Monday 12 October 2009

New Home!

Webcomics Critique has MOVED TO A NEW HOME over on wordpress.

It's better! Much better!

Check it here for ALL NEW updates, new webcomics, reviews of all your favourites, webcomics news AND special podcasts that are more fun than a nice moist cake.

The new site is http://webcomicscritique.wordpress.com/

Monday 7 September 2009

Wordythinks - Episode One: Get Down on Yourself - A review of Starslip

Greetings all you cheery chirpy people!

Today is a special day, and I don't mean "Olympics" special, I mean "special" special!

I, along with my good associate Alan "Mister Hands" Byrne, have reviewed Kristofer Straub's fine, fine webcomic Starslip. But this ain't any old paper and pen job, no sir. In this age of techno-gwidget-zizmos we done reviewed this in the form of a Podcast! Our weekly new-webcomic review will be posted on Fridays from here on out. Look forward to it. 

You can listen to and download the MP3 here, guy: Wordythinks Episode 1: Get Down On Yourself - A Review of Starslip

You can find Kris' work pretty much everywhere, but specifically at the following web locations:
http://www.starslip.com/
http://www.chainsawsuit.com/
http://www.fchords.com/
http://www.checkerboardnightmare.com/
http://www.webcomics.com/
http://www.ichorfalls.com/
http://www.krisstraub.com/

"Prolific" isn't strong enough a word. Check him out. 

See y'all Friday! Peace out.

Monday 31 August 2009

Super-Outpost-(4)7

I’ve come to gain a new appreciation for the webcomic artist these last 48 hours. Mostly because I’ve spent them drawing Monday’s Star Trax while listening to the Halfpixel crew bang on about comics, their webcomics, other webcomics, stuff related to and otherwise associated with webcomics and, of course, Brad Guigar’s insane-o-laugh. The take home message and, dare I say it, “pro-tip” from me is to take regular breaks to avoid cramp, because I just drew in from outta town and boy is my hand tired. 

Today’s comic review is of a pleasant story-piece by Istaerlus called “Out Post 7”. I’m not really a sci-fi “nut” per se, but I won’t deny that I’ve seen every episode of Star Trek and Stargate SG-1. Ok, so I am a nut, but at least it’s kept respectfully within the confines of two very good series. Now, if I haven’t already made this clear enough, ‘Out Post 7’ is set in an outpost in space. Please do not get confused with an outhouse in space, that’s an entirely different concept and not worth looking into (turns out alien faeces aren’t that different to ours anyway).

Two of the main influences at work with this webcomic are Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (set on a space station) and Babylon-5 (which I’ve never watched). Being the avid Trekston, I’ve recognised several Trek-related things (not least of which was a Ferengi ship) and promptly mentally chastised myself for being such a big fat nerd. The story follows the staff of this outpost as they get a mysterious new recruit called Ghost. The story pretty much pulls you in from the start and, while it’s still early days for the comic, I’m interested in seeing where it’s going. A word of warning to all you humour forward-slash gag-a-day comic followers, do not expect a punch-line in the final panel. This is a graphic novel type of story which involves humour at times, but that is not the main focus.

Everybody’s favourite part of the review, for reader and reviewee alike, is the art part. We like it because it rhymes. Also because we either get to gawk in horrification, point in humiliation or awe at… awesomification. Fortunately for all involved, it’s never really any of those. ‘Out Post 7’ has an art style that reminds me of what Galaxion might have looked like in its early days. It’s got a realism quality to the cartooning, and aliens’ design and what I call “futuristic effects” (like screens lighting up, etc.) are all well presented. 
Story comics should ideally be updated as often as possible to keep the reader hooked, but Out Post 7 adequately relays enough suspense for it to work weekly. The bonus of it being a weekly comic is the amount of time spent on the art and content. You won’t find yourself short-changed, son. 
Character facial expressions are most excellent in this comic. It’s a favourite thing of mine to see descriptive and in-depth expressions and Out Post 7 checks that box with gusto. My only critique is that the hands could do with some work. The trick? Practice, apparently. I’ve watched most of season one, but I’m still not getting any better. The shading, crosshatching and use of shadows is impressive, if a little excessive at times. Like I’ve mentioned already, the “futuristic effects” are exemplary. Honestly, I want to know the secret. Here’s an ample example for you to sample: 
As of today (Monday) there are 15 strips of Out Post 7 for you to sink your wet, gooey eyes into. This should really go without saying when talking about a new webcomic, but I still feel it has to be said. Ignore the detrimental little things like hand drawn speech bubbles and dialogue for the first couple of strips because it very quickly turns into a nice legible typed font with a neat bubble around it. I see this in a lot of new comics and it is in no way a reflection on the quality of the content… Unless the content is crap, obviously. That’s definitely not the case with Out Post 7 and I can see this comic moving from strength to strength in the coming months so it's definitely worth checking out. 
Catch it over on DrunkDuck every Monday at http://www.drunkduck.com/Out_Post_7

Bing bang boom, 3 outta 5 paw-things. 

See you next Monday! 

Peace, 
Coyote Trax

Monday 24 August 2009

Pigs and Such

Hey! We update on Mondays now. Just sayin’. This week, I tragically attempted to sign up for Jobseeker’s Allowance. It’s not as bad (read: profitable) as Unemployment Benefit. But, guy, that Social Welfare office is so depressing! And it’s full of filthy, filthy immigrants. I tried cracking a joke and was met with the most soul-draining stare I’ve ever encountered in my 21 years of life and mooching. It was truly a harrowing experience. And I still haven’t gotten my money, consarnit. 

So how did I get over this awful, disheartening occurrence? Webcomics! What were you expecting me to say? Meditation? Don’t be absurd. This week’s new webcomic for your front eyes is called “The Pigs Ear” by Craig Munro (not with an ‘e’) which started back in May. I was taken with this comic for two reasons. One: It is set in a pub and, being Irish, I can thoroughly relate to that. 

The second reason is something that all new webcomic authors should take to heart, and that is to have an interesting premise for your story. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated like the start of a Hitchcock movie; it just has to be enough to give the casual reader a reason to come back. 'The Pigs Ear', as mentioned, is set in a pub. Not just any pub though, ladies and gentlemen, it is a magical pub! I’m kidding of course, that’s a stupid premise. The pub is set in one of those mythological lands where ogres roam the tennis courts and princesses scrounge for scraps in the local tabernacle. This makes for a lot of good story angles (read: crazy shenanigans) and a near-limitless set of potential characters. 

The primary setting is the local, where we have our main characters hanging out and drinking like Germans: more or less responsibly. The Barkeep (known only by his job title) maintains order in his domain… Sorry, takes orders in his domain. My bad. His regular is Cyril T. Wizard. Every bar has a regular. Y’know the guy who’s more ‘regular’ than the regulars? Better known as an alcoholic in some circles. Mr. Wizard drives, I’d guesstimate, about 60-70% of the humour overall. This is possibly the only thing I don’t like about the strip. He’s a winner, he never loses. Now I could sit here on my high horse and, smoking a pipe, combing my moustache and launch into a tirade about the evils of the “Mary-Sue” character (think Ethan from Ctrl+Alt+Del) where they represent the author and only good things happen to them. Well, I’m not going to berate the Mary-Sue idea today. For one, I’m not entirely certain it actually applies here. Secondly, Mary-Sues can be pretty good sources of humour and aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They’re just irritating. Like a fly that’s buzzing around while you’re eating dinner and it refuses to go out the window. Then it lands on the butter and starts lording it over you. I hate that fly. 

