Digital Strips 184 – Review Boxcar Astronaut

One of these days I’m going to learn that this site is on Eastern time, so when I post after 10, I’m posting in the future or from the past depending on how you look at it.

Speaking of the future, that’s when we’ll all be flying around in space, like astronauts. Speaking of the past, that’s when none of had xBox 360s and had to use our imaginations to keep from going crazy and killing everyone around us. Just like astronauts.

The past and future combine in Boxcar Astronaut. A super kid friendly, gag-a-day strip by Jeff Carter and Marc Lapeirre.  We tqlk about the strip, what it means to review something that has finished it’s run, how important blog posts are to a comic and how cool robots are. It’s a good show, you should check it out.

Show Notes:

Imagine This
Captain Excelsior
Wes Molebash
Penny Arcade
Charles Christopher


Four more years! Four more years!

I just got done editing the show that will go up tomorrow, a review of “Boxcar Astronaut.” At the start of the show I made a comment about how it’s very rare that we – as Web comic reviewers – get to look at a completed comic as a whole instead of as a work in progress. That tends to be the nature of the beast with comics in general but especially when dealing with the Web variety that we love so much.

Generally, but not always.

Realm of Atland posted the final strip of Season One yesterday. No small feat considering this comic has updated almost every week for the past four years and change. This means that as of right now, the whole of the comic is one story arc: one long, epic, self-referential, beautiful story arc. I love it when this happens. When someone can start something so big, so long ago and see it through taking us along for the ride. It’s a beautiful thing.

This milestone has given me a chance to think about why completed stories as so special. They mean for once, we’re seeing the story as the creator sees it, fully realized. Plus, there’s the facts that we get some closure, loose ends get tied up and the whole story is laid before the reader.

Daku and Zampson reviewed this strip way back on Episode 70. I’m going to take some time this weekend to listen to what the old guys had to say then and reread the whole archive see how the strip compares now.

As I’ve started typing up show notes for each episode I’ve noticed that we mention RiceBoy a lot. Something I did not foresee when I first discovered “This poorly drawn comic that won’t get to the point.” But the whole was more that the sum of it’s parts, the comic was greater than the some of it’s pages. And as I read, Riceboy went from Internet oddity to Internet classic.

Realm of Atland is a lot the same. Each page is great. It’s amazingly drawn, well laid out and expertly written. But it’s when you take these pages, all 268 of them and put them in chronological order that you get an experience that will make you laugh often, tear up occasionally and more often then you’d like admit, get a little bit of a boner.

The great thing is, while this epic story-telling endeavor has come to a close, more is yet to come. On March 11th after a short hiatus the Realm of Atland will return with Season Two which means I should have something to read for the next four years.

As much as I’m looking forward to the new chapter, I’d be OK if it never came. Piekos has left Barry and crew at a very satisfying juncture, and if they have to live there in my mind for the rest of my life, it would be fine by me. Much better than if they were forever mid fight-scene after the comic faded.

That being said, there had better be an Season Two as planned and it better be awesome.

So if you’ve never heard of Realm of Atland, go check it out. If you have heard of it, but never got around to reading it, this intermission is a great time to go and catch up. If you’ve been to the site but wrote it off as “generic fantasy crap” or “gratuitous big-boobed trite” go check it out again. It’s so rare that someone in Web comics actually reaches their goal like this and we should celebrate it when it happens.

Especially when it happens with so much style.


You Need To Go Now ~AND~ Read Axecop (UPDATED)

This one comes late in the day, straight from the Twitters (via Lucas Turnbloom, creator of Imagine This and the latest participant in the Digital Strips Adventures experiment) and it will make your day, no doubt about it.

Reading like an Adult Swim bit, Axecop purports to be written by 5-year-old Malachai Nicolle and his brother, 29-year-old Ethan Nicolle. The story behind the strip is strange and fascinating enough, but it’s when you actually get to the “story” that the true magic begins.

Try, just try to imagine the kind of things a child would conjure up to be drawn by a very capable comic artist, and then multiply that by at least a hundred. Seriously, this is just stupid, madcap, beautiful, zany, insane stuff and you would be an idiot for not checking it out ASAP. And if that weren’t enough, it also offers up a slick website that features a Flash comic reader unlike any I’ve ever seen. Go scan through a strip or two and tweet it to the mountaintops, like every other creator on Twitter has been doing all day.

UPDATE: And… this comic has officially blown up. Entertainment Weekly decided to make Axecop their Site of the Day and BAM! The site is suspended. Of course, I like to think that my scoop here contributed to this monumental overflow of bandwidth, but regardless, Axecop ain’t goin’ away any time soon! And when the site comes back up, you can find that out for yourself as well.


Shi Long Pang ~EARNS~ Xeric Grant

Sure, I had no idea what a Xeric Grant did when I scoped this post over at Brigid’s Paperless Comics blog (the best Digital Strips alternative you’re not reading), so I checked out their About Us section. Looks like this foundation grants assistance to dedicated self-publishing comickers and if that title applies to any comic, Shi Long Pang is it.

When we took a quick look at this comic by Ben Costa, the DS staff was unanimously blown away by both the material and the lush, expressive artwork. Hopefully, this grant means more people will see Ben’s work as it truly a wonder to behold.

Our sincerest congratulations to Ben for his win, this is certainly a great thing to happen to a great comic.

Congratulations Are In Order (Paperless Comics, Brigid Alverson)


January Zuda Competition Now Down To Nine ~AS~ The Thunderchickens Bows Out

For the first time since the whole, grand experiment began, the ten contestant pool of Zuda competitors has been slimmed down to nine. For reasons that are still unknown, the number one strip as of this morning, The Thunderchickens, has removed itself from consideration. The official word from Zuda blogger and Vice President of Creative Services for DC Comics, Ron Perazza, explained the disappearance while leaving the details shrouded in secrecy:

Last night The Thunderchickens resigned the competition. I won’t go into the specifics behind the resignation other than to say that its a decision that Chad, 3iLL and the staff here mutually agreed was the best course of action given recent events.

