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Comix Talk for Monday, February 8, 2010

Sci Fi Drive By by Ryan Estrada

Welcome to the new site design at ComixTalk.  We're on a new server so let me know if it feels a bit zippier (it seems to be faster all around to me).  Happy to hear about broken stuff -- I'm not done with tweaking things (never done!) and I can add it to the list.  One thing I can warn you about is that a lot of the older URLs are still broken, but I hope to clear most of that up this week.

REVIEWS:  I had the pleasure of sitting down with Copper in print this weekend and reading and re-reading it.  Here's my glowing, gushing review. I also forgot to mention that we liked Kazu even before he was a star; here's the cover art he did for ComixpediaTALK back in 2004.  Also, I'll have a review of Smile, the new graphic novel from Raina Telgemeier up this week.  I did get a chance to read it this past weekend and it is an entertaining, moving story.  Sure, the tale of the teeth and all of the work Raina had to go through are interesting, but she's done so much more with filling out the emotions and just the in-between-ness of those middle school years that it would have made a good story even without that hook.

MILESTONES: Last week marked the end of Anders Loves Maria, the breakout webcomic from Rene Engström.  I'll second Gary's thoughts on the tale.  Perhaps the ending felt a bit abrupt, even forced, but you can't deny it's impact.  It's also worth noting that Engström's art continually improved throughout the comic and that in re-reading the archives of this comic, I'm even more impressed with where she is now as a creator.  I hope the next comic comes soon.

CONTESTS: Ryan Estrada is competing in this month's Zudalympics and he needs your vote.  His comic is called Sci-Fi Drive-By and you can vote by visiting his website.  In non-Zuda voting, Comic Riffs, the Washington Post's blog about comic strips is having a Best Webcomic of the Decade Popularity Contest -- voting closes this Wednesday.  The seven contenders are: Girl Genius, Hark! A Vagrant, Least I Could Do, Penny Arcade, The Perry Bible Fellowship, Schlock Mercenary, and xkcd.

Comix Talk for February 2, 2010

Octopus Pie: There Are No Stars in Brooklyn by Meredith Gran

Quick update this morning - The Escapist website is having a contest -- more like an audition -- to pick a regular webcomic for the The Escapist.  I haven't read the fine print so you should before you enter, but go check it out.  Btw, SLG Publishing is going to have a workshop for "aspiring comic creators" this March in San Jose, CA.

DEAD TREES:  Robot6 previews a lot of comics on book publishers' schedule for this year, includes several webcomics such as Goats, Octopus Pie and Penny Arcade.

INTERVIEWS:  Lots of folks linking to this interview with Bill Watterson of Calvin & Hobbes worship fame...  Be sure to check out Graphic Novel Reporter's interview with Kazu Kibuishi on his print collection of Copper.

Comix Talk for February 1, 2010

Child's Play CharityGood morning world. The Cranky Old Gnome blog offers an essay on webcomics called "Critiquing Free Content". (h/t Paperless Comics):

It got me wondering–to what extent can free content like a webcomic be criticized?  How much does the audience have a right to expect from the artist, and when do they cross that line?

iWebcomics: Paperless Comics has more reactions to the iPad announcement last week.

INTERVIEWS: Growly Beast has an interview with Gitte Tang Jensen of B.I.B.L.E. and Forbidden Planet has an interview with Daniel "Merlin" Goodbrey and his collaborator Sean Azzopardi on their comic Necessary Monsters.

VIDEO GAMES, VIDEO GAMES, VIDEO GAMES: Congrats - the 2010 Game Developers Choice Awards are honoring Jerry, Mike and Robert of Penny Arcade, Inc. with an  Ambassador Award for their Child's Play Charity work.

AWARDS: SPACE handed out some awards and Ryan Dow won in the webcomics category for Introspective Comics.

REVIEWS: Delos reviews Urban Jungle by David Willborn, "a gag comic which mostly covers cubicle humor but also has geek humor, tech humor, animal humor, pokes fun at comics and talks about issues and culture without being preachy."

JUSTIFY MY HYPE: Sailor Twain or the Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel. (h/t Scott McCloud); and David Lasky draws the ULTIMATE GRAPHIC NOVEL (in six panels).

Comix Talk for Wednesday, January 27, 2010

So today is the Second Coming?  The rumored debut of Apple's oversized iPod has sent the newspaper business into a tizzy but it is potentially VERY interesting to the world of comics.  I doubt the first generation of it (if it exists!) will be affordable enough but eventually this could become a serious platform for comics.  IF IF IF IF....

In non-rapturous news of the day, congrats to Ben Costa for winning a Xeric Grant for Shi Long Pang. I look forward to buying that book! (h/t Paperless Comics)  And in a true spirit of public service, Gary reads Platinum Comics Licensing's press release to decipher the latest business plan: "an in-house version of CafePress."

