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Patrick Farley

Experimental Comics Roundup

Exciting, boundary pushing comics, particularly webcomics don’t seem to be as common as they once were.  Some experimental creators have moved on to more mainstream projects, some have stopped making comics.   And some comics that once were daring in their format, like Dinosaur Comics, have just ceased to seem experimental as they’ve become mainstays of the webcomics scene.  That last is a good thing, of course—normalizing ideas that were once bold is how the doors to further new ideas are opened wider.

Of course, unusual projects do still come along, so here are a few that have caught my notice recently.

Comix Talk for Wednesday, June 23, 2010

USA versus Algeria.  I'm not even sure this site gets any traffic from Algeria but regardless... go USA!

Let's start off with a bit of hypey mchype today.  Webcomics went through a phase of experimenting with comic-ness without necessarily worrying about the story or appeal of the comic and more lately maybe the impression is that expermentation is dead. Well I'm not sure, but when I do see someone smartly taking advantage of the web in webcomics without letting it get in the way of making a good comic I think we should pay attention.  So, Ornery Boy by Michael Lalonde which is really already a very funny comic - a sort of slacker version of the Adams Family (not really but that'd be my teevee pitch).  Lalonde actually uses Flash to add little bits of animatin' and other layered in stuff that adds to the comic without sacrificing the comicness of it.  Do you need the extras to enjoy the comic -- probably not, but I guess you don't need color in comics either and yet...  Lalonde is using what could be just obnoxious experimental techniques in a very intregated way that completely serves a very funny and accomplished comic.  Check out these two recent installments: #432 and #431 for some examples of what I mean.

ARE ELECTRIC SHEEP A RENEWAL RESOURCE?  Remember when I kept reminding everyone to consider committing to Patrick Farley's KICKSTARTER drive so we could get him back to making webcomics?  Well it's bearing fruit -- Scott McCloud blogged that Farley has started to re-serialize his groundbreaking comic The Spiders.  This alternate history of the Afghan war is fascinating.

CHASING THE TITANTIC:  Gene Weingarten is getting a big push from the Washington Post for his new comic strip Barney & Clyde.  He created it with his son and there was a nice story on their relationship.  Weingarten is actually usually pretty funny in his weekly column but I'm curious to see how that translates to the comics.  Still it looks like it's only getting launched in 3 papers?  There's something horribly, amusingly wrong with a corporately controlled artform (which comics strips in the newspaper definitely is) where a big corporation can't even properly launch a new product...

INDIE ROCK PETE I CHOOSE YOU!  Richard Stevens the 3rd asked YOU and maybe you for questions for his Diesel Sweeties characters to answer in a comic.

THE ADVENTURES OF HANNAH SOLOLucy Knisley's sorta-journal, sorta-musing webcomic is quite good and the latest is great. I do think there seem to be more stories featuring girls doing things (as opposed to just going along for the ride or worse waiting around to be saved) but as a guy it wasn't until I had daughters that I really thought about how tilted the traditional roles in stories were towards guy=action and girl=inaction.  I hope comics is getting better.  From my webcomic perspective, it's actually pretty good.

OH PRETTY PICTURES!  Paul Taylor of Wapsi Square did a great bit of fan art for Mike Malhack's Cleopatra in Space webcomic.

Comix Talk for Monday, April 26, 2010

Chibi Narbonic by Shaenon K Garrity

Another week and whadya know the Wikipedia entry for ComixTalk was deleted.  Meh?  What I really need to be working on is getting a cameo in Evil IncGary gets all the cool webcomic cameos...

WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG POST TO REMIND YOU THAT THERE ARE ONLY 6 DAYS TO GO IN PATRICK FARLEY's KICKSTARTER DRIVE TO BRING BACK ELECTRIC SHEEP.  As of Sunday night yesterday there were 354 backers putting up $5,371 in pledges -- less than $650 to go to make the magic number.

AWARDS:  The Comics Reporter reports that Aaron Colter's webcomic Wondermark won Outstanding Webcomic at the Stumptown Comics Convention awards.  Only thing is I'm pretty sure Aaron Colter is the marketing coordinator for Dark Horse and Wondermark is from a fellow named David Malki!.

