Digital Strips 136 – Review: Eisner Award Nominees

It’s award season for the world of comics once again, and to celebrate we’re going to show up at the ceremony, mock the losers and try to find some way to attach ourselves to the winner and just make a general mess of everything. But until we can make tickets to the show in photoshop, we’ve made this show where we give our takes on each the nominees and explain why we think it should win, or go down in a pile of flames, tears and broken dreams. We also give our picks on what we think should have been nominated, but didn’t this year.

If you want to read ahead so you get all the jokes, the comics we talk about are as follows:

The Abominable Charles Christopher


The Process

Panda Xpress!

Sugarshock (you have to scroll all the way to the bottom then all the way to the right)
Our picks:




Epic summer webcomic

Derrick Fish has been writing and drawing Dandy and Company since 2001, and he likes to mix it up a bit. I haven’t read all the strips, but from what I have seen of the archives, Dandy is a smart take on the gag-a-day concept. The strips revolve around Bernard, a sweet little boy, and Dandy, his smart, strong-willed, mischievous dog. Yes, it’s a familiar setup, but Fish’s witty dialogue and stable of over-the-top side characters keeps it interesting.

dandy-cover.jpgDerrick wrote to us a few weeks ago to let us know that he’s turning Dandy into a long-form adventure strip for the summer. He has done this before, and he actually foreshadowed this plot with a short series in May, in which hyper-cute puppy Mistake and robot dog Mr. Fuzzy go missing after a series of ATM break-ins. Dandy goes after them in the new summer story, The Search for Mr. Fuzzy.

The story mixes up a lot of old secret-agent and sci-fi cliches with a strong dose of the characters’ individual personalities and a lot of humor. It works pretty well as a caper strip, but the plot is complicated by the fact that Fish is re-introducing characters from older story arcs. He makes it work by putting just enough exposition in the strip to make it comprehensible, then adding additional explanations and links to the earlier storylines in the blog posts beneath the strips. That means longtime readers aren’t bogged down with information they already know, while new readers can pick up bits of backstory as they go.

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Where’s Wowio? is down at the moment. The site says they are gearing up to go global, and that they will reopen in July. Over at The Beat, though, Heidi MacDonald thinks something else is up; she hears the company is going to be sold.

Wowio always sounded too good to be true. Customers get to download ebooks for free; creators get 50 cents per unique download. How do you do that? Ads, embedded in each book. The books themselves are PDF files with a number of built-in copy protections. T Campbell peeked under the hood in his blog last year and explained a bit about the nuts and bolts of the site.

A number of folks pop up in comments at The Beat to say that they have done quite well with Wowio. Probably the biggest winner is Chris Crosby, who says

I’ve posted WOWIO revenue numbers publicly before for my companies (Blatant Comics/Keenspot), so I have no problem with giving an update on that. Since last August we’ve made $93,624.50 from 186,736 WOWIO downloads.

wowio_w.gifChris’s properties are among the most popular on Wowio, but others post respectable numbers as well. Bill Williams, of Lone Star Press, estimates his company has taken in about $15,000, and he adds,

WOWIO far out-performs sites like Drive Thru Comics which is a pay-per-download site. I think that WOWIO has proven that giving away ad-supported books works better as a business model than the pay per download sites.

(Bill talked in more detail about Wowio to Johanna Draper Carlson earlier this year.) And Steve Horton says

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Digital Strips 135 – Review: Good Ship Chronicles

It’s show time again. This time we review Good Ship Chronicles by Tauhid Bondia and let me tell you, the ship isn’t the only thing that’s good about this strip. We spend most of the time singing the praises of this high class, high adventure set in a distant future where everything is just like Star Trek, only much much funnier. Don’t miss this strip or this episode.


Sunday Sitdown With Charlie Trotman a.k.a. Spike, creator of Templar, AZ ~OR~ Join The Mystery!

It’s no secret that our inbox gets crowded from time to time. It’s also no secret that this inbox is occasionally overlooked, sometimes for weeks or months at a time, making your news, the little details and announcements that you want us to shout from the tippity-top of Mount DS, fall into a black hole where they are only to be retrieved by the most eager and capable of hands.

This means that little, but important, blurbs like the one Charlie Trotman, creator of Templar, AZ, sent us, fall by the wayside until they are way past due and and way past useful. So it was with gracious and humbled fingers that I typed these questions for Trotman, known to most online denizens as Spike, and sent them along, promising a plug for the donation drive which was to cover the costs for printing the second volume of Templar, AZ.