What in the heck was I talking about? That’s right, the humour. ‘The Pigs Ear’ has a nice general sort of humour despite the quasi-fantasy genre. Really anyone can read this, PG-13 as they say. I found the story arc about finding a bartender assistant most excellent, mostly because it doesn’t centre around Cyril. But that’s just me. You’ll find it twice as funny if you aren’t cursed with the ability to deconstruct a webcomic. Really, I ruin these things for myself because it is funny stuff

Moving briefly onto the artwork now and there isn’t much to say on it. Typical cartoonish style and the characters are reflected very nicely in their illustration. I’m very fond of the shading, it’s truly top notch. And I don’t say “top notch” very often or, indeed, at all. I’m impressed verily by it.
The Pigs Ear’ has found its feet as a comic. The characters are solid, the story is capable of growth, the artwork makes for a lovely read and the humour functions well enough to drive away the Social Welfare Office blues. What more could you ask for? A patented Trax rating? Well, if you insist. I give this puppy a 3.5 out of 5.
It’s worth your time and I can see it moving from strength to strength in the coming years. You can catch it every Thursday at www.pigsearonline.com. By the way, don’t type “pigsareonline” like what I did once. Pigs are online and they do disgusting, filthy things.

Join us next Monday for another thrilling instalment of Coyote Trax’s Webcomics Critique!

Peace.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Bottoms Up!

Hi, welcome back. This title works well for two reasons. The first is thus: We’re back! Woo! To review and ridicule all that is new in webcomics. It is a time for celebration. Hope you didn’t miss me too much. (So what if I'm that egotistical?  It makes me an even better person.)

The second reason “Bottoms Up!” makes for a good title to this review is pretty obvious. It is the title to this week’s review-o-comic by Brian O’Meara (it is always fantastic to see an Irish name in webcomic land, even if many of those are strange Americans who call themselves Irish though they have never been and it was, in fact, their great-great-grandfather who happened to once spend thirty-five minutes there as a ship pulled into a dock - But it was a magical experience that touched his heart nonetheless.) But I digress back to our comic of the day. 

I first started reading ‘Bottoms Up!’ because it appealed to my love of simple, single-panel newspaper comics. You know the ones I mean. They’re plain black and white, great use of cross-hatching and that sort of thing, yeah? Well ‘Bottoms Up!’ isn’t a far cry from that. It makes use of the black and white style with shading that will honestly blow you away. Physically, it couldn’t be more accurate and appropriately used, giving the drawings a decent sense of life. This is important, folks. If you’re drawing a comic, you really have to make the characters look alive. Nobody likes to eat a rice cake on its own. You gotta put some chocolate or peanut butter on that blank slate and give it some taste so the wholesome goodness of the rice can work its magic on your digestion. Cakin’. On a more general note, there’s a danger with the use of shading, specifically over-use, which can cause the comic to look crap. Characters meld into backgrounds and lose their definition. Truly it is a sad state of affairs when you see one of these comics. It’s like the artist thought that to be truly good, they had to smudge every single pencil line to create the shading effect, throwing caution to the sewers in terms of where the light source is or where the shadows would be cast.
Here’s a taste of what I be speakin’, Jethro. 


Let’s get back to ‘Bottoms Up!’ though. Despite the great artwork and highly commendable use of shading, the humour is about par. In fairness, single panel comics are tricky things. You have one panel to build a joke, set-up and punch-line. A lot of comics out there rely on three or four panels, and occasionally five, in order to hook that up, but because of this they have a greater diversity in terms of what they can accomplish with their humour. A pregnant pause is a good tool when not over-used. You try putting that into a single panel comic and you’ve got nothing. Literally. ‘Bottoms Up!’ therefore takes the road that most single-panels do. Observational humour. It’s solid material that most people can relate to, usually office-type humour or general life humour. Though there’s definitely a more saucy “Ooh, Matron!” approach to some of them, but it’s no less funny. Sadly, it’s no funnier either. The best strips within are those with captions. The captions make the funny. The art is there for the visual, but the captions make it. There are a couple (literally two, I think) without captions where the character is just saying something, usually a bad pun, and the strip falls flat. 
If you compare to the single panel works of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal back in the day, you can see the reliance and, effectively, the need for the caption. Though SMBC is more ‘out there’ with its style while ‘Bottoms Up!’ is purely observational.  

I’m giving ‘Bottoms Up!’ a 3.5 outta 5. The artwork brings it up nicely, but if I’m honest, this style belongs in a printed format. While it works on the web, and should remain here where it’s safe and warm, it’s probably a tad “raunchy” for the newspapers (it’s actually not that raunchy, but newspaper people are dicks when it comes to that). Actually, a men’s magazine might be more suited. Nothing too brash, like 'Nuts' or 'Zoo', but something more motor-vehicle based. Men aged 24-50 would get this type of humour best, and most aren't reknowned for their interweb skillz.  

Bottoms Up!’ updates Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Read it with your eyes at http://www.bottomsupcomic.com

Peace and chicken grease,
Coyote Trax 

Monday 27 July 2009

The Horror!

Ladies and gentlefolk, in celebration of Hallowe'en being JUST 3 months away, I'm going to review for you a horror webcomic! (Note: Do not confuse with a "horrible" webcomic - that's what 'A Softer World' is for, ha-ha!) But seriously guys, there is only 96 days until the next 'We'en. I'm not kidding, that's 2298 hours as I type this. Whoa! I gotsta go get my costume soon. I'd love to dress up as Checkerboard Nightmare, but my ass isn't quite good enough yet. Another year of squats and maybe it will be. Checkerboard Nightmare - 2010.

Anyway, like I said, horror webcomic. But not just horror, there's humour. Horror and humour. That's a good, but infrequent, combination. Byron Rempel has for us a just such a combination with his webcomic The Zombie. As you can probably guess, it's about a zombie, doing what zombies do. Y'know, eating brains, killing people, blood, gore, Republicans, etc.

Now, what strikes me about zombies, is that they're like brainless vampires. But! They can walk around in the Sun. That's me, always looking for the positives in life. Any life. Or afterlife. What I like about The Zombie's story is that we hear a good bit from the zombie's perspective. His inner thoughts. Why he's so frickin' angry. He's a zombie! If I were a zombie and capable of sentient thought, I'd be angry too.

This comic at first doesn't seem to go with certain comic standards either. I think it's the 5th page where you actually get the first speech bubble. Until then, it's slightly different. Zombie inner monologue written in scrawl. What I'd image a cross between the characters of JD from Scrubs and Jack from The Shining would be like. Yes.

Anyway, the story quickly moves onwards. We don't always follow the zombie, and more characters are introduced, though not much is given about them individually yet. This webcomic is still very, very new.

Let us discuss the art, shall we? Mr Rempel's style at the beginning is sketchy. As in, it looks to have been sketched. Very well sketched, I might add, but simple. It's also in colour, where available. The style retains its sketchy quality throughout, but gains a cleaner look as time goes on. Colouring is especially good for the forest scenes in the latest strips. Kudos on that, bro. There's something about the faces/facial expressions that bothers me sometimes, but I can't put my finger on it. Some are a little too bland compared to others, while some are too cartoonish compared to the background, which is of excellent quality. Tis confusing for my eyes. But here's a sampler anyway.

Now, I know you're all expecting the big criticism to be "Yeah, whatever, zombies have been done to death (Pun!)". Well, that's not the critique. If anything, high praise goes to the use of zombies. If you're going to do a horror series in anything, even webcomics, always go with an industry standard. Zombies, vampires, mummies, werewolves, etc. What happens when you step outside that box? You get shit like "The Blob". That's not scary. That's a goddamn jell-o.

The Zombie gets a 3 outta 5 paw dealies. Give it a read. I'm taking a break from this blog for two (count 'em, 2) weeks. I'm working on a new Star Trax and have a boat-load of freelance guff to do. If I've got time, I'll re-do this site a little! And who knows, I have plans for new features, twice weekly-updates maybe? Interviews? Nap times? I like that last one... Anyway, see y'all on August 15th. Keep on readin' Star Trax! And also, these other comics!

Peace outy,
Coyote Trax



Saturday 25 July 2009

Brief delay!

Whoops!

Ok, working on freelance stuff, trying to develop the new Star Trax series (also sketchblog) and in the last week I've watched an unholy amount of House. So no update this weekend.

INSTEAD: UPDATE IS ON MOONDAY. That is, Monday. Day of the Moon. Lunedi. Oui.

Peace outy,

C to the Trax

Saturday 18 July 2009

Tails: The Title is a Pun, Son!

