Least I Could Do: Beginnings First Book Is Available ~AND~ Supplies Are Limited… And Adorable

At approximately midnight last night, Ryan Sohmer, writer of the popular mantastic strip, Least I Could Do, announced that the first collection of the new, more kid-friendly version of Rayne’s adventures in adolescence is available for pre-order. The Calvin and Hobbes-esque tales of protagonist Rayne as a struggling youth are a joy to behold, both because of Rayne’s cute and cuddly innocence (still somewhat intact in his early days) and artist Lar DeSouza’s lighter, painterly style (evidenced after the jump).

The collection contains the first 30 strips and is an oversized format to accomodate the larger-than-usual, Sunday-style strips. The quantity is limited to 500 and could very well be nearly gone or completely wiped out by the time this hits the Interwebs, but that shouldn’t keep you from visiting the site and enjoying the strips in their native habitat.

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Review ~OF~ Unshelved Vol. 6: Frequently Asked Questions

This begins my look at various comics around the web that I discovered during this year’s NEWW (also known as Webcomics Weekend for those who may have already forgotten). First up is Unshelved, the hugely popular library humor comic from writer Gene Ambaum and artist Bill Barnes. Now given my experiences with both creators at the event, I figured their sixth volume, titled, Frequently Asked Questions, would beunshelvedvol6 full of pithy dialogue and smart moments that invoked deep thought and intriguing questions.

What I found after reading the nearly 90 pages of strips (collected from Feb. 07 to Feb. 08), followed by several editions of the Unshelved Book Club, a Sunday-running addition where the cast takes a look at the hottest books in a review/synopsis format), was an exact opposite of that expectation. The humor is dry and very accessible, featuring common punchlines and simple storylines that don’t bother with weaving in and out of continuity in lieu of uncomplicated setups and characters that forgo development and depth for simplicity and accessability.

First, I found this difference to be off-putting. After meeting both men, especially the ukelele-strumming, biting-comment-throwing Mr. Barnes, I was not ready for a strip that was rudimentarily drawn and simplistically written. As I picked up the book, however, he informed me that all volumes should be instantly accessible due to simple storylines and shallow, if not fun, characters. The more I thought about my underwhelmed reaction, the more the premise started to really shine through for me.

Unshelved is a librarian’s strip made for librarians to enjoy and share. Bill and Gene regularly attend library conventions (rousing shin-digs that THOSE must be) and do incredible business with that crowd. You have to figure that they, being greater in number than the typical webcomics fans, are the target audience for the strip and probably don’t care as much about plot, character development, or continuity. This is not to dumb down the readers of Unshelved, it just shows that the creators know their audience and plan accordingly.


Buddy the Book Beaver: easily one of the creepiest webcomics characters EVER

With all that said, Unshelved follows a regular cast as they bumble their way through running a library. There’s main lead, Dewey, who usually fuels the humorous situations with unnecessary comments; branch manager Mel, who does her best to keep things level-headed but occasionally slips into the innanity around the workplace;  Tamara, who exists somewhere in-betweeen productivity and Dewey’s world of do-as-little-as-possible; Colleen, who always seems to have a cause or policy to support/invoke; and Buddy the Book Beaver, a reading-is-fun mascot who exists merely to creep everyone out. Everyone plays their parts well and pop in simply to spout lines based on their occupation/purpose and move on. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s quick, perfectly suited for the audience and the  gag-a-day format the comic follows.

Ultimately, I see that I went into Unshelved with the wrong mindset. I expected to find something deep and thought-provoking and instead found a casual strip made by two guys are deep and thought-provoking and thus know how to work their skills to produce the most entertaining and effective product for their audience. These days, it really all seems to boil down to finding your audience and efficiently catering to them. If that’s a criteria for success, then both Barnes and Ambaum have it down to an art form.


The last, and most decisive, strip of the Unshelved vs. Sheldon steel cage match

If you’re looking for either a quality gag-a-day to add to your RSS feeds or a good strip collection to add to your library, Unshelved does a great job of making a mundane occupation entertaining and Vol. 6 includes a recap of the contextual war the Unshelved guys waged with Dave Kellett’s Sheldon , The Great Plastic Coffee Cup Lid Comic Strip Challenge (narrated by head Fleener, Gary Tyrrell) as well as the engaging, informative, and humorous Book Club shorts that might just introduce you to a writer or genre you haven’t given a chance yet. And on top of everything else, if these guys can get you to try a book you otherwise would have passed up, I’d say they’re doing both webcomics and librarians proud.


