Friday, July 31, 2009

The Webcomics Section

Comic Con 2009.

A group of webcomics got together and published their strips on paper, Sunday Funnies-style. And I'm happy to say, most of them worked great in that format. It may be my favorite freebie of the Con.

I'm going to briefly mention all the strips that were included and give you links.

Shortpacked! by David Willis
    Unfortunately I am too lazy to scan anything and this strip doesn't seem to be on their site, which is a shame because I loved it. Loved it much more than anything I saw on their website as I was scanning around. One thing that is interesting is that they frequently feature guest artists. So that's kind of cool.

    But man, I wish I could show you that strip....


Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto
    Clever, not hilarious; scanning the site, that seems about par. Sadly, I can't find this one either. I'm wondering if the deal for this handout was original art only? Which is a shame. Because everyone loves cartoon catsnracks and I wish I could share them with you.

    This instead:

    girls with slingshots

Diesel Sweeties
    This is another superpixilated webcomic. I'm happy to say this one is better than most, imho, though still not great. Here's a reasonably apropos one I found that will give you a feel for it:

    Diesel Sweeties

by Remy "Eisu" Mokhtar and Bobby Crosby
    So this is a published graphic novel --- could've bought it if I wanted. This is the page that was in the paper, right after the popstar meets the fan she impulsively married.

    Marry Me

Eric Monster by Eric Mulligan
    This looks quite different from pretty much every other webcomic I've ever read. One example:

    Eric Monster

    I'll be interested to see more.

Templar, Arizona by Spike
    This is a story, a continuing saga, etc. It hasn't grabbed me, but I do like the sepiaish tones.

    Templar, AZ

Ellie Connelly by Indigo Kelleigh
    If this were a book, I would pick it up. But I don't like reading longform comics on the web. I have made a few exceptions, but generally, I don't like it. I like paper. I'm old fashioned that way. But still. This looks cool.

    Ellie Connelly

Least I Could Do by Ryan Sohmer and Lar deZouza
    Five minutes of looking left me bored. This look at the comics' changing look was interesting though.

Just a Bit Off by Jeff Zugale
    I really wanted to find the defragged dining room table for you, but alas. Nothing else was quite as good.

    Just a bit off

Minimum Security by Stephanie McMillan --- "20% funnier than other leading brands of anti-capitalist propaganda"

    Minimum Security

Wondermark by David Malki!y
    Everytime I read a Wondermark in an altweekly I tell myself that I need to look this strip up online. I love it. I love how he takes an old image and plays it against itself. I have pretty much loved all the ones I've read, and the one here was no exception.

    Then I went to the site and saw a wider variety of strips with a lower hit-to-miss ratio, and I'm no longer so sure how I feel.

    But there's still plenty of awesome. I didn't find any of the type that leave me laughing for hours afterwards, but these ones are cool:


Schlock Mercenary by Howard Taylor
    I read Schlock back in the old days then forgot about it, but it was just up for a Hugo, so maybe it's time to come back? Maybe? A recent one:

    Schlock Mercenary

Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum

Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
    I generally require my gradschool friends to let me know when it's worth stopping by. Here's the most recent one as of this writing:


Dinosaur Comics by Ryan North
    I know this is everyone's favorite, but I've never gone for it. But the one in the paper? Friggin hilarious. Reason?

    I suspect this may be an issue of too much text for an online comic. I think that might be it.

    I'm learning a lot about myself through this write-up....

    Dinosaur Comics

Goats by Jon Rosenberg
    No comment.


    Some of these are very very funny. But some of the best are a tad off color. I didn't want to share the beating-a-dead-horse one with you, for instance.

    Also note that the comic style varies delightfully. Delightfully! The one I'm posting looks nothing like most of them.

    Bad Gods

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weiner
    This one's really hitandmiss, but when it hits, it can be hiLARious. Just a couple for your pleasure:


The Book of Biff by Chris Hallbeck
    The Book of Biff

Do it again next year, webcomickers!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Barnaby update from Comic Con


In case you didn't know, I love Crockett Johnson's Barnaby and I am anxious to read the entire run. I picked up a used volume one at a library sale for a quarter and that was merely enough to prime my appetite for the strip which is brilliant and funny and delightful and something I would like to share with my kids.

So I went to Kim at the Fantagraphics booth and asked him about it. And he said he would love to print them, but the Johnson family thinks they're
"sitting on a cash cow" and won't let Fantagraphics have them without $50,000 up front. Which is insane. How many people are like me and will be buying these as quickly as I'm buying Fantagraphics Complete Peanuts. Much better to just get the books published.

Dan Clowes is lined up to do the design which is a surprising but utterly satisfactory choice.

Please. If you are a close personal friend with the Johnson estate. Please tell them to let Fantagraphics bring these books out. And post their contact info here as well so I can start a letter writing campaign.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not really a Comic Con post


Before I could get in to Comic Con I hung out at the San Diego Public Library and read these books with funny pictures:

The Juggler of Our Lady by R.O. Blechman

    Maurice Sendak loves this book. I thought it was okay. Maybe you had to be there, in 1952. I'm not so sure it holds up. Nothing about it seems particularly fresh or original today.

    Juggling for Mary

Waterwise by Joel Orff

    Beautiful, short, black&white meeting of old friends, perhaps for the last time, during a moment liminial for both, in which they merely float. Peppered with flashbacks and dreamy metaphors, this is a quite lovely book.

The Saga of the Bloody Benders by Rick Geary2

    As I suspected, The Bloody Benders is the best of Geary's Victorian Murder series that I have yet read. It ended up being an apropos choice as Geary's art graced the official Comic Con publications I would be carrying around the rest of this week.

    The Benders were a serial-killing family of which I knew nothing before reading an excerpt of the book in the most recent Best American Comics. I think my unfamiliarity with the tale added to my enjoyment, but Geary's straightforward reporting and distinctive art are always a pleasure in and of themselves.

The Left Bank Gang by Jason

    Finally! I've finally read a Jason book all the way through! And it did not disappoint. Anthropomorphic dogs named Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald spend their days making comics; and criticizing the comics of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Gertrude Stein. Finally hooking with with their bird pal James Joyce to pull a robbery.


    Jason's Left Bank Gang

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Ambiguity of Excellence: Kazu Kibuishi's Daisy Kutter


The first Daisy Kutter book, The Last Train, was pressed into my wife's hands by a good friend and I finally read it yesterday. I knew very little about the book before reading it other than the gushing praise it inspires (example).

So I liked it. Yes. How could I not? I love his art, I love Daisy --- she's beautiful and spunky and wry. I love steampunk and these are some nice robots. Timewise, it's more Cowboy Bebop than Wild Wild West, but tone wise is much more purely classic western. The first page:

Daisy Kutter

She's a gunfighter, one of the great train robbers, she is retired.

The Last Train is the story of how she gets back into the game. It's got poker and gunfights and giant mechs --- what's not to love?

But wherefore all this gushing? Don't get me wrong: I liked this book and I would be happy to read the others, but what are people finding here that makes them rank it among the greatest comics ever written? I don't see it, can't find it, don't know.

Is excellence ultimately a matter of personal taste? Or is it something more than that? Is there an objective standard to excellence? I feel there must be, but from where I stand, the sands seem purely subjective.