Webcomic Book Club Reviews by Cobra

Oh, gosh. Pawn. One of those bad comics that I like, since it uses a very, very cheap and old trick in order to attract and hook readers: teasing.

BEWARE: NIPPLES!

It folds out like the introduction to a porno. A young, nubile scholar named Ayanah ventures deep into a dungeon and confronts the giant, naked (but apparently vagina-less) female demon named Baalah that guards its treasure. After some taunts and grandstanding, the Ayanah challenges Baalah over one's possession of the other's soul. Through some clever manuevers, the Ayanah wins and gets to keep the demon's soul. She kisses Baalah, which turns her to human size, and uses a wish granted her to set Baalah free from her prison. They still have to escape, though, and that means traversing the treacherous dungeon with all of its traps and monsters, as well as arguing with each other and getting into all sorts of sexually tense situations.

The story, to put it quite plainly, is just a vehicle. Plot points are set up just so the character's personalities can bounce off of each other and usually lead to a situation where they kiss or are about to do something nasty but they don't. don't expect any actual sex from this comic. This comic has a lot of buildup, but no climax, at least not yet.

The art itself is done in pencils, with all parts of the female anatomy (especially Baalah's breasts) greatly exagerrated. Camera angles are done in a way to show off the breasts, thighs and butts of the girls. It's all cheesecake, but at least it's done competently.

This is the comic equivalent of cotton candy. It may taste real sweet, but it's not very fulfilling. Oh, and it can give you a boner. Read it with the same level of intensity and involvement that you would with your average Penthouse letter.
Fri May 13 2005 04:40 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Sounds more like the author's mind. Ooh, zing!

This is a series of stories about midgets drawn like Garfield (only worse) that have zero personality, are involved in the unfunniest of jokes and the worst sense of reader involvement ever.

I started reading the Carl Story and stopped halfway through. It was extremely terrible. I don't have to elaborate. Just read the first page and repeat.

So I jumped to the latest storyarc, The Scent of Static, which are a series of one-shot jokes. Oh, Jared Fogel dies. Funny and topical. Hey, random violence. Oh, and boobies. Please.

Trying yet again, I started reading Road To Somewhere. Deep. Idiotic. Boring.

See, this is a comic in which the author rambles things on the front page like "I would love to see if the complete uptightness of government would finally relax by changing what they wear. After all, ability is based in the mind, not on the skin, right? How about Rumsfeld walking into the oval office one morning wearing sweatpants and sporting a huge boner." Don't waste my time with this dreck.

If the author is going to put zero effort into making a quality comic, then why should I put any into writing a review? I COULD BE HAVING FUN RIGHT NOW! END!
Thu May 05 2005 04:18 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Ho. I'm back. Here's something I can bite.

Hey, remember all those weird Flash movies from a few years back? Those things were incredibly random, and people watched them over and over again because they'd never seen anything quite like it before. They couldn't make sense out of any of it. They had to laugh. The internet allowed a new brand of humor to form, and it grew popular quickly. Another big thing the internet did was make pop-culture so much more accessible. No longer did people have to look for other people to talk about the latest news events or wait for their favorite TV show to be on to hear about them. The internet allows people to instantly talk about stuff that happened mere hours ago. Internet comedians are getting faster and faster at finding quirky and ironic things in the news and clever ways to make fun of them. It's evident that TV is trying to catch up to the internet, as many shows kids watch these days are filled with random humor and the most current pop-culture references cable TV can deliver, sometimes even broadcast live. Ace Plughead wants to combine randomness and pop-culture to bring us something people will exult over, but he forgot one very important thing: humor.

This comic is a mess, and not the good kind of mess either. You can see where the author tries to make a joke, but you can also see where he fails. The randomness and pop-culture is there, but it's there for no reason. Are those inserted movie quotes supposed to have anything other than a loose, lame relation to the situation? Is there anything funny about Dance Dance Revolution or the "zoom zoom" kid or Donald Trump? They're just there. They don't carry the scene or even make any kind of contribution!

Even when the author does try to make a joke about whatever he's referring to, he fails to be any more funny, witty or clever than Jay Leno (who is kind of a benchmark for how lame pop-culture humor can be). The character development is zilch, and the characters themselves are either pre-set archetypes (bad-ass grrl Sarah Zero), horrible lampoons of other archetypes (the black dude, the anime-girl and the wigga) or incredibly poor caricatures of celebrities (Martha Stewart, George Bush, Various Terrorists). Also, the pacing's incredibly horrible. At first it's just rush, rush, rush to the next scene. Then Sarah falls out of a plane forever while a bunch of random characters do random, violent and mean things that don't make any sense and are still not funny.

The art is ugly too. It's angular and distorted, depicting scenes that are hard to decipher and not fun to look at. Prevalent as well are depictions of as many references as he can find. The pacing and tone of the story also gets in the way of the pages having any kind of cohesion. As the strip goes on, the pages become enitrely too wordy, filling the page with approximately a third of word bubbles, and this is supposed to be action-packed without much of a plot.

My recommendation for the author is to start over. There isn't much of a plot to sacrifice. Randomness can work. Pop-culture can work. For them to be humorous, however, he must be able to put them together and comment on them in a way that people haven't thought of before. Everyone's heard at least a few Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart jokes, and this guy is writing those jokes. This is the internet! Tread new ground! If he has enough courage to use the F-word online, then he can certainly tell us what the Neverland Ranch has in common with McDonald's.

(Find out yourself)
Thu Apr 21 2005 03:26 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Due to unforseen complications, I probably won't have time to review MegaTokyo at all, suffice to say that I find it a blindingly unfunny celebration of a dorky fandom with repetitive art and petty sarcasm in place of meaningful or funny dialogue. And l33tspeak.
Mon Apr 04 2005 04:27 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Somehow I've been spared the nagging phone ringings and other distractions that precluded others from watching Broken Saints. It probably also helped that I viewed each episode outside of my house. Bear in mind that this was about a year ago, so my memory of the series is a tad hazy, and I don't have nearly enough time now to re-watch the show.

I enjoyed watching Broken Saints. I thought it was cool, intriguing, interesting and suspenseful with great art and music. The pacing was a tad slow, and the personalities were rough, but that didn't matter too much compared to the larger picture. It's only now, looking back, that I see that even though Broken Saints was a technical and narrative marvel for Flash animation as well as webcomics, it wasn't exactly stellar. The reason this seemed so mindblowing to me was that webcomics and Flash are saturated with incredibly shallow work that consist of bad art, rip-offs of established (usually Japanese) work and lame sarcastic comments that count for the 'humor' in the work. It seemed so good because there was nothing better.

If you take a look at the story of Broken Saints, you can see that it cribs major story elements heavily from sources such as Final Fantasy, Evangelion (or maybe Xenogears, since it's so similar), Cowboy Bebop (take a look at that TV altar), Deus Ex (two shadowy guys consiprating in front of a bunch of monitors, as well as the whole international conspiracy bit), and most of all, Watchmen, as the entire plot revolves around a guy who thinks the world's gone to Hell and the only way to pull it up is to bring about some kind of global catastrophe. Also, many sections of chapters seemed to be thinly veiled rants against Amerika and corporations and our consumer way of life. Did I mention I dislike it when a piece of literature tries to polarize it's audience? I won't get into a discussion of my politics versus the author's, suffice to say he cites one of his resources as the *snicker* "Almighty Adbusters." Yeah, it's really no use arguing wth this guy.

But even with the not-so-original premise and rants agaist society, Broken Saints was still enjoyable when I watched it. So what would releasing it on DVD do?

First off, as the Phantom Critic said, DVD's would greatly increase the versatility and functionality of the feature, giving it much needed pause and rewind buttons. The first five chapters are also being totally redrawn, so they don't look nearly as crude as they did on the internet. Voice-actors could make or break the experience, as that takes away another layer that made BS a psuedo-webcomic in the first place, and the voices could be bad. DVD extras always help, though. I'm not going to buy the DVD. I'm over Broken Saints, but that doesn't mean others can't enjoy it as much as I did. Also, it's only logical to want to make money off of this costly and laborious venture, so why not release it on DVD? If it means people can watch it anytime they want, as well as not have to deal with messy connection problems then I'm all for it.
Thu Mar 17 2005 04:27 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

JibJab is not a webcomic. How it could be classified as such is beyond me. It is a series of Flash movies using shallow animation to simulate talking celebrity heads and pretty good impersonating voices. It is sometimes funny, but often devolves into jokes that Jay Leno could come up with. Incidentally, their most famous movie, This Land, was featured on the Tonight Show, garnering it a tad more fame and legitimacy than other Flash movie sites. It also takes a while to load anything.

I know that the definition of sequential art is a hazy one, as a series of still pictures standing next to each other can carry adhere to that term just as well as a series of still pictures shown in rapid succession (with added sound), but you know that one is a comic strip and the other is a movie. This is not "sequential art" we're trying to discuss. It's comic strips: still pictures standing next to eachother which when read in a certain sequence denote the passage of time. Sometimes they can only be one panel, in which a word or thought balloon still denotes the time it takes for the cogitation to get across. Unlike still pictures, comics cannot be absorbed by the mind instantly. They must take ime to read. Unlike books, comics not only provide a visual aid to the narrative, but the visuals are an integral part of the narrative. Unlike movies, comics can be read at one's own pace. JibJab is only like a comic in the fact that these are mostly still pictures of people and things with their components animated in order to convey a sense of movement. If you count JibJab as a comic in any way, you might as well count this too.

Sure, sometimes rules can be bent, and the internet makes bending the rules even easier. Animation can be added to a comic to give it an extra flair. Comics can become interactive by having the user click on things to proceed. Comics can have added sound. That still doesn't take away from the definition of comics, though, which are still pictures in series meant to convey the passage of time. JibJab ain't it.

As for comparing it with other political cartoons, go ahead. I'm not stopping you. Lord knows there aren't enough authors, pundits, cartoonists, bloggers and late night talk show hosts trying to put a lighthearted spin on the tragic mess that is American politics. I don't really care who's saying what or how they're conveying it or even if I agree with any of it. I just want to know whether they're funny or not. JibJab: eh...
Thu Mar 10 2005 05:54 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

FUNNIEST COMIC ON THE INTERNET.

Yes. There have been a few comics on the internet that made me laugh out loud. Most of them pandered to my more basic instincts and emotions, simply by being extremely gross, scathing, bizarre, or ironic. This one has it all. There's not much I CAN say about this, except for the fact that I laughed at EVERY SINGLE ONE. Yes. Instead of reading this review, why don't you just go read the comic? The link's right there, and they're so easy to read. They're not incredibly heady, but not totally stupid either. they're not really offensive but at the same time they don't seem to tread on only 'safe' areas. All of them are funny, and I don't understand why more people can't be this funny when this comic makes it seem so easy. The Perry Bible Fellowship definitely needs all the promotion it can get, so take a look and tell your friends.

As for the club itself, I don't know exactly what to say. I certainly did enjoy participating in this club. It was fun to be exposed to some great comics that I was previously unaware of, and also enjoyed ripping to shreds the ones I thought deserved it. Either way, it was satisfying to feel like I had even a small position of gravitas as a critic.

I know that not everyone has agreed with my views or of those of the club at large. Some people hate stuff that I like, and vice versa, and they have been just as vocal as me regarding their disagreement. Some may take offense at some of the differences of opinion presented toward the club. Others may shrug them off and ignore them. I prefer to try and see all sides of the argument, see why other people do disagree. I may still stick to my opinion, but anything that exposes me to new ways of thinking is fine by me. I've even been appreciating Achewood more nowadays (apparently I just couldn't relate to the characters well).

So, what's next for me? I dunno, this was just kinda a passing hobby for me, but I might try my hand at the more "prestigeous" comic review sites such as comixpedia or Sequential 'Tart. Worth a shot. It's good practice for honing my writing skills.

So I may wave goodbye to the club for a while, hoping there's renewed interest somewhere down the road, but for now, wherever there's a Buttlord, a Damn Kid, an Acid Keg or even the Catlow's, the Shives and the 8-Bits, I'll be sure to say something about it.

This is Cobra, signinGHUALGHALGHAL OH GOD COMING FROM ALL DIRECTIONS
Thu Mar 03 2005 04:36 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

The key to telling a good story is to use good descriptors of place and time, interesting but familiar characters, and compelling situations. I'm pretty sure that with time the author of these stories will figure that out.

There's a big problem with The Angel Interceptor: it's boring. The stories are of little consequence, insight or humanity. Things happen for no reason, and the usual 'unusual' elements that are found in a good storytelling come off as contrived. These stories might have been compelling two hundred years ago, but not today.

Example? Boy gets lost as a baby and is raised by rabbits. When he is too old to fit in the rabbit hole anymore, he comes back to the human world to become a really good carpenter(?). He builds for both rich and poor, but somehow his work does its part in dividing the classes. He asks the rabbits for help and they tell of a time when animals were all mixed up and therefore equal(?). He then teams up with his lagomorph brothers to mix up the assets of the townspeople in order to create equality, but everyone just gets mad. The moral of the story: people may be unequal, but that's the way the system works. I think.

What a load of horsecrap.

These stories have to have some actual freakin' conflict, man! My brother once told the scariest ghost story ever about an Irishman who was killed by a small colonial industrial town, so his spirit killed the rest of the town and all their descendents. He told it with such conviction that I almost thought it was real. I was riveted. If these stories were being told around a campfire, I'd wander off and look for the nearest bong.

The visual presentation is also something that bugs me. Half the time it's real sloppy. Other times it tries to be kooky and psychedelic, but it just comes off as trying too hard. I hang around with far too many street poets to be wowed by this kind of stuff any more.

Also, watch out for spelling and grammar errors. They'll kill ya.

So try for something a little deeper. When telling a story, don't talk as if you're some omnipotent narrator who knows every character's inner thoughts, just tell it like it is, and leave at least a bit of a sense of mystery and suspense, rather than these forgettable rambling tales that don't matter and no one cares about.
Tue Mar 01 2005 05:41 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Interesting choice.

It's the comic blog of Jeffrey Rowland, more famous in the webcomic world for drawing Wigu, which has sadly ended. Now he draws this comic and the Wigu spin-off Magical Adventures in Space.

Although it's supposedly a journal comic, reality is distorted very much. This is much more of a look into Rowland's mind than the outside world, and it uses his unique sense of humor. It's hard for me to describe, but I could best say that he treats his fantasies with common sense and looks at the absurdities of life from an equally absurdist perspective. I can't really say much else, just that I like it.

The art is simple but charming, showing base emotions without overdramatizing. Good use of color and photshop.

And that's that.

Unfortunately, even though it's a charming comic, it does not contain a lot of substance and doesn't leave a lasting impression. It's good for the occasional quick laugh, but not much else, like Wigu without the continuous story.
Tue Feb 15 2005 05:57 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

HI.

MY OPINIONS ON WEBCOMICS ARE IMPORTANT.

DICKS/PRICKS (CLICK ONE)

I've come to realize something in doing this, that reviews of webcomics for the most part are unnecessary. Webcomics, no matter how good, bad or obscure, will develop a fanbase. It is usually because people are suckers for certain genres and art styles. It is also because webcomics are free. If there's really no cost in looking at a webcomic and deciding for yourself whether you like it or not, what point is there?

That's what people have told me, and I still have some reasons for doing it. One reason is that I feel that sometimes the authors could actually derive some meaningful help from my criticism. It's happened. Another function is to promote comics that are not in the spotlight yet if they're good. My main reason, though, is that it's fun. It's fun to write an opinion on anything, really, because on the internet it doesn't really matter what other people think of your views. Don't like cheese? Say something about it. Are you into ska-trance? Tell me more. Honestly, there's not much effort put into writing these things, and if you get a strong opinion one way or another about them, then you live an easier life than I do. I've stopped caring a long time ago.

This is all relevant because what I am about to 'review' has got to be the most bizarre webcomic ever. It uses an old program called Microsoft Comic Chat and the art of Jim Woodring to create a series of talking heads to speak in all caps, mostly talking about internet jokes, gay jokes, dick jokes and HUGLAGHALGHALGHAL. To be blunt: it's crap. Not preachy, incomrehensible morals over a pathetic non-issue crap, not schizophreniccombination of weak jokes and stupid, overwrought drama crap, not incredibly lame, ugly, overlong with a circle-jerking fanbase crap or so inept that it's not even funny to laugh at crap. It's a different kind of crap. It's a crap that knows it's crap, and revels in its own crappiness. Even the dubiously named author knows its crap and is surprised it has lasted this long. Clearly, there must be something special about this comic, as certain people just LOVE this junk.

I think it's the absolute lack of pretense and unabashed aversion from quality.

The comic has been described as a continuous story, just composed out of order. Fittingly, my method of viewing it has been through constantly cliking the random button. A comic from 1998 is indistinguishable from a comic from 2005, so there wasn't any problem regarding clashing or contrasting styles. Reading it was like walking through some kind of acid flashback (not that I know what that's like) in which the same thing happened all the time, but I had the feeling that each time was different. The jokes are all about the characters' apparent joy of dicks and homoeroticism, or it could all be just that they are continually sarcastic over that kind of stuff. Really, who can tell? Oftentimes, the dialogue is disjointed and nonsensical, about half the time not being able to stay in the same thought process through three panels. The strip is one giant non-sequitor, and for some reason I kept feeling compelled to go on.

Something happened while I was reading it. After reading about twenty strips in a row, they started to make sense. The jokes were getting funnier. I can't explain it accurately now, as I'm not reading it at the moment and I did not save the links to the comics, but I just hit a vibe. The dialogue, at first nearly incomprehensible, sounded reasonable! The leaps from one topic to another suddenly made sense, as in it was funny just because it didn't make sense. I was laughing at the sheer absurdity of the comic because there was nothing linking it to reality, yet I felt like there was. Really, does this make sense to you? Or this or this? Read a bunch of strips and come back to me.

I've compared comics to automotive accidents in the past, but now I realize that those weren't good analogies, as they weren't the kind I'd come back to just to get a glimpse at the horror. The strip was like several accidents happening one right after another, as if I were watching World's Wildest Police Chases. After a while, I just became entranced by the thought of vehicles colliding and started considering them an art form even though they were merely grotesque products of human stupidity.

I think Jerkcity's secret is that it's intentionally stupid and nonsensical, but the bizarre and surreal nature and stark simplicity of the comic will make people try to understand its schtick. In doing so, they will gradually get more stupid until they fall into a the right wavelength that Jerkcity eminates. Drugs help.

So read it if you want. A review of this comic doesn't matter, since it has already fallen into its own niche and knows exactly what it's all about. The people who read this comic have already formed their own opinion. No outside views will change your own opinion of this comic, and the author certainly doesn't need any help that I can provide. In this case, I can only give you the info. What you decide to do with it is up to you.

So proceed with caution.
I guess there's nothing cool about punching a florist.
Mon Feb 07 2005 06:25 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

This is something we all need.

Most of us are geeks. We're nerds, losers, dorks and other assorted people with social anxiety disorders. Why else would you be here, pretending to be some fantastical creature with super-powers? There's nothing wrong with a little indulging of one's fantasies, as it is what keeps us sane. However, just like someone who does not indulge can become a bitter, cynical jerk, someone who indulges too much can easily become an indignant, emotionally unstable mess. We need to balance our realities and fantasies in order to keep a proper perspective on our world. This comic helps.