And that subtitle was a rhyme, guy. I could do that forever. ‘Please don’t!’ you cry out with anguish not felt since Aramis the Punster roamed the ‘Jovial Plains’ in the ‘Dark Ages of Comedy’… Ok, I’m done being weird.

Today’s comic for review is more than a treat, nay it is a privilege for your viewing pleasure. Young Ethan (better known as Ethan Young) has adapted his award winning, best-selling graphic novel ‘Tails’ into the webcomic format for your eyes.
I’ll admit that I was sceptical at first. I firmly believe that if something wins an award in these so-called “modern times” then it’s likely to be an art-deco piece of trash. But boy, were the socks of shame stuffed firmly down my gusset when I read Tails.

The story is of a young man, freshly dropped out of Art school, who works at the animal shelter while nursing dreams of becoming a famous cartoonist. The story of everybody’s life, right? I’m looking at you, Porter House, ya lazy hippie.
Anyway, since this tale (tail) is “semi-autobiographical” (note: this is quite dissimilar to “semi-national geographical”), our main character is named, yes, Ethan. We see his trials (trails?) and tribulations as he juggles his artwork, his girlfriend Cynthia (Sin), his job and several kitties all at once.

Let’s “genre” things up a little here, son. Tails, to me anyway, is presented as a dramedy. As said above, it’s semi-autobiographical, so Ethan (the author) is serving us up the dramatic points and notions with a side of comedy gravy to help it go down smooth. Comedy gravy is a real thing.
Now, here’s the lo-down or “the four-one-one” on new webcomics. They’re often terrible, awful, painful tragedies to start off with either due to the artist’s lack of talent or lack of ability to be funny. And in many cases they get better and they get funnier. There are a few exceptions to this rule of thumb, and I’m glad to say that Tails is one of them (in case you got lost there, I'm saying Tails kicked ass from the start). Since it’s an adaptation from his graphic novel, Mr Young already has a handle on the style and presentation of his story as a comic. And it is a story comic, so start from the beginning. Don’t feel like trawling through an archive? It started in June, guy! No chore-filled reading for you, no sir.

So Tails is literally the excellent thing. The characters are very well thought out, as you’d expect. Being semi-autobiographical (there’s gotta be a shorter way of saying that) you automatically get the feeling of depth in the back-story as well very believable personas. The comic’s presentation is similar to that of a graphic novel, not taking on any particular structure other than a sufficient array of panels to present the day’s story point. Each strip always gives away enough information, you’re never left floating as sometimes happens with story-based comics.

As for the artwork, well, Mr. Young is very talented. He presents us with a clear black and white style that’s not altogether “cartoonish” it’s definitely more than that.
As a style, he creates a unique infusion of comic-book and manga modes and distils it into an elegant but detailed design that defies the eyes (see how it rhymes?). To say that Tails is good is an understatement. See the sample, then look at this paw-thing rating. 4.5 paws. Fantastic.

I was literally blown away, like a fart on the wind, when I read Tails. You will be too. Someday I’ll think of less unappealing similes. It updates Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it’s totally worthy of your viewership. Heck, I’ve already favourited it. Can “favourite” be used as a verb? No. No it cannot. Read Tails!

Peace and elbow grease,
Coyote Trax

Saturday 11 July 2009

Juvies: Yeah

Scott Kurtz once professed that webcomics about college life are a done to death medium. I’m between two minds on that. Firstly, yes, there are as many college webcomics as there are cigarette butts on the floor of Britney Spears’ SUV. In fact, the three most abundant things on the interwebs itself are porn, credit card scams and college webcomics. But also, there are some college webcomics that are written by people who can skew them with their own warped sense of humour to make it noticably funny. It’s rarely the genre’s fault if something isn’t hi-larious though, it’s the writers. But who reads college webcomics for clever, witty, Frasier-like guff anyway? I read them because for a simple laugh that usually involves a penis joke. And so do you. Don’t deny it.

Juvies’ by Jarred Cramer may not fall into the category of a “college webcomic”, but the style of humour is much the same. We’re given three main characters, each one more different that the last, but all as tight as a nun’s purse (I’ve cleaned up the joke for the kids, you see. It’s PG13 all the way.) Scott, based on Jarred himself (not that it’s in ANY WAY OBVIOUS) is the main character. He’s more down to earth, occasionally playing the straight-man to the others’ antics and he has provides us with bushels of funnies himself. Then we have his two friends, Roger (or Super-Beer-Disposal 37) the stereotypical drunk guy and T.J. (more muscles than the Muscles from Brussels, do you see dear?) the guy who lifts weights, pulls chicks and makes the other two look bad in that respect.

I like this comic. I wouldn’t say that it’s particularly outstanding in every respect, but it’s certainly above average for the style of comic that it is. The artwork is really great, particularly now. It starts off not as shakey like what most quivering new webcomics do, but it doesn’t look like it’s in comfort zone straight away. It soon finds it though, and boy does it look good.

In terms of humour, this is the Ronseal 5 year woodstain of webcomics. Does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s called “Juvies” for a reason, guy. These characters are immature and juvenile and liable to put their cocks in places they don’t belong if you turn your head away long enough. Yes. Juvies doesn’t pretend to be anything other than simple man-humour (queue Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor grunting). There are fart jokes, pee jokes and awful, awful puns. So why am I reading it? What the frick is the possible allure of such stupid, tired and generally bad jokes? I’ll tell you! Because that’s my job. AND! Because these jokey-schnacks, awful and cringe-worthy as they may be at times, are executed in such a bold way as if to say “I know it's a bad joke, but THAT’S THE POINT!”

And you know what? It works. Juvies somehow makes this work fantastically well. Almost in direct defiance of the laws of humour. You will laugh, that’s not a promise, that’s a fact.

My only major problems with this comic are that, for one, the story line veers wildly from one-offs to an arc of some description. If it was alternating between the two, that’d be cool, but this is happening during arcs and upsets the flow of the story. Secondly, the Fourth Wall is shattered at once stage, yes for comic benefit, but it’s a nasty habit to get into unless your comic is based on breaking The Wall. Fortunately, a habit isn’t made of it thus far, so all’s sound on that front.

Overall, this is a very good comic and deserves much attention. Yours, specifically. I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5 paw-things. Juvies is hosted on DrunkDuck (along with my mediocre-by-comparison Star Trax series) and updates usually about once a week.
Check it and tell ‘em Coyote Trax sent you.

And sign up to DrunkDuck to make comments, it’s free and you don’t have to get spam if you don’t want to (it’s a tickable option or something).

Peace and chicken grease,
Coyote Trax

Saturday 4 July 2009

Gibber Me Timbers

What do you get when you cross ‘A Softer World’ with ‘The Far Side’?
Until today, I thought the answer was “A piece of crap that doesn’t make a lick of sense.” (Alternative punch-line: Government Policies!)
Chris Smith has described his comic to me as “the bastard child of Far Side and A Softer World”. I have read Mr. Smith’s comic, and I can sort of see where he’s coming from. Now, this is no judgement on Chris’ comic in the slightest but, I don’t like ‘A Softer World’. It’s one of the few comics I physically can’t read. It’s the most pretentious piece of crap I’ve ever read. Is it feigning the whole ‘dark’ thing? Is irony the jibe at the end of the gloomy rainbow? Even so, then it’s a poor attempt. I’m talking Patrick Kielty poor. If you don’t know Patrick Kielty, youtube him. He’s the worst comedian in the history of EVER.

I think I’m getting off topic a little. Lisped-up festive-holiday Chris Smith (do you see?) got in touch with his comic, Gibberish. Don’t be thrown by the look of the website. Sure, it looks like a 5 year old or Michael J. Fox designed parts of it, but I make it a point to judge comics on their content, not their flowery appearance. Gibberish started in August ‘08, so there’s a good bit of content to read, all delivered in succinct single-panel chunks. Observe with your eyes below!



