Quick links to ring out the year

This New York Times article about newspaper comic strips going on the web contains a lot of information of interest to webcomics folks, although it’s mostly about Comics.com and their move from a partial subscription to a totally free model. The article raises a lot of familiar issues such as subscription vs. free models, using ads as a revenue stream, and using the free comics to build a fan base for the paid model (in this case, newspaper syndication rather than print volumes). Uclick and their iPhone applications also get a mention. The article is curiously uncritical about content, though; it would seem that if you’re trying to bring in a younger audience, dropping outmoded strips like Hi and Lois or unfunny comics like Garfield and Marvin might be a good starting point.

Also at the Times: An article about The Original Johnson, a bio-comic about Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion. (Both NYT links are via The Beat.)

Kidjutsu is a new website that aggregates all-ages webcomics in a single site with a nice, simple interface. There are some old favorites there (Inverloch, Elf ‘n’ Troll) as well as a slew of new comics I had never heard of. It’s a nice place to go exploring if you get bored over the holidays. Although all the comics are kid-friendly, they aren’t all juvenile; we just gave Kitty Hawk a nice review here at DS without even thinking of it as a kids’ comic.

Sabrina Fritz has an interview up with Sarah Ellerton (Inverloch, The Phoenix Requiem) at Good Comics for Kids, the other blog I edit.

At Comic Book Resources, Shaun Manning talks to Jamaica Dyer about The Wine Hobo, her new comic at MySpace Dark Horse Presents, as well as her independent webcomic, Weird Fishes. Click for some lovely art!

The revamped Blog@Newsarama is sort of a mixed bag; I have to admit I miss the old gang not only because they were really good writers but also because they covered a broader range of material. But I’ll give Sarah Jaffe credit for trying; she admits she doesn’t know much about webcomics and asks the internet for suggestions. The internet, naturally, responded. A post like this is always a good way to find some new webcomics, so go, check out the comments thread, and maybe pimp your own comic (or your favorite) as well.

Webcomics.com continues to deliver a steady stream of interesting, practical content, including recent tutorials on coloring by Tony Piro, creator of Calamities of Nature, and Ed Ryzowski of Evil, Inc.

Johanna Draper Carlson reviews two print versions of popular webcomics, My Poorly Drawn Life and Templar, Arizona, at Comics Worth Reading, and concludes that both work better as webcomics.


Digital Strips 152 – Horizons Watch Dec 2008

This Episode was a lot of fun to make and prepare for, because all the comics were so darn good. Join us as we argue about holiday greetings, discuss a great way for some aspiring inventor to make it big and then get into the meat of it all as we take about three of the most fun to read comics we’ve come across this year.

This Month’s Horizons Watch picks were:
Ghost Pimp by Maurice Fontenot

Kittyhawk by Braden Lamb and Vincent Labate

M.I.M.E.S. by Wayne Cordova and Harold Jennett


Manganovel bites the dust

One of the interesting things about the Internet is the way things sort of bubble up from the bottom and become genuine phenomena without anyone managing it or (until the last stage) making any money off of it, like I Can Has Cheezburger or Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Scanlation is like that. It’s a true grass-roots comics movement, in which people who were captivated by Japanese comics went to the trouble to find them, break them up and scan them in, translate the text (some people actually learned Japanese in order to do this), edit, retouch, and publish them on the web, just to be able to share them with others. Scanlations are free to read, but they also violate the original copyright, and no one makes money on them.

Manganovel was an attempt to create a Web 2.0 version of scanlations. A joint project of the MIT Media Lab and Toshiba, it allowed readers to download Japanese manga, translate it themselves, and upload the finished product. On the surface, it seemed like a neater, cleaner version of scanlation—no copyright violation, no cutting the books up or melting the glue off the spine, no downloading from dubious servers. Users earned points for uploading translations and could also purchase points, which they then used to read the premium comics; other comics were available for free.

Continue reading


You’ll Never Look At Garfield (Minus Garfield) The Same Way ~AGAIN~

Garfield the cat enjoyed a long run at the top of the comic strip crop, but with the advent of webcomics, his pointless relevance wanes. That was, until Dan Walsh got the brilliant notion to remove the titular feline from every strip, leaving his already pathetic owner Jon Arbuckle to talk to himself in panel after panel of introverted sadness.

Well now this experiment has been turned into a book by both Walsh and series creator, Jim Davis, and this write-up of the whole thing by PLAYBACK:stl’s Gabe Bullard offers a very intriguing view of the reimagining of a true classic.


PvP: The Series Vol. 1 ~COMING~ To DVD

Cole! Francis! Brent! Skull! The whole gang is here for a DVD compilation of the first season!

The last glance I took at The Series was around episode 5, when the concept and format were still new to series creators Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub. Back then, it was made apparent that I was not going to enjoy this thing on an episode-by-episode basis.

But who’s to say there aren’t other TV shows that beg to follow the same format? As with nearly any DVD compilation, it’s not the basic content I’m stoked about, but the extras! Check out these bonuses:

  • Episode commentary with the series writers 
  • Magic Hands’ production video blogs 
  • Acting with Dino, the voice of Skull the Troll 
  • Production Artwork 
  • Full length theme song MP3

If you watched any of the episodes you know that the theme song is worth the price alone! Stop by the Blind Ferret store and pre-order your copy now!


