webcomics Archives - Page 4 of 92 - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Resources are precious when you’re a webcomic creator, and nothing is more precious than time — get pulled off on anything, and there’s an almost 100 percent chance the comic’s going on hiatus. Big publishers have the luxury of bringing in fill-in writers and artists from a deep talent pool; webcomics, not so much.
Homestuck is a case study in a webcomic getting too popular. Creator Andrew Hussie ran an enormously successful Kickstarter for an adventure game version, raising a mind-boggling $2.4 million by October 2012. Work on the game began in earnest, but unfortunately, Hussie is only one person, and he wasn’t going to neglect the project that many people put their hard-earned money into. From an update on January 2014: “Since pausing, basically all I have been doing is writing. No drawing or animation yet. Writing, writing, writing. Writing for Homestuck, and writing for the adventure game. More time has been allocated to the latter. The game is a big, big project. Let’s not kid ourselves here. It’s like this whole new major story and everything, fueled by millions of dollars. That’s a very different situation from Homestuck, which is usually fueled by approximately zero dollars.”
Three Panel Soul was created by Matthew Boyd and Ian McConville, the same team behind the classic webcomic Mac Hall, which ended in 2006. It’s a natural transition, as Mac Hall was about a group of slackers getting through college, and Three Panel Soul is about the life after. The somewhat-autobiographical slice-of-life webcomic ruminates on careers in the software industry, families, and soul-crushing existential crises.
The structure follows the limits of its title: Every strip is three panels, no more, no less. Its artwork is dominated by shadows: Three Panel Soul is heavy on the inks (there are exceptions, and they’re typically spectacularly rendered and exclusive to video game gags). The use of negative space gives the webcomic a contemplative quality, reflective of the isolation of the soul. Characters sometimes seem tiny and insignificant when they’re drawn against the vast emptiness around them. It’s as if Boyd and McConville feel the suffocating grip of a life where you’re too old to change but too young to be completely obsolete.
Conventions | The Phoenix Convention Center was evacuated Thursday, the first day of Phoenix Comicon, after a fire alarm was triggered by a damaged heat sensor (something similar occurred during last year’s event). Attendees were allowed back in to the venue after about 30 minutes. The convention, which in 2013 drew a record 55,000 people (leading organizers to cap attendance), continues through Sunday. [The Arizona Republic]
Retailing | Kirby Tardy, owner of Collectors Comics in Grand Rapids, Michigan, looks back at 35 years in the business. The store opened downtown in 1979 as Opalia’s Amorphium, and started out carrying a wide range of merchandise; since then it has gone in the opposite direction from many comics shops and focuses mainly on comics themselves, not peripheral items like figures or games. At one time there were several branch locations, and Tardy and his wife Debbie spent a lot of time going to comics conventions in the 1990s. The couple is planning to retire next year, but hopes the business will continue with new owners. [MLive.com]
The nominees have been announced for the 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards, which recognize the best of the Canadian comics world. They’re named in honor of Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman.
The winners will be presented later this year, at a time and location to be announced. The nominees are:
Retailing | A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order halting the $21.4 million purchase of retail chain Hastings Entertainment by Joel Weinshanker, president and sole shareholder of Wizkids parent National Entertainment Collectibles Association. The order was granted at the request of two Hastings shareholders who sued to stop the sale, insisting the price paid for the retailer is too low; it will remain in effect until a hearing can be held on June 12. Hastings issued a statement Monday pledging to “vigorously dispute these claims.” Hastings operates a chain of 149 stores that sells books, comics, video games and more. [Amarillo Globe-News, via ICv2]
Retailing | Amazon may be charging full price for Hachette’s graphic novels as part of its continuing contract dispute with the publisher, but Barnes & Noble has leaped into the breach with big discounts and a buy-two-get-one-free promotion on Hachette’s Yen Press manga and Little, Brown’s Tintin books. [ICv2]
Aging video game webcomics are fascinating, as tastes and opinions change as the creator gets older. Perhaps with the pressures of work and family, he or she doesn’t have the luxury of investing so much time into playing all the latest releases. The writer, then, needs to find a new angle to keep things interesting. For instance, Tim Buckley of Ctrl+Alt+Del made waves some time ago by eliminating his main cast and focusing on color-coded players who’d only appeared in gag strips.
