Saturday, January 15, 2005

Comics You Can't Take Into The Bathroom

Well, I can't, anyway. Need... laptop...

I've been meaning to do this for a while: Hype some of the webcomics I read. All of them, actually. Webcomics, for the uninitiated, are (mostly) comic strips distributed through the web instead of newspapers (although at least one strip has brokered a deal with the syndicates to do both). Doing so offers the artist greater creative freedom, flexibility of schedule, and less chance of getting sued for violating copyrights and trademarks.

Sluggy Freelance (www.sluggy.com): One of the preeminent webcomics, and one of the few popular enough for the artist to make a living at it. Around since 1998, it mainly follows the adventures of Torg, a freelance web designer (or at leaast he was when the strip started), and his friends, to whom all sorts of bizarre things happen. The most popular character is a cute little mini-lop rabbit who may well be the embidment of pure evil. Updated daily, with a guest comic on Saturdays. By Pete Abrams.

PVP (www.pvponline.com): The other high-profile, professional webcomic on my list. I actually just started reading this. It's a more-or-less daily strip involving general geek humor, centered around the staff of a gaming magazine. Scott Kurtz, the creator, is one of the major players in the webcomics field, and with good reason; this is the strip I mentioned above that's booked a deal with the syndicates. If you want to see how professional webcomicking is done, you could do worse than to scan the blog archives. (Most of these things do have blogs attached, yes.)

Penny Arcade (www.penny-arcade.com): Another geek strip that's known pretty much all over, this one's much less plot or character oriented; often the creators just stick avatars of themselves in various gaming- and entertainment-related situations (mostly video games) for one-off gags. The commentary, is sharp and insightful, and every fandom needs to poke fun at itself once in a while. Semi-daily. By Tycho and Gabe.

RPG World (www.rpgworldcomic.com): A strip that started as a parody of console role-playing games (the most often-skewered target being Square's Final Fantasy series) that's grown into its own story, and developed one of the biggest fanbases on the web. The artist, Ian Jones-Quartey., is still in college, and has built enough of a name for himself that he might not have to go looking for a "real job" once he graduates, unlike so many of our generation. The work he's put into the strip makes it just as engaging and fun as the games it set out to lampoon. One of my favorite strips ever. Updated Wednesdays and Fridays, although Ian seems to have taken his holiday break off. Good time to cruise the archives, though.

8-Bit Theatre (http://www.nuklearpower.com/): And now we come to the sprite comics. What's a sprite comic? A comic that uses video game sprites and backgrounds in lieu of drawn artwork. Sprites are objects in old-style 2-Dimensional games that move, mostly characters; backgrounds are everything else. The artist obtains computer images of these sprites (usually through illegal means), and manipulates them in various, often humorous, ways ot create the comic. This particular sprite comic retells the original Final Fantasy game as a screwball comedy, where the Light Warriors are are a group of bumbling, amoral fools aided in their dire quest by the long-suffering priestess White Mage. As with most good sprite comics, features some excellent deconstructionist humor regarding the genre. Updated Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. By Brian Clevinger.

Bob and George (http://www.bobandgeorge.com/): Mixes Capcom's popular Mega Man mythos with alternate realities, time travel, and copious amounts of ice cream. It started slow, but really took off once the title characters arrived, and is now pretty awesome. Interesting in that it's spawned a host of regularly-updating fan comics. Updated daily. By David Anez.

Captain SNES (http://www.captainsnes.com/): A surprisingly excellent sequel of sorts to the early 90's cartoon Captain N: The Game Master. The new Game Master is Alex, who must uncover the puzzle of the original Captain N's fate, combat the Sovreign of Sorrow, and confront his own inner demons, all while in desperate search of some pants. Features the casts of some of the greatest Super NES games, including Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV. Sadly, the update schedule has been sporadic for over a yea,r which is a shame, because when this comic is on, it is *on.* The artist could be one of the greats if he'd develop some discipline. Then again, so could I. The comic switched sites a few months ago, and the archives are not completely transferred; fortunately, they are in place at the old site, http://captainsnes.keenspace.com/archives.html. The author has yet to grace us with his identity.

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