BUSINESS: Webcomics.com inked a discount deal with a printer for its subscribers.  Is that ironic?  Well either way that sounds like a good deal and a nice benefit to subscribing to webcomics.com.

CRAFT: David King, creator of Danny Dutch, has a set of lettering dos and don'ts. (h/t Robot6)

A GOOD USE OF SOME DEAD TREES: Not brand new news, but damn exciting - Hope Larson has been signed to do a graphic novel adaptation of Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.  I love(d) that book -- it blew my grade school mind away.

NEVER MIND THE %@#*, HERE'S THE HYPE

Comix Talk for Friday, April 23, 2010

Wow - it's been one crazy summer week. So the big story this week is the move of Reuben Bolling's Tom the Dancing Bug from Salon to Boing Boing.  At least I think it's kind of a big deal as boingboing.net has a huge audience and as Reuben Bolling explains it was the first place he contacted after learning Salon was dropping his strip.

Digital Strips has a plug for Patrick Farley's Kickstarter drive to let him focus on his webcomics site, Electronic Sheep. For those who weren't reading webcomics 10 years ago you may not have the context for how mind-bending Farley's work was at that point.  He pushed... hard on the web.  He had comics with radically different art styles, different web environments, different everything.  And it was all good.  Having him freed up to work on comics would mean getting a lot of great new work.  Consider pledging...

REVIEWS:  Daily Cross Hatch has a review of the latest Snake Pit book - a compilation of the journal comic from 2009.  I have the book, was struggling with a review -- I think this review is pretty useful -- this is journal comic at it's most basic.  I did this, I saw that.

Also worth checking out is a look by the Storming the Tower blog at the quasi-Penny & Aggie-Something Positive cross-over via the character of Helen.

I SAY GOOD MAN, HERE'S THE HYPE

From the Mailbag: Thormod Skald writes about his webcomic Farnir The Dragon -- an action/comedy/political satire:

The dragon Fafnir awakens from a centuries-long slumber to find his treasure stolen and scattered across the world. Unfortunately for him, anyone who finds a piece can control Fafnir for nine days and as usual, the greatest power is often in the hands of the biggest idiots.

April Fool's Day 2010

Athena Voltaire by Steve Bryant

Terrence and Isabel Marks have some special comics for April Fool's Day up at Namir Deiter and You Say it First, along with some thoughts on the first webcomic swap.  Any other worthy April Fool's pranks to pass along?  (Digital Strips has a list of a few here)

In hopefully not-fooling news, I'm very interested in the new Bento Comics site which offers "mix-n-match" anthologies through Lulu with a pretty impressive roster of creators on-board.  Brigid Alverson has a short write-up of the project at Robot6.

KICKSTART MY ART: Another very worthwhile Kickstarter project, this one from Steve Bryant, the creator of Athena VoltaireRobot6 reports that Bryant is seeking to raise money to focus again on the comic. And I'm not going to mention Kickstarter without plugging Patrick Farley's drive to revive Electric Sheep.

MILESTONES: Christopher Wright's Help Desk turned 14 years old this weekJon Rosenberg's Goats turned 13 years old.  Congrats to both!

DEAD TREE DELIVERY: The creators of Monster Commute write about the advantages and disadvantages of self-distribution.

AROUND THE BLOGS:  From ComixTalk reader blogs, Mariana Paletta writes about her recently completed first webcomic, Alphie and Sophie Venustar and Super Comix King writes that the second issue of Action Teenz is up.

Comix Talk for Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Motel Art Improvement Service by Jason Little

Scott McCloud endorses the E-Sheep Kickstarter driveHelp Patrick Farley make more comics, folks!

INTERVIEWS

LEGAL:  CBR has an interview with Nina Paley with some good discussion about copyright in the digital age.  Paley had epic copyright battles in getting her fantastic animated film Sita Sings the Blues released.

REVIEWS: Charley Parker talks about Asaf Ahanuka's effort to serialize an english language webcomic version of his Hebrew language comic, The Realist.

Conventions: Gary had the first part of his PAX East round-up yesterday, more to come this afternoon.

AROUND THE BLOGS: An amazing series of ABC driven artwork from Neill Cameron.