The comment thread that follows this post is full of speculation and curiosity, but it seems no one is spilling the beans as to why The Thunderchickens suddenly dropped out of the competition. One thing is for sure, though: Zuda has lost a spectacular comic, as The Thunderchickens stood to win the whole thing when the contest closes out next Friday. The rankings have been shaken up even more since the departure of the former #1 contestant, so go check it out and let your voice be heard!


Digital Strips 183 – Review Kukuburi

Don’t tell my wife or son, but one of my favorite things has always been to imagine that my current life isn’t really a thing and lose myself in a fantasy world. While I enjoy retreating into the old classics, I can only pretend to be Captain Pichard so many times.

That’s why I love it when a comic (or movie/book/game, but this is Digital Strips) creates a world that I’ve never been to before. Something truly unique for this weary, whimsical-world wanderer. Kukuburi by Ramon Perez creates just such a world.

Listen in to see if this new playground can hold water and if this comic can live up to the standards set by so many great ones that have gone before (many of which we mention in the show at least once).

Once again I’m posting from work so I’ll fill in the links for the show notes up later along with updating the itunes/RSS feed. Here are the names of the comics mentioned just to tide you early birds over.

Oregon Trail
Odell Lake
Ryan Estrada
The Kind you Don’t take home to Mother
The donation place
Uwe Boll
Transmission X
Butternut Squash
Abominable Charles Christopher
Sin Titulo
Panda Xpress
Rice Boy
Dresden Codak
Dreamland Chronicles
Phantom Sword
Realm of Atland
Looking for Group
Mirror’s Edge
Finder’s Keepers

I’ll try to figure out getting url’s into the itunes feed tomorrow, I’m sure it’s easy, but nothing’s easy when you’re running on seven hours of sleep over two days.


The Washington Post Runs Webcomic Poll ~THAT~ You May Or May Not Care About

It’s become fairly commonplace for big news outlets to talk about webcomics like they know what’s up. It’s become even more usual for these same outlets to miss the point completely, talking up strips instead of those that were birthed and cared for on the web.

Not so for The Washington Post. Their comics blog, Comic Riffs, put together by Michael Cavna, recently put out the call for the best webcomics of the last decade and receieved a bevy of great comics to load into a poll for the readers to vote on. Though it’s impossible to hit every note for every fan, they do an admirable job filling things in, with everything from Girls With Slingshots to xkcd, not leaving out Hark! A Vagrant or Wondermark! (a runner-up, but hey, a mention is a mention), and including Sinfest and Schlock Mercenary.

It reads like a who’s who or the big names in the industry, so peruse the list if you need to fill out your RSS feed and don’t forget to vote! The winner gets the handsome prize of having something nice to print on the back of their next book.


Ryan Estrada Needs ~YOUR~ Help To Make His Movie Project Happen

I am privy to secret information. There is an awesome reason to donate what you can to Ryan Estrada’s movie project based on his Zuda entry, The Kind You Don’t Take Home To Mother. I can’t say what, and I can’t say who it involves, but it does involve getting a couple of awesome names to play characters in the film and it can only be done with your generous donations.

Go to the TKYDTHOM donation page, give what you can (Kickstarter-style, so you even get something for your contribution) and make this dream come true!


Digital Strips 182 – Horizons Watch Loldwell and My Milk Toof

It’s the beginning of a brand new day, and brand new weekend and still – philosophically – a brand new year and what better way to celebrate than with two brand new – to you – strips?

This month on Horizons Watch we do another spectrum spanner. Jason’s pick was Loldwell by H Caldwell Tanner, a comic so Web comicy that I think I’ll used it as an example for now one. It’s full of gags, puns and Internet humor and makes no apologies for any of it.

On the other side, my pick My Milk Toof by Inhae is something I’ve never seen before. A photo comic fully of whimsy and spunk starring two tiny teeth. There’s no where else you can find something like this, which I guess makes it really Web comicy in its own way.

Please, check out the strips, let us know what you think. And let them know you found them through our show. That’ll really surprise them.

Show Notes:
Evan Dahm
Rice Boy
Gun Show
Hark a Vagrant
Chain Saw Suit
Johnny Wander
Delilah and the Basilisk
1/11 Penny Arcade
Ugly Hill
No Invented Here
Perry Bible Fellowship
Pilgrims are Noobs
Internet Bible
Sept 22 string theory
Dec 18 Crop Circles
Dec 10 The Buckley Clause
The Christmas Strip
Dawn of Time
Silent Kimbley
Kawaii Not
Twist Kaijuu Theater
Irregular Web Comics
The Lair of the Dreaded Atrox
Pavlov’s Dream
Scooter and Ferret


Ryan Estrada Planning Movie Based ~ON~ His Hit Zuda Entry

Ok, to be a hit, it probably would have to win the monthly contest, but come on! This sweet, charming, funny comic should have won that month, no question. Regardless, Estrada has decided to do what he usually does and just turn it into something amazing on his own.

Feel the tension!

Already in the works, The Kind You Don’t Take Home to Mother: The Motion Picture will be a 90-minute full-length animated tale spun out of the 8-page Zuda entry (found here or here, if you prefer the Flashed up, Zuda site version). The look will be both familiar and different, as the Estrada-produced cartoons will be laid over real-life backgrounds, shot in downtown Royal Oaks, Michigan.

All three of our ZudaWatchers (one former) agreed unanimously that this concept needed to continue in some form, so kudos to Estrada and the team he’s assembling to make this thing happen!