Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 Wild Webcomic Quasi Award Nominees

Welcome once again to the Wild Webcomic Quasi-Awards.  The goal of these awards has always been about recognizing the achievements of the various comics out there.  When the field numbers in the tens of thousands, standing out with great art, great story, great characters or just being great in general is difficult.  So here, at least, there is some recognition.  That said, as I am the lone judge and nominator of these awards, only comics I have read and reviewed for this blog will be considered and only my opinion will be used to determine who gets the award.  On to the nominees.

Best Black and White Art - Nominees should express great use of line, form, shape and shading using a mostly monochrome pallet on a consistent basis.

Blue Blaster - Despite the title, this comic manages to show superheroes, villains and everyday people in great detail without ever actually showing the title character's true color.
Namesake - A multitude of fairy tale worlds come alive through the sparing use of color in this epic adventure.
Our Time in Eden - The characters in this long running comic carry a weariness that is hard to match in any other comic.

Best Color Art - Nominees should express great use of line form and hue using a multi-color pallet on a consistent basis.

Stand Still, Stay Silent - Color plays a important role in this post-apocalyptic comic, often setting the tone of a scene as much as the action and words spoken.
Paranatural - The cartoonish look of this comic allows for flexible characters that move and flow to enhance any and every joke that it puts forward.
Blindsprings - Great pains are made in the art of this comic to show the break between the colorful spirits and the depressing reality in this fantasy tale.

Best Gag Comic - Nominees should express excellent use of timing, word play and humor within a single strip or page on a consistent basis.

Three Panel Soul - While only weekly, this comic manages to get a laugh nearly every time.
Chainsawsuit - Never quite the same thing twice, except for Two Cops, which is.  Silly and fun.
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal -While often dense and hard to understand, the jokes, in the end, are just what is needed for a daily dose of chuckles.

Best Shortform Comic - Nominees should be able to tell coherent and independent stories based around a small cast or idea without requiring an overarching plan or story to the comic as a whole.

Broodhollow - While there is an overarching mystery to the town of Broodhollow, each chapter covers a small corner of it effectively.
UnCONventional - The stories aren't as distinct as they could be, but they are broken up in reasonable ways as it follows the various people running a convention.
Cosmic Dash -  Serious, yet light and fun, each chapter of adventures of the Lucky Strike and it's crew is a wonderful romp through space.

Best Longform Comic - Nominees should be able to tell a coherent and consistent story over a long period following a character or cast from the first strip to an eventual last strip in an interesting and engaging way.

Girl Genius - Yes, they are out of the castle, have been for a while, and it's still fun to read.
What Birds Know - Nearly finished, this epic tale of birds, gold, greed and rage is worth the time it takes to read.
Sluggy Freelance - Tying up the loose ends of this long running comic finally turned it into a more epic piece than anyone ever imagined.

Best Cast - Nominees should have a cohesive cast of characters who support and build each other in ways that make each essential to the other and creating a great whole from the sum of their parts.

Dumbing of Age - David Willis manages to take his various characters across multiple comics and brings them together into a single, new comic that explores them in new ways.
Between Failures - A varied collection of characters all work or are related to a failing store, but it's a positive look at their lives.
Bohemian Nights - 20 somethings spend their off hours partying, drinking and having fun, but it doesn't always go positively

Best Character - Nominees should be a single character that stands out from the rest of the cast with a strong personality, history or story, but also one that drives the story through their actions.

Joyce from Dumbing of Age - Wide-eyed and innocent to start, being exposed to the world changes her view on the life she once knew.
Robert from Subhuman Sanctum - Former street thug is exposed to hippie aliens and finds a new, more interesting world to be part of.
Arron Rung from Blue Blaster - Super powers do not a hero make, at least not strictly, as Arron struggles between using his powers for heroics, and making a bit of cash on the side.

Best New Comic - Nominees should show general excellence in the creation and publication of a new comic starting between now and the previous nomination announcement.

PopChromatic - Jade doesn't like pop bands, but the things she'll do for her twin sister.
Namesake - Storytelling comes to life in a magical journey Ellen take through those stories.
Paranatural - Ghosts, magic and weird conspiracies dominate the world Max suddenly finds himself in.

Best Completed Comic - Nominees should be naturally completed comics that stand out as great pieces of fiction and art.

