|More web comics
||[Feb. 18th, 2007|08:28 pm]
I suppose it's high time I did a bit of an update on how the web comic reading has been going.
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Finally caught up to date with The Wandering Ones. Overall I must say I really enjoyed the story. (Not that it's finished by any means - the update frequency is down to one or two pages a week, but it's still telling a good story). There's a pronounced old-fashioned adventure-story influence here, in particular Rudyard Kipling (incidentally, I should probably read "Kim" some time; it's the best known book of his that I haven't read yet) although the comic is refreshingly free from the jingoism which makes some of Kipling's poems (in particular) that I've read a bit hard to swallow these days. The writer does have a bit of a tendency to talk down to the reader, and to digress onto subjects such as animal tracking, but the story itself is strong enough to hold my interest even through these interruptions. There's also what may or may not be a Heinlein reference... to the east of the main character's, there's a totalitarian empire run by one Farnham. (adds "Farnham's Freehold" to his mental list of must-reads.)
The writer also has a subtle sense of humour, which he doesn't overuse (or really use all that much at all), but occasionally, for example, even in one of the most intense scenes of the first section of the comic, there's the sort of touch of dry humour you see here. There's a huge supporting cast, but most of the main characters are introduced in the first couple of months' worth of pages, and get developed slowly from then on.
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Minus (which I've just been pointed to by micheinnz) is a complete change of pace. The title character is a little girl, who has a very active imagination... and for some reason, the things that she imagines tend to actually happen. It's a very illustrative (for want of a better word) comic... the artwork would be at home in a mid 20th century children's book; pen and ink, with watercolours for backgrounds and colouring. Think Quentin Blake or Raymond Briggs and you've got the general genre anyway. My favourite strip of the comic would probably be this one... the last panel captures the charm, style and what could almost be a gentle form of creepiness of the comic and the character quite nicely.
About the only problem seems to be that sometimes the site doesn't want to work right for me and I get error messages in Chinese. Which I am completely unable to read.Sigh.
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I first found out about The Suburban Jungle when someone on a message board pointed me to this strip. Which was fun enough, although it turns out this is one of the minor characters and that there's a lot more to the series than just computer jokes. (Although I've had what I think just happened to this character happen to me. Regularly. I am not at all surprised that Bill Gates named his latest-but-one version of Windows after the smiley for doing a raspberry.)
Practically all the characters of this strip are anthropomorphs of some description. Unlike the Disney mice, ducks etc. these ones actually share some characteristics of the animals whose forms they mimic; not as much as the Talking Animals from C.S. Lewis' "Narnia" books, but enough that their type directly affects their behaviour. The characters seem to live in a turn-of-the-century America that isn't too far off the contemporary America in this universe, (so, in other words, it's foreign enough to me to be quite far-fetched, but probably not so to most other people reading it).
For the most part the series is an easy read, which isn't such a bad thing. It takes the form of a single-line comic strip more often than not, and quite soon in its run it settled into a clean and recognisable style for the characters. Although many of the characters are of similar species (probably about half of the regulars and supporting cast are big cats - lions, tigers and the occasional cheetah) they are all recognisably different. Most strips end with a punch line, as befits a daily-style comic strip... although that doesn't mean there isn't depth to the characters and situations. My favourite of all of them would probably be this strip, featuring the lead character (Tiffany Tiger) and her mother, which manages to give a concise run-down of Tiffany's parents' back story, and a famous poem (no prizes for guessing which one), and still have room for a wry punch-line at the end.
A couple of things I've noticed... Quite a few of the characters seem to remember their 1980s music and aren't ashamed of that fact (which if nothing else makes the strip an entertaining read for someone my age). There's also quite a few guest artists getting involved (I noticed a couple of pages by indigoskynet, whose style really suits the characters). There are a lot of enjoyable characters populating this strip, and there are continually more being introduced... in fact about a year or so the tone changed quite a bit from a showbiz / hangers-on type story to something a bit more noir, with a whole new batch of detective and investigator characters. Basically still good reading though. There's nothing much explicit in the comic, but a couple of the characters are gay, so if that sort of thing worries anyone they'd be better off not reading it... but otherwise it's a good comic with comparatively realistic characters who manage to illustrate some of the sillier foibles of humanity in general whilst remaining outside it.