Now, with the drive completed and the costs more than ably covered, Spike gives us the answers to the questions on every Templar fan’s mind. Join me as we delve deeper into the mystery that is the mind of Spike!

Templar AZ logo

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BitArtist 1.0 Is Here ~TO~ Help Manage Your Webcomic

It’s always a proud moment when one of your own does something noteworthy and today, we at Digital Strips can share in that pride.

Our very own webmaster and resident fix-the-Internet-it’s-broken-again guy, Jerry Stephens, is proud to announce that his webcomic management system, BitArtist, is now out of beta and open to the public! Here’s the official word from Jerry himself:

Last month I mentioned that I’d put out a webcomic management system, BitArtist. At that time it was in the beta-testing stage and people were encouraged to submit bugs so that I could get a stable release out to the public. Well, I’m happy to say that BitArtist is now in its first stable release version, version 1.0, and it’s ready for the world.

If you were one of the beta testers and are running release candidate 3, there is noJerry 5000 from Tastefully Done 2008 need to download and reinstall the stable release as no bugs were found in RC3, or at least none were reported anyway. Otherwise, you’ll need to download the latest version and install it.

There’s information on configuring and installing the software on the support wiki, and the bug tracker is still open for any bugs that may turn up eventually. I’m also in the middle of setting up a support forum, in case there are problems that arise which aren’t covered in the documentation.

Check it out and let us and Jerry know what you think! I’ll be trying it out myself soon, though you might as well go ahead and subtitle that post, “~OR~ How I Broke My PC Beyond Repair.”


The Chemistry Set Celebrates Two Year Anniversary ~WITH~ “No Formula” Anthology

First off, ever heard of The Chemistry Set? I hadn’t either, so this write-up might serve to get some more eyeballs on this two-year-old webcomic collective.

Containing nearly twenty different comics, this collective (which, with numbers like that, should really be considered more of a service) certainly looks to exhibit some great talents, with a little bit of something for everyone featured right on the home page.

So, what do you do when you have this many various works under one umbrella? What might you create to make sure they all get the attention each so rightly deserves? If you said an anthology celebrating the diversity and depth of your collective works, congratulations! After the break, check out a word or two from original ChemSetter, Jim Dougan, about the book, No Formula: Stories From The Chemistry Set, Vol. 1, and where you can find it!

The Chemistry Set logo

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Wes Molebash Teaches Kids ~HOW TO~ Draw Comics

I’ve always wanted to be asked to do this.

Like many other cartoonists before him, Wes Molebash has taken the time out of his busy schedule to drop by a local school to teach the kids the joys of cartooning.

Me? I don’t know that I would have the patience to give the tykes a pointer or two about anything. “No, Billy, those proportions are ridiculously off, just stick to the fingerpaints.”

Still, it warms the depths of my dark heart when creators give back to their community, so check out the Flickr photo set of the event. And yes, I’m pretty sure that kid on the left (see, below) is the most excited to be there.

Wes Molebash kids


Sunday (Wednesday) Sitdown With DJ Coffman ~AKA~ I Can Make A Comic That Might Change the World, Might Change The World, Might Change The World

Two years ago, DJ Coffman was granted his greatest wish when his new superhero work, Hero By Night, was chosen as the first winner of Platinum Studio’s Comic Book Challenge, a contestPlatinum Studios logo designed to discover the next great comic book creator. Platinum subsequently put out an HBN mini-series and then an ongoing series, both of which were met with critical praise and lukewarm sales.

Now, amidst financial troubles, the company has been called out by Coffman, who has cited late payments and even failure to pay as the reason for the sudden forced hiatus of HBN. But as he explains in our brief chat, this halt is being handled amicably and he is already pursuing other endeavors that should continue to bring in those dolla’ dolla’ bills. Check out the candidness, after the break.

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Digital Strips 134 – Zuda Watch 3

In this episode of Digital Strips we talk about patterns. All kinds of patterns and how the should and should not be used in a Zuda entry. Mostly we deal the pattern of most of the entries being of the Sci-fi and superhero genre, and the patterns (read: cliches or tropes) involved in this kinds of stories. We also hit such patterns found in horror, noir, romance and the totally lack of patterns in one of this months entires.

If you don’t know how to vote in this months competition, want to hear if we love/hated your pick or just want to hear some really good transitions by yours truly, look no further than this episode.