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More web comics [Apr. 25th, 2007|09:10 pm]
Daveosaurus
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[Current Location |Invercargill]
[music |Richard Thompson - "1952 Vincent Black Lightning"]

I've finally managed to finish the web comic I've been trying to finish for the last month or so, and therefore can finally get this post done. Also a few odds and sods of other comics I've been reading.

First I've been working through the "Unshelved" archives. The archives are a bit of a nuisance to work with though... more on that later. "Unshelved" is a workplace comic, like "User Friendly"; and like the latter (and a few others, such as "The Suburban Jungle") it's normally a single-line strip with a bit of a punch line at the end. It's set in a library, and the main characters are the librarians (plus a mascot who's a few pages short of an index, an annoying teenager and a libertarian nudist lawyer).

Of all the web comics I've read so far it's probably the best suited to making the jump from web-comic to mainstream newspaper comic. The writers/artists have managed to keep up a daily schedule for the life of the comic (with a few "repeat" weeks while they're presumably taking care of Real Life). But the problem with the archives is that, unlike "The Suburban Jungle", which will display a week's worth at once, they will only display a single strip at any one time.

But the strips themselves are regularly funny and perceptive. Unlike many of the comics I read, quite a few of the strips are instantly funny even out of context. I've chosen some of my favourites. I know a couple of people like this, and can symphathise with the librarian. So true. I remember doing this with dry grass when I was young. Don't read this one if you are fond of squirrels. Been there, done that, ticked off the helpdesk request. This is just SO true, and should be shouted from the rooftops. The scary thing is, I also know this... and am really hoping the upcoming film does the story justice. Someone really needs to start up a band with that name. Oops. I can sympathise. Oh, to be able to tell people THIS at work. And we have had this problem at work a few times, as well. Oh yes, the World Wide Wait. We actually have a copier at work that does origami; for the last few months I've been asking the person looking after it to get it fixed. Classic. Brilliant. This one is so true it's been handed around at work. She should have got her story straight beforehand. Methinks someone is a Fantastic Four fan. The technophobe gets her revenge, again. I feel like doing this, sometimes. I SO want to do this some time. Some people just don't remember when Star Wars WAS cool. Actually, as a collector, I prefer ones that have already been through the mail. Amusing. And there's someone where I work that spends a bit more time than he should doing this. There's a generation gap at work here. Some people just don't have a clue. It helps to be able to speak to managers in their own language. I have the same problem with my book collection; that, and that I don't have a spare month to do the weeding in. I remember this song. And this one. Text messaging, `seventies style. Oh, for something actually going that I can play my old LPs on... This is as silly as some of the ideas I've seen at work. I remember `zines; I used to actually take part in an APA up until about four years ago when I spent a protracted length of time without any way to wordprocess documents and consequently got booted out for failing to meet the minimum level of activity. I should really connive with someone and do this to one of the managers at work.

For the last few years, every weekend they've done a special item like this one about a book that's impressed them. I chose this one as an example mainly because it's (1) funny, and (2) something I've read. (I'll really have to explain my pet theory that it's a "Thunderbirds" for the 21st century some time).

I've also made my way through the archives of a few other web comics lately. Girl Genius is probably the best of these. It's an alternate-universe, mildly "steampunk" story set somewhere in Europe in a society where a few people are born geniuses and consequently technology is rather weird and advanced over where it would have been in this universe. The story is good, but the style and detail of the art is what I really like about this comic.

For the first few chapters, the art is black and white and is an intriguing blend of Garrick Tremain-style draftsmanship and Mike Ploog-style ideas and detail. Later the art is in full colour and the Mike Ploog style continues. I'd definitely recommend at least a quick look at the art to anyone who enjoyed "Abadazad". This is not to say there's any pinching going on here - this story is original in itself and in fact possibly (the dates on this comic are a bit confusing) was being published before "Abadazad" started.

