Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gilbert and the Grim Rabbit (6 Pints)

Gilbert and the Grim Rabbit
by Wendy W

Fuck, shit, cocksucker, motherfucking Barbara Streisand!

I feel better, now.

After reading Gilbert and the Grim Rabbit, I felt the uncontrollable, Tourettes-like need to say a bunch of offensive words and stare at porn while slathering myself in bloody, raw meat and smoking cigarettes rolled in dried, dead baby skin. It was that fucking cute. It may have actually raised my purity score and I'm almost certain I'm a diabetic, now.

Wendy's art isn't exactly polished, or even terribly consistent, at times, but it's more colorful than a Gay Pride Parade and more adorable than a baby kitten. You want to hug it. You want to buy plushies modeled from it. It is, quite simply, almost too cute to be allowed to exist. But thankfully, it does.

The writing is also fairly hit and miss, with a few pages that are close to genius and other pages that seem almost pointless other than the cuteness factor. I think Wendy can be a good writer, if she keeps working at it and focuses more, but it feels like sometimes she's just phoning it in. When the writing can match the charm of the art and characters, she will truly have a winner on her hands.

To be honest, I've laughed more and laughed harder at comics I've rated far worse, but what those comics lack that this comic has in spades is charm. It jumps off the screen and demands that you love it, and you find yourself powerless to resist. It's original, it's adorable and it's unapologetic in its existence. Even a jaded, snarky cynic like myself is unable to resist it.

The Borg have nothing on Gilbert and the Grim Rabbit.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Abandon: First Vampire (3 Pints)

Abandon: First Vampire
Wriiten by Greg Carter
Drawn by Elliot Dombo

Abandon has a decent following, so nothing I say is really going to hurt it - or help it. That makes it kind of like a sacred cow, untouchable. But just as McDonalds opened restaurants in India and is now serving up God on a bun, a McDeity with Cheese, if you will, I am not above taking shots at sacred cows, either. So allow me now to take a bite out of Abandon's soft, romantic, lesbian-happy flesh.

The story is basically about a vampire - the first vampire, no less, cursed for all of time to be immortal and remember her One True Love(TM), who is cursed to be reborn forever and never remember her.

And many emo boys wept.

Said vampire is, as all hot female vampires should be, a total slut and jumps in bed with a human girl before we are even ten pages in. A human girl that has a human girlfriend that hates said vampire. Which she just fucked. And then she lies to her girlfriend and fucks her while said girlfriend's brother goes missing with said vampire, who both want to fuck each other, and said brother may just be the aforementioned long lost love cursed to reincarnation for all of time, yeah verily.

If that was disjointed or confusing to read, so was the back history provided that is supposed to explain the whole universe and the gods.

The dialogue is so-so, with moments of cringe-worthy lines, like when the ancient slutty vampire chick calls someone a doofus. Shit, I haven't said doofus since Lost Boys came out. There are occasional clever bits of writing, mostly involving segues between scenes, like a line about landing on his feet followed by the brother tumbling to the ground, but these are easy to forget amidst all the emo romance, gratuitous lesbian action (never actually shown, mind you) and head loppings. And seriously, if the writer has a hard-on for lesbians - we've seen all of five female characters, and four are at least bisexual - why play coy with the hot lesbian sex? We're not quite two issues in and there have been two completely gratuitous and unnecessary sex scenes minus the sex. Why waste pages with them if there's no real story point and you're not going to show the rug munchers actually munching rugs? Fan service? Please, you don't need post-coital scenes to give panty shots or show girls in bras. I'm actually one of those rare males not into girl-on-girl action, but even I think the comic is a cock tease. Put out or stick to the emo romance and head loppings. I'm supposed to believe some chick, worried about her missing brother after disappearing with the vampire she despises, is going to go, 'Hey! Before we go look for my brother, I wanna eat some pussy! OMNOMNOMNOM!'