Debuting in 2006, Scott DeWitt’s Fanboys is one of the many webcomics that seemed to appear in the wake of the explosive popularity of Penny Arcade. The setup is familiar: two guys and a girl sitting on a couch with controllers clutched in their hands. Each character was even a hardcore fan of a specific console; the childlike Lemmy played Nintendo, the grouchy Paul played Playstation, and the cheerful (yet aggressively competitive) Sylvia preferred Xbox. The three even exclusively wore clothes of their gaming system … which was the chief defining point of their characterizations. This was a Penny Arcade clone, after all, which means random humor, violence and a rude disrespect for authority.
Zack Morrison’s Paranatural weaves a tale of ghosts and the people who bust them. It centers on a team that acts a lot like exterminators, trapping pesky spirits in special tools. In a way, it resembles property created in the 1980s that also centers on a plucky team with a catchy theme song that once vanquished a puffy, marshmallow-like foe.
I am talking, of course, about Dragon Ball. I don’t think it’s an accident. This is, after all, a webcomic where there’s a dojo in which old men throw around fireballs and where one kid has supernatural powers that cause spiky hair. The characters also look pretty similar to Akira Toriyama’s style — cartoony, somewhat-squarish and exaggerated during the big action sequences.
Retailing | Amazon’s war with Hachette has taken an odd turn: The retail giant has restored discounts and preorders for Marvel (which uses Hachette as its distributor), and the shipping delays are gone, but it seems to have doubled down on Hachette imprint Yen Press. [ICv2]
Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on Diamond Comic Distributors’ year-to-date sales figures, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag, with sales of monthly comics down but graphic novels and merchandise up, for a slight uptick in overall sales. Another interesting statistic: The number of individual Diamond accounts (which is generally regarded as a measure of the number of comics shops) is up 1.3 percent for 2014 so far; last year’s increase was 3 percent over the entire year. She also reports on the numbers for this year’s Free Comic Book Day; retailers ordered 4.65 million comics, and most were happy with the way the day went. [Publishers Weekly]
I can’t remember which of my Facebook friends turned me on to Georgia Dunn’s Breaking Cat News, but whoever it is, I want to buy them a beer. I’m not one of those people who watches cat videos all day, but the adorably deadpan news-gathering trio of Elvis, Lupin and Puck has captured my heart.
Conventions | Lance Fensterman, ReedPOP’s global senior vice president, talks about his company’s strategy of focusing on a few big shows, rather than a lot of smaller ones, and gives the numbers for last month’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo: Attendance was about 62,900, up 18 percent from last year, and the show floor grew by 15,000 square feet. Attendees are mostly in the 18-to-35 age group, and the majority are male, although the proportion of women at C2E2 has increased by 6 percent since 2011. Male or female, many of the folks on the floor seem to be “casual consumers” rather than “hardcore fans”: About 50 percent of attendees at New York Comic Con were there for the first time. “Depending on which exhibiting company you’re talking to, they either love it or they’re not sure what to do with it,” Fensterman said. “You’re delivering new readers and new potential consumers. We think it’s cool that you’re getting that fresh perspective, not quite so jaded (been there, done that).” [ICv2]
The best-known comic book allegory about prejudice is X-Men, who are feared and despised by a society that doesn’t understand them. The allegory doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, however, as attempting to differentiate between mutants who were born with powers and the beloved Marvel Universe heroes who gained theirs through accident or scientific experimentation is senseless.