Gibberish is aptly named. Reading the archives, I noticed a multitude of styles in there. There’s some fantastic little story arcs, told one panel at a time of course as well as some completely off the wall comics. Gibberish definitely caters more to people who have that “random” sense o’ humour, though the darker strips I find are the least funny (The Softer World Paradigm) but you Softy World fans will probably eat it up like cats eat up the things they occasionally cough up. Those strips are generally wordier, too. Also, there are times where I can detect subtle hints of xkcd-style quasi-romantic undertones.

The art style is just as diverse as the humour, ranging from (intentional) scribbledy-doodles to some pretty decent drawing. If you start the archives from the beginning, I’ll tell you know that it starts a little shaky, like most webcomics that start off anew. It finds a comfortable zone pretty quick though. I won’t lie to you and say it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. I know you’re all too smart for that. But Gibberish offers us a very nice slice of dark or random humour, often crazy to point of “WTF, mate,” but that’s its charm right there. I’m giving Gibberish 2.5 outta 5 paw things. It’s a fair comic, worth your viewership. Updates Tuesdays and Thursdays and some points in between.

On a personal note, I’m debating whether or not to cut my long luxurious hair. I need yays or nays on this from you (yes, YOU!) because I’m an indecisive twit.

Peace and chicken grease,
CT

P.S.: Happy 4th of July, Americans! Don't blow everything up. (That last one is more of a general statement, and doesn't necessarily have to apply only to today).

Saturday 27 June 2009

Dazed and Confuzled

RIP Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson

With Drunk Duck being my webcomic haunt of choice (due to an overwhelming lack of html knowledge) I’ve been poking around it a bit, checkin’ out a few new comics. There’s some good stuff on there so it’s worth perusing if you’ve got the time.

Today I’m reviewing a Drunk Duck comic by Andy Cramer called Week Daze. It only started back in mid-December and, having read the archives; it’s still a relatively quick read. Reading through archives can be a dual experience, both enjoyable but tiresome, like eating a whole pizza by yourself and oft with the same intense shame afterwards. If the webcomic is good, then that outweighs the negative parts, and the whole thing was worth the effort. Week Daze is such that the balance is tipped in favour of the good, at least for the most part.

The story is set mostly in the office environ (less like Dilbert, more like Business Casual), with the two main characters being life-savvy workers who hate their boss. One of our two heroes is Johnson, a shaggy haired guy who loves to draw. He’s just a normal dude, workin’ 9 to 5, just trying to make a living, guy. And then we have his good friend Puck. For those who don’t know, Puck was a mythical sprite who causes mischief and the name was changed to mean ‘devil’ upon the conversion to Christianity. This explains a lot about the character. He’s a metal-head who advertises his most favouritest bands on his corpulent bodice in t-shirt form while tormenting the other employees. Then there’s their boss, nemesis and paymaster, a slick-willy type of guy and is presumably smarter than he looks, quite the sly boots.

Week Daze is really a story-based comedy-styled jeremy with most of the laughs coming from the lead characters’ sarcastic and flippant natures. Puck, especially, gets his kicks out of his seething sardonic nature and fuels many of the funnies in this comic. Johnson acts more as a straight man to Puck’s antics but has a sense of humour all of his own. This style is simplistic, but effective. There are no real surprises, but a couple of gems definitely make this one a decent read.

The art style is too us above par. Wait… Is it sub-par? Isn’t it better to be under par in golf? Have I gone through this before? I feel like I’ve said this before. I’ll re-phrase, the art style is better than par. There we go. Again, nothing overly spectacular, but the lines are clean and the colouring is great. The backgrounds and foregrounds and objects and things are all very well done, no hack jobs here let me tell you. The character design, too, suits their personalities quite well. Here’s a sampler of the latest guff, chief.

The place where Week Daze falls short is mostly in the writing. It’s funny, but not often LOL out loud funny. Some of the dialogue can be a bit tired. Puck saying “Word” makes me want to punch him in the gusset. He is neither black nor a rapper, so it just looks too out of place. Call me a propagator of the stereotype. Call me a presumptuous radish. But such things are best left to the black rapping community and white metal-heads ≠ black rappers. Also, we see the occasional fracturing of the Fourth Wall a bit. Not too much to be bothersome, and when it does it’s mostly for the sake of comedy, but like I always say “Never break the Fourth Wall unless you’re writing for Boston Legal or your name is Checkerboard Nightmare.” That’s as true today as it was in the time of our monkey ancestors, who made tools from fish bones and ate bronze as vittles.

This gets 3 out of 5 paw things. It’s a good, solid comic and it has a lot of room to grow. Getting funnier every week (roughly when it updates) it’s worth checking out over there on Drunk Duck. Week Daze: For people who have nothing better to do at work.

Peace Out
Coyote Trax

Saturday 20 June 2009

Ha, He Does Say 'Rack' A Lot

ATTENTION: Musings by Evan Diaz (reviewed here) is now Pajama Forest.

I’m sure you guys all know of The Rack. The webcomic set in the comic book store, Yavin IV? “That’s no moon, it’s a comic book store!” No? Well you’re clearly not a comic book junkie. I am no such thing either, so I don’t really get all the humour. You may shame me for not giving a flying figurine about D.C. or Marvel, but I know enough to know that Superman could kick the X-Men’s collective asses now that Professor X is gone. Anywho, to get back on t’Rack, The Rack recently created a spin-off webcomic about one of the characters, Lydia. Writer Kevin Church stays on to script things up, but Max Riffner now provides the art talent.

Lydia, which started on May 1st, follows the story of Lydia Park. Formerly the assistant manager of Yavin IV Comics, she now plunges haunch-deep into her new cube-jockey role as Associate Products Manager of Analytics (so sayeth the plaque) in some big corporate business thingy. So it’s kinda like Dilbert, but the characters have personalities. And it’s actually funny. There’s also some crossover with The Rack, to help the transition for the new comic. We hear mention of Lydia’s boyfriend, Billy, and we also see Abegail, both characters from said Rack. There’s also some reverse-crossover (what?) where Lydia reappears back in the The Rack. She’s a sassy lady who takes no shizzle (lip) from any hizzle (one).

Kevin Church’s writing style differs just enough from The Rack to make Lydia a different (i.e.: more bearable) and interesting read. She retains all of her character qualities, the aforementioned sass, as well as her often-biting sarcasm and sharp wit. I can’t write this without comparing Lydia to The Rack. The setting, obviously, is different. But office humour isn’t really much of a jump from the comic book store laugh-a-doodles (except now I get the punch-lines). Both are set in the work environment and Church maintains a good balance between situational and character driven storylines. He’s an imaginative man to be able to write so unambiguously about the same person and coax the funnies out as she makes this life change.
In terms of the art style changing, well, Riffner clearly has a different style to Benjamin Birdie. Birdie’s work starts off with very busy panels and with a fair bit of detail compared to Riffner. Recently, his work more of a simpler black and white style and has gotten less crowded. Riffner, who did some guest art for The Rack, uses his unique style for Lydia. Check out this sampler, son.
Riffner delivers his usual good job with the artwork. And this is where I have my only problem with the comic. His definitive, semi-minimalist, smooth, black and white style is almost exactly the same as in his other comic, Drunk Elephant (reviewed here). Personally, I was hoping for something else with Lydia, but he went with the status quo. I mean, there’s style and then there’s stale (that's a bit harsh, but I liked the phrase too much not to use it). Take Chris Jones’ (Snowflakes, Grumps) for example. He has a very distinct style, but I can’t say that all of his work is the same. Here, Lydia’s boss Ashley may as well be Kacy the bartender from Drunk Elephant. Riffner’s work is still top notch, don’t get me wrong, and he’s a fine artist (see his site here). I guess I’d just have liked to see him shake things up a little for the new comic. I’m glad that he doesn’t try to imitate The Rack though. That’s a big plus. The whole point is to have a fresh start with a new story and a clean look. If it had looked the same, I’d have been slightly upset. Spin-offs are meant to stand apart. Nobody wants another Joanie Loves Chachi on their hands.