As for the art, it's pretty hit and miss. Close-ups work best, but when characters are seen from a distance or in full-body, they suddenly become Hobbits and their proportions go all out of whack. Also, profiles: please learn to draw them. Thank you.

I can't tell if this comic is trying to take itself seriously or not. If not, then go balls out. Let it rip. If it is trying to be serious and tell a moving, interesting story... As I've said before, good luck with that.

It has an audience, though. Any comic with sexy slutty vampire lesbian sex and heads flying all over will. It's kind of like the yaoi genre - there's an audience for it. That doesn't mean every single title is actually good.

67th Avenue (3 Pints)

67th Avenue
by Jamie Sawatsky

They often say Seinfeld was the longest running TV show about nothing. If that's true, then 67th Avenue is the Seinfeld of webcomics.

But only in that respect.

As far as I can tell from the archives - and this comic goes back years - it's basically the ongoing story of a character named Jamie and his daily struggles and exploits. But the comic rarely has much of a story, or at least much beyond a simple thread of a story. This can work in gag-a-day comics, where jokes trump story, but the problem is that 67th Avenue can't seem to decide if it's a story comic or a gag-a-day comic, and as a result it does neither very well. There are often several strips in a row with little to no gag or joke, yet they don't exactly move the plot in any interesting way, either. Take the current arc - the Aqua Ranch Kit.

Jamie sees an ad in the back of a comic book for one of those sea-monkey deals, and decides that he has to have one. Problem is, he has no money. We're 5 strips in - that's 5 updates, or basically a month's worth of strips - and the only thing that's happened is that Jamie opened his piggy bank for money. The strip where he breaks said piggy bank is done in a funny manner, but really - 1 in every 5 strips is not a good number. The rest are filler.

Before this arc, there was an arc that lasted 35 strips - a year's worth of time. It's basically the same thing, but on a far more staggering scale. An entire year of mostly pointless mediocrity with a few funny moments mixed in.

A fucking year!

It could have been epic. It could have been a highlight of the strip's history. Instead, it's just more of the same.

The art is decent when it involves characters, but too often backgrounds and action get muddled up, making it hard to follow at times. Jamie does show a serious amount of growth over the years, but background problems still nag at the strip. Even fantastic art, however, couldn't change the fact that the writing needs tons of work. Jamie seems to be having fun, which is great if that's all that matters. If you have fun creating something, that alone is reason enough to do it. But Jamie is asking for a review, an outsider's opinion, and outsiders aren't impressed by self-indulgence and don't care if the creator is having fun. They want to have fun.

Basically, it's my belief that a gag-a-day comic needs to be relentlessly funny - which is one reason I don't like most of them, as few can pull this off. A story comic needs to be interesting and compelling, otherwise the reader won't care enough to come back. 67th Avenue is, alas, rarely funny or interesting, and hardly ever both at once. This comic really needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monster Lover (0 Pints)

Monster Lover
by Eric Flores

In my few, limited interactions with Eric, he seems like an okay guy. Which makes me feel a bit bad about the fact that I'm about to spank him like a middle-aged fat man streaming Japanese schoolgirl bukkake at 3AM on a work night. But just as Jesus lets kittens die and babies drown because he has to, some things simply must be done.

Monster Lover isn't so much a comic as it is wank-fulfillment. Like all the leading men in his comics, Adam has a massive cock. We're talking torso-length, Freaks of Cock (no, I'm not linking to them, Google if you're wanting to lose sanity points) shit, here. And of course, all the chicks want it. He can't help it - he's a sex God. Life is hard, sometimes. Adam's hard all the time, like Chinese arithmetic. Oh, and there's some arbitrary story about him training monsters to fight monsters, but it mostly serves as an excuse to rescue new creatures and girls for Adam to fuck. That is, afterall, the real point of the comic: four-breasted cat sex and female minotaur milking. I'm not fucking kidding. He milks her every morning in the most personal of ways.