Simulated Comic Product ~IS~ Your Webcomic Idol

The votes are in, the people have spoken, and the judges have deliberated. After a very close race, the choice has been made, and Simulated Comic Product has emerged as this year’s Webcomic Idol!

Just like any other annual talent competition, the only thing left for us to do is support this new face until they either become a rousing success due to this newfound exposure or are relegated to the webcomic bargain bin, only to be seen by those with undeveloped senses of humor and the less fortunate webizens who have only ever known Garfield and Marmaduke as comic strips of choice.

Given the brief glimpse we’ve all gotten from this, and all the contestants of this year’s Webcomic Idol competition, the former will certainly win out over the latter. Congratulations to Simulated Comic Product on the big win over some stiff competition and make sure to check out all ten contestants of this year’s contest to add some cheer to your economically challenged holiday!

  • The Book of Biff
  • Calamities of Nature
  • Lawn Darts
  • Marooned
  • Newspaper Comic Strip
  • Shi Long Pang
  • Simulated Comic Product
  • Soul Driver
  • The Superfogeys
  • Xylia
  • Share

    Random things that struck me as worthy of note

    Webcomic Overlook looks back at the small moments of 2008, webcomics-wise, in a very entertaining post.

    Mike Raub interviews the creators of Zuda winner The Black Cherry Bombshells in his latest podcast at ComicMix.

    Araknid Kid, by Josh Alves, provoked some passionate discussion in one of our early Zudawatch podcasts. Josh didn’t win that month, but Araknid Kid has a new home at Sugary Serials and Josh has just announced his first dead-tree edition.

    New webcomic alert! The Whore of Turfan, written by Tina Anderson, who is well known in global BL circles, and illlustrated by MTCopyright. Just one page up so far, and the next one doesn’t go up until Friday, but already it looks lush and interesting.

    Elfquest creator Wendy Pini took off in a new direction last year with her yaoi webcomic Masque of the Red Death. Pini’s version is a lush re-imagining of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic story of the same name. It got mixed reviews, but Deb Aoki finds a lot to like in her review of the first volume of the print edition.

    Derek Kirk Kim has some nice drawings up in his sketch diary. (Thanks to Jason Thompson for the link.)

    If you’re pushing around the idea of a webcomic in your head, take a look at this post on using Blogger as a webcomics host. It’s a quick, free, low-risk way to get started. (I’m a WordPress fan myself, but I can see that Blogger is better in some ways.) Also, I continue to be impressed with the short, meaty how-to articles on Webcomics.com. Stop by and take a look if you haven’t already.


    Digital Strips 151 – Zuda Watch Dec 2008

    Feeling fiesty this time around and I’m taking it out on you the listener. Well not you personally, I like you, a lot actually, I really think we should hang out more.

    Anyway, it was a good solid month for the folks over a Zuda, full of some hits, some near misses and a few would be hits, if we were a different group of reviewers.

    We’ve had some requests to break the show into tracks, but I can’t seem to find a way to do it in audacity, if any one knows a good link, shoot it my way.

    Digital Strips 151


    No Longer In Print! ~Featuring~ Angry Little Robot

    In browsing the archives of Michael Rouse-Deane’s Guest Strip Project (which is now in the midst of a December Donation-A-Thon, all proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, go give NOW!), I came across a nice little strip by Jamie Smart.

    His contribution to the project thus far marks the 100th strip of a tale that involves a cast of cops doing what they do best in comedic situations (bumbling) and is easily one of the better iterations. Observing this, I clicked on his name to see what else he does and for my efforts, I was rewarded with a cute, demented little strip called Angry Little Robot.

    Do yourself a favor and check out the shallow, abruptly-ended, NSFW archives (especially numbers 2-7, which feature timely Christmas themes), and click through to the newly minted Fumblog where Jamie promises to bring more webcomicky goodness on a (hopefully) regular basis.

    Don’t feel too sorry for the little guy, he’ll be getting nothing but coal in his stocking. (Image Copyright Jamie Smart 2008)


    Recent items of note

    Johanna Draper Carlson interviews Danielle Corsetto, creator of Girls with Slingshots, about making a living as a webcomics artist—and why she doesn’t have an RSS feed.

    Over at Comic Book Resources, Alex Dueben talks to Scott Christian Sava, one of the nicest guys in comics, about The Dreamland Chronicles, including his choice to use a 3D look and the economics of producing a comic that way (spoiler: it’s expensive).

    Comix Talk has a nice interview with Laura Innes, creator of The Dreamer, which has just made the leap from the web to print. If that’s not enough for you, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review profiles her as well.

    Comic Book Resources has all of issue #13 of Elephantmen up as a free preview, and they say it’s a great jumping-in point if you’re interested in reading the series.

    Longtime manga editor Jake Forbes, who is now working on the Return to Labyrinth series, takes a look at an interactive webcomic, MS Paint Adventures and finds a lot to love about Jason Shiga’s work as well.

    Glenn Carter reviews the print version of Kevin Colden’s Fishtown at Comics Village, and Dave Ferraro takes a look at the print version of The Dreamer at Comics-and-More.