I’m giving Lydia a 3.5 out of 5. It’s a well written, well drawn piece that makes the inter-comic transition quite smoothly. Church and Riffner have a great dynamic that makes Lydia a quality comic and a pleasure to read. Updates M/W/F so get a followin’, kids.
As an addendum, I’d like to thank everybody who checked out Star Trax. Hits are better than I expected. Seriously, you guys rock. Updates Monday and Thursday. (Pssst - the sketchblog updates today!)

Peace
Coyote Trax

Saturday 13 June 2009

Harry Potter and the Milking of Media

So this week I’ve been spreading the word about my new comic, Star Trax. Updates Mondays and Thursdays. God, I hope it doesn’t get reviewed. I’ll get some excuses ready just in case. Trying to advertise on a budget of feck all is tough though. It’s all about trollin’ forums and things with links. And Space Pirates. Everywhere I look there’s advertising for that new Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince: The Motion Film. I honestly couldn’t care. Sure, like many, I read some of the books. But then they became a mile long and dragged out for no reason. So I stopped. Also, I grew up. If I could get that kind of advertising… *eyes glaze over*…. Well! That’s where you kids come in. Advertise Star Trax and I will… Um… Be eternally grateful? I really can’t offer much else.

Man, so I’m a little late with this, but Good Ship Chronicles by Tauhid Bondia has now seemingly returned to regular updates. This means awesome space-based funnies for all involved! GSC is excellent from the get go, being well drawn and hilarious. It’s gonna be big. Bigger than it already is. I prophesied this.

And now on to today’s review. D. Long got in touch with his comic “Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life”. I read this right the way through immediately (I am unemployed after all) and I was taken with it. It’s the story of Edmund Finney, a writer and traveller who yearns for adventure… Though not as much now that he’s tasted it. This comic is a good read, and to accompany it there’s many a random strip. EFQtFtMoL (so much for abbreviation) started on March 8th (New-Webcomic and Give-Trax-a-Gift-Day eve) and maintains a solid style throughout. This is a story comic that’s worth hopping on board with now while it’s young. I mean, like, new, as in fresh? Don’t hop on the young. It’s frowned upon.

How is this comic written? The humour style is situational/observational. The various plot points drives the comedy stylings, with many of the main funnies coming from current affairs. It’s extremely well written. Occasionally we see what Edmund has written in his journal, as well as his thoughts, but we also get some good comic dialogue going. It’s written as one main story, with shorter arcs. I don't think we can mention the 'meaning of life' without touching on Monty Python. There are some slight elements of Pythonesque humour here and there, especially in the juxtaposition of the character and the scenarios he faces, but it's all entirely original and doesn't once allude to Python at all. As well as the main storyline, there are also semi-random updates not relating to the story. They’re mostly sketches or off-beat funnies that wouldn’t fit.

The artwork is very good. At first it reminded me of a similar style to a newspaper comic, but then I remembered that it was from the Horrible Histories books. Anyone not from Ireland or the UK probably has no idea what I mean. These are a series of history books aimed at teenage kids. The illustration (by Martin Brown) is comparable to D. Long’s style. Not the same, mind you, there’s a lot of differences. Mr Long’s work has quite a bit of detail, and the character design is very well done. Kinda sketchy, but it gives it a nice “down-home cookin’” feeling. And seeing his off-comic sketches in the random stuff proves exactly that. The overall black and white motif works very well with the content. Check out my favourite part here:

This comic is outstanding, in its humour and its drawing style. I’m giving it 4 out of 5 paw-things and I’ll be definitely keeping up with it.

Edmund Finney updates every Tuesday and Friday. It’s a great read, and is one to watch for the future. Seriously, if you don’t check it out, I’ll come after you.

Peace out.
Coyote Trax

Saturday 6 June 2009

Confrontation Has Varnished My Buns

Welp, college is finally over for me. I’m now officially in the ranks of the unemployed. A science degree is now officially as useless as an arts degree in this country. Anyone out there need a biologist? Or a spunky writer with everything to prove? No? Ball. Well, you know where to find me if you do.
Also, I got a couple of extra questions. Since I probably won’t do another of those question things for a while I’ll answer them now. First off, “Why don't you post your comic in keenspot or comicgenesis?” The answer: Because I don’t know any html. Yet. Secondly, “Will you ever change the appearance of this blog?” Again, don’t know html, when I do I’ll try and add something cool. In the meantime, I’m pretty happy with it. Thanks for the questions, now on to the webcomics. Also, Star Trax is starting up this Thursday (weather permitting) with “Captain’s Prologue”. More news on the site come Thursday.

This week, I have been mostly reading ‘The Book of Biff’ by Chris Hallbeck. Single panel funnies galore featuring the angry man himself, Biff! Check it out if you like that sort of noise. I sure as heck do.

Today I have a proper treat for you, son. Yes, you. Son! Today’s review is of the masterpiece collaboration between Chris Jones, James Ashby and Zach Weiner. Zach and Chris worked together before on Captain Excelsior which was just plain fantastic on all counts. Their new project, Snowflakes, which really got going in April, is nothing short of excellent. Following the story of several orphans in their nun-run orphanage high in the Andes Mountains, Snowflakes is a snow-bound, traction-packed misadventure for all involved. Adding the whole “orphan” angle into the mix, you have the only adoptions occurring at Christmas *suspense* when only the youngest or cutest get adopted *drama*.
There are quite a few main characters in the story, and executing all of their appearances is a tricky but beautifully done undertaking, a testament to the skill of both writers and artist. Here’s the 411 on the main cast. (So what if nobody says “411” anymore, I’m takin’ it back!)
Lusitania: Or just “Lu” for short. She’s the oldest (or is it eldest… Can you say “eldest” in reference to orphans? I thought it was a family thing. Am I typing this? Ball). Anyway, she’s 10, and is worried she won’t ever be picked for adoption. Ever!
Priti: Lu’s bestest friend who undertakes the impossible task of making Lu acceptable for adoption.
Wray: Tough as nails and thrice as sharp. She’s a lean, mean, tormenting machine.
Sloan: She seems pretty institutionalised. Who cares as long as she’s happy?
Glory: The fat kid. Kinda reminds me of a guy I went to school with, “Plimpton Waddams”.
Greg: Neeeeeeeeeeeeeerd.
Enzo: He’s new and he hears things. I wonder how…

So what’s the writing like? One word: supercalifornicationalistic. In several different words, it’s really good. James Ashby covers the story and plotting (and scheming, always scheming). I assume he has a pretty good idea of where this comic is going, because the story moves with such fluidity, knowing when and where to ease up and when to push on. Mr Zach Weiner, of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal fame, scripts things up something fierce in Snowflakes, writing some excellent jokes that fit the characters’ personas to a tee. I should mention that Snowflakes is written as a PG comic, so, I dunno, if you’d rather your teenage son/daughter/pumpkin read something good and wholesome, this is the thing for them. Strap ‘em down, tape open their eyes and make ‘em read. They’ll thank you for it. But the real humour in the writing, I think, lies in the dichotomy between the characters’ dialogue and their ages.

If you’ve seen Captain Excelsior, Grumps or any of Chris’ other works, you’ll be familiar with his general style. “Snowflakes” is no different. He gives us his impeccably unique character style done in the most professional and proficient manner. Between the writing style and Chris’ art, the characters become very believable. I’ve always loved characters’ facial expressions and, I have to say, that Chris is my favourite artist in that regard. He can get so much emotion out in the funniest way possible without compromising the quality of the comic. Fantastic. Here’s a taster of what I’m yammering on about.

Well, I’ve conferred with the judges, and Snowflakes has won itself a 4.5 on the Trax scale.

Great writing, interesting storylines and fantastic artwork makes this comic what it is. And just between you and me, I think the division of labour gives each of them more room to be creative and push the boundaries of their collective awesomeness. And it is awesome. James Ashby, Chris Jones and Zach Weiner. The Trifecta of Funny. Snowflakes updates M/W/F, get ready to bookmark it. It’s too good to miss.

Peace out.
Coyote Trax

Friday 29 May 2009

You Say It, We Spray It

“Cruder than raw oil” – York Times

“This is shit, man” – Some Jerk


Well, I’ll admit this wasn’t the best idea for filler, since I know I don’t have that many readers. But I got a few good questions and a lot of material for funnies.