Adam is everything a guy wants to be - manly, hung like a sperm whale and deadly with a weapon. Women - of the human and non-human varieties - are all easy, sex-crazed sluts just waiting to get naked and see what it feels like to be fucked by a telephone pole. Every. Single. Fucking. One. Of. Them. Dude, when the guy who has a webcomic depicting young, scantily clad college girls with melon-shaped breasts running around getting slaughtered by crazy serial killers says your depiction of women just might be misogynistic? There might be a problem.

The art - the only thing that can save a comic like this, if you're doing porn comics (which is fine, if you do it well) the art needs to at least be sexy - is something I'd expect to see on a pro-life protester's sign. In clearer terms, it's an abortion. Not only is it not sexy, it's downright frightening sometimes. When characters are talking, we get to see molars and shit. Are they talking or trying to swallow my head? It's almost enough to give me nightmares. He seems to have some grasp on anatomy and proportion, but his lines are messy, his colors are ugly, his shading is haphazard and he doesn't bother to clean any of it up. There are spots, blurs and smudges on many pages that he could at least touch up in post-production. But he doesn't.

By all statistics, he should be great at drawing by now. The law of averages suggests that the more you draw, the better you get, and this guy is fucking prolific in the number of pages he churns out. And yet, there is little improvement. It's an impressive feat.

Look, there's nothing wrong with porn. The internets wouldn't exist without it. There's also nothing wrong with porn webcomics. There is, however, something wrong with bad porn webcomics, and bad webcomics of any kind. And this may be one of the biggest examples of why.

Now excuse my while I go wash my eyes out with bleach.

How Sweet It Is (8 Pints)

How Sweet It Is
by Scott A. Jenkins

Not to beat a dead horse, but have I mentioned that I hate gag-a-day comedy webcomics? I do. I hate them with the power of a thousand burning suns. Why? Because they are - usually - unoriginal, poorly written and lame. Everything under the sun has been done, before. There is no such thing as a completely original gag-strip, and yet with all the vast power and freedom of the internets, so many people seem determined to make their own version of bland, stale drek rather than something different and challenging. All you can really do is try to write better and think more uniquely than the thousands of others doing what you do.

How Sweet It Is does just that.

Yes, it is the very type of comic I profess to loathe, but Scott at least does something slightly different with it - he makes it about married life. He doesn't feel the need to mug for the reader, doesn't throw outrageous situations at his characters. Scott understands that the best humor flows naturally from daily life and sticks to that principle. Based loosely on his own marriage - I'm assuming - he fills his strip with the real, everyday problems and situations married couples are familiar with, told from the perspective of a slightly clueless, slightly insecure husband with a long-suffering but devoted wife. He's the lovable loser, the everyman that, despite his faults, you can't help but root for.

The art is on a professional level - this could easily be published in today's newspapers. His characters are consistent, his backgrounds clean, and nothing is every visually confusing. I admit that it disappoints me when he has several panels in a row with the exact same art, just new dialogue, as it seems lazy. When you're doing a webcomic strip once a week, how hard is it to change angles, at least? To be fair, this problem is practically a staple of the medium, so he's hardly alone in this, but with so much attention paid to the writing I feel cheated on the art every now and then.

Scott has made me regain a bit of faith in webcomics, and for that I am grateful. If you're looking for a witty take on marriage and life in general, you can do much worse than How Sweet It Is.

Apple of Discord (9 Pints)

Apple of Discord
by Adam Smithee




What is Discord?

I always wanted to be Tom Baker. Anyway, Apple of Discord is a lot like Little Britain, the BBC comedy that Tom Baker - the best Dr. Who ever - narrates. The show has no real point, continuity or direction, it
's just a bunch of short scenes about a cast of recurring characters, mostly unrelated or connected. Little 3-5 minute slices of sublime, surreal silliness, really. Just like this webcomic.

