Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review: AT-43...

Tracy Constantine has decided to grace us with a second comic now that A Gunfighters Life is done, and came up with AT-43. What is AT-43? A comic based on a table top miniature strategy game I've never heard of. But I'm no role player, so of course I wouldn't know what it is. I'm going to have to review this as an outsider to the AT-43 world. So how good is this webcomic? Let's dive right in...

Right from the start I can tell the style of Tracy from A Gunfighters Life. And I'm sad to say that it hasn't changed at all. What I mean by that is the same problems I had with the other comic I see here as well. It's nice and brightly and professionally colored, cleanly drawn and in a decent style, but lifeless. The characters almost always have their hands at their sides, just standing around with this bored look on their faces. If you were at some kind of war, wouldn't you be prepared to fight, eyes wide open and ready to fire at a moments notice? I know I would. These guys just seem ready to take a nap. And on the rare occasion that they do fire, it's so stilted that I think my grandma Bessy could take out an entire army before they pull a weapon! Oh, and the backgrounds are usually just black or a dark shade of blue or something to fill space. War. Dilapidated buildings. Shrubs to take cover behind. Cars on fire. Or whatever they drive or fly. That's just what I picture when thinking about war. Don't get me wrong, I like the style, just not some the flaws I mentioned.

There really isn't a story to be told here, as it's based on a strategy game. If you want to know what's going on you have to read about the world of AT-43 on his website, which I didn't want to, because I'm about webcomics, not role playing in somebodies basement(Don't hit me!). So, I'll talk about the jokes. Basically what we have here is a failure to communicate. With the average webcomic reader. If you're a player of this game I have no doubt you'll enjoy the injokes, but I found it very "inside". I get that it's a war game, and I should be able to enjoy for that, but I just didn't. I didn't find it that funny, although I have always had a soft spot for jokes that involve characters thinking that they are safe only to show the bad guy standing right behind them. The problem with that one is that it's used to death in this comic. I saw it over and over. Once with a missile, and about three or four times with the bad guys. Without setting up the comic with some backstory(because most people aren't going to want to read the "about" stuff), the jokes just aren't going to register as well. Maybe an issue 0 or a prologue can be added. Give us some meat so we'll be able to enjoy it as a stand-alone story or it's going to appeal only to players of the game.

AT-43 is an okay webcomic, and does stand atop a pretty large pile of worse comics, but needs a lot of work to gain some sort of following outside of the game. It basically needs a sense of self. Get us some backstory and characterization and maybe this one will have legs. As it is I'm not going to be following Tracy's newest offering. Perhaps I'll check it out again in a couple of months to see if any tweaking has been done....

I give AT-43..

Friday, September 26, 2008

Need help with your writing?

Look no further than the Marooned webcomic site for a lengthy article entitled "7 Keys to Writing for Webcomics". You'll find good info which could give you a leg-up if you're having some trouble. Go on over and give it a read!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Widget! No, not that Ewok from Return of the Jedi...

Old joke? Probably. Anyway, I've added an outbrain five star rating system so you can now let me know what you think of new posts with a simple click. I value your opinions, so click away!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Interview, The Sequel: Nick Perkins of Cooties!

Ever wonder what's going on months later with someone that's already been interviewed? Well, I was, so I decided to check in on Cooties creator Nick Perkins to see where his head is at these days. I provided the questions, he provided the answers. Take it away, me!

1. You've been plugging away at Cooties for a long time now. Is it where you wanted it to be at this point, and define success for us, at least in your eyes.

Unfortunately, after two years I am still in the midst of my first storyline; however, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. I've got so many other (and shorter) stories I plan on telling with this comic, and I'm finally at a point in my quality and productivity with the comic that I have just started beginning to advertise. I am having a blast with this point in the story (the lunchroom brawl was so dang fun to draw!).

As for success, for me it can be defined in two ways. My greatest hope is eventually having someone at Dreamworks or some such entity pick it up for a computer-animated movie or Saturday-morning series. Hey, if you're gonna dream, dream big, right? At this point, though, success for me is keeping my readership growing and my quality increasing, which I have and am still accomplishing.

2. I see you've recently moved your domain to Spiderforest. How has that transition been for you?

The move to Spiderforest has been better than I'd hoped. I'm grateful to ComicGenesis and my time there, but there is a stigma in the webcomics world attached to having a CG domain. I think it's highly undeserved, myself, but to each his own. The main reason I left CG was the opportunity to be part of a more tightly-knit community and the chance to get a little more exposure. The people at SF were extremely welcoming, and helpful with getting my new site set up, and with ComicPress to boot! It's great to have Cooties surrounded by so many quality webcomics.

Having an all-ages comic, I was a little worried about being in a community with some that were definitely not; looking at it realistically, though, that problem was magnified a hundredfold being a CG comic anyway, so I made the leap. As of yet, I have had no reason to regret it (especially since my readership has doubled since I first went to SF!)

3. I see you've gone for more of a dynamic, full page comic book style for Cooties. Do you plan on staying with this style or eventually trying something different?

I really like the current format. I like having the comic fill up the whole screen. I'd like to keep it that way through the end of my first storyline. After the first storyline is done, I may do gag-a-day newspaper style strips for a while; at the same time writing, drawing, and coloring the next big storyline. When that's all done, I'll run that story five days a week for its whole duration. Having a story drag itself out over 2-3 years will be a thing of the past, hopefully. I think I've reached a point in my productivity where that will be doable. My readers will definitely like it.

4. So the political race is heating up faster than my grandmas flapjack griddle. Have you ever considered adding some jokes taking jabs at Obama or McCain?