Errant Story - The fantasy epic that is the classic of webcomics today.
Skullkickers - Baldy and Shorty (they have actual names) fight monsters for fun and money eventually resulting in a battle to save the multi-verse.
Punch an' Pie - A loving relationship fails, and the story follows as the two characters move on with their lives.

Best Overall Comic - Nominees must show general excellence in the fields of art, writing and publication over the length of the comic's lifespan.

Derelict - The post apocalyptic tale of strange creatures, the sea and young woman alone in the world is something that should be read.
Sunstone (NSFW) - It may have started as a series of fetish pinups, but this tale of love and misunderstanding deserves the time to read through it.
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja - He's a doctor, a ninja and a hero in this amazing comic that is only just winding down.

Next time, the winners.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The 2017 Quasi-Awards Pre-Award Post

Wow, that's an awkward title.  Okay kiddies, it's time for the 3rd, now biennial (yes that's a word) Quasi-Awards.  For those unfamiliar, this whole mess started way back here, with another site's webcomic awards, which annoyed me because it was unclear what was going on.  No rules, explanations, no nothing.  The result was, well, a whole category on my blog for A) trying to fix it and B) doing my own version.  Twice!

And as will the last awards given out in 2015, I will start with a review of the rules and any changes.  So let's get to the rules:

1.)  Comic can not have previously won in the given category.  Comics also cannot win more than one award per award event.

2.)  Comic nomination must be for the award period (in this case the last two years).  Things like "best new comic" have to be within a very specific time frame, other comics can cover longer periods

3.)  Comics must be active for the length of the award period.  This means the comic updated regularly over the award peroid.  Only exceptions are for the "completed comic" award or the "short comic" award.

4.)  Comic must qualify for the given category.  A primarily color comic cannot be entered in the black and white category, for example.

5.)  If a comic wins "Best Overall" it cannot be nominated for another category ever again.  Unless it's a special "legacy" category.

As with last year, there will be only 3 nominees per category as I am the only judge and it's hard to nominate from my rather small pool of comics.

Not any other serious changes.  That said, I suspect this might be the last time I do one of these.  Mostly because my pool of comics isn't deep enough to support a fourth edition.  Hell, I'm surprised I can do three!

Next week, and yes, I said WEEK, the nominations for the 2017 Wild Webcomic Quasi-Awards!  Until next time kiddies.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Successor: Cityface

Tom Siddel's comic is amazing in the end.  Through Gunnerkrigg Court he has created a world that is both familiar and fantastic, characters that are relatable and inscrutable. and a story that is both tragic and humorous all at the same time.  There aren't many comics that can do all of those things.  Bet you can't guess 3 of them.

I think, though, the thing that really keeps this whole thing rolling is how Tom relates to his readers.  Most of his initial comments come in little blurbs at the bottom of the pages.  These are quick, often silly comments like "This guy!" or something equally goofy.  Though when things get serious, those comments vanish very quickly, a quiet sign that the reader should be paying attention to what's going on.

He does videos where he reads through earlier chapters of the comic and makes his own comments.  I haven't watched them yet, not because I don't want to, but because the comic is good enough on it's own to not need it, but it's something I've NEVER seen another comic artist do.

I believe he probably reads his own forums regularly, though I doubt he says much.  He's very much aware of how people respond to his comic, as I mentioned back here.  Ultimately this led to Chapter 55 and, well, my brief response.

Which leads to the fact that he really has a good sense of humor, and knows when to pull back and be silly.  Whether it's his own "about" page, or his vacation filler strips featuring this post's title character, Cityface, he knows when to have fun and be very, very silly.  And his readers love it.

Ultimately, Tom Siddel is probably one of the best story tellers in comics today.  He combines excellent, ever evolving art (which he isn't afraid to admit to, BTW), imagery, character, seriousness and silliness all into a single package and creates a story that likely will only grow stronger with time.

If there is any comic I would recommend with no information (and I try not to), it would be Gunnerkrigg Court.  It has a little of everything and deserves to be the new king of the list.

Next time it's the return of the Quasi-Awards.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Successor: The Bridge

Between the Forest and the Court is a chasm with a river at the bottom, the Annan Waters.  Across this chasm is a bridge.  It's alarmed by the Court, so if any one crosses without permission, they'll know.  There are lights along it to keep the glass eyed men from crossing back.  There is no railings.