Geeks come in all sorts of flavors, but the unifying trait between them is the fact that they are socially awkward. The cause of such behavior is debatable, as it could be caused by any combination of parental upbringing, market-driven culture, escapist entertainment and various social conditions, as well as plain old genetics having their way. Whatever the cause, though, one thing is clear, and that is that geeks tend to stay geeks due to their own self-imposed social insulation. They feel that they have better things than other people to provide them happiness. They turn toward movies, games and television to provide them comfort and joy, and they only have friends that are also socially awkward, ensuring none are judgmental toward each other. They only become more geeky when they are not able to see themselves in the mirror that is society. They lack a crucial sense of perspective.

The Internet by-and-large does not help one see themselves in a new light. Most-often, a geek will simply find a niche where his flaws are tolerated, accepted or even appreciated. If he were to seek objectivity from an outside site, he'd most likely be screamed at and called names instead of being offered any useful advice for self-improvement. That's why this site is so special: It is a place made for everyone to enjoy and learn, whether they are geeks or not.

The premise of the site is quite simple: People send in stories exemplifying how much of a loser they were, and the funniest ones get illustrated in comic form. The stories that do get picked are a little more unusual than what you would normally hear around your high school, but they are still all ostensibly true. You will most probably laugh at a good number at them. Some people will laugh at the geeks portrayed here because geeks are funny that way, but I think you will laugh because you know deep down that there is a part of you in each of these stories.

This comic provides us a simple but very important service: perspective. It's seeing ourselves for who we really are, from the eyes of someone who is non-judgmental. All the stories here were sent in via the first-party's admission, and the strips themselves are presented without a trace of scorn or ridicule, rather letting the events (and the narrator's interpretations thereof) speak for themselves. One of the reasons why this comic is so funny is that it does not try to force us into one way of seeing things. The best comedy is the kind that can leave all opinions intact and still bring on the laughs.

Now, you may laugh, but you must also wonder: Could you be part of this? When you laugh at the strips, are you laughing at other people, or are you secretly laughing at yourself? There's no reason to be ashamed. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's someone getting huffy and indignant (and sometimes downright whiny) in defending their social flaws. There's nothing wrong with a little humility. Realize that you do look silly. Realize that it's okay to laugh at yourself. If you can do that, you can conquer the world.
Mon Jan 31 2005 05:08 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Darn it, I'd hoped this wouldn't happen. When I discovered Van Von Hunter, it was much better than it is now.

The story is of the meatheaded-yet-competent Van Von Hunter (formerly known as Van Von Vaughn) who goes around the land hunting and destroying evil. In his travels, he gains a few companions and Nemeses, all with their amusing quirks.

With the exception of the very beginning, the whole package is done in a very professional-looking manga style. Lines are crisp and clean, and the inking is very well done. It conveys a good sense of atmosphere. At least in the first half.

Jokes are also great. In the first half. Using a deft mixture of dimwitted (but fabulously determined) enemies as well as jokes-on-the-fly and physical humor, there were several moments where my head hit the keyboard from laughter.

Then something happened. It was around the time that this comic got picked up from Tokyopop. It became sloppy. Backgrounds were more stark. Jokes strated to stem from one-shots and pop-culture and manga references rather than conflict and character. Instead of dispensing of monsters in unusual and comical ways, the characters just stand around now, talking and boasting, usually with the final panel being something to the effect of "Whoops! That didn't go as planned." It's becoming predictable.

So my advice to the creators of this comic is that I know you can make some excellent jokes. Just have Hunter and the Flaming Prince go toe-to-toe again and stop making insipid one-shot strips. I know you can do it.
Thu Jan 27 2005 06:05 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

The Wandering Ones is one of the older webcomics still running. Given that, I haven't had the time to read the entire archives. However, unlike most other comics I hadn't finished, I like what I see.

The story takes place in 2066, roughly thirty years after an extremist cult released a virus designed to wipe out the human race after they had left the planet. Twenty percent of the people survived, though, and after the chaos that ensued from a lawless society, new nations and factions have been formed. This story focuses on the Clan of the Hawk, a nomadic society of people who survive off the land through stealth, tracking and an innate understanding of nature. They are fighting against the Reich, a neo-Nazi empire that occupies much of the Midwestern United States and Canada. The clan's allies are the Yakama Nation and the technologically proficient Western Alliance. The Reich wants to move in on the Alliance and acquire its technologies, but the Hawk Clan has consistently stopped its progress.

The main character is Ravenwing, leader of the Hawk Clan. The story involves mainly with how she deals with her students and how they handle various threats coming from not only the Reich, but also from nature and some supernatural forces.

The artwork and presentation of the comic is very reminiscent of newspaper comics, what with the art resembling those funnies that take themselves seriously such as Mary Worth and Prince Valiant. Also noticeable are the flat, mostly monochromatic panel layout for weekdays and large, full-color strips for Sundays toward the beginning. Also of note is the fact that every detail of note is clearly spelled out by a character's speech, someone's inner thoughts or the nebulous narrator. It doesn't leave a lot of room for subtlety, even when the characters are supposed to be. People also talk in wisecracks often, and usually the last panel is supposed to set up suspense for the next comic: all traits of the newspaper funnies. I have noticed that the author has shied away from these constraints as the comic went along, and I am glad for that. If you're making a comic on the Internet, you shouldn't let the confines of another medium limit you unless you truly want that.

The stories themselves are smartly done, though, in that even though the problems tend to range from the dire to the far-fetched, they are presented in a believable manner and solved in creative ways. Problems are solved mostly using stealth and diplomacy, but even when it comes down to fisticuffs, fights are always cut short by the use of a special technique or two.

It was a bit hard for me to keep track of the characters, as the monochromes and the emphasis on inking made it a bit hard for me to distinguish minor ones a times. Many of them have similar haircuts and personalities. Fortunately, it didn't matter too much, as I just kept track of what a character was doing at the moment rather than what they had done in the past. Like newspaper comics, this one doesn't force you to go back into the archives to understand what's going on now, and that's a trait I like.

So I like this comic. It's neatly presented and very well put-together. I might keep reading to see if the rough edges have been smoothed a bit, but right now I say it's a fine package.
Fri Jan 21 2005 06:10 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Okay Pants is one of those comics that gets it right without much effort. The art isnít exceptional and the situations arenít incredibly original, but it gets a very important aspect down pat: charm.

Julie and Bello are the black-eyed duo of this oddly-named comic. Julie seems to be the authorís projection of herself into the comic. They seem to have the same personality and share the same name, after all. Sheís playful, creative and outgoing, sarcastic at times but not sour. Bello is a mushroom that strangely has his stalk coming out of his mouth. He a tad naÔve and somewhat of a pessimist, as often cautious about things he does not understand. He does, however, gain courage whenever he feels he has to defend Julie or pay retribution to those who have done either of them wrong. Personality-wise, there isnít anything incredibly defining about either of these two characters, but they do share a child-like friendship that goes through its ups and downs, but never breaks. They play, watch TV, laugh, argue and go on adventures together. They share a bond that borders on love, but is grounded enough in childhood to make us sigh instead of swoon.

The whole package has Ďquickí written all over it. Art is often sloppy and proportions are usually out-of-whack. Linework is rough. The situations also seem to be made up as they go along. Sometimes a story seemingly ended because the author had written herself into a corner. Jokes are the kind that comes from the gut, rather than ones that come from thinking about them.

But you know what? I like that. Through reading this (and it is very easy to read), I got a keen sense of what the authorís like, and I enjoy it. The drawings may be sloppy, but theyíre still expressive. The fact that the stories are made up as they go along makes the endings a surprise as much for me as for the author. I like the jokes because they come from the gut. Iíve learned that sometimes if something is too rehearsed or thought-out, it becomes sterile and robotic. You gotta leave some room for improv, man.

So itís not perfect. Itís not a great work of art. Heck, itís technically not as good as the last comic I reviewed, but even though that one had more fleshed-out colors, neater inks and more thought-out jokes, this one gave me much more enjoyment. Sometimes itís better to draw what comes naturally than to exhaustively plan it out. If youíre thinking too hard, youíre not doing it right.

Now whereís my Thelonius Monk CD?
Wed Jan 12 2005 03:55 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Telling episode.

Time to roll out another one of those webcomics that just irks me to no end. It carries and highlights at least three pet-peeves I've had in the medium for quite some time.

First off, it's apparent that the artist has taken a few classes in the Mike Krahulik school of art. The oblong, rubbery faces with their built-in sneers and also just the whole inking and coloring style in general gives it away. The part that really gets me, though, is that all the characters just come off as ugly to me, although that's more of a personal preference. Your mileage may vary, but mine sputtered out a few blocks from my house.

Then there's the writing. Snark, snark, snark. Enough sarcasm to choke an elephant. I'll bet the author thinks he's so cool, coming up with all these hilarious (not really) zingers that fictional, unoriginal "cool" people throw at fictional, unoriginal stupid people. What's worse is that it seems like everyone is the edge-master of sarcasm. E'los zings the wizard, who zings back. Then when the wizard's gone, E'los becomes the butt of every zing, and Raknar is the zinger of everybody. Problem is, the zinger from Saturday Night Live does much better zings than this, and he's just a short sketch.

Also, too wordy.

Then there's the fact that the entire point of this is just another one of those "band of heroes goes off to fight the great evil" stories done a zillion times over in various video games and role-playing sessions. I'm not saying this set-up isn't ripe for parody. It's over-ripe. It's been done to death. Don't try to get blood from a stone, especially if all you can muster is a bunch of weak insults.

And Mr. T. That's funny. You know what else is funny? Mr. T set up us the bomb and ate my balls. Where's the beef? Whasssup with that? Yo quiero a better comic. I just lost another loan to Ditech! (Maybe not)

To be perfectly fair, though, this comic still seems to be finding its sea-legs. It's only 56 episodes long right now, and Grayle is providing a different, surreal humorous element that the comic needed before. Not enough to make me laugh yet, but getting there. Perhaps the author's two-month break has given him some new material. Throw in some situational and visual humor rather than having it all be fueled by scathing words and it might even make me crack a smile.

Work smarter, not harder.
Wed Jan 05 2005 08:02 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Ah, another one of those "I don't give a damn about art" comics.

Dinosaur comics is one that carries a unique concept: Every comic has the exact same panel layout, with the characters in the exact same positions all the time, with slight variations avery once in a while. The only thing different between comics is the dialogue.

There are three characters: T-Rex, Dromiceiomimus and Utahraptor. T-Rex likes to stomp on things, and he often tries to put some kind of witty or philisophical spin on his activities, making him think he's all that. Dromiceiomimus is just a bystander, sometimes offering helpful (but universally ignored) advice to T-Rex. Utahraptor is the counterbalance to T-Rex's rash, self-involved behavior, but he more often comes off as a spoilsport. After Utahrapter gives T-Rex the heads-up, T-Rex has one panel to make his retort, in which he usually is reduced to swearing and using petty insults.

One may think this process is formulaic, but the beauty of it all is that we know that. The author isn't trying to hide anything here. We know how the panels will play out. What's funny is the amount of creative ways the author uses these six panels in order to bring us different variations on the same thing happening over and over again. Does the girl get stomped on or not? Where is Utahraptor in panel 6? What is Dromiceiomimus' role in all of this? Sometimes different visual effects are used to alter the images, but the layout remains the same, except the time when Utahraptor travels to an alternate universe and all the panels are backward.

Of course, all this can be tiring if you read so many in a row, as the repeating images and can make the eyes start to wander. The funniest comics for me later on were the ones that took advantage of the formula to bring a new, refreshing adaptation of the six-panel layout, as they simply caught me off-guard. These happen at just the right pace so once I start getting tired of seeing the same old thing I get a little breather.

This comic is simply amusing, and it's a novel idea to be sure. It's made all the better that the dialogue can remain somewhat fresh and original throughout the whole thing, with some variations in the layout and presentation thrown in every once and a while to keep things from getting stagnant. This is also somethig that the audience can very easily participate in, as many people have made their own interpretations on the six-panel layout themselves in the fan-art section. Nice.
Thu Dec 30 2004 04:15 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Reading this comic has been like being in an abusive relationship. For all the good things that come with it, there are have been few instances where I almost wanted to leave. Almost.

Better Days is a furry comic about Fisk, a Georgian cat-boy growing up with his sister Lucy and their mother. The man of the house was killed in Vietnam, so neither of the kids had ever seen their father. The story takes place in their years growing up throughout the 1980ís, and their dealings with various social issues.

The presentation of this comic is somewhat of a rarity in webcomics, in that it is presented with a high level of sincerity. Despite the characters being manga-styled anthropomorphs, the situations here are done in a serious tone. The art, pacing, dialogue and sheer raw-ness of the comic shows that the author isnít joking around here.

The art is decent. Characters are drawn in manga style, but donít carry the conventions often associated with said style. The eyes are narrower, there are no speed lines or chibis, and characterís faces arenít rubbery. When a character does need to express an extreme emotion it is done in other ways than their eyes or mouths getting impossibly wide, such as their fur straightening. The poses and facial expressions are well-done and definitely bring across the nuances of what the characters are feeling. On the other side of the coin, backgrounds could use some work. Oftentimes they are sparse, and most of the time they are dull. Many times the characters are standing against only whiteness. I know that the characters are supposed to be the focal points for this comic, but putting in a little more context would help me to better know the world they are living in.

The dialogue is also well-done, but it has some notable hiccups. People talk and react with eachother naturally enough, until something big and bad has happened, after which they have an annoying habit of breaking into miniature speeches and pontificating their values for several panels. This happens quite often, expecially after chapter five. People are much more inclined to read back-and-forth dialogue than one big word balloon. Plus, those big balloons are put in place of backgrounds. Speeches or no, you get to know the characters very well.

While the writing for the characters and dialogue are done well enough, there is one thing that I constantly find myself debating over, and thatís the situations in general. I know that no one expects southern life to be easy, especially for a two-kid single mother household, and there are bound to be some major problems, but the sheer volume and extremity of these problems has often made me turn away from the comic for several minutes in order to regain my bearings. These situations involve domestic abuse, over-medication, underage sex, racism, incest, pig foreskins and more. The fact that most of these situations mostly happen to children makes them even more disturbing. I wonít tell exactly what happens, so as not to spoil any surprise (and believe me, suspense is a big factor in enjoying this comic), but be prepared to have some feathers ruffled. I guess it is a good thing that the situations are disturbing though, as they happen with actual characters, and they arenít inserted just for sheer shock value. If the characters werenít well-written, I probably would have abandoned this comic long ago.

The only chapter I had to fight myself in order to finish was chapter four: The Bedbutter Chronicles. In it, a southern democrat teacher is demonized as not only inflicting restrictive, left-leaning opinions on government and environmentalism on her students, but also having very conservative attitudes on what a woman should wear. Perhaps times really were different in 1980. I didnít like that chapter due to my general disdain of poitical cartoons, though, as I often hate it when an opposing side is represented as shallow and one-sided. Itís pretty obvious from this and a few other chapters (notably Chess) what the authorís political leanings are. Iíd prefer he kept them to himself and just created an engaging story, rather than polarizing the readership.

Fortunately, as the strip went on, there have been a few chapters in which nothing disturbing happens, instead using situations that the more general public can relate to. Chapters seven and nine effectively employed smaller-scale problems, essentially dating for the wrong reasons. I liked those because the drama was much more character-driven, rather than having some huge, pulsating trauma cast on the characters. Chapter ten goes back into familiar territory though, with the most shocking event yet (GodÖ DAMN) but for some reason doesnít have long-lasting ramifications like the other events did. Itís still too early to tell. The current chapter is having some great build-up right now, and I like how itís using much more of a show-donít-tell method than previous chapters. Part of me wants it to end peacefully so my mind can rest easy, but another part of me is fascinated by the grotesque and traumatic, wanting it to end in the worst way possible. I definitely will read to find out.

When I found this comic, this was the current page. At first I kept up due to morbid curiosity as to what would happen next, but after a while, I kept reading because I had grown attatched to the characters. They are people (furries, whatever, I donít really give a damn) I care for, and will follow through the good times and the bad.
Wed Dec 22 2004 03:36 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Let's try something different.

The first comic sets us up with the two main characters and the horribly lazy art. Are they outside or indoors? It's obvious that the two main characters (names not yet revealed) have been drawn with a computer, what with the only difference between panels is fat-guy's hands, eyebrows, mouth and hair, which turns white when he sees a monster. Wasn't that joke used up in the seventies?

Pot humor! So I guess they are indoors, seeing as how the sink wouldn't just connect to the sky. Speaking of which, shouldn't there be some kind of transition to let us know whether what's-his-name is moving between rooms or people are coming to him? And there's that white hair again.

Okay, so the title calls the guy in the hockey mask "Jake." That's a late start, but okay. It's a bit hard to tell what the wolf-man is referring to. I figured it was the scary music from Friday The Thirteenth, but he could be just laughing stupidly. Anyway, weak joke.

Fat-dude has a new shirt. I never ever watched Buffy, so the joke doesn't hit me at all.

This isn't shocking anymore. Japan has other things that are weird, you know.

But... I thought it said in the lease... Oh, never mind. Anyway, Joe (finally his name!) has not really demonstrated thus far any sort of stupid behavior, and the characters are acting like he has some amazing track record. And now Joe is suddenly as stupid as Fighter from 8-bit in a joke that's way too set-up and dull to be funny, with Jake acting as Black Mage. Can you guess whether I like this or not?

And, they jump on the trend of jumping on trends. How will this turn out?

Putting together random elements does not automatically make something funny, you nerd.

Again, only this time it taps into the power of monkeys, because they're so gosh-darn funny! And vampires! And sex! And breakdancing! Who would have ever thought of that?

NOT FUNNY. Doesn't even really make sense. In what context would Jesus be a movie monster anyway? And scary? Sure, he got the crap kicked out of him in that movie, but reaching this far this early for a joke should tip you off that maybe you should quit.

WORST. JESUS JOKE. EVER.

WORST. DRAWING OF JESUS. EVER.

Look! It's good ol' Conceptual Switcheroo! How ya doin?

A fat joke? We're getting totally serious now.

This makes no sense at all. First he denies it, then defends it, then um yeah

Notice the lower-right corner. This is a guest writer. That means the comic may be slightly funny.

Never mind. This guy's horrible with punctuation, as well as using 8-bit style jokes.

See, setting people up is funny because they didn't really do it. Some context would be nice, though, like who the other guy on the line is.

Hey, Conceptual Switcheroo! How's your family?

A sex joke and Transformers joke rolled into one? I think we're dealing with a jenious here.

By the way, I never watched Transformers either.

Oh, I get it! Jehova's Witnesses are like zombies! Ah ah ah!

Uh...

Why can't we ever see these scenes? Oh yeah, because talking heads are the funniest.

See, Joe's stupid because he thinks Van Helsing's a good movie. I hear he likes White Chicks and Catwoman as well.

Okay, I got it the last time. Stop already.

Good God, can this comic possibly become even more pathetic? Her horrible accent turned me away.

Nope. Didn't see that comin'.

Pasting a random celebrity's head into your comic does not humor make. Oh, and the allusions toward random violence don't either. What's with the overalls and potato sack?