So let’s delve right in.

The first question is from Mike, he writes,

Hi, I love your reviews, but they’re all positive reviews. Why don’t you review awful comics or give bad reviews?

A good question, one that a good friend of mine has asked me before too, in almost as many words. I write positive review because the point of this bloggy-blog is to promote little known comics. That’s hard to do if I berate them. And since new comics are still usually trying to find their feet, there’s a “crappy phase” in most instances that I mention but gloss over is some cases. If a comic is very, very bad, I just plum won’t review it. But if things start wearing thin in the webcomics world, I’ll have to get out there and start pointing out the awful. But there are still plenty of good comics out there, so you need not worry. Thanks Mike!

Next question, please. Andrew writes:

I was wondering how you go about finding comics for your reviews?”

Well, chief, since I bring the comics to you, it would kinda defeat the purpose of me writing this bloggy-blog if I told you where I find my gems now wouldn’t it? But I know you guys read this for the hilarity and good reviewmanship… … …Right? Ah screw it, I’ll tell you anyway. I get most of my stuff from good old fashioned advertisements on other comics. Twitter is also a great treasure trove for webcomics, not just new ones. And then there are a few other places such as Webcomic self-promotion sites, Webcomics Inc is very good. Though in many cases, people just e-mail me with new ones they’ve come across, and sometimes the artists themselves will get in touch.

I hope that answers your question without giving too much away.

My next question was the most incredibly long thing I’ve ever read. And I even attempted War and Peace. Fortunately, Richard is a good writer, so it was actually enjoyable to read, unlike War and Peace. I’ll just get right to the question. He asks,

If you could, what is the one question you would ask your readers?

You clever clogs. But an awesome question nonetheless. My question to my readers would be this: “What colour underpants are you wearing, if any?
Do you regret asking now, son? I hope so.
Though I suppose if I had to ask a real question, it’d be “What was the first webcomic you ever read, and do you still read it?” You know where to e-mail your answers to.

This next question is from Arne Schulenberg who asks:

Could you please tell your readers that there is a reddit-page where you could not vote for one but for ten photocomics which are well made?

No. Just. Just, no. I can’t give too much stuff away about where to find new comics. Though having looked, I can’t say that all those comics aren’t roses and pomegranates.

Last question, yes? Brian asks the big one, which I’m sure he regrets already if you haven’t seen the side-bar thingy.

Coyote, you review comics but you don’t write/draw one. Isn’t that hypocritical or something?
Yes! Yes it is. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Except: I’m having it another way. Indeed, I’m getting a webcomic started for the Summer. It’s hosted on DrunkDuck, cos I don’t know any code. Yay, lack of knowledge! Here’s one of the official advertisements for “Star Trax” that’s on the webpage.


It’s weird drawing it, since that’s not even my style (see new profile picture). I’m keeping it simple so it’s easy to update and it should get underway around mid-June. I’ll let you know.

And thus concludes this portion of the show. I got a nice amount of responses so, you know, keep reading, one and all. There’re plenty of comics coming next week. Until then kids, stay safe.

Peace.
(A very hung over) Coyote Trax

Friday 22 May 2009

It's a-Musing(s).

So, finals are going… Um… Well, they’re going. Comics are getting harder and harder to keep up with every day, I tell you! I need some sort of filing system to keep track of all these. If only there was some way that I could create a specific folder, that I could somehow save onto my computo-tron, in which I could put the web addresses of my favourite comics. But alas, to my knowledge, such technology does not exist. Don’t forget kids, you can send in more of your webcomic and non-webcomic related questions/comments/queries to me at coyotetrax@hotmail.com for the up-and-coming "special update" crudely termed “You Say It, We Spray It”. No question goes unanswered. Except questions concerning the nature of life, those even I cannot answer on the interwebs. “You Say It, We Spray It” is in lieu of a ‘real’ update next week (Friday), go get ‘em in. And thanks to those who’ve already e-mailed their questions!

Anyway, here’s a comic that I like to read. Because I am a girl. Candi by Starline Hodge is possibly one of the best (and sadly, underrated) comics out there. Yeah, I guess it’s a “chick” webcomic, but son, the artwork has a nice familiar feel, the characters are believable and the story just sucks you in. On top of all this, it can be damn funny. That’s like, every box ticked, Benny! It follows the story of struggling art student Candi, her friends and their college escapades and love lives. For some reason, I can’t get enough of it. Check it out.

Now today’s comic can be described in many words and 'nipple-less flatulant tush mittens' aren't any of them. Yes, Musings is the fantastical new comic by Evan Diaz. This one also started on my birthday, that’s pretty freaky. I now pronounce March 9th to be “New Webcomic and Give Trax a Gift Day”. You may kiss the bride. Musings isn’t a story comic per se, but there are short story arcs. For a humour based strip, this comic puts others to shame. I’ve laughed myself senseless at it on more than six separate occasions. Also, there’s some hilariously insightful (read: unsightful) guff. Hence the name “musings”. Recently the characters have been formalized (note: NOT ‘formulized’, that’s different, guy). Here’s a run down.
August: A pretty normal guy with a pretty unusual name. He plays the role of the cartoonist’s representation of himself.
Ed: He’s a nut short of a ballsack. (Alternative metaphor if kids are reading this: A few cards short of a deck. In retrospect, I should have put that first). He's random, skewed, lewd, and probably the real ladies' man. Look at his eyes! Sooo cuuuute! Has a pet coat named Petie.
Iris: One letter short of an alcoholic (Iris - Irish? Geddit? Ah you wouldn’t know funny if it bit you in the hind-quarters). She plays the role of the author’s significant other (read: owner).
There are other minor characters that we’ve only just been introduced to, or will soon be introduced. So we’ll leave those guys out for the moment.

So what are we dealing with here with Musings? At first, I thought it was going to be a bit of another xkcd-styled draw-a-thon. And for the first couple, it kinda is. It’s all dizzy metaphor and stick figures. But the writing progresses significantly, developing a couple of characters and a bit of a story to go along with it. Up until a couple of months ago, it was mostly random strips. Not all of his early stuff was glitter and bran-flakes, let me tell you! There were undertones of that dreaded four letter word. Should I say it again? Are we passed the watershed? Ok, undertones of xkcd. Man, I like xkcd, I really do! But I’m not very fond of most xkcd-alikes, whether they meant to be like it or not. Anyway, despite a couple of these strips, there is possibly the most randomly hilarious stuff I’ve ever read in a comic since the Perry Bible Fellowship… Remember when it was good? (and updated, for that matter?) Ah good times. But Mr Diaz’s imagination has got to be more overactive than Marty Feldman’s thyroid (It's alright, I can make that joke. I'm a biologist).

Artwork time again, folks. Remember how I mentioned overtones of xkcd? Yeah, that extends quietly into the artwork too for some of the early strips. It progresses pretty quickly onto less-stick-figure-like guff, and then again recently with the new main character designs. I’m pretty impressed with it. I find it kinda cutesy, especially in the eyes. Damn their eyes! But lately the artwork has gotten very good and suits the humour style right down to the ground. Me likee very much. And the facial expressions, what I love the most, are fantastically done. Here’s a taster of the art style used now.


So in conclusion.





I love doing that. Randomly saying “So in conclusion.” Confuses people to no end. Good stuff. Anyway, this bad boy is getting 4 out of 5 paw things.



I’ll be following it every Monday to Friday, and so should you. If you like random, throat-hoarsingly good funsies, or just a cutesy comic that will make you smile as you contemplate the fruitlessness of your existence, Musings is for you.
And don’t forget that "You Say It, We Spray It" is next Friday, so keep mailin' your questions. Ask anything you want! Voice your thoughts on the webs. Not THOSE thoughts, chief, this is rated PG16... Doesn’t exist, huh? I’ll give you existence *shakes fist*... I’m so very tired. Oh, and I should have a little surprise for y'all as well that day. Depends on the amount of sorrows I'll need to drown after the finals.