Plush and Blood: The Unstuffed is just starting - it's only a couple of dozen pages in so far - and I'm somewhat at a loss as to how to actually describe it. It's a sometimes Orwellian, sometimes noir and all too often wordless story about a world populated by animated stuffed toys in which a tyrant has discovered some sort of localised Anti-Life Equation and is mind-controlling most of the others. A couple of them have escaped and are leading some sort of commando raid into the tyrant's Evil Lair. The comic is sort of interesting so far but I really need to reserve judgement until the story's a bit further along and makes a bit more sense.

Lastly is probably the first real disappointment of this current web comics binge. I had a read of the first few pages of The Order of the Stick and just couldn't get into it. Perhaps if I'd ever actually played "Dungeons and Dragons" I'd have got more of the jokes... but as it is it just doesn't capture my attention.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: aeb
2007-04-25 09:48 am (UTC)

"We actually have a copier at work that does origami; for the last few months I've been asking the person looking after it to get it fixed."

{Giggle, REALLY BIG GRIN} Yes, that sounds like a very good idea. {REALLY BIG GRIN, HUMONGOUS GRIN, GIGGLES}

I'm delighted you've discovered Unshelved. It's a favorite of mine... and of most of the library-types I know on-line. {REALLY BIG GRIN, HUMONGOUS GRIN}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
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[User Picture]From: aeb
2007-04-25 10:11 am (UTC)
Actually, as a collector, I prefer ones that have already been through the mail.

That reminds me. I've been meaning to ask you what kinds of stamps you prefer to collect. Occasionally we notice an interesting/unusual one on a letter... most recently, a stamp with Longfellow, the poet caught my parents eye, with Jonas Salk, who invented the Salk vaccine next to it. {Smile} They wondered if you'd be interested in either of them; I had to tell them I didn't know. {SMILE}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-25 10:22 am (UTC)
Basically I collect anything and everything... my main problem is finding the time to properly write up the collections. (I've spent the last, oh, three months or so's worth of spare time ploughing through my Russian collection. I'm still only up to the late `eighties). As for American stamps... I'd have to rummage through my new acquisitions envelopes to figure out whether or not I already have the stamps you're talking about (although if they're more recent than probably about 2000, then there's a high chance I don't have them). But if you normally give your stamps to charity or something like that, then by all means keep on doing so... but I'd rather they didn't just get thrown out. (Even the basic, "common" sort of stamps are difficult to find outside the country of issue... your 37c (I think) stamps would be as little use on a letter to me as my 45c stamps would be on a letter to you.

And as for your previous comment... The origami copier wouldn't be so annoying, except that it does it to originals. I've had Words to people about it doing that.
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-25 10:52 am (UTC)
I'm woefully behind the times as far as keeping track of new issues stamps goes. I used to have a whole web site where I tried to do that. Now it's mainly just linking to people who have more time than I do. I don't think I've updated my United States page for the best part of five years.

Different people collect in different styles. A lot of people collect unused stamps; I prefer mine to be already properly postally used. (Which isn't as easy as it sounds: I've been working on my Russian stamp collection, and a lot of Russian stamps look like they've been properly used, but in fact they've just had postmarks printed on them and are sold cheaply to collectors without ever having gone through the mail. I do have some properly used Russia stamps, but they're few and far between.)

If you're interested in stamps there's nothing stopping you from collecting them yourself... Although if you're planning on collecting the occasional interesting looking stamp, you'd best get yourself a "stockbook" type album to keep them in. These are hard-bound books with card pages (typically 16 or 32 per book) with semi-transparent sleeves to keep the stamps in.

If you have spare stamps that you don't want, then I'd be more than happy to take them off your hands... my American stamp collections dwindles to next to nothing after about 2002, and if I do end up with duplicates I can always put them in the society circuits (wherein members put surplus stamps for others to buy if they so desire. I've been a fairly heavy buyer and seller through the circuits for about 20 years now... I generally end up with purchases exceeding sales, but at least I defray some of the cost of stamps that way). Let me know if there's anything interesting I can get you from over here in return.
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-25 12:19 pm (UTC)
The US post office page is one of the worst-designed post office web pages I've had the misfortune to try to figure out information from. Somebody needs to repeatedly whack the site designer over the head with a clue-bat engraved with the words Keep It Simple, Stupid!.