A good rule to follow for referrential humor is that it should be funny enough for a person not familiar to the source material to laugh. This comic has no such rule.

Neither is the comic.

Did this actually manage to be less funny than your average political cartoon?

Wait, isn't this in August?!

A legitimate question is answered by a random 8-bit inspired punchline. I died a little inside.

Didn't see that one coming either.

Here lies humor. 4000 B.C. - 2004 A.D. RIP

Eh...

NO.

This is getting even more super-bad.

Gosh, he sure changed his mood fast. And he's the convenient butt of almost every joke. How wonderful!

Is it possible to have a moratorium on random violence?

Okay. Joe's a loser. I get it. Again.

So, Conceptual Switcheroo, how's that new job treatin' you?

The... wonderful... dragon... of... Grandma...?

Looks like the author can%t do punctuation&

By itself, this joke would be a bit funny, but I've been numbed to the point of laughing by now.

You don't look so good, Conceptual Switcheroo! Was it something you ate?

this would have actually been funnier without that last word balloon. I mean, OBVIOUSLY...

Hey, are you feeling any better, Conceptual Switcheroo? You didn't look so hot last night.

He looks more like Indiana Jones from the tomb of the lost punchline.

I looked into the future and saw this comic. My psychic powers are much more of a burden than a blessing.

Why did Joe use holy water in the first place...?

I'm surprised the Homer Simpson-costume didn't like Duff. The comic should be even less funny.

This new character is actually a bit refreshing from the boring stoner-do nothing cast. Will he last?

I just discovered that a man's initial reaction to a hot woman can be to lose a sense of smart, and it may be funny. Seems like the author did, too.

Like he'd know what girls want. Plus, lame inserted movie line!

Yeah...

Some people have opened up their hearts to me like this. They're retards.

How does that work? Why did he try to... oh nevermind. Allusions are funny if there's a reference to get.

Really, do we need to exagerrate further? It would only make it more funny. Really!

See, sometimes I can't think of something funny to say either.

It is revealed to me that Creed sucks. Who knew?

(Insert celebrity here) doesn't work for me. Neither do lame punchlines.

Who's Neal Boortz?

Joe may have just realized the entire situation he's been in all this time. Plus, pasted celebrity-head! Of Bush! Surprise!

Aw, do we have to?

OH NO NOT AGAIN

DURR... DUHH... I DIN'T SEE DAT ONE COMING. HUH, HUH...

Er, anyone else notice how Jesus is drawn the exact same way every time?

what

Is this guy Mexican or something?

Okay. I get it. Joe's the most pathetic person on Earth. And it's not funny. Know why? Because there's no variation in his behavior. How is it ironic if we expect this sort of crap from him? Never mind that there is no realistic strand in this story (or the comic in general, really) that would make us relate to this in any way.

Why's he naked?

I think the author must have Down's Syndrome or something like it, since this is the third-most retarded comic I've seen on the web. I'm not joking.

(Insert random chick here)

Sadly, the author really cannot do better than that.

And it only took a day.

Probably the funniest joke in the entire comic. I'm crying.

Or maybe this one is. At least it doesn't offend my mind.

And we're back to stupid things tht aren't funny and make no sense. What's the reason for Joe to eat fish eggs out of a toilet bowl? The author is missing something.

Whatever...

Really, there is nothing good about this comic. Joe is a broken character, plain and simple. His actions have no rhyme or reason, but aren't bizarre enough to elicit any sort of reaction other than a deep migraine. This is not ironic. This is not surreal. This is not crazy. Furilius told me not to use the word 'suck' in a review, as that would be an insult to the author's artistic effort. The problem is that no effort or artism was involved in the making of this comic. The art is copy-and-pasted images over and over again. The jokes could only come from the mind of a boring 14-year-old or a sped. I know people that can think of at least one funny thing to say every day, if not every hour or even every minute! I can confidently say that even I'm funnier than this guy. There is not one iota of artistic effort in writing or drawing, and it hasn't (and won't) improve at all.

So I feel that I can say with confidence and aplomb that this comic SUCKS. Because it does.
Mon Dec 13 2004 01:26 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

This is a comic that combines several fairy-tales and folk-tales into one cohesive story, and pulls it off amazngly well. I may be biased toward this from liking it too much.

No Rest For The Wicked is a story about Princess November, the youngest of four daughters, who had not been able to sleep ever since the moon had disappeared. Her father decided that a royal wedding would cure her ailment, but November knew that it would help nothing, so she decided to run away, seeking the help of the most clever man in the kingdom in that he may be of some help in finding the missing moon. This "man," Perrault, turns out to be the mastermind behind the most successful fraud in the entire kingdom, and he is more than happy to simply stay where he is at first. She does convince him to come with her after some clever negotiations, however, and when they come to the forest, they meet Red, a cold, mysterious girl that November had met before.

I love several things about this comic, but formost are the characters, art and pacing. The characters are extremely well-defined, the art is very expressive, giving us poses and facial expressions that let us get even more into character, and the dialogue follows a certain flow that makes me have to look at the next page. Not many comics do all that for me.

Princess November

Original: As the titular character from the Princess And The Pea, she came into a prince's home one night in the rain, looking for shelter. The prince was rather snotty, looking for a true princess without flaw. She lay on twenty mattresses with a pea underneath all of them, and she somehow managed to become "black and blue" since the pea disturbed her sleep. According to the prince, someone so delicate must be a true princess.

Wicked: Still not able to sleep, November has a hard time doing anything by herself. She is used to someone always assisting her in all her activities, including getting in and out of bed. This offsets her royal indignity, which is rather innefective once she is outside of her castle. She is very perceptive, though, able to sense things that most others cannot.

Perrault

Original: As the sole possession of an orphaned boy, Puss In Boots not only ensured the boy's survival, but composed an elaborate series of tricks in order to make the boy seem like a Marquis and be wed into the royal family.

Wicked: Still doing all of the work for his "master," Perrault has become content with his life of eating whenever he wants, sleeping wherever he wants and chasing mice for sport. He is cynical and very Machiavellian, but also rather polite and funny. When November presents him witha new challenge, he is intrigued...

Red

Original: Little Red Riding Hood went through the woods to her grandmother's house, where the wolf ate the grandma, disguised himself, then ate Red as well. If you're a Neil Gaiman fan, you've probably read about the darker version of the story, in which the wolf had her throw her clothes on the fire and eat her grandmother's flesh and blood, thinking it was bread and wine. Ew.

Wicked: After somehow getting better, Red has taken up residence in her grandmother's house where she makes a living by killing wolves. She is cold, mysterious, dark and makes no pretenses of who she really is or what she thinks, although her motives are a bit shrouded in mystery. She and Perrault don't get along very well.

The art in this comic is really good. Layout is imaginative and easy to follow, as well as pleasing to look at. Linework is great and varied, and combined with different shades it makes a fine level of detail. Character postures and faces really let us into their soul, and what little coloring there is is also well-placed. The only problem with the art is perspectives, as sometimes things that are supposed to look far-away appear closer than they should be, and vice-verca. Also, whenever someone is travelling uphill, it looks funny. The perspectives can be a bit jarring, taking me temporarily out of the story to notice them, but I quickly learned to overlook them.

Dialogue and pacing is also incredible. Perrault, being as clever as he is, has the best lines, but November (with her delicate indignity) and Red (with her dark cynicism) give us some good ones too. The converstations flow so well that it's hard for me to stop reading, even if I've read the comic ten times already.

All in all, this is one of my favorites. I just love good characters and pacing. It's a bit of a shame that it's so short right now (nearly done with the second chapter) but that won't be a problem forever. I just hope it keeps up what it's been doing so far.
Wed Dec 08 2004 07:22 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Gosh, I'm enjoying this.

The Devil's Panties could be classified as a diary comic, but it's different from others in that rather than showing events happening around the author, it looks inside the author's mind. Situations are presented with wildly varying reality, as the author changes and exagerrates her stories based on her opinion, often with entertaining results.

Most of the comics seem to have been drawn pretty hastily, what with the messy drawings and inking and seemingly thrown-together-in-an-instant concepts and layouts. Most of the time this allows the comic to be quite fresh, as it feels good to just see gut reactions of some person before their brain and heart confuses them and causes them to rationalize. The immediacy of the comic lets the humor come quick, with punchlines that would be easy to predict if they were given more of a set-up. The brevity of each strip also makes it easy to blow past the three years worth of strips in considerably less time than it would take other comics of similar length. I like strips that don't get too wordy, that show rather than tell. Truth is, many of the jokes wouldn't be very funny to me if they were fake. Any ironic situation is made funnier if there is a thread of realism in it, and something that actually happens is a lot funnier than the same thing in fiction.

On the other hand, some of the strips don't have enough substance to be sufficiently provoking in any way, or some actual thought would actually have made the strip flow better. Then again, since this is an easy-to-read comic, the unfunny ones tend to be forgotten while the gems stick in the mind.

The protagonist, Jennie Breeden, is a hyper girl who draws comics (and you should check out some of the other stuff on her site) and isn't afraid to let her opinion be known, at least on the internet. She's adept at finding the logical inconsistencies in gender relations, religeon, work and pretty much all other facets of everyday life. While our lives aren't that similar, I do know quite a few girls like her, and we share at least a few common interests, so I can relate to what she's feeling, especially since she goes out of the way to convey said feelings.

This comic makes me wish I was less stuck-up. I wish I could open myself up like she does, but part of me always tells me that I'd look like an idiot if I did. After reading this, maybe looking like an idiot isn't such a bad thing.
Wed Dec 01 2004 12:11 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Now this is unusual: A mostly-humorous adventure story with a seemingly incompetent hero, interspersed with moments of sincerity. Now I've seen everything. Seriously, though, this is one of the better webcomics of its type that I've read. It's just a little rough around the edges.

This is the story of the royal daughter Ina, who is told that she has been set up for a pre-arranged marriage. Sensibly, she runs away in the middle of the night. Outside of her home, however, she realizes she's ill-suited for the outside world, and is soon menaced by bandits. When it seems like her life has taken a turn for the worse, a, er... mysterious swordsman by the name of Yori rescues her, using the ancient secret super-effective technique of "running away." Clearly annoyed by Yori's posturing and dim-wittedness but unable to shake him away, they both travel north.

The story starts out pretty simple, but as it goes on, new characters are met and plot details are revealed that Yori may not be as simple as he seems (then again, that's what happens with most seemingly incompetent heroes). This is all done with some pretty good writing, which knows how to jump between humorous and serious dialogue without it being jarring. Sure, sometimes it falls into catchphrases or not-so-subtle homages to pop-culture and other webcomics, but that's not done often enough to be really annoying. Also, sometimes in exposition scenes, the writing gets really thick. I don't know if it's done on purpose to show that the nobles are very verbose, or it's just in order to reveal as much as possible in as little space as possible. Either way, the expository dialogue could be cut back a little.

The characters are really well-crafted. Yori comes off as a goofball, and his winning sword battles seem to be more reliant on luck than anything else, but... actually, that actually seems to be it, but I'm fine with that because it's pretty funny. Ina seems to be the 'straight' character here, constantly pointing out how ridiculous things are, not to say that she does provide a good portion of the humor, as she's extremely uptight and indignant about country life. Later on, the party meets Cho, a blind Taoist monk who is in Japan because he was trying to avoid Japan completely. He acts as a fighter, philosopher, comedian, navigator and judge of gender for the group, and he's horrible at all of them, except for the first one. Finally, there's Ken, the drunken warrior who likes to kill a lot and makes big threats. He would have killed Yori if not for the history they shared. The group actually compliments each other pretty well.

As for the art, people don't talk with their mouths wide open like that. It looks like they are shouting, even when they're just making idle conversation. In fact, all the characters have rubbery faces, making all of their reactions seem a tad exagerrated. Fortunately, by the time the serious parts of the story came, the facial expressions were turned down a notch. If Gene Catlow has taught us anything, it's that nothing ruins a serious story like faces that ought to be in Loony Tunes.

Inking and coloring is very well done here. They definitely give off a sense of atmosphere, and they change subtly depending on the tone of the storyline. Lines are clean and colors are bright when it's funny, while lines get rough and colors blend into each other more when there's a more serious tone. I like it.

Action scenes kick ass.

So, I definitely like this comic, save for a few minor details that don't really detract from the experience. I recommend this to anyone who likes anime like Trigun or Kenshin, and any imitators thereof.
Tue Nov 23 2004 05:06 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Story Time: A while ago, someone I know very personally brought this site to the attention of the fine denizens of Portal of Evil. They didn't really like it, but all they did was recommend this comic and JerkCity while making a few disparaging remarks about our opinions on their boards. I noticed that both of these comics forgo straightforward punchlines in favor of things much more strange and surreal, and they prefer writing over art in order to carry a joke. Now, I'm one who can deal with, even appreciate comics that don't fall into the standard setup/punchline format, but there is a certain point at which I would rather prefer something that I know is funny than something I think is just supposed to be funny, but I can't for the life of me figure out why.

Achewood is one of the most minimalist comics I've seen in terms of art. All the characters have very little detail to them, and their poses are often exactly the same with only a few variations depending on what they are doing. It's also often hard to tell what the characters are feeling due to lack of variety in facial expressions. Backgrounds are only used when the scene is important, otherwise the comic is shockingly bare.

Characters themselves are a bit hard to quantify. While it's pretty easy to tell what Philippe's and LieBot's deals are, characters like Ray and Teodore don't seem to fall into any kind of archetypes I'm aware of. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, I do feel uncomfortable not really knowing these people. For some reason, I never really got into the characters of this comic, except fro Philippe.

Then there's the humor. For me, it's hit or miss, and more often miss. This comic relies more on our reaction to the surreal than our reaction to irony. While sometimes that's fine and dandy, the problem is that a lot of these surreal moments do not have the thread of irony or realism that makes them relatable. It's not that I don't see where the humor should be, I just can't understand why some of these things should be funny.

In other words, for every comic that makes me laugh such as this or this, there are about twenty others that don't hit me, such as this.

I really wanted to like this comic, as people had often linked specific strips to me that were quite funny, but once I started reading the archives, they turned out to be more like diamonds in the rough. on a scale of one to ten, I give this comic a score of I don't get it.
Wed Nov 17 2004 11:18 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Another one of those nifty Flash comics that can be blown through in around a half-hour. How does this one measure up?

This is a comic done in Flash dealing with 48 four-panel 'vignettes' dealing with various places, things and people in Colin White's classroom. It was done as a school project, but Colin seems to think that it turned out much bigger than that. While I think it's neat, I don't buy into the belief that this is some kind of deep philosophical exposition. I think it's a neat idea about Colin and his classmates acting goofy and giving shallow analyses about various places and classroom objects.

When dealing with Flash and infinite canvas, navigation is an essential thing to consider. Comic readers are used to reading things left to right, then down (or right to left if they're mangaphiles) with panels right next to each other so they immediately see where to go next. With this comic, progression goes in all directions, which isn't too much of a problem, since the reader simply reads whatever panel shows up when they click the latest one. The problem with this comic, though, is that on the low resolution, the comic is so big that sometimes I had trouble finding the next panel. On high resolutions, the letters were sometimes too small to read. The middle resolution seemed to be a happy medium for me, but I would have preferred not having to use the scroll bars too much, and not having to squint in order to see the letters. Otherwise, it was a neat way to present a comic, as the moving panels did do some nice tricks, but it was nothing spectacular, as anyone with basic knowledge of Flash could pull this off.

The art style seems hasty, minimalist, but not unpleasant. The use of unifying colors throughout each vignette works well, but the lack of detail made my eyes wander, not really willing to dwell on any panel. For such a short comic, I would have preferred a bit more detail.

The people he interviews all seem normal enough, just having silly conversations (or just listening to Colin talk) and not really saying anything profound. Unfortunately, due to the brevity of each vignette, we don't really get to know these people, and some of the jokes are lost on me. Maybe if we knew these people better we'd have a better feel for how these people react to Colin.

The vignettes dealing with places were the most amusing for me, as they are just nonsensical, playing on common stereotypes and our general lack of knowledge about the countries, provinces and states around us. Sure, we can't know everything, but I'm sure there are people around that would believe these things if said to them with a straight face.

The vignettes dealing with objects delve into the realm of the surreal, as the objects take a life of their own, sometimes talking, sometimes going on little journeys. They all were slightly funny and/or intriguing for me. While I enjoyed vignettes about the countries the most, I think the ones about the objects were the best-made.

Of course, the length of the comic is not that great, so no matter what you feel about the comic, it only takes a half-hour of your life that you would otherwise spend eating watching crappy Anime, playing a game you've beaten thee times already or masturbating. So give it a look, and if you don't like it, hey, no skin off your back.
Wed Nov 10 2004 11:20 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Political cartoons have been a comic genre that I generally have much disdain for. Often, they simplify issues that ought not to be handled lightly, or they exagerrate issues to the point where I cannot take them seriously anymore. They also almost always have a heavy personal bias attached to them, allowing their personal feelings to color, distort or even mangle the facts. While I do know that in order to convey humor, one must exagerrate or otherwise paint a situation to be more ridiculous than reality. That's all well and good for me when the biggest headline is about a presidential intern acting as a humidor, but when dealing with grave issues such as war, poverty and civil rights, it's hard for me to read a cartoon and not be a bit perturbed at how it handles those issues with too much tomfoolery or alarmism.

That said, Filibuster is okay.

This is a cartoon drawn from the perspective of a Canadian conservative. It devotes about a third of its cartoons to Canadian politics, so some of the issues presented don't hit me at all. However, I can tell that he does have some contempt for his own government and how it is run, but I honestly can't relate beyond that.

The comics in general, however, are presented in a very 'clean' fashion. The cartoons themselves are usually not very expository, but have useful sideline commentary to help out viewers that may be in the dark. While I think the sideline-comments are good, sometimes I think that the cartoons could use more recognizable situations and caricatures. Also, there are a few strips that are actually quite wordy, which often kills the punchline and renders the sideline commentary pretty much useless. None of the comics have made me laugh out loud, but a lot have made me smile, knowing that the guy writing these has at least done his research and decided not to strictly stand behind a party line. The flip-side of that coin, however, is the fact that someone who is so middle-ground makes it hard for his jokes to pack a punch. That's not a personal problem for me, though, as I'd much rather prefer just giving a political cartoon a smile than be angry at it.

There is also the subject of the art style and caricatures he uses. The human representations in this comic have obviously exaggerated features, such as George Bush's ears and eyebrows, and John Kerry's chin. However, many of these people wouldn't even be recognizable if there wasn't a label pasted on them, such as Tony Blair, who has swirly eyes for some reason. Also, the art style itself is pretty bare, obviously colored on a computer with very defined black lines. The 'clean' style, though, detracts from the comic in a way. Unnecessary lines and sloppier inking can sometimes convey more emotion than something simple and clean. Sometimes it feels more like a robot drew this comic rather than a human being.

In the end, I like this political cartoon better than most others because it does not make me upset. However, I like many more webcomics better because they have more personality to them. I'll check back every once in a while to see the author's take on whatever's going on in the world.
Wed Nov 03 2004 09:17 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

This is truly one of the best comics on the internet. I'm not saying this from any kind of biased or fanboyish stance. This is the kind of stuff that anyone can laugh at, and if they don't it's either because they've entirely missed the point or they just have a big ol' stick up their butt.