Along the waters is Jeanne, imprisoned to be a guard of the waters, another layer of defense of the Court, established long ago and in the most cruel way possible.  Her love, a resident of the Forest, was killed in the waters to trap her spirit there, a spirit of rage.

Gunnerkrigg Court is not about that bridge, but the actual bridge, in the form of Antimony Carver.  She's the main character, of course, but more than that, she is the link that draws it all together.

She was born outside of the Court, in the World.  She has been guided and basically trained to be a Psychocomp.  She's a student of the Court, a daughter of it in many ways.  And she's part Fire Spirit, a creature of magic and the Forest.

Through her we see the story of Gunnerkrigg Court, all the intrigues and mysteries.  Annie touches each area, and sometimes more than she expected.  Of course we get glimpses through others eyes, especially Kat who is as much a main character as Annie is really.  In the end, though, the comic is about Annie, her friends and their collective adventures.

Which isn't to say she's a perfect bridge.  She's very much a child still, a teenager at best, still learning and growing.  She makes some big mistakes, misinterprets what's she's being told, and even lies when she has no reason too.  Her biggest failure is cheating at school, using Kat's friendship to do so.  That ended when she got caught by her own father.

It's through her we experience the comic, and it's the lynch pin that holds the whole thing together.  It's clear that she will move the Court into it's next phase of being, though how and why are still in the future.  That said, every reader is following her, watching, and worrying over every little thing.

I can't say it enough, after all Gunnerkrigg Court is about Antimony in the end, but without the world to bring together, she's nothing.

Next time, Cityface.  Go ahead, guess what it's about.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Retrospective: Sorcery 101

Look a post!  That isn't on the first friday of the month.  What sorcery is this?  Well, about that. . .

Sorcery 101 ended last week and I felt I needed to write this up as soon as I could because I have a few things to say about it.

Let me start off by saying it isn't a bad comic, but there was something missing.  Even back in my reposting of the original review (which added a current comments) I noticed I wasn't quite getting into it that much and at the time I couldn't understand why.  I do now because in ending, it made it all the more obvious.

It does have a rich and involved world.  There's lots of characters, interactions, magic, werewolves, vampires, angels, demons, monsters, bureaucracy and all that detailed out and played with to one extent or another.  There's a lot of good characters, their motivations and goals well spelled out, and some with eternal mysteries (what hell is up with Seth anyway?).  It's got a lot going for it and I think when I started reading it I expected it to go somewhere grand.

It never did.

The ending spelled it out because, well, it just kind of happened.  There was no grand battle, or plot to foil.  There was no mystery revealed or legend confronted.  There was some minor fighting, a car crash and a death, but nothing else.  And then the comic is over.

To an extent, I suspect that this is kind of on purpose, it was just supposed to be the daily lives of these people in this strange world.  Urban fantasy without the world destroying plots or heroics.  Just everyday living.  And that's fine, it did it pretty well, but constantly it was being driven as if there WAS more going on, hints and tips abound, mysteries running through, plot threads seemed to be drawing out.  Yet nothing was done with it, and while some ends were kind of resolved, for the most part if the last chapter happened after the first, I don't think anyone would have noticed.

I think the best way to put it is that Sorcery 101 feels more like the prologue to another story.  It's setting up the world, the characters, the major players and their motivations, and in the NEXT comic, that's when the interesting stuff happens.  But there is no next comic, this is it.  And considering it's been going for 11 years, at this point next comic was never going to happen.

Again, it's not BAD because of that, it's just not fulfilling.  The only bit of the ending that was interesting is the reflection of the first and last page of the comic.  Beyond that I think this is a comic I will just remember as one I used to read, and nothing more.

Next time, which should be next week, should see the next part of The Successor.  Until then kiddies.  Oh and happy Halloween.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Successor: The Court

The titular location of the story is Gunnerkrigg Court itself.  Much of the story takes place within it, or near it, and much of the plot is due to the odd things that happen on the Court's grounds.

In many ways, the Court is as much a character in it's own right as it is a place.  It's imposing, massive and oddly empty place.  Soulless would be a great description, an almost lifeless place.

It isn't dead, per say.  There are no free animals and plants that have been noticed, but there are a lot of robots, a LOT of them.  They perform so many tasks that humans are almost unnecessary for the bulk of the tasks at hand.

There are people in the Court, of course, mostly students (a couple thousand at best) and their teachers.  There are others, but they are few and far between, or if they are many, they are unseen.  This makes the Court feel very sterile indeed, so when life forms appear, they are usually magnificent and unexpected.