Peace and chicken grease
Coyote Trax

Saturday 16 May 2009

Coming soon: Letters from you, for you!

Well, anyone out there who’s ever done finals will know that there’s no pressure to do well. Hah! I lie, I’m pretty busy. I’ve also spent an unholy amount of time preparing a comic that I’m sure I’ll get around to uploading somewhere, sometime in the near-distant future.
On another note, I’m doing a letters page in a couple of weeks, where I’ll answer your questions! They can be questions about any webcomics, or comics in general. But you can ask anything, even basic life advice. I. So ask whatever you want, anonymously if you like. You can e-mail your questions to coyotetrax@hotmail.com

Here’s a comic thing of choice for you, I was going to review it as it’s only about a year old now, but it looks like that ain’t gonna happen. Seems these days comics are being made quicker than I can review them. I pronounce 2009 The Year of the Webcomic… Also known as The Year of the Nerd. Anyway, check out Turnus. Euan Mumford of Jump-Leads fame is involved so you know it’s gonna be good. It’s about a secret agent spy guy, I’m sorry to say I haven’t read the whole archive, but it’s on the list!

Anywho, to today’s review. Who here reads Doctor McNinja? Show of hands. I used to, I don’t know why I stopped, but I did. Well, this week I submit to you the comic Porterhouse written and drawn by Tom Torre and Kent Archer (of Doctor McNinja fame). It follows struggling artist Porter House in his attempt to make his career as a struggling comic artist (in this economic climate he’ll be lucky to get a job as a guy what draws the caricatures of people on roller-skates). It’s a story-based comic with the occasional topical strip thrown in for good measure. And to make things more awesome, it officially started on the interwebs on my birthday! I expect gifts! However, the character of Porter has been going for years since these guys were in art school. And now for the main-character sound-off!
Porter: Struggling artist and comic nerd. He’s every art student ever made. Generally plays the straight man for Buster’s sarcasm.
Buster: Genetically enhanced peanut. He’s the man (nut). Reminds me of Bender from Futurama, only nuttier (do you see?).

There’ll be more main characters to come, presumably, since this two man show won’t work forever. Also it says as much on the “About” page. That’s right, I do my research. If only researching biology was this easy. But I digress!

Like I said, there’s a main storyline following Porter’s exploits, and then random topical strips every so often. The main story is humour-based and thus far has targeted the hard-core comic convention goers who are, let’s face it, fat idiots. And they’re not afraid to poke fun at comic artists too. The writing is some very funny stuff, and the comic timing (pun?) is second to none (rhyme!). Not to mention his sense of humour is very general, so y’all will get it, but the occasional skewing of it makes it a treat to read. The one-offs are a different kind of humour altogether, topical mostly and make for some lovely breaks in the story.

The artwork is most fancy, and pretty unique in that both Mr Archer and Mr Torre take turns in doing it (you'll notice the subtle differences). Archer's still fiddling around with his colouring, and lately he’s been using coloured markers for the job. I have to say, while starting a little shakey (not much, but enough to notice) it looks fantastic now, and quickly finds its comfort zone. Not much else to say really. Check out the taster below to see for yourself.



Welp, I’m giving this bad boy a 3.5 out of 5. It’s good. Very good. I’m guessing it’ll be great given some more time when more characters are introduced. Definitely give Porterhouse a look if you like comic humour, and keep an eye on it if you decide to follow it.
Sorry for the supreme lack of funnies in today’s review thingy, I am physically and mentally wiped from studying. Free life tip: don’t put off memorising vast quantities of info ‘til the last minute. It hurts the brain. And remember, send your questions to coyotetrax@hotmail.com I’ll take anything and everything.

Peace and chicken grease
CT

Saturday 9 May 2009

It'th alright, I have a lithp.

I decided to write most of today’s review from the college library as I “study” for my final finals. Maybe the fact that I’m typing this here and now shows you just how much (read: little) I’m getting done. For some reason I can’t get my interweb connection to work here. It’s been 4 years so you think I would have figured it out by now. No matter. So what’s in the news? Swine ‘flu still? Sorry “H1N1” as the UN would have us call it, or “Filthy Mexican ‘Flu” as the pork industry (Big Pig) prefers.
This week’s introductory-paragraph comic of choice is A Fine Example by Brian James. Now, this happens to me a lot, and I’m not sure if it happens to you guys, but when I come across an awesome comic I like the read the whole lot from beginning to end. Unfortunately time, being the possessive wench that she is, doesn’t often let me do this. But damn it this comic is funny and I want to finish it (curse you exams!). The main story follows John Stiles, he’s some sort of pirate, I don’t know, I’m not done reading. Don’t like the story? Check out his archive, there’s funny random stuff. I loved the Global Warming report, I haven’t laughed that hard since this Checkerboard Nightmare. From what I have read, it’s good stuff. Hand-drawn, good style and to top it off you’ll be laughed-up verily. [EDIT: Just finished the main archive and I have one word for it: Fantastic]

Today I have for you a very new webcomic that’s in the very early stages of its story. Very. Joe Cook brings forth for us his comic called Shattered Myth. And in case you were wondering, that’s not the title of the next heaving mass of Dan Brown awfulness, but I see how you may mistake it for such. That’s really Dan Brown’s fault for writing such tripe. I hate you Dan Brown. Fortunately, this comic isn’t written by, or is in any way associated with, Mr. Brown. Set in the “Mythoscape” the story so far involves ancient gods, some dude who is very, very confused and some chick whose only virtue is impatience. Shattered Myth only started in mid March, so it’s pretty new and has yet to really start developing the main characters. Here’s a quick run down of them as they stand:
Roland: Geek with a sarcastic streak. Has no idea why he’s in the Mythoscape. Currently paired with Anubis.
Anubis: A Jekyll and Hyde with the hide of a Jackal. Do you see? Currently stuck with Roland the Greek… Sorry, geek.
Anya: Not to be confused with: Enya. Currently walking Fenrir, a wolf-pup/god thing. She’s pushy, shovey, impatient… Typical woman really. She plays the role of the “bit of tart”. (Don’t hurt me, Women’s Lib! I’ll be good, I swear!)

As I said, this comic is pretty new. As a premise, the whole mythological thing is pretty good. It’s been done enough that it’s somewhat familiar to readers, but there’s enough creative room to make it entirely unique. In fact, this is the reason I was drawn to it. I’m quite the mythology buff. Well, I say “mythology buff”, I mean “avid watcher of Stargate”. This comic is in no way a History lesson either, chief. There’s more comic relief than you can shake a Mjolnir at (See? Comedy Gold!). The story is just now emerging from the “introducing the characters to us” stage. It’s now on the cusp of getting really interesting, with the plot starting to get into gear. I have only one real critique on the writing front, however. The story needs to be paced a little better. At times it slows down when what it needs is a good kick in the plotline to get things moving forward again. But pacing is something you learn with time and practice. With a little more plot planning, I can see this being a very interesting story-comic to follow.

Now onto the “drawmanship” (a word I invented myself to berate another reviewer). For the man’s first comic, it’s good. Of black, white ‘n’ grey cartoon-style, it’s not overly ambitious in terms of creativeness. But its solid, smooth lines look comfortable and the backgrounds, in addition to being well-drawn, are used to great effect. I’ll be honest, I have seen comics out there and they’re really not much more than scrawls. You would honestly think that an elderly bloke with the Parkinson’s had attempted it with their bad hand while dancing the “hoochie coo” on an oil-covered ice-rink. So by that outrageous standard, Shattered Myth is fantastical. But by a far more normal standard, Shattered Myth is par for the course. Golfing terminology aside, artwork evolves as time goes on, and I think it’ll hold true for this comic as it progresses. Check out the taster below.
All in all, I’m only going to give it 2.5 out of 5 paw-things. It has much potential, but it still needs to “find itself” as those monks what live down the street keep saying. And keep in mind that this is a first attempt at a webcomic. That stuff ain’t easy, as illustrated nicely by the first issue of Broken Plot Device. Still, as a first timer comic, it’s damn fine. There’s a lot of room for development and, with a little time and effort, it could become quite the popular niche comic, no question. Shattered Myth updates M/W/F kids, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on to see where it’s going. That’s all from me on it. Next week, that’s right, another comic!