This is a comic told from the perspective of a man looking back on his life as a ten-year-old boy in the sixties. It's like The Wonder Years, only it's a helluva lot more naughty. Most of the jokes stem from what was considered "taboo" at the time, whether by standards set during the era or simply from childhood naivette. For little kids, bodily functions and genitalia are weird and scary because parents tell them they are naughty. Anything that's supposed to be strange and foreign but are also part of our own bodies become funny because of their immediate accessability. Certainly a lot of the jokes carry their humor because the kid asks an innocent question of or emulates something that is way out of his range, and the parents (or teachers) get angry and uptight, further bolstering the situation (and humor) instead of explaining things to the kid. Other times the humor comes from random friends, relatives and acquaintances who have their own little quirks, whether it be from being horribly messy, being incredibly simple, having some creepy fetish or being literally retarded (but in a way that we laugh at the extrapolating circumstances, not the actual retardation). And, of course, sometimes kids just say the damndest things.

There is a question as to how much of this is authentic. Very little information is given about the author himself. It's hard to believe that all of these crazy situations happened in his childhood, that he would have remembered all of these people so vividly, but I think that nearly all of these situations have at least a kernel of truth in them. However, I make-believe that all of these situations actually happened, as it just makes it all the funnier.

The art isn't quite as good as the writing, not that it's bad or anything, but it often repeats the same facial expressions (expect to see the parents' angry faces a lot) and uses mostly uninteresting perspectives. The art does have enough detail and punch, though, to carry along the joke. It is kind of funny how the art style itself is reminiscent of styles used from the sixties.

This comic obviously is not for little kids, as they simply wouldn't get most of the jokes, and it would probably cause them to start asking strange questions to their parents. Teenagers would probably laugh at all the sex jokes and body part jokes. Older people, however, will probably see the true irony portrayed in the strip, as things that we think about, talk about and do all the time in our age is somehow forbidden from younger people, as if that will damage them somehow. While I do think that mature subjects should be presented to mature people, I also don't think that seeing a naked lady (as long she's not horribly degraded) at a young age will scar a kid for life. Really, if you're over 18 and you don't laugh or you're even offended at this comic, then:
A. You're a moron.
B. Maybe you're too old for the internet.

I, for one, am glad that there can be a joke comic that doesn't involve losers who get into "wacky" situations or lame parodies of anime and video games, although Buttlord did make me laugh more :>{ Not many webcomics are this funny and insightful at the same time, but then again, most comics aren't that insightful in the first place.

Remember kids, any joke can be funny, but if you involve testicles then it will be hilarious!
Wed Oct 27 2004 08:43 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

That was unfulfilling.

This was clearly an early work, what with the blocky art styles, simple expressions and poses and off-kilter (if not just plain flat) perspectives.

Each joke felt like an unfunny bullet through my brain. Really, who on Earth still says, "That's my name, don't wear it out"? More often than not, the humor's random and weak at the same time. Humorous dilogue may have wanted to be here, but I think it took a detour off a cliff a few miles back.

Story? It starts out with a simple enough concept, a teenage diety decides to clean up a world that he's been given, and shortly after his girlfriend also poofs herself into that world, they get into all sorts of "wacky" adventures with horrible medieval stereotypes. Then it gets convoluted and even more uninteresting when they meet with these demigods(?) and one of them does some kind of bad stuff for some reason. Oh, and there's boobies and random swear words.

After everything seems solved, there seems to be another crisis on the world, but all it turns out to be is some suit in the God realm who somehow turns into a giant monster. Then the author steps in. The end.

Mnemesis seems better than this. Too bad I can't read the whole thing (credit cards are hard to get for me). Toward the end, it seems that the art and narrative had improved somewhat to the point of being tolerable, and I hope the author learned how to make a better webcomic.

As it stands, there are better things to do on the internet.
Wed Oct 20 2004 11:28 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

*Sigh*... This comic wasn't intended for me. I'm too old to enjoy it.

Freefall is a comic about an idiotic alien criminal named Sam Starfall (A main character with a short everyman's first name and a majestic, aerospace-themed last name? Where have I heard that before?), his cute, naive and bouncy robot sidekick named Helix (A biological name for a robot?) and A Bowman's Wolf named Florence that provides some competance to the whole group. Together they do... not much.

The three main characters have personalities that are developed well enough, but not DEFINED well enough for me. Sam is portrayed as both an idiot and a master criminal, yet somehow he has managed to not get killed or put in jail. Think of an amalgam between 8-bit's Fighter and Thief. They're polar opposites, so how can you have a mix of them? Florence is smart and clever, but seems to be constantly comfortable and optimistic around an idiot criminal alien. Helix's personality is the most constant, and it seems to change only depending on who he's hanging around, but that's understandable, as he seems to be just very impressionable, and the personality of whoever's interacting with him rubs off on him.

Aside from not being well-defined, the characters also have personalities that grate on me from time to time. Sam falls way too often in the idiot or criminal cliches, so I often can predict the outcome of a certain situation will be Sam saying or doing something criminal or illegal. Situations involving Helix most often rely on his cuteness, and excessive cuteness just gets on my nerves. Hearing him say "DOGGY!" in front of Florence got old very, very quickly. Florence has the most interesting character of the bunch, but many times she decides to teach a long-winded lesson on science, history or ethics. It's jarring, annoying and more than a tad patronizing, as it's fairly obvious the author is using a character as a mouthpiece to talk directly to the reader. Then again, this is intended for kids, so maybe it's supposed to be like those public service messages at the end of those old Saturday morning cartoons.

The best term I can think of for the art is 'bare-bones.' Character designs are simple. Facial expressions and body poses are limited. Humans don't have a lot of variety among them. Many characters often have their arms behind their back, which I suspect is easier than drawing arms. Backgrounds are barely there, and really simple to boot, giving no sense of ambience. It's mostly black and white, with one of three shades of grey thrown in every once in a while. Not eye-catching at all.

As for the story, well, I don't see any sense of direction this comic is taking. It takes painfully long for anything to get done in the story, as the author seems to take every opportunity possible to point out the same old fallacies in whatever character's being featured. That would be okay if more than one in a hundred of the jokes were funny. Most of them are pointing out that Sam is stupid or a criminal, or on how gosh-darn CUTE Helix is, or how Florence is a canine, so she does things like a dog. Most of the rest of the jokes are weak jabs at politics and other well-worn targets of ridicule, and they don't age well at all. The punchlines themselves are also too wordy to have any punch in them. This is another comic that can learn to cut out some of its dialogue for greater effect.

If a comic doesn't make me laugh, I'd prefer it goes somewhere. If it doesn't go anywhere, it better make me laugh hard. Freefall does niether. Besides, both of those elements stem from conflict, and the story is mostly about the characters goofing off, talking about the same old stuff and generally doing nothing of great consequence. There's hardly any conflict here, generating very little humor or progression. It's exactly like most newspaper comics. Maybe being kid-friendly has that side-effect, as most real conflicts are not something kids are used to.

Oh great, there's a shout-out section. I never really enjoyed cameos in webcomics, but I cringe at ones as blatant as this. They're mostly of other lowbrow, kid-friendly comics that are likely from the same web-group, but one interested me. Aside from wanting to shout "NERD!!" like some 80's college frat boy throughout the whole thing, something else bugged me a lot. Somehow, Bruno was mentioned, but not linked, due to possible mature situations. What, is the author afraid of some angry mommies discovering their kids are reading about real human conflict and emotions instead of canned reactions and 'wacky' situations? Or is it because Bruno shows her boobies in one strip? It's really weird because it also links to Sabrina Online, which features a pantsless female skunk and has some pretty explicit sexual references. I guess it's the first one.

I stopped reading at about comic #600. I got the picture by then. I wouldn't mind glancing over this in my daily newspaper and giving the occasional smirk, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it on the internet. I'm 21, after all.
Thu Oct 14 2004 03:37 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Wow, just... wow.

Straight off the bat, I must say that this is definitely one of the best webcomics I've had the pleasure of reading. I'd swear I was tripping right now if I didn't know this was the internet.

Acid Keg is hard to classify. It started out as a bunch of one-shot strips with strange jokes and non-sequiters, along with art that sometimes matched the situation or contradicted it in a funny way. Some of the jokes were funnier than others, but all of them had a certain flow to them, meaning none of the punchlines seemed forced or jarring. The strip then turned into a story about Laura Mercy, a girl trying to get a job and getting involved in an increasingly confusing (yet still funny) time-traveling story, which was eventually scrapped due to too much confusion and loss of authorial interest. Next was a story involving Froot Pants and Mouse (two recurring characters in the earlier strips) as Loverboy roadies who get their bus stolen by a hair-eating girl demon. Currently, the story is about a two-person band that picks up a drummer who actually turns out to be a badass secret agent. It's all a bit hard to explain in one sentence, but each section has enough weirdness and funniness in it to be worth your while.

The best part of all of this is the art. Good God, this is some seriously sweet stuff right here. Character designs are unique and their poses and expressions give off tons of attitude and emotion. Brushwork is amazing, being incredibly smooth and sensual, with each line holding it's own little character. Color is the absolute best, though. Steve Hogan has picked the perfect blend of shades and hues in order to convey whatever mood or setting is intended. Sometimes colors are bright and flashy to express action, other times they are toned down and blended to express mundanity or relaxation. Even when a strip only uses greyscale, the combinations of greys fits the mood just perfectly. I also like how he does have varying art styles, so he can draw things cartoony and realistic in a convincing manner.

This art is all evocative of decades long past, and the strip at first felt like it was just word balloons pasted over a Coca-Cola advertisement from the 60's (in the first section of the strip), because I did not expect art quality this high or in this style from a webcomic. Boy, was my face red when I realized how dumb I was. As it stands, this comic and Eversummer Eve have the best art in webcomics, bar none.

As for the writing, as said before, it all flows in a way in which nothing seems forced. There is no definite buildup/punchline setup that is present in most other comics. Instead, the humor just comes naturally from the characters themselves. The characters have decently defined personalities, especially in the latest series. For some reason, obnoxious rockers like Clive are just funny to me. Helen's personality bounces well off of his. The latest series does seem to curb the humor a bit from the previous series, but there are some gems, such as the Viper's squad of self-improvement seminar-goers that are his henchmen. Self-help has always been a bit of a laughingstock for sensible people, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what more can be done with this crazy organization.

All in all, this comic is groovy. The art is simply astounding and should be framed on a wall somewhere, and the writing is something you can just settle into and enjoy. So sit back, relax, put on your old Phish LP and enjoy the wondrous words and pictures that are Acid Keg.

Then have one of those peanut butter and raisin rice cakes. With Trix cereal sprinkled on top. Those things are soooo good, man and wash it all down in a Mountain Dew and have some chocolate frosted Hostess donettes afterward, yeah, that's the stuff, man... whoah, I'm done.
Wed Oct 06 2004 09:28 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Diary comics are easy to create, as the story is already told; it just needs to be written. The difficulty lies in making a diary comic interesting. Life itself is often boring, so one who makes a diary comic must either highlight the interesting points and/or embellish the boring ones with attitude. I think Drew did an okay job with this.

One of the things that makes this comic work for me is the art style. The inking and brush work have personality oozing from their lines, as well as characters walking a fine line between the realistic and cartoony. Character's designs, poses and facial expressions have just a bit more whimsy than they probably had in real life: not too little so that they're dull, but not so much that they can't be taken seriously. This was one of the reasons why I could relate to the comic well.

As for the writing itself, I do like how Drew is insightful about the things he experiences without philosophising. He shows his inner cynicism well when he realizes that the orthodontist's office is trying to fire him, and he also shows his compassionate side when he realizes he has a crush. He also handles boredom well, just by highlighting his own thoughts and making a joke. I think the reason why I like this is because he not only tells what happens, but also gives a human reaction to whatever's occuring, along with the occasional surreal interpretation. I also like the fact that he doesn't fall into self-loathing like many other diary comic artists do. He's not ashamed of what he does, and if he's really having a problem, he fixes it as soon as he can instead of moping about it.

Drew's life itself isn't THAT interesting, but he does have somewhat interesting friends. Antar is cool, as he's a slacker that seems to say whatever's on his mind, which can bring some funny moments. Jerry is a little uptight, and Eleanor is perky and a little compulsive. The cats' antics also liven things up. All in all, I wouldn't mind being in Drew's shoes.

Although the comic has been discontinued, it is one of the few diary comics that held my interest while still running. It may be for the reasons stated above, but I think the biggest reason of all is that Drew's actually a lot like me: Early twenties, not big on the dating scene, creative and a procrastinator who works better in the wee hours of the night. His personality is much like my own.
Tue Sep 28 2004 11:16 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

White Ninja... one of the most random webcomics out there, without any cohesive story, narrative or characters and a grade-school level art style. These comics seem like they were done in about ten minutes in a fit of pot combined with ADD.

And I like it.

One thing that must be considered when reading this comic is that there is no higher artistic motive involved in the making or reading of these comics. at least one of the authors actually does have ADD, and they're not trying to make anything deep here. It's amazing then that these guys can crank out a good number of very funny jokes simply through cognitave dissonance!

The art style is very simple, showing the lowest level of detail necessary in the characters, objects and backgrounds. Some things are so poorly-defined that they need labels to be identified. White Ninja's physiology is even pretty vague. He has no fingers or toes; his belt is te only defining piece of clothing he has; it's even hard to tell how his suit works, as he seems to have an opening for his eyes, but his mouth seems to be part of the suit itself. Other characters have varying levels of detail, sometimes looking like just an everyday joe, other times having a surprisingly realistic look to them. This seems to indicate that the artist can draw better, he just doesn't want to.

As for the jokes, the randomness of the strip makes it so it's hard to determine what the punchline is going to be. The strips themselves can be read in less than five seconds, so any humor has be incredibly to the point. Sometimes the humor comes from an unexpected turn in conversation. Other times the humor is physical. More often it's simply the bizarreness of the whole situation. Some times the comics are just... there. There are rare instances, though, when a strip just is funny on so many levels while being incredibly simple. This comic made me laugh harder than any other, just because it has several layers of real-world irony in it and it's still unexpected.

Then again, I laugh at almost anything strange, so my opinion of this might be a little biased.

There's also the question of White Ninja himself. He does not really have any defined character, personality or background. Sometimes he's the voice of reason; sometimes he's mind-numbingly stupid; sometimes he's incredibly violent; sometimes he's just inconsiderate. It's not even clear that he's a ninja, as he's not always a mammal and while he has gotten himself into a few scrapes, he doesn't fight all the time. He has flipped out and killed people, but it doesn't seem to be his purpose. He clearly does not have the Real Ultimate Power. In one comic, the roles of the office worker and White Ninja could easily be reversed and it would still be just as funny.

In conclusion, White Ninja is easy to read and often funny simply due to all of the strange stuff that happens. You won't feel particularly rewarded for reading through it, but you might pick up on a few things to say the next time you get some drive-thru.
Wed Sep 22 2004 07:37 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

I must say, this has definitely been the hardest webcomic for me to review thus far. The content varies greatly (although they're all a little strange), the humor has made me laugh or scratch my head, and the multiple forms of navigation have been a trip themselves. I'm tempted to call this a kick-ass webcomic due to the sheer novelty of it all.

This is a web site that has various webcomics and hypercomics in it, each with their own themes and forms of navigation. Each one can be read individually without needing to read previous comics, even though a few references are made here and there to other e-merl comics, complete with links. All that's required to enjoy it are some pay-comic subscriptions (for only a few of them) Flash Player 6 (for the hypercomics and the Mr. Nile strips) and an open mind (for all of them).

The Webcomics

The webcomics here rarely go from left to right. Rather, the author makes use of infinite canvas or even does away with neighboring panels altogether in favor of simply one panel displayed at a time on the screen. Certain comics have branching paths and can easily go in circles, while others go in a slightly more linear direction. The themes themselves often revolve around the nature of webcomics, how comics rarely push their narrative limits, and how the internet opens an entirely new dimension in how they are presented and how we read them. If this sounds familiar, then good job in reading Scott McCloud's book, Reinventing Comics. To be fair, the author does attribute many of his ideas to Mr. McCloud's inspiration. The only downside is that sometimes the comics seem more like a lecture than entertainment, but then Mr. Nile demonstrates some wacky method of storytelling that is educational and entertaining!

The Hypercomics

These are the creme de la creme of this site, however. They fully utilize Flash in order to create comics whose bounds are determined only by their creators. Many of these hypercomics are maps of sorts, allowing the reader to wander across them rather than reading them in a linear direction. To some this can be seen as liberating, but it also could be frustrating to others, as they do not have a clear sense of direction. It can be confusing when a comic has multiple beginnings and endings, but it can also feel rewarding to merely get to an end.

The humor

The earlier work is mostly self-referrential, being a commentary on the nature of comics themselves, but later (andespecially in the hypercomics) the humor consists of people saying the strangest things as if it were normal conversation. The hypercomics "BrainSlide" and "Icarus Creeps" were my two favorites in this regard, as not only were they easy and cool to navigate, but also enjoyable to read. I got quite a few chuckles out of them.

I know, I know, some people may not 'get' all the humor. I will admit that some of the humor did seem a little too obtuse or lame, but when you continually experiments with different takes on a certain medium and narrative, chances are you'll get a few duds. The inanimate monkey wasn't very funny to me, but it didn't take too much time or effort to read.

SUCCESS!

Nearly Forgotten failed. It was too short, poorly maintained, hard to navigate and filled with some of the lamest prose I've ever seen. It soon became totally forgotten.

The Jerk failed. It was confusing and short as well, not to mention way too ambiguous to leave an impression. I decided to be a jerk and pay more attention to a sandwich.

As an experiment, I deem this one a success, with navigation that's mostly easy and intuitive as well as some very sharp tongue-in-cheek humor. Go read it and be dazzled!
Wed Sep 15 2004 12:16 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

It's funny. I'm the one who recommended this comic in the first place, and I almost ended up not reviewing it, since I made a point this time to finish the comic before saying something about it. See, some webcomic creators have been upset at my negative reviews because I didn't bother to finish their archives. While I don't fully agree with them, I realized that comics do tend to get better as they go on, so I figured I'd read this comic to the bitter end, no matter how much I disliked it. Then I read this page, and said, "Okay, I'm done."

Sprite comics, in general, are lame. Their art is obviously ripped off, but there are much bigger problems, such as terrible layout, juvenile humor and the pretentious notion that the sprites are not an indication of laziness. If they can't draw but want to make a comic, why don't they take some art classes, hire someone to do their drawings or even just write a novel? I don't know if Brian Clevinger's comic is unique at all in these regards, but I do know that there are a lot of problems with it backed up by a hubris that makes me want to punch the screen sometimes.

Art

Dude, it's sprites ripped off from Final Fantasy, peppered with photos and drawings ripped from elsewhere and cheap photoshop (or is it MS Paint?) effects. Normally, I'm not too much of a stickler for artistic quality if it still pleases the eye, but there's the rub: the sprites from Final Fantasy have garishly clashing colors. All of the colors don't mix at all, creating one big mess when given a first glance. The blacks clash with the light colors, the blues clash with the reds, etc. The wording is also much too cramped and the white letters with colored outlines against the black background hurt my eyes.