I'm an editorial cartoonist for my local newspaper, so this election is definitely catching my attention. Having said that, I don't want to interrupt Cooties' story flow right now; and this seems to be a perfect question in which to shamelessly promote my brand new strip, Dadmocracy. I needed an outlet in which to use all those comic strip ideas that I couldn't put into Cooties, so the new strip was born. I've made a strip involving Governor Palin, and you should see Obama & McCain show up within the next few weeks.

5. Do you have any webcomic recommendations for the readers?

I actively follow between 40-50 different webcomics. Some of my favorites that not everyone may have heard of:
One Small Step
Union of Heroes (found by reading Webcomic Asylum, natch!)
and my fellow SF-er, Avernyght!

6. Let's just imagine you have 60 seconds to promote your sites in front of a crowd of a million people. Go!

Cooties - Nate, Jake, Carmen, Lori and Sam - a group of ordinary kids dealing with school, friends, parents, government agents and an alien invasion. One of them unknowingly holds the key to Earth's fate, but he'll need all of his friends' help to save humanity from mind-controlling conquerers...

Dadmocracy - A weekly semi-autobiographical comic dealing with fatherhood, politics, media, and other assorted chuckle-inducing shenanigans!

El Cartoonista - my blog features a new comic each weekday, from classic strips to current Cooties & Dadmocracy comics to blog-exclusive goodness. Your one-stop shop for all my scribblings.

That was great! Thanks to Nick for sharing his thoughts with us. Give Cooties a shot, and be sure to check out his other sites. Till next time....!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Webcomic Therapy?

Hey everybody. Yknow, before webcomics I grew up longing to share my little sheets of paper folded in half with superheroes on em. I even went so far as to write and draw little subscription boxes on the back asking for money for 12 weekly issues. Lame? Yes. But I was a kid. Then when I got older I attempted the ole self publishing debacle. For me it was a debacle anyway. To break even I would have had to charge about five bucks for each issue of my comic, simply titled Superheroes. I charged fifty cents and put em in a couple of comic shops, just to see what it felt like. Then came the interweb. I LOVED it. I started out with Gothy Mcgee(which I plan on starting up again soon), and went on to do a few others, this site included. It gave me a way to express myself, and pretty much do it for free. I was able to give my point of view on a variety of topics, ranging from obesity to Indiana Jones. My point being I was able to escape reality whenever I wanted to. So, what say YOU about webcomics? Where would you be today without em? What have they done for you, good or bad? Gained any relationships? Lost any? Made money? Lost any? Overcome an addiction by making THIS your addiction? Anything you would like to share would be appreciated. I'm sure we would love to hear your stories. Make em known right here!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Review: Planet Karen..

A self described diary style comic, Planet Karen delves us into the mind of Karen Ellis and her life in pictures as a goth-garbed girl full of self doubt and a slacker mindset. From her own admission, parody gives way to truth and a webcomic as a form of self release. Good to know a comic can serve as a Dr. Phil and not just guilty pleasure entertainment. On with the review, aye?

This is one of the more stylized comics with a "less is more" mentality, at least from the pile that I've reviewed. It sort of reminds me of this local comic I came across maybe 10 years ago called "Bitter Girl". That is to say very sketchy, almost an afterthought art, at least for the first half. Karen stands apart from everyone else with giant anime eyes and all black dress, the uniform of choice for the down and out. The hand written text was a bonus for me as I'm a believer in pen and paper(and perhaps because I do all my own text as well in my comics). She eventually goes for a cleaner, neater presentation, but loses none of it's style and charm. All is well on the artistic side of things. The writing, on the other hand..

Being essentially an illustrated diary, things can go either of two ways. One, you can be incredibly insightful in letting someone into your innermost workings, or two, you can look like an egotistical douchebag with an idealized version of yourself. Karen fits somewhere in the middle. Some strips are downright poetic, such as this nugget of personality. Others, however, are nothing more than a day of lying on the couch watching tv. While there is more than enough to keep you interested, as the comic is smartly written in most cases, it can sometimes be a bore. Oh, the egotistical side of things. Karen isn't(and she's no douchbag!), but she does draw herself as this skinny, cool, anti-establishment alternative chick when she admits down the line that she's overweight(and maybe doesn't even dress like that?). But I get the feeling that the intention is not to keep you entertained, but more to just plain express herself, and Karen does that admirably. Not everyone would be this open, especially with a webcomic that knocks her friends. Ever fear reprisal, Karen?

This comic has the potential to make you feel good knowing that there are people out there who go through the same sorts of everyday blahs that you do, and think the same types of not-so-feel-good ways of dealing with it. Or you'll get bored fast. I don't know which side you'll fall on, but I say give it a shot and see what happens.
I give Planet Karen...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Become one of my minions!

So I just added a cool feature that lets you, the reader, add yourself as a follower of this site, just by clicking the link! I think it's pretty cool, and I would love to add you to my legion of fans...cough...so just look to the right and scroll down a wee bit and you'll see it. Please take a second or two to add yourself, and show some love for this feeble review site!

Coloring really takes a lot of time, doesn't it?

Hey everyone, just dropping in to let you know that the new Milton and Jen review is completed, well, at least the art. The coloring is going to take a while, and I'm starting to wonder why I put myself in this position! Man, juggling a family, work, AND a webcomic review site is taxing to say the least. I might just do the review in greyscale, but that might seem to be the lazy way out. I'm still trying to figure out a way to incorporate visuals with the review, but not make it such a pain to get them done quickly. Any suggestions on ways to make things easier? Oh, and one other thing. Remember the contest I ran a while back? Yeah, no one entered it. I couldn't believe that. Not one person could throw together a little ad for the contest? Man, that really knocked the wind out of my sails. But not to worry, I guess people aren't here to do that stuff, they are here to read reviews! Well, I'll let you know when the review will be up. Check out my Twitter to keep up to date! Oh, and I can AT LEAST show you a sneak peek of the new review. Later!