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Rich Stevens

February 2006 Cover Art

February 2006 Cover Art by R. Stevens
Cover Art by R. Stevens (Diesel Sweeties)

Comix Talk for Wednesday, June 23, 2010

USA versus Algeria.  I'm not even sure this site gets any traffic from Algeria but regardless... go USA!

Let's start off with a bit of hypey mchype today.  Webcomics went through a phase of experimenting with comic-ness without necessarily worrying about the story or appeal of the comic and more lately maybe the impression is that expermentation is dead. Well I'm not sure, but when I do see someone smartly taking advantage of the web in webcomics without letting it get in the way of making a good comic I think we should pay attention.  So, Ornery Boy by Michael Lalonde which is really already a very funny comic - a sort of slacker version of the Adams Family (not really but that'd be my teevee pitch).  Lalonde actually uses Flash to add little bits of animatin' and other layered in stuff that adds to the comic without sacrificing the comicness of it.  Do you need the extras to enjoy the comic -- probably not, but I guess you don't need color in comics either and yet...  Lalonde is using what could be just obnoxious experimental techniques in a very intregated way that completely serves a very funny and accomplished comic.  Check out these two recent installments: #432 and #431 for some examples of what I mean.

ARE ELECTRIC SHEEP A RENEWAL RESOURCE?  Remember when I kept reminding everyone to consider committing to Patrick Farley's KICKSTARTER drive so we could get him back to making webcomics?  Well it's bearing fruit -- Scott McCloud blogged that Farley has started to re-serialize his groundbreaking comic The Spiders.  This alternate history of the Afghan war is fascinating.

CHASING THE TITANTIC:  Gene Weingarten is getting a big push from the Washington Post for his new comic strip Barney & Clyde.  He created it with his son and there was a nice story on their relationship.  Weingarten is actually usually pretty funny in his weekly column but I'm curious to see how that translates to the comics.  Still it looks like it's only getting launched in 3 papers?  There's something horribly, amusingly wrong with a corporately controlled artform (which comics strips in the newspaper definitely is) where a big corporation can't even properly launch a new product...

INDIE ROCK PETE I CHOOSE YOU!  Richard Stevens the 3rd asked YOU and maybe you for questions for his Diesel Sweeties characters to answer in a comic.

THE ADVENTURES OF HANNAH SOLOLucy Knisley's sorta-journal, sorta-musing webcomic is quite good and the latest is great. I do think there seem to be more stories featuring girls doing things (as opposed to just going along for the ride or worse waiting around to be saved) but as a guy it wasn't until I had daughters that I really thought about how tilted the traditional roles in stories were towards guy=action and girl=inaction.  I hope comics is getting better.  From my webcomic perspective, it's actually pretty good.

OH PRETTY PICTURES!  Paul Taylor of Wapsi Square did a great bit of fan art for Mike Malhack's Cleopatra in Space webcomic.

Cloudy With a Chance of Zombies

That’s a pretty good post title right there. Somebody run with it, I assume that at the very least it’s a nice story seed.

But that’s not the point. I saw Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs before I left for Vegas, and loved the film. I’ve never read the book, so my expectations were set by the trailers. If I were to rank it with my summer movies it would go in the top five, but summer was so long ago! I should start a new list.

And It's Friday Folks! That's a wrap...

Hey - Google Wave invites are out and mine apparently got misplaced in the email.  So if you've got one to spare set me up (xerexes at gmail DOT com).  Thanks!

BUSINESS
PBS does one of those "look people are making a living making webcomics" stories.  They did interview interesting people for it -- from Randall Munroe (xkcd) to Howard Tayler (Shlock) to R Stevens (Diesel).

INTERVIEW
Nice interview with Gordon McAlpin of Multiplex touching on movies and Chicago.

Newsarama has an interview with Emma Caulfield, actress and now webcomic auteur.  How very interesting that Newsarama has the scoop on the new webcomic Contropussy which has a creative team consisting of Emma Caulfield, Camilla Outzen Rantsen, Christian Meesey, Thomas Mauer, and Blog@Newsarama columnist Christian Beranek.