Then again, I've said before that good writing saves bad art. Doesn't happen here.

Writing

Not only is the art unoriginal, but so is everything else! The story is that of Final Fantasy 1, only it crawls at an even slower pace than the original game did, what with all the bickering and infighting and speeches and melodrama and distractions that go on. The fact that the overall story was ripped off means that Brian Clevinger doesn't have to think about the story's progression since it's already been written.

If all of the events have already been done, it would be better to make this a character-driven comic, right? What if all of the characters were monumentally stupid and/or evil, so all they ever did was argue and fight instead of actually giving you any kind of progression? Stupid and evil characters can be funny, but not when they're as generic and one-dimensional as this:

Fighter: Likes SWORDS. Is STUPID.
Black Mage: Is EVIL. Likes WHITE MAGE.
Thief: STEALS stuff.
Red Mage: D&D POWER PLAYER. (Also STUPID)
White Mage: HEALS people. NAIVE.
Black Belt: Slightly less STUPID than FIGHTER.

These characters never change. They go around doing, saying and wanting the same things all the time. All they do is react in the same predictable way to whatever situation is thrown at them. The jokes themselves weren't really even funny to begin with. How many times should the point be made that Fighter likes swords or Black Mage stabs people before everyone gets it and wants to go on?

And then there's the dialogue, which is way too long-winded to pack any punch at the end, not that it usually does. Often characters will break out in monologue and go in-depth to say what they think, which often boils down to the character descriptions I gave above. Since the set-ups are so long, the reader has plenty of time to predict the punchline before it happens, as it's usually something that's been done before. Most of the time it's just someone saying something stupid or doing something evil and a character responding with a boring, glib one-liner such as "I hate you" or "It's stabby time!"

So, like, why is this comic, out of all the other sprite comics, so popular?

The appeal

The kind of people who like this comic are nurds. Nurds will happily eat up any kind of re-hash of something they enjoyed before. They're afraid of change and will not dare go outside and do something new. Instead they will play their latest RPG and bitch about any of the changes made to it. It's these kind of people who eat stuff like this right up. "It's a sprite comic about Final Fantasy? I love Final Fantasy! I have to love this by association! Ha ha, Fighter's dumb! Black Mage, don't you ever change. My incredible lack of knowledge about true evil makes your insidious acts all the more easy to swallow. I wish I could be just like you and stab those jocks that give me wedgies in the locker room! They're dumb like Fighter!" This may be also why any other comic dealing with console RPG's gets quickly popular, regardless of quality.

To all the 8-bit fans that are reading this: You are fools. You are being played. This is nothing but glorified fan-service (meaning it was created more with the intention to please the fans than to be creative or intelligent) meant to provide Brian Clevinger enough money to build a wing on his condo for his gigantic hubris to stay in. This is a guy who quit his job in order to have more time to make his webcomic, then he whined that he wasn't making enough money from it. Oh, and he shot my dog. Stop now while you still can.

Printable Summary

RIPPED OFF ART. UGLY LAYOUT. NO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. BORING, OVERLONG SET-UPS DEFEAT BORING, WEAK PUNCHLINES. INEXPLICABLE POPULARITY. AUTHOR'S AN ASS. HORRIBLE WEBCOMIC. THE END.
Sat Sep 11 2004 09:25 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

On a purely conceptual level, retro-future is funny in and of itself. It's amusing to see what people from the past would think today would have been like, what with flying cars and shiny V-shaped jump suits to wear while in space. But modern-retro-future? There's a point where some things can be too ironic to be funny, or two ironies can cancel each other out.

Astounding Space Thrills is a modern comic that imitates comic book concepts and art styles of the future from the past. Or something. It's an homage of sorts to the pulp comic books of the 50's when the thought of space travel was new, weird and scary. People back then didn't know what was out there, so they made up all of these space monster stories to entertain the possibilities we thought were out there. Now that reality has shown us that space is mostly a great big nothing, it's a little harder to get excited about what may be out there. That's one of the things that AST tackles in one of the first issues: In order to suspend disbelief in the reader, all it takes is one giant leap of logic (the Shift) and then everything else makes sense. Once the rules are changed, everything is possible again, right? The method sort of works and sort of doesn't. The Shift allows us to not take the comic too seriously, so anything that doesn't make sense can be met with laughter instead of eye-rolling. At the same time, though, the sense of wonder doesn't exactly regain its former presence from fifty years ago.

This comic is science fiction, but it isn't really any more scientific than Star Wars. Any science mumbo jumbo that the comic throws at you shouldn't be taken seriously, otherwise you just won't enjoy the comic at all.

The art style is modeled after the old comics as well, using the same kind of linework, backgounds, postures and character designs. The colors are better and the whole production is more polished, though. Also, a lot of the large-scale models such as ships and planets are in 3D, as well as certain images being animated. The last two elements, however, distract from rather than enhance the artwork for me. The difference between the hand-drawn art and the 3D is jarring, and there aren't enough animated panels in order for me to get used to them rather than breaking me out of the story.

The main character is Whitebr... Argosy Smith, a man who was born at the same time as the Shift. He's your average caucasian, wisecracking, fearless square-jawed man who always keeps a straight face and has a solution for everything. How interesting. I know that this is a throwback and all, but modern times are interested in modern characters, and that means ones with flaws bigger than coming up with lame puns. I don't think it's really anyone we can relate to. Sometimes real beauty comes with flaws. Perfection is boring.

Another aspect is the stories themselves, which can be hit-or-miss. All of them are a bit removed from the norm, with snappy dialogue and unexpected surprises, but a few of them are too short to be engaging, the first one is too convoluted to take interest in, and one really just gets on my nerves, as it seems to be just tooting the horn of its own genre. Space Quakes and the Faberge Omelette were the best stories, with good twists and senses of mystery, as well as the fact that Argosy had gained some more character in those later stories. I wouldn't say that they were exactly astounding or thrilling, but they did take place in space, right?

My adjective for this comic is... okay. While some people may get nostalgic from reading these stories, someone who's more interested in modern myths will probably be alienated by something so episodic and silly. It's not laugh-out-loud, it's not really intense, and it doesn't really make you think, but it's not really bad on any counts either. Read it with the same enthusiasm as watching some high-budget budget B-movie. Not profound, but moderately enjoyable.
Thu Sep 02 2004 09:42 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Todd and Penguin is a neat little comic with, shall we say... humble beginnings.

I admire this for one thing that many webcomics lack, which is improvement. And by that I don't just mean the art style, but the concept and writing quality. Many webcomic authors develop a style as they go on, both in the artistic and literary realms, but not many actually refine their style, rather than simply expand upon what they did in the first place. I like the fact that this comic changed from just another gag strip about losers with talking animals into something that is actually charming.

The art started out poor, with stiff postures, stock facial expressions and pedestrian linework. As time goes on, though, the characters gain better rendering and actions, as well as seeing better expressions in their faces. Colors and background get an improvement too. While it's far from perfect, I do like the angular design that the characters currently possess, as it has personality.

The characters started out more like devices in order to deliver gags and be a mouthpiece for the author, but over time they actually progress to being genuinely charming. Probably one of the big flaws at the beginning was the fact that the characters were never formally introduced. Once I got over that, I hoped that the characters would evolve beyond cliches and running gags, and they did. The new characters Jessika and Oscar are nice additions, as antagonists can spice up a narrative, and I also like that they don't fall into one-dimensional character forms.

The plots consisted mostly of once-a-day gags with stories that didn't involve great consequence. It was very much as if the author was testing out the waters, trying to figure out what kind of work he wanted to produce. The jokes started out pretty lame, with the generic bashes on MTV and beauty magazines, and the charm hadn't set in yet so the cute jokes didn't mean anything to me. Once the author started doing stories such as Mr. Bear's leg breaking. They weren't intense, but it made me glad that the characters could react to situations in varying ways. The jokes got funnier on the way as well, as a few of the later ones made me snicker and giggle.

The author admits that the comic was trying to imitate newspaper greats such as Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes, but I also like the fact that he's humble enough to know he won't be as good. At least he went for charming comics such as those mentioned instead of imitating crass ones such as Garfield and Dilbert like a certain other webcomic did. Humility is kind of a hard thing to come across in webcomic authors and I'm glad some of them can swallow their pride and admit when they make mistakes or that they can improve.

All of this came to a head when the comic was "relaunched" in 2004 by drastically changing Todd's age, among other things. It was disturbing and I didn't really like it, but as I kept reading, I realized that I just wanted the comic to go back to the way it was, and that I'd cared about the characters enough to want them back to the way they were. I liked the creative way that things were brought back to normal.

The archives are a bit confusing, though. Some comics appear twice in far-apart instances. Many of the comics in 2003 have (c)2002 underneath them. The archive page itself only links to the beginning of stories, so that means you may have some clicking to do if you stopped reading in the middle of the archive. Fortunately, the author seems to be keeping a regular schedule right now.

Right now the comic is above average. There are still quite a few wrinkles in the fabric but I feel that this comic will only improve. It has great charm and potential and it shouldn't be squandered. Keep up the good work.
Thu Aug 26 2004 12:52 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Quick question: Is it possible for a comic (or anything syndicated, for that matter) to be formulaic from day one? goats gives us the answer in a resounding "YES!"

goats is another one of those comics where two losers (along with a smart-aleck talking animal or two) sit on a couch and have strange things happen to them. Sure, it started a few months before Sluggy Freelance, but it seems to be just a poor imitator of the much better strip. I realize that "losers on a couch" is a very open-ended premise, as it not only allows multiple situations, but the characters are also easy to mold, as well as the fact taht the authors can probably relate the most to loser characters. Damn, though, if it doesn't smack of laziness. Call me anal, but I'd much rather enjoy a comic that starts with an actual situation at hand that can maintain my interest.

The problem is that goats really just apes the formulas used in countless newspaper comics past, especially Garfield. It's kind of a Lucky Pierre between newspaper and webcomics. True to form, goats hardly changes. The characters always do and say the same things. It's easy to accurately predict what a certain character's reaction to any situation will be. Storyarcs are all buildup and no climax and reach-around back to the way things were in the first place. This is all fine and well for newspaper comics and TV shows, as the successful ones usually keep doing what makes them successful. Networks and syndicates don't want to change the formula if it might cause a decrease in ratings. It's not as acceptable, though, for solo ventures. Without any editorial control, the authors are able to keep cranking out their comic, regardless of quality or freshness. It's a lot easier and cheaper than getting a publisher to accept your work. No editorial control allows for more freedom in subject material, as evidenced by the aliens' love of hamsters. I know that no editors means no censorship, but it also means that the quality is entirely up to the author, and there are not very many people that can pump out something of high value without a little help. Don't get me started on their retarded story about the Comics Board...

Small subject of the art style. Not bad, gets better over time. No gaping flaws, but nothing special either. I guess when you draw the same characters doing the same things every day, you get good at it.

I have read a little less than two years' worth of goats, and I can safely say that I'd rather slide a long hard bullet into a well-greased chamber and stick the gun in me before reading onward. Skipping ahead, it doesn't seem like the storylines or writing styles have improved at all. I think I'll just leave this strip alone and let pirates have at it, but pirates probably wouldn't even want this one.

I don't recommend goats. You won't have a gay ol' time. (Eats a banana)
Wed Aug 18 2004 12:22 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

This is one of those comics that's hard to approach on a critical level. It's probably the oldest webcomic in existence, going back to 1993. It's also been dead for a little more than two years now, making any criticism kind of null now. The mitigating factor, though, is the comic's content. This stuff is raw and pulls no punches. Perhaps it would be better to put this in the form of one of those VH1-style 'lookbacks.' And I don't need to divide my review into categories, because this is kind of one full experience, especially if you read all of the comics in one sitting.

The strip is done mostly in single-panel form, often with a caption underneath. The first thing one would probably compare PLIF to would be Gary Larson's The Far Side and they wouldn't be far off, as this is basically the same thing, except there is no editorial or syndicated control and the authors were probably high on methamphetamines when thinking these strips up.

So what does this comic consist of? Bizarre situations that are designed to instigate some sort of gut reaction within the reader. Things such as a chicken spine and a safe falling on a girl dressed as a tomato give the readers such a sense of total logical disconnect that they almost can't help but laugh. Other strips appeal to people's gross-out sense of humor, such as the Corsicate sensation transmitter and a man copulating with a scalpel. Quite a few comics deal with steak. I don't know why, but steak, put in the right situation, is just funny. Others still have some sort of message in them, as there seems to be some sort of sentiment against McDonald's and Disney, as well as capitalism as a whole. Whether the authors mean any of the things they say is quite irrelevant. It's the reaction that counts. It doesn't really matter whether it's good or bad. Some may laugh, others will be repulsed. Either one of these extremes seem to be what the authors were going for.

My only real complaint is that many times the captions are unnecessary and can even detract from the enjoyment of certain strips. They often directly address the reader and come off in a condescending tone. Often, the scene depicted in the strip is more than enough to get a laugh without the caption adding some deadpan commentary.

It should go without saying that this is a comic for anyone with the mental maturity to not take these kind of things too seriously. Some of these comics are bound to offend, and many already have. Many of the comics are caustic, graphic, brash, abrasive, gross and sometimes even immature. Whatever reaction you have, it certainly won't be boredom. I just hope you laugh.
Thu Aug 05 2004 07:43 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Before I start this review, I must admit that in my early teens and possibly before, I had this thing for transformations. I liked seeing certain episodes of Gargoyles and Batman in which people changed their form, either by choice or having it forced upon them (preferably the latter, as well as the transformee being female). The reason for this was because this symbolized some sort of radical change in story, as well as giving me a sense of wonder as to how someone would feel if they actually were physically transformed. I suspect there was a deeper reason to all that as well, as transformation, especially if forced upon someone, was a symbol of dominance over nature and humanity, and dominance kinda turns me on. I guess I still hold onto a little of that from my earlier days, as I enjoy scenes in video games and RPG's where the villain takes on a more powerful form through some improbably process. There's nothing incredibly unusual about all this, but it's not the kind of thing that most people would just keep to themselves, as it would make others look at them sideways. I only mention this because it is somewhat pertinent to this whole review, given that

DAN SHIVE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO CONCEAL HIS CREEPY FETISHES.

Anyway, I guess I should write this now, and I'll try my best not to swear.



Plot

Dan Shive has a furry and transformation fetish, and he just HAS to let out all of that pent-up sexuality somehow. Given that he has about a 5% chance of getting laid in the next five years, and given that he has at least enough dignity not to draw anthro-porn (I certainly hope not, anyway. Who knows what's not on the internet?), he decides to draw a webcomic about it. It doesn't matter that he can't draw too well, or doesn't have enough human interaction to know how people converse, or any knowledge of making a compelling story structure outside of Anime, or that he couldn't understand layout for the life of him. He perseveres, despite all of these roadblocks, and in the end churns out a webcomic that is a better form of self-gratification than masturbation, but not much else.

And what's the comic about? Far as I can tell, it's about people constantly switching species and gender and all of the high-larious results of said transformations. Oh, and sex jokes, Anime jokes and nerd jokes.

Art

Below average. Characters have very similar designs, clothes, faces, hair, etc. Often I couldn't tell them apart, especially after they all started changing shape. Strangely, the anthro designs are better-drawn than the human designs, but then they're just weird for the most part.

Dearth of backgrounds. Action scenes are very stiff. Shoddy linework. Boring use of colors in certain strips.

Characters

Elliot: Jerk
Tedd: Nerd pervert
Sarah: Confused bitch
Grace: Naive squirrel-girl
Ellen: Elliot's 'sister' that was made after Elliot was turned into a girl, so he touched this magical diamond that seperated them and they became two different people. Plausible, I know.

Writing

UGH! Stiff as a board! This guy has no sense of how people actually talk in real life. People talk in recaps and exposition that often fills up half a page full of info that I already know, I don't care about, and could be greatly reduced. An example in the most recent comic I've read has the line "Since when are you into grunge music from the early nineties?" That whole line can be reduced to "Since when did you like grunge?" That would have made the line slightly more funny, but it still wouldn't make me laugh.

Which brings me to the jokes. They are weak. Unfunny. Flat. In-jokes that refer to furries, Anime, transformation and the comic itself. I only laughed at one joke in the entire thing so far, and I'm too lazy to look for it again. It involved a unisex bath house. The problem with all these jokes is that Dan Shive expects the funny to just write itself, as transformations are odd enough to be funny on their own. The problem here is that not only is the first transformation done with a serious tone, but the whole thing is done to death, making transformations lose any sense of oddity and just become lame.

A larger problem with the comic's writing, though, is the story structure. Pacing is god-awful, as sometimes events are sped up (like the first goo story) in order to get to the 'interesting' parts, which move at a crawl (Like Sister, which took forever and was an absolute mess). Worse still are plot twists that come out of nowhere, such as an alternate-dimension Tedd contacting Grace through internet video or Grace's brother Hedge showing up in West Bumhole, AZ to give Tedd and Elliot a ride back to Moperville. Most of the characters also have unimaginative superpowers that they have for little or no reason. Twists such as these made my arm fall off the desk a couple of times, as my mind and body just stopped functioning in order to properly process all of the inanity. Its bad because just as I'm about to finish swallowing another crap sandwich Dan Shive served me and accept whatever dumb twist he came up with, he serves me another one.

And then the drama. THE DRAMA! Enough angst to make several angst sandwiches. Is any of this supposed to be taken seriously? It's hackneyed, overwrought, unrealistic and, given the ludicrous nature of the comic, impossible to take seriously.

And finally, the transformations themselves. I firmly believe that a something so life-altering as a changing of one's physical form should have big practical and emotional ramifications or at least lead to a boss fight, not just be some silly afterthought. Thanks for killing another bit of my childhood, Dan Shive!

And stop being so freakin' self-referential! No one likes the characters mentioning they're in a comic, or the author commenting on the comic within the strip. Fourth-wall breaks are only tolerated when the strip doesn't take itself seriously at all, or it's some kind of avant-garde project, of which this obviously isn't.

BARF!

Weak humor, stupid drama, random plot twists, overlong exposition, horrible pacing, wooden dialogue, so-so art, general inanity and a thin layer of creepiness make this one of the worst comics I've ever read. This is Dragon Ball Z with more chicks and angst, and somehow less interesting fights. A strong contender with Gene Catlow. Oh, and it SO wants to be Sluggy Freelance.

Now, excuse me while I make myself a beef milkshake.
Thu Jul 29 2004 07:49 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Furilius sure did pick the right pic to represent this week's selection.

This is the second diary comic reviewed by the crew, and I must say that this is not the best choice. It may color the crew's (and whoever takes their opinions seriously) vision of diary comics as boring, self-obsessed whine-fests that are filled with uninteresting situations, stories that go nowhere and problems no one else cares about.

Okay, most diary comics are like that, but I have found a few that are at least interesting. Anyway, onward:

Come As You Are

This comic is based on the life of British up-and-coming artist David Twomey and the notion that anyone would be interested in his life. The comic consists of day after boring day where, for the most part, nothing interesting happens and even if something does the author doesn't find a way to make us care.

Simply put: David Twomey is one of the most boring people I know.