Like all things done in this vein, it has its hits and its misses, but where SNL, Mad TV and the like are often more misses than hits, few of AoD's bits miss the mark. Whether it's the archer and knight slaying webcomic cliches, the irredeemable Horn or even the neon pink Gayzilla, the mind behind the comics is almost always on top of his game, with references from Star Trek to Weird Al to Rocky Horror Picture Show. You may not get all the jokes, but I defy you to not get any of them. What's best is that the humor seems so random and yet is so perfectly placed and timed, it's clear that there really is a method to this madness.

The art is all over the place in terms of style - some strips parody other comics and do a damn fine job of incorporating those others' styles into its own. I wouldn't go so far as to say the art is great as it really isn't trying to be, but it always fits the strip at hand. The given page's theme trumps continuity or consistency in art.

Basically, I hate most comedy strips, especially gag-a-day wannabe Sunday Funnies. They're overdone, cliche and generally unfunny. Smithee seems to agree with me, and has made a fucking hysterical gem of a comic taking the piss out of them. If VG Cats and Penny Arcade are your kind of comic, AoD is out to make you cry.

Cry, little Emo boy. Sweat out those tears.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

E and Mu (1 Pint)

E and Mu
by Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall

Jack Handy's Deep Thoughts amused me.

I had coffee for breakfast.

I like coffee.

This webcomic?

Not so much.

Ahem. So, yeah, E and Mu reads like Jack Handy's Deep Thoughts if Jack had been bored and existential instead of witty and funny. Each comic is a one-panel non sequitur about... well, I'm honestly not sure what. The About page - which has black text on a black background, I had to drag and select it just to read it - explains that it's basically the inner thoughts of the creator's mind. That's nice, but without the context of who the creator is and what the hell he's talking about, it makes precious little sense. Much of the time, I felt like a kid on Southpark, watching the adults do random, pointless shit and going, ...'kay. A few of the pages had a bit of humor or insight to them, but most just seemed pointless.

To me, at least.

To the creator, I'm sure there is plenty of point and meaning, but again, without any context I 'll never know. It was basically like reading a fortune-cookie script, spiting out random phrases that are supposed to sound wise and deep, but instead just make you shrug. In fact, I amused myself by adding 'in bed' to the end of each, just for shits and giggles, and was not at all surprised that it worked as well as it does on fortune cookies.

That's not a good thing.

Comics like this are insular in the extreme - the reader, given no direction, context or background, is left to marvel at the deep, philosophical mind of the creator, when instead they usually just go elsewhere. If one is writing only for themself, it's not a webcomic. It's a diary. In this case, a diary with art as vague and unformed as the writing. Maybe that's what the creator wants and is in fact going for.

If so, good luck with that.

Friday, September 26, 2008

sIRC (4 Pints)

by Killersteak

I look at people who still use IRC like Chris Rock looks at women that don't give head.

'They still make you?'

It's like beta-max, really. Or for you kids too young to know what that is, it's like Brittany Spears' music - it never really was that good, but you accepted that it was all you had. The moment something better came along, you jumped.

Anyway, that's my view on IRC. My view on sIRC is a bit better, but again, compared to what? The art is serviceable, the site is easy to navigate, and the occasional bit can be funny - the guy fapping in the background for 4 or so straight strips was a nice touch - but this is, at its core, a comic written for a very select group of people about as common today as 568 modems. It's all one big series of in-jokes about things no one has even dealt with, let alone cared about since 1998. It would be akin to making a webcomic about dial-up bbs users.

If this review seems short, it's because there really isn't a lot to say about sIRC. Those who actually know what IRC is will find it funny, at times. Those who have no clue what IRC is will stare blankly. As niche comics go, it's okay, I guess. Just be a part of that niche.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mere Mortal (7 Pints)

Mere Mortal
Written by Marty Nozzarella
Art by Chris Johnson

Mere Mortal is the heroic story of a man with two first names and zero superpowers, Joe Marcus. In a futuristic Earth, where everyone has at least a little bit of power, Joe was born to a couple of Level Ten Powered heroes and yet has no powers at all. He is an aspiring cook forced to ply his trade at a strip club because powered cooks get all the advantages and perks, and lives in a run-down apartment with his childhood best friend who is now a cop. Life gets interesting for Joe when a villain team with a history tied to him breaks free and looks for payback. Will they kill him? Will he run and hide? Will he get into cooking school? These are the questions Joe faces.