Post office (and stamp dealer) web pages seem to be aimed at getting people to spend as much money as possible, which probably makes sense from the business perspective but isn't necessarily going to give the customer the best value for money! I don't know how stationers in your part of the world work, but around here any decent sized stationer / bookshop / newsagent has a small "stamp collectors" section with a handful of albums and sundry paraphernalia.

If you just want to keep interesting stamps you find, then something like this would be worth getting. It shouldn't break the bank (on their web site it costs about 8 Euros which is about $15 locally, which would make it about $11.50 US before freight costs are factored in). And this brand ("Lighthouse", or "Leuchtturm" in Germany where they are made) is one of the highest quality of such books. (Don't get the cheap made-in-China stockbooks: they use lower quality materials, the pages tend to warp, letting stamps fall out, and aren't as suitable for long-term storage. However the Dutch "Davo" brand of stockbooks are almost as good as the "Lighthouse" brand and are a bit cheaper). It should definitely last you a fair while. I'd suggest you get the A4 (297mm x 210mm, or about 11½" x 8½") size as some souvenir items might be too large to fit in the smaller A5 (210mm x 148mm, or about 8½" x 6") size. Once you've set up and arranged the stamps the way you want them, you can look at them as often as you want (in fact, it is generally recommended that albums be opened now and again so that air can circulate through them).

Used stamps and interesting "covers" (envelopes with an interesting story to them, basically) can also be stored this way, which makes this form of storage of stamps the most versatile.

As for buying stamps to send to me... I'm not asking for you to go out of your way. There is such an incredible amount of stamps being produced by the US Post Office (and other countries, New Zealand included) nowadays that it's simply not practical to expect even a reasonably complete collection of such countries. I just collect what I can find unless a particular stamp really interests me. I do have quite a few interesting unused items in my collection - such as the set of comic book covers stamps I was given last Christmas - and I keep them stockbooks such as the ones I linked to. But if you do find a stamp somewhere and think "well, Dave might be interested in that"... it'd probably be easiest to either send it to me still unused, or else put it on the envelope the next time you send me a letter. No need to send it through the mail to yourself then send it to me under separate cover... that's just too much like work.
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[User Picture]From: aeb
2007-04-26 08:03 am (UTC)
We don't donate stamps to charity, but we do notice interesting ones once in a while. {SMILE} We've occasionally wished we knew someone who'd appreciate them... now we realize we do. {REALLY BIG GRIN}

{wince} Yes, I figured it was something like that with the origami. Even folding the copies wouldn't be that desirable, since I doubt your machine lets you choose whether you want a crane or a tortoise. {Smile, wink}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-28 12:17 pm (UTC)
The machine's default origami setting seems to have been set to "bent concertina".
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[User Picture]From: aeb
2007-04-28 09:07 pm (UTC)
{brief picture-search on web}

Oh! I knew a concertina was a musical instrument, but I didn't know what kind. It looks like a small accordion, from what I've found. {Smile}

No, I don't think a bent concertina is a particularly nice origami pattern. Especially when all you're trying to get is a photocopy. {lopsided SMILE}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-30 07:41 am (UTC)
The word has also been misappropriated into the English language to describe anything which folds in the same way as a concertina or accordion, for example back in the dark ages when I was in the Records department a "concertina file" was a file cover which unfolded in sections in order to accommodate copious quantities of blueprints etc.
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[User Picture]From: aeb
2007-04-30 09:21 am (UTC)
Oh, sort of like "accordion fold" and "accordion file?" {curious smile}

By the way, watch your mailbox. I hope that's redundant after recent conversations, but I didn't get sidetracked before I got an envelope with interesting inclusions into the mail. {REALLY BIG GRIN}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-30 11:42 am (UTC)
... I've never heard them being called "accordion" anything before (which is ironic considering I've seen several accordions in real life but no concertinas). But I'm sure we're thinking of the same things. It's just this whole "divided by a common language" thing again.