Big Long Now

Your average comic consists of some little tale that could happen in anyone's life, and probably many people who read it will be able to relate to some of these situations. Here's the problem, though: most of the people who experience this kind of stuff don't find it interesting enough to document and tell other people about. Really, the most interesting thing that happened today was someone's hat blowing off? Who on Earth cares about the string kicker? Even if the author has an exciting day, he simply can't convey whatever feelings he experienced.

Heart-Shaped Box

The art is also a big negative factor in this comic. Most of the characters are drawn with PacMan-like faces that are simple and at the same time cannot express any kind of strong feeling. How can I relate to artistic representation of a human being when that representation does not make me think of them as human? They might as well be crash test dummies, able to take all the punishment they can without me ever caring.

A few of the characters are drawn as other things, such as a koala, an eyeball, zombie, and some kind of monster. I know I like iconic characters, but this is a tad rediculous. How the hell am I supposed to relate to any of these people when they're further removed from reality?

Negative Creep

The thing is, this guy documents his life, but does nothing to make it seem appealing. Where's the insight? The irony? The emotional twists to otherwise mundane happenings? If he wants to make an interesting comic, why doesn't he get out more, trying to make his day interesting instead of just letting things happen? It would be much more interesting if Dave made his own fun instead of letting comics, video games and rock concerts do it for him.

David Twomey has a very passive personality that allows other people to lead his conversations and basically walk all over him. Later on he whines about how girls do just that. Oh, grow up. Break-ups happen, and if you don't have a take-charge attitude, then you freakin' deserve them!

All Apologies

If we ever review a diary comic again, I want it to be about someone who actually does something with his life outside of the virtual boundaries set for them. I want it to be about someone who can find the humor or irony in everyday situations. I want it to be about someone with strong emotions but doesn't just whine about everything. This is a good example.
Wed Jul 21 2004 04:17 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

This was a pleasant surprise.

Poppycock Circus is a 5-day-a-week comic strip about a classic circus in very modern times. It's meant to be humorous, and boy, does it deliver.

Art

Art is probably done with markers and colored in photoshop. It may not be the most professional look, but it gets the job done. Characters are easily defined. Postures and facial expressions are well done, and the designs are simple, so they can easily be drawn doing any number of things. Iconic drawing isn't done enough in webcomics if you ask me. People try to go for realism (which they haven't achieved yet), or their art is just sloppy or lazy. This art reminds me of a time when art didn't have to look amazing, just likeable.

Plot

It's about a circus crew and their various vignettes about how their personalities clash, as well as all of them trying to keep the circus in business long after circuses stopped being the wonderland they once were. It's not something that people consider these days, and it's quite a fresh theme with all the cookie-cutter plots of other webcomics.

Characters

One thing I've noticed in a lot of webcomics is that characters are often flat or blatantly ripped off, but either way not very endearing. Not here. I haven't seen such a cast of charming and well-defined characters in a comic strip since Bloom County. They all have distinct personalities and designs, but are also flexible enough for growth. There are six main characters:

Micheal Poppycock: The ringmaster who seems to live in his own little world, given that he often makes bizarre comments out of nowhere and is a little too optimistic for his own good. (Then again, you kind of have to be when you're trying to run a circus in this day and age). He always seems to have a solution for everything, even though applying it may be more work than it's worth.

Peter Von Stoffel: The *cough* stongest man alive, Peter is a simpler man from simpler times, just past his prime. More often than not, he is desperately trying to keep his massive but fragile ego from shattering, and is also just a tad pushy and vain. It's nice to see someone who you can pity and be pissed off at at the same time. He's my favorite character.

Bennington and Clyde: Two clowns. Bennington is sarcastic and snappy, while Clyde has a very child-like naivete. Their personalities play off each other's wonderfully.

Chauncy: A talking bear that performs stunts, Chauncy is the most level-headed of them all. That doesn't mean he doesn't receive discrimination due to his species.

Paul: A former Jackass turned daredevil, Paul is a loser who is willing to do anything, no matter how dangerous, except maybe actual work. His slacker personality nicely rounds out the cast.

Humor

VERY well done. This is like a Bloom County for the 2000's. It uses a deft mixture of character-based, situational, and modern humor to give a broad range of jokes that won't offend anyone's sensibilities, intelligence or values, but they're also not weak for the most part. Things such as the faith-based Star Wars play and the Anit-Bear Party had me snickering for a good while. My favorite, though, is Pro Bono.

Overall

I really like this comic. It oughtta be in newspapers, since God knows that the papers need something more things that are fresh, funny and not afraid to poke sardonic fun at pop culture and world events. I'd recommend it not only to anyone, but also any newspaper that might run it.
Tue Jul 13 2004 01:08 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Unable to fully comprehend the emotions he has experienced from reading Intelligent Life, Cobra's PG (I swear that's the only time I'll ever use that term) must look to higher technology in order to properly review this webcomic. For one week and one week only, this review will be presented in SARCASMO-VISION!

Boy, did I sure enjoy this comic! Aliens are totally awesome and haven't been done to death at all! I mean, the opening is so brilliant the main character (a pretty normal Alien creatively named Steve) lands in, get this, a FARM! And then a farmer is shocked! OMG that is like, I SO didn't see that coming! And then, like, Steve and his buddies stage an invasion announcement on TV! The president (named Shrub, LOL) pushes the big red button (which you know exists in real life) and makes the mothership go kablooie! Steve escapes and falls into a swamp, where he meets this really funny dude that I can't remember anything about him, he's so funny! Steve also befriends a Will-o-Wisp, from whom I've gotten far more laughs than I could ever count, mostly because I haven't passed the first grade! Then he goes to some hick town because Rednecks (the group it's OK to make fun of) are automatically funny, so much so that the author didn't need to bother making any good jokes for them! Then Shrub (LOL! Again!) is playing golf in a totally different scene transition (but that's okay, because pacing and transition only makes a story boring) and he hits the alien queen with the ball! And then there's the subpoena robot that shots lawsuites and has a Yamaka and it is oh so funny thhat I forgot how to spelll! Who is that woodchuck character?! I must know what he did with a badger it is so mysteeerious! Then the president gets vaporized! YAAAAAAY!

The art is really good I mean everything's all there and that sometime use of real pictures with the art is totally neato IT'S ART NOT LAZINESS YOU PHILISTINES!!! (Totally serious, though, the art isn't half-bad, but nothing to write home about.)

Then there are the jokes oh the jokes! HAHAHA I havne't laughed this much since Jay Leno I can't get over it! Pizza boobies! HAWT! I one day hope to wirte jokes as of a highest calibure as taht! I mean who cares that jokes go nowhere I have the attention span of a gnat! See that gnat?! It is an ugly gnat! Ooh, now look at the azaleas! So pretty...!

I give Intelligent Life a super-duper mish-mosh-mashy double-whammy extra-crispy manic-depressive lifetime-achievement uncle-trouble orgasmo-tronic very special A+++++-+++!!!!!11one!1 I am so happee!...

And with that, the SARCASMO-VISION is taken off. Cobra realizes that it is too great a power to be wielded by ordinary man, so he casts it off in flame and destroys the plans, never to have it return. Now he needs a cigarette...
Thu Jul 08 2004 05:21 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

I feel bad about writing this. There's obviously a good idea in this comic, but the execution is so atrocious that I can only walk away feeling uncomfortable. This webcomic is... retarded.

Premise

A neat one, for sure. Lorelei Lyons is the daughter of a rich businessman and an expert neuroscientist. She's mentally retarded, though, so while she does live in the lap of luxury she also has to deal with the burden of not being as smart as the people around her and the ridicule she faces due to her condition.

A year after her mother dies, she is given a video tape by her late parent telling her about a device she invented that would make creatures smarter, but killed them in two weeks. When Lorelei is in a bus crash and her riding partner is dying, she has no choice but to use the device (her locket, who'da guessed?) to save him. Not only does the device work, but she remembers every detail that she's ever witnessed in her life, and she can learn new things at an enormous rate. During the two weeks she has to live, she learns all kinds of things, develops her Mindmistress suit and staff, and finds out that she can revert back to her old self in order to preserve herself. Then her father gets kidnapped by her stepmom's henchmen, so she saves him with her new suit. After he's saved, though, Lorelei's dad wants to find out Mindmistress' secrets and will do so no matter what the cost...

The premise is okay. It's a neat idea, but it doesn't go in any interesting direction after that. There are several problems with the comic:

1. Sloppy Art.

This is what my brother would draw, if he was eight years old, had no arms and decided to pee on it for good measure. Linework is crap. Colors are dull and muddy. Postures are rediculous. Facial expressions are horrible. Sometimes things such as eyes and lips are the wrong size or in the place, or the face even looks like it's melting!

2. Sloppier layout

Unlike most webcomics, each panel is its own image. This makes for unattractive panel layouts depending on your monitor size. Also, it seems each image is larger than the panel itself, as sometimes words have the first or last letter off-panel. Speaking of words, the word balloons were obviously taken from some kind of comic strip generator, as they look way more professional than the rest of the comic, but they all look the same. Their placement, however, makes it hard to tell who's talking sometimes and a chore to read. All of this is exacerbated by a few alternative strips here and there, which are certain Mindmistress strips drawn by different artists. All of them have better art and layout.

3. Almost no emotion

Maybe I wouldn't have a hard time figuring out who's talking if people had some different personalities. They talk like robots! The first chapter is decent enough, as it sets up Lorelei's obvious burden, but by chapter 3, all she really cares about is dealing with the next villain. Every person seems to have an agenda and nothing else. When someone does have emotion, it almost seems forced.

4. Takes itself WAY too seriously

I mean, lighten up, really. No reader's really going to care about whatever problem Mindmistress has to deal with if it's so rediculous as the ones she's presented. Everyone keeps a straight face through all of the silly and wacky situations. Chapter 3 is especially guilty of this, with all sorts of crazy stuff such as homo-aquaticus, Mindmistress' boat, jet and submarine, a tidal wave big enough to destroy a city, Schrodinger's catwalk and underwater colonies made from giant organisms. Chapter 3 seems more like an effort to show off all of the whiz-bang technology that the author could come up with, but none of it is very creative or impressive, instead being pretty rediculous. Almost all of the technology in this comic is a combination of the impossible, improbable and the rediculous. The worst moment, though, was the beginning of chapter 6, in which a woman who's face breached the walls between realities for a few seconds now sees tons of different realities around her. And guess what those realities are? OTHER WEBCOMICS! Geez, the cheese! Most of these visions are just lame shout-outs to the other comics and serve no other purpose other than to be fanservice to webcomic readers (although they do provide useful links for the bood club).

5. Uneven pacing

Sometimes seconds, minutes, hours, days weeks or months happen in between panels or strips. unfortunately, there's usually no logical transition between these events. Just how long did it take Mindmistress to travel halfway across the country? How long did it take her to build all of her gadgets? Why are these boring conversations taking so long?

6. Oversimplification

Despite being about the smartest woman in the world, Mindmistress doesn't take a lot of thought to read, and probably didn't take much to write either. Instead of doing something profound such as creating world peace by killing 3 million people in a simulated alien attack, she just waits for some villain to rear its head and she deals with it, and then on to the next problem. The story is too episodic to be engaging. There is no grander scheme at work here. Most of the problems are solved using gadgets instead of smarts. There's no real tension about Mindmistress' imending doom, since she has two whole weeks to solve whatever problem she's facing and change back again. World events are widely ignored, and villains aren't anything more than someone with one agenda and one way to deal with them.

7. Inhibitive navigation

You can only link to the beginning of each chapter. Sorry.

Summation

This comic doesn't have much going for it at all, but I do feel that wrapped in all the crap, this comic does have a good idea in it. I'll give it an A+ for trying so I don't hurt the author's self-esteem.
Thu Jul 01 2004 01:45 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Put this one in the "Too early to review" category. Considering this is only 38 pages long and only on the second chapter, I feel like it should have been given more time before anyone passes judgment on it. The author indicates that the real story hasn't even begun yet.

That aside, this comic merely made me go "Eh..."

Story

This dumb New Yorker named Chain is being followed by two little pink demons. Chain gets spooked, goes home and checks his mail, only to find out he's won a trip in a Publisher's Cleaning House sweepstakes. He gets on the plane and has wacky antics at the airport, finally being tied to his seat in the plane so he doesn't cause any more trouble. The demons follow him on the plane and cause it to crash, though. He wakes up to some talking bears and...

To me, Chain's just not an engaging character, and nothing really happens (until the plane crash) that would really compel me to read on. The story looks like it's going in an interesting direction, but I can't really tell.

Humor

Humor is competant, but not spectacular. I didn't really laugh at any of the jokes, but at least none made me groan. Seeing Chain tied up in the seat was probably the best one.

Art

Pretty good. Clear inking styles, some creative use of layout, a dash of Flash to spice things up and really good colors. Not much to complain about here.

Navigation

I admire the use of Flash in the webcomic, but when you look past the initially clean layout, there are problems. Moving the scrollbars around to find the directional arrows can be a chore, as well as clicking on a bunch of different ones in order to progress properly. Also, there should be limits to how much the user can move or resize the image, as they can make it as big or small as they want and move it as far as they want. If they want to have it come back to its original image they would have to click on the link to whatever page they're on again, as hitting the Reload button on the browser will take them back to page one. It would be quicker than moving and resizing the image back to its default position, though. A default button would be nice, actually.

Whatever...

This comic seems to have some nice ideas here and there, but I really can't summon a strong opinion one way or another about it. Ask me a year from now to see if my opinion has changed.
Thu Jun 24 2004 12:06 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to navigation Hell.

The comic

This is a diary comic, a first for the Book Club. It's a simple premise in that the author draws a strip representing whatever has happened during her day, week, moment, whatever. The quality of the comic depends on how interesting the author's life is, or how interesting the author can make it seem. For me, this one is okay. She has a few witty observations on life including ones that speak to me personally on topics such a can hunting and Dance Dance Revolution.

The general attitude of the comic is pretty realistic, in that she doesn't seem to be too extreme on anything. She is a bit sarcastic, but she doesn't get too angry or ecstatic about anything, which I like, since extreme emotions and attitudes are off-putting to me. Not bad on the narrative.

The art

Starts out really sloppy, but then gets better with clear character outlines and more defined facial expressions. Since it's supposed to be representative of daily life, it doesn't become too detatched from what we can readily identify. Nothing too special, though.

The website

Aw, damn. Apparently this person does not know how to maintain a website. The links are functional, but the archives are a mess. Early strips don't have all of the navigation buttons. Certain links are omitted. Some comics are skipped entirely by clicking the 'next' button. Other times the 'next' button takes you to the comic you are currently reading. I just had to stop because the comic just was not worth going through trial and error to find the correct update days (it gets more and more sporadic later on) or going backward from the latest comic.

The archive page only goes for the first eight months of the comic, and it's set up in a weird way so the order of the months goes left then up instead of right then down like it should.

Message to the author

Elaine Hornby, if you are reading this, please update your archives and earlier strips so they have all the navigation buttons. Also, check and fix the misdirected links. Update more often too. There's good potential in this comic, but it's ruined by your negligence in maintaining the archives.
Tue Jun 15 2004 01:33 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Hoo boy.

This, friends, is an example of a comic that's bad. It's just got so much going against it that it's not worth reading. It's filled with amatuer art, cheesy dialogue, crummy plotlines, rip-offs galore and plot twists by the dozen that don't have any real impact. And it has one of the worst titles in all of webcomicdom. But let's get to the meat of the whole thing:

Art

This is how my brother used to draw. Ten years ago. It's obvious that this guy read a lot of comic books growing up, particularly X-Men and some Image comics here and there. The style reeks of Rob Liefield, as seen with the improbable postures, jumpy fight scenes, attention to detail only when necessary and the strange phenomenon of characters only having one visible foot. The problem is that without decent inking or coloring the art looks even more bland than Rob's. Not something I'd be proud of.

Story

Some guy with three sacred objects gets attacked in a space bar, opens a portal to the room of three losers and subsequently dies. The three losers put on the three sacred objects, get into a whole mess of trouble in some space station, then escape in a small spacecraft. At that point they receive a transmission from some Twi'lek rip-off to come to his home planet, at which they become the chosen ones to protect the galaxy using Satan's objects. Over the course of a few strips they are trained to become super-warriors and all that. Then Maur attacks, etc. (I'll let you find out the rest).

The problem is, we're given no reason why those three losers were discovered by the Twi'lek dude in the first place, or why they accept their duty to find the sacred objects so quickly, or why these three losers are entrusted with the protection of the fickin' GALAXY when there are obviously more qualified people to do so. The best explanation is found here, but it seems so much more like a cop-out than anything else.

The big plot is that these sacred objects were created by Satan and now he wants them back in order to be free from Hell. It's just like every other guy who's played Xenogears or read Preacher in that they think they can create a story involving God or Satan and it will be deep and neat. Note to would-be blasphemers: Don't write a story about God and/or Satan if you don't know the story behind it. (Hint: The Bible)

Characters

Bob, Sid and Roonas are the three dudes who are entrusted with the sacred objects, and they're just losers who were sitting on a couch before that. Aside from Bob freaking out when they first enter a portal, they don't really seem that phased by the fact that they're in space in the future. Their personalities are very interchangeable, but they all seem to be pretty dumb. The other characters are plot devices, so their personalities are not important.

Action

BLAM! BLAM! SLASH! SLASH! STAB STAB STABBITY STAB! GRAB TOSS THROW BURN WHOOSH! PEW! PEW! WHACK! BUDDABUDDABUDDA! FWEEEEEEEEEEE! DISINTIGRATE! POKE!

Rinse and repeat. Not as exciting as I make it sound, though. The action is horribly repetitive, and more often than not they start fights by jumping like Wolverine (OH NOES IS IT ANOTHER RIP-OFF?)

Rip-Offs

Rips off Marvel and Image comics in general, Star Wars at least twice, DC Comics' Lobo in more ways than one (who does Maur remind you of?), He-Man and even old Snickers commercials. Great googly moogly, thats a lot, but I'm sure there's more.

Pokey Monsters

Not funny at all and totally unnecessary, this seems more like a Buttlord rip-off than a legitimate spoof, seeing how it so TOTALLY puts down that horrible anime. Yipee! Fart jokes! Retards! The thing the creator doesn't get is that if you want to do offensive humor, you have to have some sense of comedic timing, punch and creativity, which the parody lacks all of.

RETARDAZAR? While I'm a guy who doesn't offend easily, I just have to say that laughing at retards solely because of their disability is not cool. That doesn't mean you can't have fun with them, but at least be a little creative. If I were going to make a funny situation involving a retarded person, I'd have him control a giant mech or something like that, give him a little sense of empowerment, not just laughing at him because he's retarded. Timmy and Jimmy from South Park are a good example of retards being funny but not just because they're retarded.

War

This chapter is fully animated, and it's bad. The action is boring beyond ho-hum, the voices have no emotion put into them, the lip-syncing is bad, the pacing is really slow and it ends with Bob accidentally killing himself in a cave-in of his own creation. At least the comic doesn't ride the cliche train all the way, as the black dude is still alive. But then Bob can be saved. Yay. See this little flag I'm waving? It's for you.