And then there’s bigotry and how it relates to economic disparity. It rarely comes up. The X-Men are generally upper-middle class; at least one of them was worshiped as a goddess. I don’t think mutants, as a whole, are portrayed as poor, and are in a desperate situation where they contribute to the crime rate or are relegated to the slums. (Morlocks, maybe.)
Taylor C.’s Monsterkind tackles the latter. There’s a gap between rich and poor, and in falls along racial lines — in this case, the humans and the monsters. The humans live in District A, which everyone assumes is for the wealthy and well-off. The monsters typically live in District C, full of rundown tenement buildings and rampant poverty. There is fear and resentment.
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Watson and Holmes, the comic by Brandon Easton and N. Steven Harris that reimagines Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuths as African-American detectives in present-day Harlem, led the 2014 Glyph Awards with wins in four categories.
The awards, presented Friday at the 13th annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia, recognize “the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color from the preceding calendar year.” The winners are:
Story of the Year: Watson and Holmes #6; Brandon Easton, writer; N. Steven Harris, artist
Best Writer: Brandon Easton, Watson and Holmes #6
Best Artist: N. Steven Harris, Watson and Holmes #6
Vivienne Medrano’s Zoophobia stars a young woman named Cameron who’s desperate for a job and will take any available position in her field of counseling. She’s basically duped. When she hears there’s a job that it involves relocation, she expects, quite reasonably, that the students will be of the human persuasion. To her surprise, she’s whisked away to Zoo Phoenix Academy in Safe Haven, a land full of anthropomorphic creatures. That’s not ideal because, as the title suggests, animals give Cameron the heebie-jeebies.
When you get down to it, Cameron’s journey is not unlike Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. A bold statement, I know, but think about it: Cameron gets suckered into counseling animals, while Ms. Eyre is duped into a teaching job at a spooky manor house inhabited by a creepy ghost woman or something. Shoot, there’s even a supernatural element established early on. It turns out that Cameron’s recruiter … is a warlock of some sort? What’s got her so interested in a clueless educator who just happens to have strange dreams at night?
Conventions | The doors open today on the 25th annual Motor City Comic Con, held through Sunday in Novi, Michigan, northwest of Detroit. Comics guests include Art Baltazar, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Talent Caldwell, Chris Claremont, Matthew Clark, Gerry Conway, Katie Cook, J.M. DeMatteis, Clayton Henry, Mike McKone, Jame O’Barr, Ryan Ottley, Dave Petersen, Don Rosa, Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Soule, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. The Detroit Free Press previews the event, and speaks with Claremont, while Metro Times provides a beginner’s guide. [Motor City Comic Con]
Digital comics | Kate Reynolds looks at the recent Image Humble Bundle promotion and compares it to sales of hard copies of the individual titles in comics shops. Her key insight is that this is Image’s first attempt to sell comics directly to the video game audience rather than established readers: “Many people who check the Humble website with some frequency may have been surprised to see comics books on a video game page, and for many, surprise turned to intrigue. While it’s impossible to tell whether the purchasers of the Image bundle were frequent comic buyers or not, it’s logical to assume that many were not. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if for some, the Image bundle was the first comic purchase of their lives.” [feminism/geekery]
What’s with all these Wizard of Oz adaptations these days? I can’t have been the only one who was taken for surprise when ads for an animated feature began popping up this year. Didn’t a Disney movie just come out that took visual cues from the 1939 classic? Oz seems to be experiencing a Renaissance lately… though, really, it’s never gone out of style. It’s the American fairy tale, full of characters unique to the heart and soul of U.S. culture. Dorothy Gale even hails from Kansas, located smack dab in the middle of the country. Its main exports include wheat and heroes.
One of the latest attempts to reexamine the story is The Black Brick Road of O.Z. by Daria (who hails from Russia, pretty much the opposite side of the world as Dorothy’s Kansas). I know what you’re thinking: “The Black Brick Road of O.Z.? Sounds like yet another emo retelling of the Wizard of Oz story. How original. Do you collect those Todd McFarlane action figures too?”