INTERVIEW: Danielle Corsetto of Girls With Slingshots.

REVIEW: Delos reviews Insert Comic by Zack Holmes.

And how about some links to fill-out your morning read -- here's the list of webcomics the readers of the Washington Post nominated for its Comics Riffs poll on "Best Webcomic of the Decade": "Devil's Panties" ; "Devin Crane" ; "Eric Monster Millikin" ; "Girl Genius" ; "Girls With Slingshots" ; "Hark! A Vagrant" ; "Jesus and Mo" ; "Kevin and Kell" ; "Least I Could Do" ; "Navy Bean" ; "The New Adventures of Queen Victoria" ; "Order of the Stick" ; "Penny Arcade" ; "Perry Bible Fellowship" ; "Pibgorn" ; "PvP" ; "Questionable Content" ; "Red String" ; "Schlock Mercenary" ; "Sinfest" ; "UserFriendly.Org" ; and "xkcd."

Why Captain Nihilist reviews the “big” webcomics

A long, long time ago (e.g., two months ago), I promised to do a piece on “Why review webcomics at all?” I turned out to be a more massive project than I realized, and The Webcomic Overlook Central, it turns out, does not employ enough scribes, researchers, and eunuchs to tackle the question in one piece. So, as a way to make this go down easy, I’m breaking the main question into a smaller question.

Mainly this: “Captain Nihilist, shouldn’t you only review webcomics that don’t get much exposure?”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hope everyone is having a good week and maybe, reflecting on a good year?  Or maybe looking ahead to the next one!

First off, congrats to everyone who donated and is helping with Penny Arcade Inc.'s Child’s Play charity drive.  They've reportedly raised over a million dollars already!  Wow - for something that started in part to give the finger to Jack Thompson, this has turned into a wonderful institution.

Next, are you on The Comics Reporters' Local Scene list?  If not and you are a comics-type person, you should email Tom Spurgeon with your vitals.

Robot 6 reviews Princess Planet and Merlin's All Knowledge Is Strange.  It's good to check in with Merlin every so often to see if he's off on another experimental stretching-the-boundaries-of-comics kind of project.  This isn't one of those but it's entertaining nonetheless.

Derik Badman completes his 30 days of comics project.  Derik's one of the smarter people in comics I've met (online at least) and his comics are always a bit challenging (in a good way).  He reminds me sometimes of an old favorite of mine -- Russ Williams' Ko Fight Club.

Cameron Steward used the Brushes app on his iPhone to keep a sketchbook while traveling in Europe. Fantastic stuff!  (Here's a link to the Brushes app)

Optimum Wound blog has a guide for submissions to a whole lot of comics publishers.  (h/t Journalista!)

Past Predictions for Webcomics

I'm hoping to have a roundtable discussion of webcomics in 2009 up on the site later this month, but in the meantime I went back and looked at past ComixTalk roundtables (2007, 2006, 2005) to see how we all did with our predictions for the years to come.  How'd we do?

  • Tom Spurgeon on 2008: A general downturn in the economy combined with the further development of opportunities for traditional media sources on-line is going to have a drastic impact on on-line advertising sales for anyone not aligned with a major company. Tough times ahead. 
  • Heidi MacDonald on 2008: Some smart publisher is going to realize that webcomics are the next Garfield, and make lots of money for everyone. It is inevitable. I'm shocked that no one has been smart enough to see that yet.
  • Michael Rouse-Deane on 2007: I think even more webcomics will venture into animation. I know some of them are dabbling in it at the moment. Also, even more so, webcomics will expand off the web and into print. So webcomics will become offline and animated. I think the next big milestone for a webcomic will be a TV series!
  • Gillead Pellaeon on 2007: Last year I predicted people would be jealous of Tim Buckley and start making their own animations. And it happened. First with Blamimation, then a test episode of a VG Cats series, and now with PvP going to Blind Ferret. I also predicted more books, and that happened too. I didn't foresee Penny Arcade going into video game development, but now that they have, look for others to follow suit (I'm thinking Ctrl+Alt+Del and VG Cats here).
  • Alexander Danner on 2007:  Something I do think we'll see in the coming year is greater cooperation between the various technical service providers. For instance, it would be very lovely if users of WCN could simply click a check box to activate an account with RyanNorth's OhNoRobot transcription and search service. There are a lot of services out there that are wonderful individually, but would be golden in combination.
  • Doctor Setebos on 2006: Mainstream. As broadband creeps slowly into everyone's homes, and online is everything, people will discover the popular webcomics. PvP and Penny Arcade will be on the forefront of the public onslaught. Journalists from respected newspapers and television news magazines will begin to write intelligent and eye-opening articles on webcomics that actually inform the public of this expansive entertainment industry that is growing daily right there on the internet. More services will be created/shifted to provide subscription webcomic content to the droves of readers that will begin to pour onto the webcomics community by next summer. More webcomics will be signed to those subscription services, and fans will cheer wildly as their favorite cartoonists finally reach the "big time".
  • Bob Stevenson on 2006: I spent some time talking with a Nielson executive this fall (the tv ratings folks). He hadn't considered the kind of traffic and market webcomics pull in or more importantly their narrow demographic. I'm not sure I convinced him it was worth any attention, but I'm thinking that some big companies may finally realize there's an underexploited market in the making that's worth throwing some money at. The cost to try something out on a large scale is just too low for someone not to. Sure, we comic creators have talked about how to reach a wider advertising market, but I think services like google adsense and the 360ep signings may have made some of us too passive on that front. Unless our efforts change drastically (they won't), it'll take some of the advertisers coming at webcomics to start realizing the potential on that front. Will it happen in 2006? How much is Rockstar Games paying Tycho and Gabe in 2005?