The writing is pretty damn clever, with solid dialogue and a good, steady pace. Things get unraveled a bit awkwardly at first as Marty tries hard not to hit us with tons of exposition, and suffers a bit as a result. In the early stages, not enough is explained to make everything clear, but in time the pieces come together. These early bumps in the road get smoothed out and the story moves along at a better rhythm for it. The characters each have unique personalities and voices - something lacking in many webcomics - and generally stay true to character as well.

The art is stylized - not at all what you might expect for a hero comic - but fits this twisted take on the genre. The switch from color to black and white does nothing to harm it, and in fact gives it a more gritty, indie look and feel. Expression are solid, backgrounds are detailed, and basically it looks good enough to print. I've seen far worse from publishers like Image, believe me.

There are a few things holding it back, though, and one of them is crucial: fight scenes.

To be blunt, the action sequences read like stereo instructions. Each panel cuts angles - and often pairings, in group fights - completely fucking up any sense of continuity and flow. I don't know if it's Marty trying too hard to be flashy in his scripting of these scenes, or Chris is trying too hard to make it all seem like it's happening at once, but every single fight scene confuses the hell out of me, visually. Did Joe run through the guy at the club? Can someone draw a diagram for the fight scene in Joe's appartment? I had to read them several times, and I still couldn't tell you exactly what happens. It's all a big mess.

My other complaint is if you're going to have characters that are strippers, and actually draw them wearing skimpy clothing, they need to be, you know, sexy. The women can look a bit manly in the faces at times, and they all have the same exact body, and it isn't a very appealing one. I've never seen so many strippers with the exact same rack size and that rack size happens to be a modest B-cup at best. Chris draws men of many builds, sizes and ethnicities, but the women all look fairly alike. I'm not bemoaning the lack of bodacious tatas (I get plenty in my own comic, thanks!) but if you make a point of having strippers in your comic, at least one of them should look like something other than a runway model looking starved and malnourished. Especially when their best friend is an aspiring cook. I know strippers often do speed, but these girls must be tweaking their tits off to be this skinny after he feeds them all the time.

So yeah. The big thing hindering Mere Mortal is the plotting of the fight scenes. I asked myself early on why this comic isn't being published, and then I saw the first fight and figured out why. With work, it could be, though. Seriously. The premise is unique and the writing and art are pretty solid in most other respects. That's more than a lot of comics can say.

Review: Marooned (6 Pints)

by Tom Dell'Aringa

Stop me if you've heard this one, before...

A webcomic walks into a bar, and the bartender asks it what it wants. It says it wants a Comedic Sci-Fi. The bartender asks it how to make a Comedic Sci-Fi, and it answers:

"I don't know, all I have is an interesting storyline."

Not a funny joke, I admit. The jokes on Marooned are sometimes funnier, sometimes not. To be fair, some of them are actually very funny, but far too many of them are the same, lame elbow-slappers you see all the time in webcomics. Take 'Dome Sweet Dome'.

No, really. Please.

And this frustrates me, because Tom writes some great dialogue and excellent plot twists. It's like he planned a gag-a-day comedy and a compelling story showed up, instead. Tom even seems self-conscious about his excellent writing skills when it comes to character and story. His latest update as of this review apologizes - apologizes! - for being long and unfunny but deeply involving. What a heartless bastard! Making me care when I could be laughing at the latest retread of a half-century old Sunday Funny gag! It's not like lame gags can just be found in webcomics everywhere! What was he thinking?!

Seriously. The comic works best when he lets the jokes evolve out of the situation in the form of witty dialogue or brutal honesty, rather than planning a joke and writing around it. He's funny when ASIMOV is taking the piss out of the Captain, and he's funny when the aliens make unintentionally funny comments. It works. But the rest of the time, he's just trying too hard to mug for the camera, so to speak, and it's a shame, because he seems to think if he isn't funny every single strip, he's losing people. No, Tom, your going to lose people with predictable jokes we've all heard before. Every gag under the sun has been done, before. Let them go and play with the fascinating toolbox you've created but seem afraid to use.