The Court is order to the Forest's chaos, and the result is that despite the lack of adults or guards, the Court is generally safe enough for the students to wander around unsupervised.  This may actually be intentional as well, as the students often go off to do experiments and the like because, well, there's not much else to do.

The real embodiment of this is in Kat, who is both an exceptional mechanical genius but possibly some kind of robotic angel (however that works).  When not taking classes or going on adventures, she busies herself building, designing and modifying various bits of technology, from an anti-gravity device to bio-robotics.  The Court does little to reign her in, though how much is because they don't know is unclear.  The results have been rather spectacular honestly.

And here in is another difference from the Forest:  how fast and strong one is doesn't matter within the Court.  Well, not matter is relative, but it does mean it's not necessary for survival.  Being intelligent or having a special power will make one a big shot within the Court, maybe, if the Court's leaders view it as important.  Characters like Zimmy and Gamma are allowed to run free for some nebulous reason, for example, when danger is all the two of them actually represent.

This results in many of the students of the Court coming FROM the Forest.  They're converted to human forms and do odd computational tasks within the walls.  The only prize for them is a name, which is just kind of thrown to them.  The Court doesn't seem to much care what they do, as long as they do what they want, beyond that. . .

Beyond that what the Court wants is nebulous at best.  Hints are given that what it's up to is no good, but there's nothing solid there.  Any action the Court takes, in the past or present, seems to be about defending itself from the outside, rather than something more sinister.  Nothing good comes from this, of course, but it does make one question whether it SHOULD do these things.  In the end, the story of the comic is about peeling back some of these mysteries and seeing what the Court actually is and what it wants.

The only way to do this, though, is to bring all these elements together, and that is through a Bridge.  Until next time.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Touching Base #26

One might think I'm still shirking posting with this, and you'd only be half right as a lot of stuff changed in the last couple of months, so it's time to find out what.

The Wotch is still having issues with artists, mostly in the fact that their current one hurt his arm and can't post at the moment.  Honestly, at this point they probably should consider throwing in the towel.  I'm moving it back to Monthly until things shake out one way or the other.

What Birds Know is slowly drawing to a close.  I think they're up to the last chapter, so there will be a retrospective in the near future for it, maybe.  There does seem to be some time between posts, something about 5 days of summer and Canada.

Pole Dancing Adventures stalled out in May, again, no idea why.  The news posts are still updating, but not the comic, very odd.

Rounding out the cast of comics that should update more, Dead Winter isn't updating either, with little to no obvious reason.  Kind of a shame as it was just starting to get the next arc rolling too.  Both this and BDA stay on the Weekly list for the time being, despite lack of updates.

It Hurts! had an interesting transition to hell via exploding planet, so the current course of the story is, um, odd.  Lots of odd this update.  I do like it as it reset the storyline a bit and keeps things moving in that, um, crazy  weird way it does.

Still little solid information on what happened to Kiwi's By Beat!, but at least there's a mirror for most of the comics.  Yay, I can still read minus and Great.  That said, there's no official word on what happened, guesses range from bankrupt to dead, so yeah.  If I hear more, I'll keep you informed.

Eerie Cuties and Magick Chicks still haven't updated since their last round of doing so.  Don't count that as "dead" just not moving much.  As such I'll ship them over to Monthly to keep an eye on them.

Out There's finale, um, still doesn't exist.  Which is leaning toward it being a dead comic.  I'm glad we were TOLD it was probably going to be shelved, but some kind of ending would have been nice to have.  Expect a Retrospective on it soonish.

Commander Kitty has had sporadic updates thanks to the fact that he has to work for a living.  But you know, if I had a job in animation, I wouldn't be as worried about the comic either.

Finally, Pete Abrams is planning Sluggy Freelance past it's 20th year (next year I might add).  Specifics are still in the air, but the gist is there's no way to wrap up every storyline (not that I was expecting him to, mind you) in that last year.  Some of the idea is make a less scheduled comic after the 20th anniversary.  He does like to eat, and the comic has been making him money, so I could see him trying to keep something going (Howard Taylor over at Schlock Mercenary has talked about something similar in the past).  How it'll work out, I don't know.  We'll see, and I'll be here updating this blog for it.

Next time kiddies, hopefully I'll get The Successor moved along some more.  Until then.