NOT WEBCOMICS: James Kochalka has a supporting role in a new movie Mars, that looks pretty interesting.  Shot entirely on greenscreen, it has a rotoscoped animated look not entirely unlike the videogame Borderlands.

Electric Sheep Resurrection

Electric Sheep by Patrick Farley

Patrick Farley is one of the most important artists of the early webcomic era.  You want to argue the point, bring it on.  Farley's amazingly diverse and inventive output losts its presence on the web when Farley's original URL expired.  He's slowly been restoring work to a new URL but now has a beta version of a Kickstarter pitch up to help defray the costs of giving his webcomics the home on the web they really deserve.  Maybe it'll also help buy him more time to complete some of the major projects he created and start some new ones.  I strongly encourage everyone to check out the comics that are already back up, watch the video below to see the startlingly broad range of styles Farley employed and than check out the Kickstarter page.

Apocamon-Lamb by Patrick Farley

Reboot Saturday

Two great pieces of news on the webcomics front today:

A new Girlamatic webcomics anthology site is up and rocking.  It's nice to see this site back with a burst of energy.  The site looks freshly redesigned and it sounds like it's got new code under the hood (maybe more details on that front will come out later).

Patrick Farley is working on re-publishing his webcomic work.  He lost the domain e-sheep at some point this decade and with it all of his previously published webcomic work disappeared.  He's starting putting up work (it sounds like it will take him quite some time to go through all of his old files) at electricsheepcomix.com which has a great throw-back design right now.  I don't actually see any links to comics there yet but keep an eye on it this month (and I'll let you know when I see completed stories up too).

DRAFT List of 100 Greatest Webcomics: Comedy and Drama

Last year I posted a couple times (Previous posts on this "research" project were here and here) about a possible article on "ComixTALK's 100 Greatest Webcomics" which would be something like the American Film Institute's list of the greatest movies of the last 100 years.

A recurring comment to the previous two posts was what is the criteria for this.  I'm always a little hesitant to give too much guidance when part of the point of asking this kind of thing out loud is to listen to the resulting discussion of what everyone else thinks the criteria should be.  For the AFI list judges picked films based on criteria such as Critical Recognition, Major Award Winner, Popularity Over Time, Historical Significance, and Cultural Impact.

That sounds about right to me.  We've got a round decade plus a year or two of webcomics to look at it.  Critical reception (both from peers and critics), and popularity are both relevant to thinking about the impact of a webcomic.  WCCA awards are somewhat indicative of what peers were impressed with in a given year and more recently awards like the Eisners and Ignatzs have recoginized webcomics.  Historical significance and cultural impact are a little harder to pin down but various "firsts" in webcomics are important and comics like Penny Arcade have had a much wider impact on popular culture than most comics do these days (put aside the legacy superheros of comics -- what other "new" comic, let alone webcomic, in the last decade has had a wide cultural impact?)

Another thing AFI did that might be useful here to help sort through the vast numbers of webcomics one could talk about is to also think about categories or genres of work.  Just as a simple matter of numbers if a webcomic isn't one of the best of a larger type of story -- or frankly, so startlingly unique it's hard to categorize -- then it's hard to imagine it's one of the 100 Greatest...

So to move things along I'm listing another "draft" of titles submitted by the crowds but this time I've tried to break them up into drama and comedy so as to help avoid complete apples to oranges comparisons.  In doing that I've realized (1) it's hard in many cases to decide; and (2) there are probably more comedic than drama on the list so far.  I think it would make sense to whittle down the two lists to 75 each so as the final list is no more than 3/4 of one type or the other.  Of course we could further do genre type lists but for now this was enough work on my part.

So -- your assignment (if you choose to play):

  1. Name the comic you're talking about (you're also welcome to nominate ones not on the list -- I KNOW there are many I haven't even thought about yet -- it takes time to review all of the corners of the web)
  2. Tell me where on one the two lists (comedy and drama) it should be (you could give a range of slots if you're not sure). (If you think I've got a drama on the comedy list or vice-versa let me know!  I'm not "done" - this is fairly dashed off still at this point)
  3. Tell me why!  Referencing awards, critics, historical achievements, strengths and weaknesses of the works are all really helpful!