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Comix Talk for Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Culture Pop by Seth Kushnar

Seth Kushnar's CulturePop debuted this week.  The first one is about Alyssa Loveless talking about performing and her music.  I really dig Kushnar's website Graphic NYC, and this comic project looks very promising.  Different vibe but its somewhat similar to a great journalistic comic called CulturePulp by Mike Russell.

BUSINESS: Tom Tomorrow's current comic is a funny take on the Internet but a little bitter about the changes waste the Internet is laying to existing business models.  Tomorrow and Reuben Bolling are two extremely talented cartoonists that should be able to make it in the Internet world.  Maybe they need their own Robert Khoo business guru but if nothing else they ought to talk to Jeff Rowland at Topataco and see what they can do with taking control of their merchandizing opportunities.

LEGAL: Linda Joy Kattwinkel, Esq., Intellectual Property and Arts Attorney at Owen, Wickersham & Erickson writes a post on what to do when your artwork is being ripped off.  Good advice.

AWARDS: James Hudnall writes about his experience being a judge for the Eisner nominations this year.

MILESTONES: Shaenon Garrity reports that Daniel Merlin Goodbrey has concluded his webcomic All Knowledge Is Strange and started a new webcomic 100 Planets.

REVIEWS: reviews this month's Zuda contestants. (h/t

HYPE: has a bit more and pix on the upcoming book Kill Shakespeare.  Plus a take from a Shakespeare scholar.

NOT WEBCOMICS: has a round-up of the recent uncovering of work Jack King Kirby did for an animation house in the 80s.  Neat to see even more ideas from the comics legend.

Strip News 2-13-9

I’ll let everyone who went to the con tell you about it. In the meantime…

The Webcomic Overlook #69: Sam & Lilah

The Webcomic Overlook #68: Loviathan

Strip News 1-6-9

Woah. Lots going on. I’ve debated going to a semi-daily update but sometimes noticing what the longer trends are provides more practical use. In any case, there’s arguably too much this week:

Dean Haspiel on Act-I-Vate and being the “dean of Web comics”

Strip News

Being full of opinionated and biased outlook, I do hereby officiously and loudly proclaim:

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?

Strip News 1-23-09

I am growing ever more impressed by the sheer magnitude of projects and things going on that we can enjoy and take advantage of…

  • The Webcomic Overlook reviews Thingpart, Kris Straub offers us a peek into changes in Starslip Crisis and the Powerpuff Girls turns ten. MPD57 looks over the December Zuda competition and Ramon has plans that include Kukuburi. Mignola is involved in The Hobbit and in case you haven’t read it yet, the Scott Adams interview is right here.
  • Some would argue that webcomicdom is all tragedy but others split it into drama and comedy. That’s a more useful split, I’d argue.
  • Moving day: Colleen Doran’s blog (with all of its information on agents and such) is changing location. Mark Waid now blogs from new digs and Kevin & Kell moves back in. Also, Google is migrating Feedburner accounts over to Google but at a Feedburner address. Confused? Here’s a post that explains what to do and what other folks have done when they ran into problems. We have until February 28th before accounts get deleted, so I’m going to hope that my Feedburner plugin updates itself before then. Another impactful moving is Diamond’s new policy - there’s more discussion than I can link to but try here, here, here, here, here, here and here for starters. And the Diamond response can be seen here. Nicely, Dreamchilde echoes my (now deleted) thoughts and adds some good ideas to them,too. But… Say Diamond implodes in the next few years, what hurdles are there in comics going direct from publisher to reader? And what other options are there for distributing your comic? Or finding a way to profit from the work that goes into them? Sure, you might think I am crazy for wanting to try something besides the tshirt-print-plush merchandising plan, but maybe you’ll consider this guy’s efforts before you dismiss the idea of looking elsewhere.
  • Howard Taylor wants to redesign the Schlock Mercenary site and is looking for suggestions from his readers. I don’t have too much to add. I agree with most of the suggestions so far; the site is a tad cluttered. That’s easily adjustable but the main things are to clearly separate the title image from the advertising and unify the design (like the site links being in the same font as the title.) Speaking of looking for someone else’s opinion, why not use an editor to make your work better? (Or at least understand what they can provide you.)
  • Do your backgrounds add or take away from your comic’s tone? Seven Camels offers up some thoughts about how flat you should go. As an aside, it seems to me that one might have flavors in between funny and dramatic where a slight variation on your basic style could add punch to the joke or depth to the drama. Also, the Beacon talks about coloring your comic.
  • Wouldn’t it be nice if search engines could ‘read’ your comics and break them down for easier browsing? Here’s one way it could be accomplished, even though it’s a little too much labor for me. I can’t even bring myself to do an Oh-No-Robot style text writeup, let alone do coding too. Still, it has promise - what if it were automated into Comic Press? I’m imagining that you’d add the text into these special custom fields below each post; ie: panel one scene description, panel one dialog, panel two description, etc. This information would be hidden by default and display only if desired.
  • Interestingly, Chuck Dixon weighs in on the grittification of superheroes. I doubt that pushing character boundaries is a symptom of weak storytelling, but I can appreciate him wanting writers to respect the characters (and their boundaries) they write. Superman is malleable but not made of legos that you can remove at will. As an aside, I can’t help but think that Aquaman’s character needs something a little more heroically relevant than what he’s usually given. I can appreciate this try, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
  • And since there have been many articles on writing press releases, here’s an idea about what to do with them. You can always try to get the word out by sending your information to some of these blogs, as well.
  • Finally, would you like to star in a comic as an extra?

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!