Webcomics Headlines for Tuesday November 24, 2009

The Webcomics List is having an awards program this year.  According to their rules, "Everyone actively involved in webcomics in some way can nominate candidates for the awards. You can nominate up to three comics for each [category]."  Nominations are open until December 13th and the winners -- to be selected by panels of judges -- will be announced on January 24th.

AV Club includes two webcomics in its best comics of the decade listAchewood and American Elf. (h/t El Santo)

The Penny Arcade "reality show" is surprisingly moving -- really well done and looking forward to future episodes.  (Much better than the PA comic would suggest!)

Sean Kleefeld comments on a recent story (one in a continuing series apparently) about how "the internet ate my comic" -- this story in the Peoria Journal focusing on comments of frustration with the Internet from Julie Larsone, the creaor of the Dinette Set comic.

And Guest Starring Ted Rall as the "Get Off My Lawn" Guy

I actually like Ted Rall's cartooning - don't always agree with him but to me if you're going to put yourself out there as an editorial cartoonist it helps to actually editorialize in the cartoon.  Rall does that fearlessly.

But apparently Rall seems to think the only way to success in comics is through the narrow prism of his own experiences.  He can't seem to stand thinking about any other avenue to a sustainable career in comics despite his clear understanding that the newspaper biz is dying and killing off editorial (and all) comics in the newspaper even faster.  There's a somewhat over-long interview between Ted Rall and Rall protege Matt Bors in the recent issue of TCJ (available online now) where Rall just can't leave "webcomics" alone:

How can we be "alternative"? There are more political cartoons drawn and published in "alternative" styles — in altweeklies — than there are in dailies. Indeed, the only thing more annoying than the lame posturing of a few ridiculous tools like Scott Kurtz (PVP) and the Penny Arcade guys (who apparently have Roman orgies every time a staff editorial cartoonist loses his job and winds up unemployed) is the term "webcartoonist." What the fuck does that mean? Oh, I know: Cartoonists who post their stuff online for free and sell visitors to their websites merchandise like T-shirts and books. And who attend lots of comics conventions. Well, gee, what cartoonist doesn't do that? We all do. We all have been. Everyone is a webcartoonist now.

What's disconcerting beyond the ridiculous Amway-like rhetoric ("You too can make BIG CASH MONEY making comics FROM HOME!") is that free has become a religion for the e-vangelists. They give cartoons away for free that they could sell — simply by asking! You and I were on a group phone chat a while back with webcartoonists like Kurtz and someone — I forget who — said he wouldn't even know how to ask for money. I said: "You just ask, 'Do you have a budget for this?'" It really is that simple. Not only are these guys driving down the prices for all of us who are trying to make a living, they're doing the same thing editorial cartoonists are doing by lowering the quality. Look at webcartoons like PVP and Penny Arcade, by all accounts the most successful webcomics around. Kurtz tried to give PVP away for free to newspapers a while back and there were no takers. Why? Because it's terrible. Incompetently written. Awful characterization. Plastic, cold artwork. Syndication 1.0 had flaws. It kept out good, daring work. But now that there's no gatekeeper, all the shit is everywhere. It used to be off the page. Now it's damned near impossible for readers to distinguish what's good because it's surrounded by crap. That's not good for the profession. A terrible mainstream comic like Tumbleweeds had a base level of competence. Only a half-dozen webcomics, like Diesel Sweeties, Cat and Girl, etc. do.

Webcomic Overlook's Top Ten Best Webcomics of the Decade

You want to know what’s really subjective? Top ten lists. No two people will ever agree on what the best ten of anything is as long as people have the ability to think for themselves. Isn’t merely the act of putting together such a list an example of arrogance? Probably.

Still, we love lists like the one I’m compiling below for one big reason: its fun to argue why something made the list, and why things were left off.

So, as we head into the Holiday Season and close out the aughts, here’s my list of what I think are the Ten Best Webcomics of the Decade (2000-2009): The Second Decade of Webcomics.