recruits, the total of new webcomics to join Keenspot this year has now reached 11.
Checkerboard Nightmare has chosen a novel way of marking the occasion through its most current spoofish storyline. The webcomic's main character, a charismatically pathological publicity-whore named Chex, has just announced his acceptance into a Famous Webcomic Group -- this FWG's main page will seem awfully familiar to many.
Sources also report that these are not the last new inductees of the year -- readers can expect to see one more handful of additions to the Keenspot lineup in the next few months.
In 1999, there were a number of webcomics in regular publication, but nothing like the vast number of creators today. It was before Keenspot and Modern Tales, when the webcomic community was a much smaller world. In this smaller universe of webcomics, creators seemed more aware of their fellow peers, more prone to help each other out, and more likely to collaborate with one another. There were crossovers between webcomics, guest art for other webcomics, and on April 1st of 1999, Terrence Marks organized the first Great April Fools' Webcomic Swap, where webcomic creators surprised their readers by swapping webcomics with other creators for a day.
Checkerboard Nightmare (available at nightlightpress.com) is a mildly surreal humor comic written and drawn by Kristofer Straub and consistently presented three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays).
Straub plays with meta-humor, poking fun at his main character's attempts at trying to create and popularize a web comic. But he also regularly nails other webcomics (and their own attempts at success), webcomic styles and clichés, webcomic readers, and the occasional faddish webcomic trend. Other issues like ethics, the law, and end user agreements manage to slide in on occasion as well.