Overall

This is BAAAAD. It's just a guy trying to write one action scene after another, not bothering with things such as pacing or character development. Who needs that anyway? All those are good for is giving the creator time to realize that his ideas are unoriginal bunk and that it would be better just to start over and try something new. This comic could have been interesting, but the creator chose boring fight scenes over building actual tension and giving the reader any reason to care about the characters or situations.

Would I recommend it to anyone? HELL no!
Thu Jun 10 2004 04:13 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

This is a comic I found a while back. Like popular hairstyles, its look has changed over time, but the heart remains the same.

Art

This comic uses manga-style art, but none of the conventions associated with it. All of the characters look realistic and down-to-earth, with no speed-lines, chibis or anything else that would detract from the immersion of the comic. The detail is great, as there's an obvious amount of effort shown in trying to make the scenes match the setting. Clothes and background reflect the era very well. Facial expressions and body langauge are also done rather well.

Characters

This is a comic about two girls, Angie and Hunter (no last names given) and their daily lives in high school. Angie is terminally perky, but is also a little weird, so she has trouble making friends. Hunter is an aggressive type who takes no crap from anyone. Both are kind of outcasts in school. The first comic shows how they meet, and after they get over their differences (in which they both teach each other a few things) they become best friends.

Other characters show up in various frequencies, such as dork-boy Peter, a gamer who is interested in Hunter, but has no idea how to express it, glam-queen Sandy, Hunter's old fried who has taken the dark path of popularity and horn-dog Tony, Peter's friend who tries a little too hard to get into Sandy's sequined pants. All of these characters are pretty well defined.

Story

The comic goes through all sorts of little misadventures, such as Angie's venturing into performance or the gang's job as a group of camp counselors. All of the stories challenge the characters and show their characteristics: vanity, insecurity, etc. Nearly all of the situations are just a little over-the-top, but never enough to make me suspend my disbelief. The interactions between characters are great, though, and have made me laugh quite a few times. Seeing Hunter explode on Peter is funny, and so was Hunter's trip to her father's place in Texas. A cat named Garfield... how original.

The 80's

This comic is a period piece, taking place in an unspecified year in the 1980's. That allows it to use references from the entire decade. This was done before VH1 and Rockstar Games made being nostalgic about the 80's popular. Also, unlike the to aforementioned companies, this comic doesn't beat you over the head with the era. The 80's are more often than not a setting rather than a punchline here, giving the comic a legitimate feel more than a crass one. I commend the creators for that.

In General

Don't you forget about this comic. It's funny and charming. You should definitely recommend it to anyone with memories of Thundercats or Corey Feldman. Or will you walk away? Will you walk on by?

Will you call its name?
Tue Jun 01 2004 11:07 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Good God, why was this even considered?

BLAND. Very pedestrian art that has nothing special and never makes interesting use of posture, scenery, color, etc. It's just guys and a turtle standing or sitting and talking with their mouths open. It's the same old "roommates sit around and have wacky adventures" that you've read before, except they never seem to leave the town they live in and their adventures are nowhere near wacky. There's the turtle. What's he doing here? Who cares? At one point I even forgot Matt and Theo's names.

Jokes are so middle-of-the-road it hurts. They're often incredibly unfunny, done to death to the point of oblivion or painfully obvious. Hollywood relies more on special effects than plot? You don't say! Freedom Fries (a joke that got old the moment it was conceived) are a dumb idea? Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I half expected someone to walk into a bar and say "Ouch!"

This was a waste of a half-hour of my time. Why should I recommend this to anyone? It's so boring, bland and forgettable that recommending it would be considered a dis.

I will give the creator credit, though. It seems that he as well realized that the comic was boring and not going anywhere, so he stopped it. I admire him for that.
Tue May 25 2004 04:42 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

"Diesel Sweeties" Rant

"I knew that a lot of Dream members have had a humorectomy performed on them before reviewing Buttlord GT, but I was surprised at how they revealed themselves in full force. It's almost as if they felt obligated to bash this comic."

I was going to leave it at that, but I see the truth now: You guys don't have souls.

I'm angry.

I'm going to preface this with a little story: Friday night, a girl named Amber saw me playing Dance Dance Revolution with a well-known gay person. Even though he knew I was straight, she said that he wanted to stick it up my butt. After defending myself and my friend, she walked away. The next night I was walking home from singing Karaoke in Alberti's Bar & Grille. Right before I reached my house, she spotted me across the street. She was with three other dudes. She ran across the street, got in my face and started calling my friend a faggot and called me a faggot by association. When I told her to stop dissing me and my friend, she wouldn't stop, so I said "F-ck you" and tried to walk away, but she decided to start pushing me. She wouldn't stop pushing, so I pushed her back. After repeatedly telling her to stop, I decided to slap her in order to get my point across. When I did that, one of the dudes she was with, a big black dude named Torres, walked up to me and punched me in the eye. The other two white dudes pulled her away, but not before she stomped on my hat. Now my face is messed up and I still feel my black eye, so I can't forget about it. The worst part is that most people I've told this to have said that I was the one who messed up since you're never ever supposed to hit a woman. They can get away with whatever they want. Now I'm mad at Amber, Torres, and Myself. I look and feel bad, I get funny stares and the same old lecture. I feel anger and guilt.

In short: I'm pissed. Things aren't as funny and food doesn't taste as good. Sometimes I get so angry I get a hard-on, I'm so angry.

This isn't helping.

Now, on to you guys. When I saw that Buttlord GT was up for review, I knew that a few people wouldn't like it, since some people have fooled themselves into thinking that humor that goes for the gut is not funny. I bet they wouldn't laugh if they were tickled.

Boy, did I underestimate you guys.

Not only did you feel the need to bash Buttlord GT but to also diss its creators and fans, make some remarks about the internet sucking and saying that reading the comic was a sin of some sort. Wow. I didn't know it was possible to hate a comic that much. I get flack from Furilius for saying a comic sucks. I hope the road runs both ways.

But what's done is done. I stated my opinions on BLGT, and so did you all. I may not have liked them, but at least they were semi-expected.

Now there's Diesel Sweeties. "Swell," I thought, "A comic that uses humor in a different way. Instead of going for the gut, the humor is a little more tongue-in-cheek, using words instead of farts in order to get the laughs across. These new-age stereotypes and the subsequent mocking oughtta get the brain working a little more than simple bowel humor."

And you guys STILL HATE IT.

What the hell is wrong with you?

I'm looking at the hits you have against this. The art sucks? The jokes get repetitive? There's no story? Characters are bland? What on Earth is this?

Art: Yes, it's pixelated. The art isn't that professional. I think it's a neat look. Facial expressions are shown real well. It may get tiring to read more than 200 pages of this in a row, but that applies to almost any webcomic. Here's the thing, though. This isn't a comic where a lot of physical stuff happens. It's more about the dialogue and the interactions between characters, so art takes a backseat to writing. Or, to put it more clearly:

GOOD WRITING SAVES BAD ART MORE THAN GOOD ART SAVES BAD WRITING.

Many comics try so very hard to make themselves look beautiful, just like some professional Anime or manga, but they forget to make an engaging story to go with the pretty art. If the writing's not that great, what's compelling me to move forward? I don't really care what pretty thing I'm going to see next unless it's pretty damn PRETTY. Most webcomics aren't that pretty. I can tolerate subpar art if the writing makes me laugh, think or care. I read webcomics for content, not eye candy.

Story: There is no story to this comic. They are one-shots and vignettes. If you think that a comic is bad because it lacks a story, then you are dumb.

Humor: Jeez, why all the hatin' on indie jokes and sex jokes? They're funny because they make me laugh. Indie Rock Pete is one of the funniest characters in webcomics, simply because It's so insanely funnily sad to see someone be such a loser and compensate for it by incorporating loserdom into his philosophy. Seeing him try to rationalise his life is hilarious, as it often just makes him seem more embarrasing. The other characters are pretty well-defined and funny as well, but Pete is just the best. Also, lines like "Jesus helps me trick people" and "The icy hand of death cannot stop a true pimp" are some of the funniest lines in webcomicdom, next to "Beefy Lava Shower."

Lesson time.

Apparently, you guys don't know how to review comics. You feel like if it doesn't fit your view of an ideal comic, it must suck. Ever hear of considering your audience? Not everyone has the same values as you. What I mean is that you shouldn't consider a comic's worth just because you did or didn't like it. You should also consider whether John Q. Public will like it as well. That's why instead of giving a 10-point rating, which comes off as pretty meaningless to me, I say who I'd recomment the comic to. It's much more useful, saying that even if I don't like a comic, I can tell who would enjoy it. (And the reason I don't recommend Gene Catlow to anyone is because the people who like that kind of stuff are often strange and scary. I stay away from them.) Just for fun, I did a random sampling at some other web forums, and it turns out that most people enjoy Buttlord GT. Another note of interest. While waiting for Van Helsing to start in the theater (awful movie, by the way), a girl I didn't know was talking about how much she like Diesel Sweeties and has been following it for four years. Further investigation revealed that both BLGT and DS have LOTS of fans, ranking up there with the fandom of Sluggy Freelance. Instead of saying the internet is stupid, I have a feeling the problem is more on YOUR end. I'm incredibly serious when I say you should relax, watch some Wildboyz and realize that it's okay to laugh at other people's misfortune, viscious insults and fart jokes.

Another thing you should learn is that WEB COMICS ARE NOT HIGH ART! I do not expect them to say something incredibly deep or meaningful and I do not want them to either. I do not want to have to think; I want to be entertained! Is there something so wrong with that? Does everything have to have a plot or even logical progression? Can I not enjoy crude, quick random humor? The answer is that I can enjoy all of these things, and you should get off your high horse as well.

And finally, what the hell makes you laugh? You don't like BLGT or DS. What IS funny to you? Seriously, I'd like to know. PM me and tell me. I don't want specific examples, but rather the general idea of what makes you laugh, because I sure can't figure it out.

Open message to Furilius Pitch.

The next comic I'd like to review after RPG World is White Ninja Comics. The art is grade-school level, there is no plot whatsoever and the humor is completely random. It has made me laugh incredibly hard, though. What will be much more of a hoot is seeing how the club reacts to it. I hardly can't wait.

In general.

I like Diesel Sweeties, but I'm not reading it right now. I don't want the comic spoiled by the fact that I find it hard to laugh. I'd recommend it to anyone with a sense of humor.

If you disagree with me or feel like you'd want to discuss this further with me, take it to PM. I'm perplexed, and I want to know exactly what is going on up there.

Addendum: After some introspection and reading Kajamir's post, I realize that he is right. I'm sorry for being in such a pissy mood this week and letting it taint, nay, smother my review. This won't happen again. It's just something I felt I had to get off my chest at the time. Now I don't want an argument to start on this thread, so if you have any beef with what I said, take it to the PM.
Tue May 11 2004 10:38 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

After the estrogen-fest that is Bruno, I'm glad that I can read something that's quick, easy and the funniest webcomic in history. This is a comic for people with BALLS.

The best parody ever.

Anybody who knows Anime knows Dragonball Z, and if they aren't a complete retard or under 8 years old they also know that the show is overly drawn out, horribly animated and terribly written. The action sequences would be okay if they were animated better and not using the same tired "fireball" and "flurry of punches" followed by "ultimate technique that doesn't work." The dialogue is crap and the characters are so one-dimensional it hurts. Some may blame this on the American translation, but those people usually need a drool bib and I can't imagine the Japanese dialogue to be that much better. There's also the homosexual overtones, but I don't need to talk about that. The comic does it quite nicely.

"But sir, isn't Dragonball Z already a parody of itself?" says the nerdy man with inch-thick glasses sitting in the corner reading a torn hentai comic. "Why, yes it is," I reply, "Many people have tried to parody DBZ, but have only managed to be a shadow of the ludicrosity of the show. This comic goes beyond satire, just being hilariously crude in its own right. By the time you're halfway done you won't even care that it's a parody. Now will you please hold my penis? It's starting to chafe from dragging on the floor and there's nothing in this room that's making it want to get up."

Who's who

Non-retards such as myself don't need this, but some may have trouble figuring out what part of DBZ this is satiring. It's in the middle of the Namek saga. Here's who is suposed to represent which putz:

Glutes: Gohan
Takahashi: Krillin
Huge: Vegeta
Snowflake: Frieza
Brad: Picollo
Screw: That other Namek dude. Man, how do they reproduce if they're all men?

Don't be a pussy.

The fact is that this is the funniest webcomic in existence, as evidenced by the fact that I laughed out loud more than any other time reading webcomics. The dialogue here is much more than laughing at the word "gay." People say and do such bizarre and outlandish things that you can't help but laughing. Take page 65 for example. If you don't crack up at that, then those balls of yours must have been replaced with jingle bells or maybe those fuzzy dice that hang from my mom's rear-view mirror. Wait, you'd have to have a sense of humor if you had fuzzy dice for balls. Maybe they were replaced with hot coals instead. Simply put: "Beefy lava shower" never, EVER gets old and I still crack up when I read it.

This comic works on very much the same level as Jackass, South Park and Beavis & Butthead, which were essentially the magnum opi (plural of opus) of lowbrow humor. Lowbrow humor may not take a lot of thought to enjoy, but dammit, it's a lot more enjoyable than a bunch of nerds quoting Monty Python into oblivion while jerking each other off. If you think you're above this kind of humor, then maybe you should look in a mirror and ask yourself what the last time you really laughed was, or the time you laughed the most. Chances are it was something random, degrading and didn't require a lot of thought. Maybe then you can take a step on the long road to enjoying life again.

I'm right, so shut up.

Whenever I'm feeling down, when I have no money, when I can't stand homework, when I'm tired of playing video games, when people in the Dream get really upset and defensive because they can't take my constructive criticism, when some liberal hippie decides to use the same old tired argument that has been shot down before many times, I just read through this. It just lifts my spirits right up!

Buttlord GT is the kind of thing anyone should enjoy, even if they like homobutt, because the only people who don't find BLGT funny are those who lack:

1. A sense of humor.
2. Balls.
3. Good eyesight. Maybe they're reading this instead.

I'd recommend this comic to anyone... if they have the BALLS!
Mon May 03 2004 03:46 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Before I start the review, I must comment that I live in Greenfield, Massachusetts, the town in which Bruno (and the author of this comic) were born. Being about a generation older than I am, Bruno's Greenfield is a little different from my Greenfield. Still, I think both of us can agree that it's a cultural black hole that would prefer to stagnate in nonexistent tradition rather than move forward and become a town that people would want to visit. The youth (of which I belong) have become punkish and disaffected, as there is very little fun in this town, so they've turned to smoking pot. There is some progress being made to change all this, such as the recent opening of our Home Depot, but it's still not a place I'd brag about living in. Living in this town will make anyone jaded, and I think that's where Bruno gets a good chunk of her personality.

I figure I'm not going to finish reading the entire archives this week, and Bruno's move to Portland is a good place to stop and look back, so keep in mind that this review is of the comics up until the middle of 2000.

Art

The art is quite good. Backgrounds are very detailed, while you can easily tell each character apart from each other. Some of the characters such as Lenny have weird facial shapes, though, which makes it a little hard to take them seriously. On the other hand, sometimes I want to take the comic less seriously anyway.

Story

"Bruno" is the story of a girl named Bruno (after some old poet, no given surname) who was born in the town of Greenfield, Massachusetts. She later moved to Northampton. When the story starts she is visiting her parents' house in Greenfield and just goes on from there.

The story revolves around Bruno. Nearly everything in the comic is shown from her point of view. This can be a good and bad thing. On the one hand, I've gained a lot of insight on Bruno, as she is one of the most fleshed-out characters in webcomics. On the other hand, it's very easy to get tired of Bruno's elitist and self-defeating attitude. Sometimes I wish I could just give her a good slap to the head.

There is no particular drive to this story. This is very much like a soap opera in that once one problem is solved, another usually crops up in its place, so there usually is no sense of closure. Bruno falls in and out of relationships, friendships and arguments. She also travels a lot. The lack of drive in the comic is due to the fact that Bruno lacks drive in her life. She's in her mid-20's but she still doesn't have any idea where she's going, and the comic reflects that.

Characters

Bruno is what it's all about. She is a bisexual liberal girl who lives in Northampton. She feels the need to constantly analyze things, often resulting in a lowered opinion of who or whatever she's analyzing, including herself. This leads to the strange conundrum of her having a superiority complex but she still kicks herself over everything. She simply doesn't know how to enjoy life, as she's always looking for meaning in it. I'll tell you right now that those who search for meaning in life will never find it, so they'd be better off enjoying what they have.

Other characters pop in and out of her life, some more likeable than others. She falls in love with a bunch of men and women (which are easy to find in Northampton), has lots of sex, then breaks up due to her usually sabotaging her own relationship. Bruno also has friends that are more easygoing than she is. Of all the recurring characters in the comic, I think I most identify with Lenny. He's very easygoing, very realistic, has low standards but enjoys what he has and has bad luck with women.

One thing that irks me, though, is that anyone who has different views from Bruno (ie a conservative) is presented as a jerk or clueless. This may be due to Bruno's (or the author's) perception of those kinds of people, but I feel like if he wants to be realistic then he should try to present all people with equal fairness.

Another thing that I didn't realize until Benor mentioned it was that each comic does have a punchline. I never laughed at any of them, as they were too normal and pedestrian to be hilarious. They just seemed like natural conversation. Excessive sarcasm does grate on me, though, and Bruno is a very sarcastic person, so I can only take the strip in small doses, or maybe a large dose spread out over a few hours.

In General

Bruno is a very well-done comic, but it's definitely not for everyone. People who disagree with Bruno or are annoyed with her will probably not want to stick with her for the long haul. She's not going to find true happiness anytime soon, so prepare for a bumpy ride.

I'd recommend this comic to any moderately liberal person, anyone who is going through angst or depression (so they could possibly relate or even see how silly they're being) and anyone who lives in Greenfield, as I've already done.
Sat May 01 2004 04:24 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

A Miracle of Science is a comic about Benjamin Prester, agent of the Vorstellan Police, and Caprice Quevillion, captain of the martian police, as they try to solve the mystery of a mad scientist who is trying to take over the solar system with a network of AI-controlled robots.

Art

The art is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's clean and neatly designed. Cities are well-drawn, and there is the occasional detailed background to spice things up. Colors are done quite well in order to convey mood and ambience. Facial expressions are recognizable.

On the other hand, the art sometimes looks like it was rushed, as often the body proportions seem kind of wonky and there are many times when poses are stiff and angles uninteresting. Many times backgrounds are sparse.

Also, character design isn't incredibly creative, and it seems like a few of the designs had some inspiration from elsewhere. Do Benjamin and Caprice remind you of anyone?

Characters

Benjamin Prester: An agent of the Vorstellan Police, an organization that specializes in dealing with people diagnosed with Science Related Memetic Disorder, or mad scientists. He puts all of his attention on his job, which makes him a recluse of sorts.

Caprice Quevillion: A martian captain who has been assigned to assist Benjamin on an unusual case, she is often happy and optimistic, able to think through situations with a clearer head than her partner. Being secluded from the outside worlds has made her a bit oblivious to non-martian customs, though.

