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Randall Munroe

This isn’t about the past. This is about the future.

One year ago last week, I began doing webcomic reviews on Da Blog.
Recently, I’ve been having a crisis of confidence about the whole enterprise.
This should be obvious enough to anyone who read my 8-Bit Theater review. Quite frankly, I completely stalled while writing it. I found myself trapped in a place where I couldn’t say much more than “It’s a webcomic, and it’s not Order of the Stick. Um… it loves non-sequitur. Um… it… structures its updates well. Um… I got nothin’.” Roger Ebert (or even Eric Burns(-White)) I’m not.

NYTimes Covers xkcd book

There are a few interesting details in this NYTimes article on how Randall Monroe teamed up with the founder of Reddit to publish his upcoming xkcd book.  The article also makes too much of the "a book? based on web stuff?" angle that probably wouldn't occur to anyone under 50, but at least it follows that with some succint coverage of some of the reasons why people might want books based on web content.

A Post about Webcomics Weekend

John and I are back from Webcomics Weekend! I’ll try to give as complete a synopsis as possible without boring you with too many details.

But first, a bit of bad news: I know I said that we “are ded­i­cated to fin­ish­ing the cur­rent arc in an unin­ter­rupted fashion”. I know it! So it is with a heavy heart I report that a frustrating last-minute computer issue has forced us to resort to a filler strip for tomorrow.

DRAFT List of 100 Greatest Webcomics: Comedy and Drama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 14th DRAFT version of 100 Greatest Webcomics List

This is an update to a previous post here, thanks for the cumulative suggestions on that thread.  JUST so we're clear - this is open-sourced to everyone research for a possible article to appear next month at ComixTalk.  I don't endorse the list or the order at all; at this point I've tried to include all of the suggestions I've gotten and I also went through all of the comics ComixTalk has ever reviewed and pulled quite a few titles.

We're at the point where it'll be most helpful if you tell me comics you think should go on the list, where (what number approximately) and which comic should get bumped.  If you just want to change the order you can do that to but there'll be another post before the month's through asking for help with that.  

Webcomic Wire - 10/14/08

Drawn from sources trying to avoid work today…

  • The Washington Post has an article called ‘Five Webcomics to Keep Your Eye On.’
  • Xerexes has an interesting post following up on the ‘Most Read’ series of articles comparing the audiences for various webcomics.
  • I can’t remember if I’ve posted Bloody and Brutal Reviews before, but here it is. The unvarnished and more than slightly profane (NSFW) Red Right Hand.
  • Great Hera! It’s Wonder Woman Day III!
  • Randall Munroe and Cory Doctrow talk work habits at 3PiCon.
  • 24 Hour Comic Book Day in San Francisco.
  • PC Weenies made PC Advisor Magazine’s ‘Top 10 Humorous Websites’ chosen by their readers. Congratulations Krishna!
  • Just in case you didn’t know XKCD spurred a new feature from YouTube. Good work Randall!
  • An interview with Gordon McAlpin, creator of Multiplex on ComixTalk.
  • Heidi MacDonald of The Beat has a nice roundup of the further adventures in Wowio/Platinum.
Reported by Michael Moss.

A Tip O' The Hat For the Last Game At Webcomic Stadium

Welcome to ComixTalk... may I take your order?  I've got an interview with the elusive Pokey the Penguin up and Brigid Alverson talks with Jeremy Ross of TokyoPop about its Manga Pilots program.   You may also want to check out my weekend post chock-filled with links to interesting stories and a new comic worth checking out.  (What exactly is a "chock" and how would you fill it?)

INTERVIEWS
Missed this, but Creative Commons has an interview with Mr. Diesel Sweeties, Rich Stevens.  Back in 2005, ComixTalk held a roundtable on creative commons licenses and comics with T Campbell, Lawrence Lessig, Neeru Paharia, Mia Garlick, JD Frazer, and Cory Doctorow.

ComixMix has an interview with D.J. Coffman, currently working on Flobots. (Folks should also check out D.J.'s very recent post on hosting your webcomic yourself - a short guide to getting started online independently.)

Digital Strips has a short interview with Zach Weiner - of SMBC and Captain Excelsior infamey.

Rick Marshall had a great interview with Jennie Breeden of Devil's Panties.

Gaming Angel has an interview with Randall Munroe of xkcd and Benjamin Birdie and Kevin Church of The Rack (h/t Journalista!)

LA TIMES interviews Josh Neufeld on his webcomic A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge.

Tom Spurgeon had a great interview with Scott McCloud on the new collection of his ZOT! comic.

CBR had a two-part interview with Aaron Diaz of Dresden Codak - click for part one and part two.

REVIEWS

Artpatient.com has a review of Chasing the Sunset.

BUSINESS
David Rothman looks at the decline in traffic to Wowio.com but as Dirk Deppey notes, Wowio was essentially off the air for a good chunk of the summer.

AWARDS
I neglected to mention Andrew Wahl won first and third place in the International Cartoon contest at the Homer Davenport Days festival in Oregon earlier this month.  Wahl is a talented cartoonist - check out more of his work here.  Also, I just think it's cool that a town has an entire festival to celebrate Homer Davenport - an internationally respected and pioneering political cartoonist from the turn of the century.

CONVENTIONS
Two East Coast events coming up fast.  First this coming weekend is the Baltimore Comicon (with, as FLEEN notes, the only East Coast appearance of all four How To Make Webcomics authors) The Baltimore Comicon is where the Harvey Awards are presented - Shaenon Garrity has the scoop on a contest to win tickets to the Harvey Awards

Next from October 4-5th is my hometown (close enough anyhow) convention, the Small Press Expo (SPX) over in Bethesda, Maryland.  The Ignatz Awards are presented at SPX.  Guests include Bryan Lee O’Malley, James Kochalka, Richard Thompson, Tom Tomorrow, etc!

JUSTIFY MY HYPE
Dirk Deppey links to this pretty cool idea -- The Superest wherein Kevin Cornell and Matthew Sutter take turns creating superheroes and villains that defeat each other’s creations.  And Tom Spurgeon links to news of a book deal for the site.

Comic Con 2008: Making Friends

Wow.

Where to start in bringing you a con report for Comic Con International? I can't break it down chronologically because there's just too much, and my memory is already merging the events into one. So, I decided to break it down among themes. Today: People I Met.

Howard Tayler's SDCC Report: Day One

So busy…

Did a brisk business once the doors finally opened. Met lots of fans, met lots of peers, met lots of friends. There’s a social aspect to this event that is easy to understate.

NYTimes Covers Randall Munroe and xkcd

A nice writeup of Randall Monroe and his webcomic xkcd in the NYTimes Media & Advertising section:

Mr. Munroe is clearly still getting used to his celebrity and to running a business. He and his roommate, Derek Radtke, work on the Web site out of their Somerville, Mass., apartment, and they recently hired an employee to handle e-mail.

“People are generally surprised that we make a living from it,” Mr. Munroe said. Without being specific, he said that the sales of xkcd merchandise support the two of them “reasonably well.” He said they sell thousands of T-shirts a month, either of panels from his strip or in their style, as well as posters.