And a watch is being kept on the post office box... uh oh...
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[User Picture]From: aeb
2007-05-01 05:42 am (UTC)

Yes, I suspect we're divided by a common language again. {SMILE} An accordion file is a fancy folder that has a lot of little folds in three sides, and a flap to close it on the fourth. It might be an inch thick at most when it's in the store, but once you get it home, take it out of the package, and put all the papers you needed a place for, it's the better part of a foot thick. {Amused SMILE}

Post office boxes do need to be watched sometimes. {REALLY BIG GRIN, wink}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
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[User Picture]From: quaxo9
2007-04-25 03:23 pm (UTC)
I LOVE Girl Genius! It's one of my "regulars". ;)

Dave, have you read "Digger"? I think it'd be right up your alley... (can give link if response is in the negative)
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-28 12:11 pm (UTC)
Can't say I've even heard of it, let alone read it...

awaits link patiently.
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[User Picture]From: quaxo9
2007-04-28 03:49 pm (UTC)
http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/digger.php

That's the link to the most recent page, but it's really worth the read. I think you'll have a lot in common with the main char. ;)

:D
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-29 06:22 am (UTC)
Snags link and adds to list.

Looks interesting.

I see koalas and wombats. Hmmm... are you aware of the connotations the word "digger" has in Australia? ]:-)
(hint: it's nothing lewd or anything).
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[User Picture]From: quaxo9
2007-04-29 03:53 pm (UTC)
You know, it was probably covered in the comic - for many things including Balkan folk tales are also mentioned - but I can't remember for sure. Digger-of-Overly-Convoluted-Tunnels is a great character...but I'm really glad they just call her Digger - no matter what the connotations. ;)

(I do expect you to enlighten me, mind.)
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-30 07:53 am (UTC)
From Orsman's dictionary of New Zealand slang (which includes Australianisms which have jumped the pond):

"... usually with initial capital, in WW1 and less frequently WW2, a New Zealand (1917) or Australian (1916) soldier, usually a private; often used as a term of address. In WW2, more usually applied to an Australian than to a New Zealand (private) soldier..."

Nowadays it's also been used as a familiar (and rather affectionate in an Australian sort of way) way to describe returned servicemen, particularly World War I veterans (hence the Midnight Oil song "Last of the Diggers").

Haven't had time (or, more importantly, connectivity) to look at more than one or two frames of the comic but it definitely looked interesting enough for me to add to my "hunt these down when I get a chance" list. Noted with interest and curiosity a comment on one of the pages mentioning that the writer had some sort of anthropology degree, which also makes me more predisposed to reading the comic as it's much less likely to be total bollocks... (I don't have much knowledge of anthropology myself, but I'm cranky enough to recognise bollocks when I see it... "Survivor", I'm looking at you...)
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[User Picture]From: quaxo9
2007-04-30 12:09 pm (UTC)
Thank-you ever so much for the concise definition, Dave! I knew I could count on you!

Yes, the writer of Digger (the comic) is quite intelligent. I'm the same way when it comes to what I read - if it's not intelligent in some manner of speaking, I really can't be bothered as I'm too distracted by the errors to properly take in the plot. :ermm: :redface:
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[User Picture]From: southerndave
2007-04-30 12:22 pm (UTC)
I have to just grit my teeth and ignore typos (or just plain bad spelling). But there are so many of them. Aaaarrrggghhh...

had to proof-read a Publication at work today - well, yesterday as of 20 minutes ago. First thing on it was... not a typo, a just plain stupido. They hadn't changed the masthead... it still read "November 2006"...
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