Dr. Virgil Haas: Your typical mad scientist, he is the main antagonist in this story, living in an unknown secluded base, having only his henchmen (or henchbots in this case) for company, spouting off cliched mad scientist lines and laughing maniacally. He's more of a charicature than a character, but he does have a bit of a human side, as he does have a love interest who also happens to be a mad scientists.

Mars: Yes, Mars is a character in this comic. Mars has been secluded from the rest of the solar system for a hundred years, and during those years its residents have developed a linked consciousness, being able to comunicate with eachother through thought-links. This consciousness also manifests itself in the form of one line of thought, as demonstrated by Caprice and other martians. This is unsettling to Benjamin, to say the least.

Plot

As Benjamin and Caprice continue on their quest to stop the mad scientist, they travel to many different planets, meet different people, and run into some tough obstacles on the way, such as their ship being attacked by a fleet of remote-controlled solar navy ships. The action is actually pretty well done, but a bit drawn-out.

Characterization in the plot is pretty well done, though. The dialogue is stiff at times, but the characters are well fleshed out. Even the characters who seem to be more charicatures aren't totally cookie-cutter.

Another important note is that in the later strips, there is creator commentary to tell you what exactly was going on the creators minds. It provides some good insight as to what's going on, recapping relevant events, admitting mistakes, highlighting little details, and most importantly giving us insight into all of the actual science that goes on in the comic.

This may be science fiction, but actual science does go into the making of this comic. I'm no scientist, but a lot of thought has gone into creating the world of MoS. Much of the gadgets and locations are explained pretty thoroughly, with a good amount of room left for speculation, but never any holes. It's one of the things I appreciate about this comic.

Probably my favorite aspect of the comic is the sense of mystery it gives. There are many things that aren't obvious in this comic. How did Mars develop a singular conscience? How is Dr. Haas planning on executing his plan? Will Benjamin and Caprice hook up? (It's not obvious because they do have to keep a level of professionality in their investigation.)

In General

I like this comic because it's intriguing and easy to read, and also I look forward to the next bit of science it will throw at me. There are some notable setbacks, but they don't bother me much. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes Anime or sci-fi and is able to overlook the few flaws here and there.
Thu Apr 22 2004 05:10 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Before I go on, I must thank Furilius for honoring my request by featuring this comic and A Miracle of Science. Thanks a bunch!

Desert Rocks is quite a different story-driven comic than most. Instead of a certain goal or drive in the story, it's more of a wandering feeling. This is refreshing, however, as it gives the comic a real sense of adventure. Nearly every aspect of the comic is downplayed and that brings makes the subtleties more noticeable.

Art

The art here is not meant to be awe-insiring, but charming. It's a bit rough with some sketch lines showing, but instead of making it seem unprofessional, the art seems to have more emotion in it. The roughness sort of reflects the world that the comic describes.

The characters are drawn slightly out-of-prportion, but it's not a big deal. The facial expressions are drawn just subtly enough so you know what the characters feel, but not as if you're being beaten over the head with their emotions.

The landscapes such as this one and this one are impressive, as many different regions are shown quite well, from large cities to cold mountains to dense forests to date farms.

The color is black-and-white with many shades of grey for the most part, with the beginning of chapter 9 done in a limited scale of light yellow and grey. It's very beautiful.

Story

As said before, there isn't any driving force behind the story here. The backstory of the world in this comic is largely unexplained, unfolded a bit every once in a while through conversation. As far as I can tell, a warlord has been taking over and pillaging many nations, so the neighboring nations have been allying themselves with the warlord in order to avoid his wrath.

Characters

The main characters here are Coen, Mayna and Nizna. Coen is a young man who is a refugee from his home state of Saaher. He's a natural wanderer, though, and has been to many places and taken many jobs. The upside is that he gets to see the world, but the downside is that he cannot form any sort of attachment to any of the places he visits or people he meets.

Nizna and Mayna are cousins that are part of an important family from the state of Tinaret. Mayna, however, is part of a resistance group in Tinaret. Both of them have snuck away from Nizna's father in order to go on a pilgrimage to various temples, but Nizna is naive to the outside world, and also unaware of Mayna's ties at first.

Plot

Coen meets Mayna and Nizna in the city of Fett. After they get to know each other, Coen gets in trouble when a spoiled princess decides to have some fun. After escaping prison with a mysterious man named Starry, they all decide to leave Fett and come to the Gator Camp via river. It's then that they must part ways. Coen takes a job picking dates at the camp, while Mayna and Nizna continue their pilgrimage. Both parties meet new people and have more adventures, as Coen decides to explore some ruins near the camp, while Nizna and Mayna have a difficult pilgrimage ahead of them.

This is all a bit slow-paced, but I think that gives the reader time to absorb the scenery around them. All of the characters have interesting conversations, even if they don't advance the story. In many ways I feel as if I'm walking alongside the characters, experiencing what they feel. It's that immersion thing that I like so much. Even though this comic has around 200 pages, I feel that it's still only starting.

In General

I really enjoy this comic and it's one of my favorites. I like it mostly because it's so different from other manga-styled comics in the fact that it's not always rushing to be somewhere. Many other comic creators rush through their comics in order to get to or get over with certain plot points, but this one takes its time and chills, a lot like me. It's good to relax every once in a while.

In short, Desert Rocks rocks.
Wed Apr 14 2004 10:09 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

To be honest, I don't know how to approach this. At first glace you may think this is some liberal arts student's attempt to be deep and obtuse, like Nearly Forgotten, but if you read between the lines you may feel more like this is a parody of those attempts, or even just a gag strip.

Furilius Must be Having a Good Laugh.

I mean, this can be completed in less than 10 minutes if you don't read the program. This is shorter than Nearly Forgotten, and it's hard to tell what exactly this comic is about.

Okay, so the Jerk is probably dreaming. He lost his heart when he was eight due to a truamatic experience. He goes to an art gallery showcasing drawings by the fictional artist Frank Delbruck (it gets obvious the more you read the program). In the gallery, he sees a painting of a heart and some hands. Then he grows a heart on his chest, which subsequently flies away. It turns out he was dreaming. Uh... what?

The Program

The program takes longer to read than the actual comic. At first I thought it was about a real-life artist named Frank Delbruck who was majorly neurotic (I mean, sending canvas paintings to Marvel Comics? Come on). I got increasingly suspicious that I was being put upon, seeing as this guy seemed too neurotic to be real and that I'd never heard of him before. Then the program refers to the year 2005 in past tense and mispells 'their' in the acknowledgments. Okay, so it's a put-on. Very funny. I think I'm starting to get it now.

Art?

The art here is rough and weird. The cylindrical Jerk just walks around, looking at stuff while he's dreaming. There really isn't much to go on here. I know what's going on and it's not too terribly ugly.

What am I reading, anyway?

At first I was at a loss as to what exactly I should think of this comic. Then I looked at the URL and saw that this is part of Ape Law, home of the very funny Hsu and Chan of Electronic Gaming Monthly. I get it now. This was supposed to be funny. Whoops.

The General "In"

In lieu of being able to actually have a solid impression of The Jerk, I have decided to review a hoagie I just ate instead.

The bread was of a french variety. The crust was flaky, brittle, and the slightest bit stiff. The stiff exterior, however, held a fluffiness that would have filled me up right away if I was not careful. Between these two slabs of wheat and flour were slow-cooked chicken strips, presumably coming from the breast. They were juicy and filled with flavor, no doubt from the hormones that the chicken was fed in life. Also inside was lettuce that had been sitting in a refridgerator for twenty-five hours, but had recently been splashed with cold water to give it a fresh look. The lettuce was soggy, though. Another ingredient were the sliced jalapeno peppers inside, but they had lost most of their flavor and spiciness after sitting cut out in the open for too long. To top it all off was mustard that almost completely smothered the tastes of the other ingredients. To go along with it was a large cup that I could refill as many times as I liked with Cherry Coke. I would have chosen Sprite, but the soda mixer had too much sugar in the Sprite container, so it tasted like Sprite cake with too much icing.

I would recommend the sandwich to anyone who was really hungry and had money to spare. Otherwise they'd be better off making their own.

What, you expected me to be deep or something?
Wed Apr 07 2004 09:43 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

Kid Radd! All right! Awesome! Gnarly! Dope! Groovy! Neato! In all seriousness, though, I really like this comic. It's about time I reviewed something I really enjoyed.

Story

This is the story of a video game character named Kid Radd. He lived inside a Nintendo game. All he ever did was take directions from the player who ordered him to kill. One day, though, his game was emulated on the internet, giving him sudden freedom of will. When he, along with all of the other characters from his game travel from the game to the internet, they realize that thngs are more dangerous and complicated outside of the game than they realize.

Art

The great thing about this comic is that it's a sprite comic, but it doesn't fall into the tired cliche of ripping sprites from other video games. Rather, most of the sprites are entirely original and made for the comic.

Another great thing about this comic is that many strips are action-packed, making use of Flash to show cool fight scenes and chase scenes. The animation here is very well-done. This keeps the strip amazingly fresh.

Characters

Another great thing about this comic is that all of the two-dimensional characters in this comic have surprisingly well-defined personalities. One thing that runs through all of the characters, though, is the fact that they all used to live in a video game in the past. Some have adjusted better to the outside world than others, and all of them have personal conflicts, whether those conflicts are about shedding the behavior that their programming gave them, or deciding whether they should be loyal to the moderators (which seem to be working for a good cause) or to themselves. It's another cool thing to see how all of these characters with differing personalities and powers form different games interact with each other.

Radd, the titular main character was used to being pushed around by his player and doing nothing else. When he comes to the internet, he's very naive and doesn't know what to do. His personality does grow, however, and as he learns about the world around him he sheds the personae that he was so used to having in his game. The other characters from his game go through the same kind of experiences as he does.

Plot

The big plot point is about how video game characters are both influenced by their emotions and by their programming and how they cope with mismatched powers and abilities. Many of the characters deal with this differently. Some are upset with the powers and personality that their programming allows. Others desperately don't want to let go of them.

At first the plot is about Radd in his game. Then it's about Radd getting used to the outside world. Then it takes a sinister turn when Crystal, a high-ranking member of the moderators (who free characters from their games), decides she should be able to control the programming of all of the other characters.

The plot is paced fast enough so it never gets boring, and I actually want to see more. Since you know this is supposed to be a video game world, the sprites and animation actually immerse you more in the comic. Perhaps the most powerful moment for me was when Radd and his girlfriend Sheena were trapped in a dying video game, as indicated by the classic "flashing screen of death" that you've no doubt experienced from your Nintendo. It brought back all the feelings of frustration and despair from the time when that kind of thing happened to me.

The tone of the comic changes continuously between comedy and drama (although it leans more on the comedy side), but both are actually quite strong. The drama makes you care for the characters, while the comedy (which pokes fun at both the characters and the inherent illogic in many video games) made me laugh quite a few times.

Overall

This is a great comic. It's engaging, funny, fast-paced and action-packed. I would recommend this to anyone who has ever played a Nintendo game, likes emulation, has a sense of humor, and a relatively fast connection. Righteous!
Tue Mar 30 2004 09:32 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

You know there's a problem when it takes longer to read the review than to read the comic, so I'll avert that problem.

Nearly Forgotten is a 10-part comic composed of repeated photographs with captions that are supposed to sound quasi-philosophical but come off more like bad stand-up comedy material. The layout gets increasingly confusing with the changing directions of panel progression and the many repeat panels without any narrative. I did not derive any enjoyment from reading the comic, but at least it didn't make me want to claw my eyeballs out like other comics did.

If you want to read page 10, you have to go to the index and click on it, since you can't access it from page 9. Also, the Yahoo! pop-up in the corner is teh evul.
Mon Mar 22 2004 05:14 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

If you think I was too harsh in my last review, then all I have to say is I'm not sorry. Let's leave it at that.

My next webcomic to review is a tricky one. It has no text, a bizarre, yet easy-to-follow visual style, a short length that makes it easy to read in one sitting and lots of penises. Get used to it, because you'll be seeing a lot of them.

Art

The art is very clean and simple. Backgrounds and characters are detailed enough so you know what you are looking at. The characters are represented by lines and elipsoids representing their body shapes. This level of detail is good, because if it were any more detailed, I'd probably be grossed out. The penises don't really look like penises, but you know what they are, and that's the way it should be.

During the first chapter, motion is represented by double-headed arrows to show the petting of an animal or the swinging of a penis. In the second chapter and onward, motion is represented using animated GIFs, which work much better.

Layout

For the most part, the comic goes from left to right only. Some people have a problem with this kind of thing because it forces them to move the horizontal scroll bar (Oh, the AGONY!), but I find that if I just continuously hold down the right arrow, the comic moves along at a nice pace. In the later strips the comic scrolls vertically as well, usually during dream sequences.

When you read the comic, there is no toolbar, so there's no pressing the 'back' button for you. This comic is meant to be read linearly in one sitting by clicking the red arrow at the end of each comic. In the unlikely case of getting lost there is a little button below the 'next' arrow that lets you go back to the archive (wuss).

Story

This is a story about King, Guards, Camel, Bees, Ladies, Kids, Clerk and penises. King decides to go out for a morning stroll, meets Camel. King pets Camel, Camel eats King's robe. Enter penis. King tries to go back to temple, but without his robe, Gaurds turn him away. From then on, King tries to buy underwear from Clerk, gets shunned by Kids, sleeps alongside Camel (who's in love with King), eats some psychotropic plant and has a drug trip, and finally gets his robe back when Camel poops it out. Meanwhile, Ladies have sex with Gaurd with the bigger penis. I won't spoil the ending for you, but everyone does get what they deserve.

The story is pretty straightforward. It's funny and keeps you guessing at what will happen next (although I guessed right most of the time). Some of it's a little gross, but the art style keeps the disgusting details to a minimum. By the time the third chapter rolls around you won't even notice King's penis. I started caring for King when he was really down on his luck, and I even cared for Camel (even though she got him into this mess) when she helped him through bad times.

Every character has a basic personality that doesn't need to be incredibly deep. The personalities correspond to the events that happen, and that's all there needs to be.

Overall

Some people may glean some kind of higher meaning out of this comic, saying that it's a lesson in humility or showing us that we don't need to live in material wealth. Some may call it an allegory to The Emperor's New Clothes. I just think it's a funny story with lots of penises. I'd recommend it to anyone with an hour on their hands and a good imagination.
Fri Mar 12 2004 06:04 AM | Read All Reviews for this title

Welcome to the first edition of "Mommy, that Cobra is a MEANIE!"

This is my first review, so I want to make something clear: I'm not here to be nice. I'm not even here to be curteous. If I don't like a webcomic, I'll let you know in the most explicit way possible on these boards. With that, what a great example to start with!

I'll say it right now: Gene Catlow sucks. It has an unoriginal concept and the art and writing makes me wonder whether clicking on the next comic is worth it. Anyway, let's break it down now.

Art

The creator draws the characters as if they were in a Saturday morning cartoon, which is the style of most other furry comics. The art style is highly reminiscent of Chuck Jones, but nowhere near as good. The Chuck Jones style is used in Looney Tunes for a reason: the characters' rubbery faces and bodies can be stretched, twisted and changed into any number of forms so kids can easily identify the emotions being presented and also to allow comedic exagerration. This is ideal for times when characters are getting brutally maimed and humiliated in a comedic manner, not in a preachy morality play. How can I take this comic seriously when the characters look like they'd rather be hitting eachother with hammers or falling off cliffs?

The character's rubbery faces make for some bizarre situations. Whenever a character is angry or flabbergasted (and that happens a lot, sometimes for no reason at all), their faces stretch to proportions that go beyond anguish to just being rediculous. The other face I see a lot is the pouty face, which REALLY makes me want to barf, and there's someting like one in every panel. The height and proportions of the characters also fluctuates sometimes. There are even times when characters' heads turn 180 degrees around, which is just creepy.

Another note: While the furries look passable in this comic, the humans don't look... human. Seriously, there are only two human head shapes in this comic: trapezoidal (like a bucket) and squishy (like Igor or the blob). Human proportions are also wonky, and they have those oh-my-God-kill-me-now pouty faces.

The art doesn't change throughout the comic. At all.

Story

The world is populated by both humans and furries (it's never explained exactly how) and, of course, there are tensions between them. This tension, of course leads to distrust, hate crimes, etc.

It's incredibly obvious that this comic is a thinly-veiled metaphor about how people in the real world view furries. In real life furries aren't discriminated against because it's a hobby, and once someone leavs his fursuit, they look just like every other person (albeit they probably have hairy backs and bad teeth, but I haven't met one so I can't say for sure). In this comic, furries are a seperate race from humans, and there's actual hate crimes and controversy, more reminiscent of the Civil Rights movement in the 60's.

My big problem isn't the concept (which I don't really like anyway), but how it's all presented. It's pretty much everyone's either a bigot or a saint, with everyone saying that the other side is evil/inferior while the other says they are all equal (which they're not, being different animals and all). It gets really old and predictable as to what everyone's going to say. The 'furrism' is incredibly blatant and preachy. I'd much rather see some more SUBTLE implications of this discrimination, as many period pieces on the civil rights movement have done, than everyone just yelling their thoughts to everyone else.

I also have a big problem with the concept in general. Why are cats, rabbits, eagles, lizards, and all sorts of anthropomorphs called furries while hairless apes are not? In the end, aren't they all just animals? Unless the point is that humans are the white guys of the animal kingdom...

Characters

The characters are incredibly annoying. They look ugly, have annoying and inexplicable personality quirks, and talk like they're on a different wavelength from me. Seriously, they talk a LOT, but about subjects that I have no idea what they are and I don't really care. This is a good example of the impression that I got. They get angry and/or flabbergasted for no reason, and look VERY HAPPY or VERY SAD the rest of the time.

The main character is Cotton Taylor, not Gene Catlow. He is an annoying, bull-headed hot-tempered tech worker who drinks coffee that gives him psychic abilities and makes him even more of an ass. Great, just the guy I want to read about.

The rest of the characters are either SUPER NICE or eternally grumpy. There's hardly any inbetween.

Plot

But here's the stuff that irks me most. Things happen that are so bizarre and rediculous and WRONG that I feel like I killed someone in a past life to deserve this. Cotton gets psychic powers from coffee, instantly gets branded as a hoax, goes nuts and attacks government agents, plays stupid mind games with the mayor and saves a foreign furry dignitary (who has psychic abilities as well) from a plot to kill her led by SUPER EVIL HUMAN! Oh yeah, and everyone's nude when they're in psychic visions, even though inanimate objects stick around. After the rescue, Cotton and the dignitary have a date in a seperate time stream. I didn't buy it either, and it doesn't get better. It's one of those comics that got stupider as I read it.

At first I thought I was just predisposed against this kind of stuff, that it may get better when OH MY GOD THIS COMIC SUCKS!

I still went on, though, and I finally decided to give up when a troublemaking kid decided to kill himself by squeezing his brain tumor for no fathomable reason. I just couldn't take it anymore.

Another fun bad

The archive doesn't link to the comic, but GIFs of the comic, so navigation requires going back and forth between the archives and the comics. Worse, the archive stops in the middle of '03, but it wasn't that much of a problem for me.

In General

So this comic sucks. It's ugly, overly preachy and it insults my intelligence and dignity. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

This is Cobra, saying, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful; hate me because I'm right."
Wed Mar 03 2004 09:55 PM | Read All Reviews for this title

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