This webcomic impresses the hell out of me, sometimes, and I say that as someone who generally loathes a vast majority of strip-based comedies. It has a heart and a soul, and it's actually funny when it's not trying too hard. Relax, Tom. You're good - damn good. Listen to the pragon of Sci-Fi, Yoda, and simply trust in the force. Suck, you will not if hamming it up, you don't.


The Rules Of The Game

Welcome to my webcomic reviews blog. It's set 'adult content' because my language can get pretty colorful and I will review webcomics for any age, from children to teen to adult-only. I'm sick of all these 'respectable' review sites that only review 'family friendly' webcomics. One of the reasons I think webcomics are better - in theory - than regular print comics is that anyone can do it, for free, and say anything they like. So what do we do in the face of unprecedented freedom of expression?

Clog up the internet with 'family friendly' webcomics, 'family friendly' webcomic newssites and podcasts, and 'family friendly' webcomic review sites. The same, tame, PC, spoonfed bullshit we get from Big Comics.

Fuck that noise. Fuck it in the eye.

The best art is not always created for the masses, or for casual consumption. Sometimes good art and challenging thought comes with the taboo, with the unacceptable, with the impolitic. Expression should have no boundaries save artistic integrity, and so unlike those 'family friendly' sites, I'm ready and able to accept that good webcomics can have graphic language, extreme violence and yes, even nudity and sex. I'll review it all.

So, I'll pretty much review any webcomic I get asked to, with the following guidelines:

* I WILL NOT review Sprite comics UNLESS IT IS DAMN GOOD. There are WAY too many shitty, lazy sprites out there, and not enough motivation in me to review them. If you put real effort into yours, I will review it. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.

* I DO NOT HAVE TO review every single comic that I am requested to. There isn't enough time in the day or money in the world. You requested a review? Thanks. I'll get to it if and when I can.

* Giving a damn gives you a better shot at being reviewed. I'll be honest. If your webcomic looks like a lazy attempt at art and you don't seem to take it seriously, I'm no going to waste my time. If you update randomly or seldomly, I'm not going to waste my time. If you have less than 20 pages, I'm not going to waste my time. Those comics that try hard get rewarded. If your art sucks but you write well, I'll likely review you. If you're really making an attempt to improve, I'll likely review you. Pretty reaonable, I think.

* If you want a review, email me at xxxredrighthand(at)gmail(dot)com with a link to your comic and a quick description of what it's about. Also, ADD A LINK TO THIS REVIEW SITE to your links list. Note - I WILL CHECK to see if it's there. If it is, you're one step closer to getting reviewed, but without it, I can guarantee you will not get one. I will notify you within 7 days whether or not you will get a review. If you are told you will not be getting one, feel free to take down the link. PLEASE don't argue with me or beg me if I say no. If I tell you that you ARE getting a review, please keep the link up. Once you get the review, I'd request you keep the link up, and will note that webcomics taking the link down AFTER I review them, either because they don't like my review or just don't care anymore WILL BE ADDED TO MY WALL OF WANKERS. The WOW list is a list of asshats, poor sports and whiny babies that yank the link after I do a review, and contains links to said bad reviews instead of their webcomic. Please, don't be a wanker.

* All reviews will TRY to offer constructive criticism. Try being the operative word. If I just can't find anything nice to say, I won't lie. My reviews will be honest, but they may be harsh. Request a review at your own peril.

* I WILL NOT review ANY webcomic that hasn't requested it, themselves. I'm not going to go out looking for webcomics to bash or take suggestions, folks. It's just too easy. This is why I will never apologize for my brutal honesty - YOU asked for it.

That's about it. So, request away if you think you can handle it. Don't say I never warned you.