Web Comic-Book Round Up ~WITH~ Brinkerhoff: Pocket Full of Brink, Vol. 2

It’s time to spend another volume’s worth of sharp, biting, voracious comedy with Brinkerhoff and the entire gang!  Brinkerhoff: Pocket Full of Brink: Vol. 2 is now available for purchase at Lulu.com.

This is the best way to get in on the funny if you still haven’t checked out the hilarious antics of Brink, Karen, Hank, Brink’s mom… Mom, Mark, and many others that I’m sure will be updated on the cast page soon!  And even if you have, who doesn’t like owning things they’ve read online?  The sense of entitlement is worth the purchase price alone!

Here’s a few words from Brink creator, Gabe Strine, about the second collection:

Watch as Brinkerhoff faces speed dating, coping with the death of a coworker, losing out on love to the messiah, and more in a conveniently-sized collection of caliginous comedy.

And here’s even more!

Is workplace harassment, a bar fight, jail time, and divorce enough to keep a good rabbit down? Apparently not, but there’s more where that came from as our boy Brinkerhoff continues to try to get his life back on track. This collection features comics #101-200 of the comic strip originally published at www.brinkcomic.com.

Go own one today!


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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Under Review With Midnight ~FEATURING~ Looking For Group Vol. 1

More and more creators are learning that it’s easy as cake to take their webcomics and get them printed. Even if an established printing house won’t pick up a collected work, there are options via Lulu and other print-on-demand services that ensure your ego, large and shadow-inducing as it is, can be seen by as many eyes as you can shove it under.

And so, with that in mind, I bring you Under Review, my weekly (and in some/most cases, bi-, tri-, and quadra-weekly) review space for the latest in webcomics print volumes. I inaugurate this new column with the first volume of Looking For Group, the fantasy-adventure webcomic, written by Ryan Sohmer and drawn by Lar DeSouza.

Under Review logo

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Let’s Watch Other People Talk About Things ~THE~ Long-Form Digital Comics Discussion Edition

And boy, have a LOT of people already talked about this one!

After writing the previous post about the Eisner’s and whether or not Digital Comics includes Webcomics (it doesn’t), I did some backtracking and found several recent discussions and mentions about the long-form comics on the Web and whether or not they can be successful.

Seems everyone agreed that some degree of success can be achieved online and have moved on to specific venues in which that success can be found.

First up, I’ll give the floor to the Panel and Pixel forums, where this whole things started. Forum member Steve Horton kicks things off:

Panel and Pixel logo

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DS 131: Review of North World

It’s that time of the week again folks. Time to sit down with that special some one you love and listen to me and Jason argue about who’s cooler while Brigid rolls her eyes so hard you can hear it. In this week’s episode, we take on North World by Lars Brown.

North World is a strange strip, even though we all had at least one or more solid complaints, we all agree that the end product is a greater comic than the sum of it’s parts. If you love magic epics with classic themes of heroism and loyalty, coming of age tales where the protagonist must return home to face growing up or comic with swords in them, than North World is worth checking out.

After last week’s Zuda watch, our attention spans seem to be waning, and we had a hard time focusing. After 10 whole minutes on Northworld, the show breaks down into a discussion of what really makes a comic on the Web and Web comic. Different schools of thought rear their heads and we have to agree to disagree. At least until we have more time to really yell at each other.

In other news, anyone who noticed the high pitch whining in last weeks show will be happy to know that it’s mostly gone. If you never noticed it before than please, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.


Celebrating The First Year of Digital Strips

If Family Feud were to round up all the webcomic artists and ask them what they’re top 10 wishes were getting their comic in print form would easily be on the list. Thus we are ecstatic to announce the long time awaited news of DS being released through IndyPlanet. You can now take your favorite podcast comic with you wherever that may be.

The news doesn’t stop there. Good old Zampzon went around talking with some of the local comic book shops around Dallas and today closed a deal with Titan Comics to put both his Bramble Vine Comics and Digital Strips: Year One on their shelves. Now I understand how excited everyone gets when they actually have their comics for sale at a comic book shop.


The Kid’s Book Project ~IS~ Coming Soon

That’s right, the little book that could, The Kid’s Book Project, is coming soon and you still need to get your pre-order in! The talent list is an amazing one, truly making this a once-in-a-lifetime event. In the sixty pages of this charitable cause, you’ll find work from:

Ryan Estrada
Brandon J. Carr
Mitch Clem
Danielle Corsetto (more after the jump)

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