REVIEW
Johanna Draper Carlson reviews High Moon, the second book from Zuda. 

JUSTIFY MY HYPE
Chris Yates connects the dots on Colleen's tattoo but really Jon's disco solo sold it for me.

FLEEN flagged that Christopher Baldwin has a work-in-progress site up for Spacetrawler, a webcomic he seems to be working towards launching next year.

News from SPX (Small Press Expo)

SPX took place this weekend in beautiful Bethesda, MD, and webcomics were there … apparently in full force. Here are a couple of snippets I discovered courtesy of The Beat.

First off, some observations from Johanna Draper Carlson:

SPX SPX SPX!!!

Hey it's the coolest little comics show that could, the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD.  It's this Saturday and Sunday and thanks to the very gracious and cool Mrs. X, I am shirking husband and fatherhood to check out the show on Saturday afternoon.  There is an insane number of AMAZING comics-making folks at the show and a good set of speakers and panels.
I'm going to check out the "Comic Strips: Online and In Print" panel with Kate Beaton, Erika Moen, R. Stevens, and Julia Wertz and the "Critics’ Roundtable" with Rob Clough, Sean T. Collins, Gary Groth, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Tucker Stone, Douglas Wolk and  Bill Kartalopoulos.

A Webcomic? It's a Comic on the 'Tubes, Guv'ner!

CONVENTIONS
Rich Stevens and Meredith Gran will be representin' the Colonies at this year's UK Webcomix Thing which takes place this weekend.

AWARDS
Today is the last day for submitting a Harvey Award nomination ballot.  The professionalism requirement is a bit squishy but given that the Harveys have selected PvP creator Scott Kurtz to host the awards presentation, this program is probably going to be even more friendly to indie and web comic creator participation than ever.

WRITING
Over at Kung Fu Monkey, John Rogers applies the corporate-review technique known as a "360 Review" to developing characters.  Having had to go through a few of those full circle thingees, I can see how that might help in filling out a character.

JUSTIFY MY HYPE
Beaver & Steve creator James Turner has been involved with a kids-comics portal called The DFC.  It appears this month that The DFC is defunct but many (all?) of its creators have banded together to form a new site called Super Comics Adventures Squad.  Looks promising - there was good stuff going on so it's nice to see it will continue.  (h/t Journalista!)

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.

Who Are You?: An Interview with Neil Kleid (Action, Ohio)

whoareyouWhat if superheroes, created by analogues of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, were real and based on actual people with powers? What if they were hidden away in a sleepy town since the 1950’s? And if there are superheroes, are there supervillains?

Action, Ohio, written by Neil Kleid and illustrated by Paul Salvi, was originally one of the hopeful competitors trying to win a contract with Zuda Comics. The comic follows heroine Andi Bruce, a Detroit detective with a sad past, who is compelled to solve a brutal murder. Her investigation gradually leads her to learn about the existence of superheroes in a town on the Michigan-Ohio border. Eventually, she must decide between solving her case or protecting the heroes’ freedoms by keeping things quiet.

I first encountered Action, Ohio, when Jack, Anthony, The Doctor, Delos, and I did a round of reviews at Comic Fencing. I heard about the comic again when Neil sent out a press release that the comic had moved to Shadowline, an Image Comics affiliate that begun publishing webcomics in October 2008. I did some quick research, and it quickly dawned on me that Neil Kleid was prolific. Winner of a Xeric Award (for Ninety Candles), writer for several print comics published by NBM to Slave Labor to Image, art director for Comedy Central and Miramax campaigns, creator of several webcomics…. Good God, y’all.

A large sample of his work can be found at his Rant Comics site.

I contacted Neil if he’d like to do an e-mail interview, and he graciously accepted. Neil had already conducted two excellent interviews with Newsrama and io9. I wanted to touch on subjects that hadn’t yet been covered at the other sites: what it was like working for Zuda and Shadowline, what common themes were within his body of work, and … why Ohio?

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!