Peace
CT

Saturday 2 May 2009

Webcomics are Like a Fine Wine.

Watching an old episode of the Trek, and I can’t help wondering how the new film is going to go. I’m excited about it. Very excited. Not THAT kind of excited, chief. That’s wrong. It could go either way, but then time travel is involved, so if it’s bad they can always cry “alternate timeline” and all will be well. Remember First Contact? All the crickets started chirping and then they learned of the old time travel paradox in films involving universes and things. Also: physics! So who knows, it will either be good time travel or bad time travel.
So, back to the webcomics. Recently I learned about a comic that’s been going for years, George. You may have read it, or know of it, but I only discovered it when I joined twitter (also: join twitter). I have to say, the artwork is cartoony but very professional, like a comic should be. The humour is very broad too so, unless you have some severe funny-dysfunction in your brain-sensor, you’re guaranteed a laugh.

Aside from that, I have a great new webcomic for you today, swine ‘flu be damned! Scott “Mighty Duck” Ferguson offers us “Nerf This” a humour-based comic with plenty of random laugh-me-ups and a small monster with teeth. It kicked off on the 12th of March, so there’s not much catching up to do there. And like all new comics, it starts a little slow, but not too slow thankfully and soon hits a decent calibre of humour. Here’s a quick run-down of the main characters:
Chase: The nerf-gun toting, Spiderman-obsessed owner of Monty, the Monster.
Monty: Small monster thing with wings owned by Chase. Likes to bite him and is afraid of Smurfs.
Tony: Chase’s good friend, acts as the straight man when Chase is around. Funny in his own right, too.
Steph: Tony’s girlfriend. Angry, angry lady. She acts as straight man for those ‘Tony and Steph’ moments. Or should that be “straight person”? I don’t know, political corectness was never my forté.

Ok, now let’s get down and dirty with this thing. The writing is pretty good, and the humour is overall decent with the frequent twist of hilarity. The first storyline, wherein many of the characters are introduced, is a little slow and is by far the least funny. Now that’s not saying it isn’t funny, but compare it to the next few storylines and you’ll see a drastic improvement in the humour. Literally, each story is funnier than the last. I guess the humour is best characterised as random and observational, with a little unrealistic realism thrown in for good measure. It makes for a good mix. Personally, I don’t get the character of Monty. Well, I do, but I don’t see the point in terms of long-term plot development. But if my eyes work like I think they do, I believe I saw him in the second instalment of “Scout Crossover, also done by Mr Ferguson (and shall be reviewed with gusto once its had some time to mature, comics are like a fine wine in that respect... Well, they're like a wine... Well, they're like booze). So are we looking at a pan-webcomic marketing strategy or just one strange mans obsession with small winged monsters? We may never know.

Oblige my ears m’dears, and listen to my noodlings of the doodlings. What? I don’t even know. The artwork started off as black and white styled in a some-what conservative sketchy/cartoonish fashion. It has since started dabbling in colour (much like America in the mid-20th century) but still retains its sketchy charm. Not much else to say really. It’s of good quality and there's nary a bad word to say about it. Facial expressions could be made a little better I guess, but that might impinge on the unique style, which shouldn’t have to suffer needlessly.I’m gonna give Nerf This 3.5 out of 5 paw-things. I like it. It can be, and will be, funnier as time goes on. It updates M/W/F, and no doubt I’ll be keeping an eye on it as it goes on. And so can you! Teaser below (Matron!). And I’ll be watching Scout Crossover. Don’t think I won’t! Nothing gets past Coyote Tiberius Trax!

Peace.


Saturday 25 April 2009

When it Raines...

Ho-lee moo-cats, kids. I had quite the eventful week. The work is done, on Earth as it is in Dallas. And by that I mean I finally wrote my thesis. 4/20 came and went. Admit it, show of hands, who went out for Hitler’s birthday? (Seriously, look it up). Anyway, my brain is still a-tingling after all that study, so I’ve got a great new comic lined up for you that takes a nice light-hearted approach to the provoking of the thoughts. But first, more talking. Sorry. The other day my faith in the human race was restored. In these times of economic woe, hardship and general stupidity of mankind, a kind lady let me off paying for something when I realised I forgot my money. I could’ve sworn I’d had cash in my wallet, and I offered to run to the ATM and back so I could pay, but she had none of it. I literally couldn’t believe people do that anymore. I wish her all the best (not that she’s reading).

Raine Dog is a new webcomic by Dana Claire Simpson (of “Ozy and Millie” and “I Drew This” fame), though this comic is quite a bit different. The comic is structured in a ‘graphic novel’ fashion (which she says herself was the original plan for the story), though the artwork makes it look and feel more like a webcomic (which is awesomes). Having only started in January, with weekly updates until recently, this comic has a veteran feel (Veteran? Vet? Get it? Cos the main character is a dog? I’m so funny). And rightly so! Dana’s been doing comics since before I even owned a computer. That’s a fact!

What the heck are we dealing with chief? I’ll tell thee. Raine is the main character. She’s a dog in the big city, living a comfortable lifestyle that she seems well adjusted to. We’re treated (another pun!) to the views and ideas she has on this life, how society and the world in general acts in her presence. In the meantime, we also get Raine’s self narrated retrospective flashbacks of her childhood, or puppyhood, or whatever you’d call it. Amazingly, my spell checker is recognising “puppyhood” as a word. That’s so cool. She talks about some of the trials and tribulation of growing up, as well as the trials and tribulations of her city life. So what? Huh? That’s an old idea, it’s been done, right? Well, son, let me tell you this, it is not an “old” idea, it is a classic. And son? This is what one would term a “fresh perspective”, but not only that, it’s very well executed. Personally, I find myself enthralled with the story, it leaves me at the end feeling satisfied but wanting more. Kinda like sex, or eating a pack of M&Ms. It’s not without humour either, which is used to break up any heavy stuff that is dangerously close to hampering the point of the story.

The artwork is cartoony, but sophisticated. It’s smooth, can be somewhat minimalist, and compliments the tone of the plot nicely. What more can I say? Though the overall format is of a graphic novel, the artwork, as I said, is not. It makes for an interesting combination, and is used to great effect getting the story across.

Should I make another pun or are we good? We’re good.

So give Raine Dog a bone and give it a read, it’s a great comic! I’m giving it 4 outta 5 paw-things, chief.
It updates twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, and makes for a good read if you like clever outlooks on life (see the taster down below, chief!)


In the meantime, have a good week.
Peace and chicken grease

Coyote Trax

Saturday 18 April 2009

As Existential Quandaries Go...

The sky is grey here and has been for a while now. It makes for a nice backdrop against which to write my thesis. Now I’m not used to all this thinking, but recently I’ve found myself reading more “thought-oriented” webcomics than usual. And thus I’ve brought some of the newer and more interesting ones here. Now, I realise these won’t have as much of the funny as you may be used to, but I also realise that funny isn’t everything (“It’s not?” you say, “No, chief!” I reply with gusto). Let this forever be remembered as the time I wrote intelligent reviews.
So sit back and engage your brain-sense processors, chief! Cos for the next couple of weeks you’re in for deep-thought treatment from the latest thinky-dink comics the interweb has to offer!

First up is James Finlay’s “The Republic of Here”. Having started literally only in late February, this comic is still wet behind the ears but shows an awful lot of promise. As mainstream comics go, this will probably never be one of them, though the definition of “mainstream” is getting blurrier by the month in webcomic terms. Nay, I would probably classify this as an “indie” comic. Such a thing may spark debate, so here’s why I think (know) I’m right. First off, its premise is not humour, it is philosophy. Secondly, the art style isn’t comic-like. It’s a unique blend of doodling and fair-trade coffee. And, as existential quandaries go, this is one of the stranger ones. So I dub it an indie comic.

So what’s it all about, chief? Well, at its most basic level, it deals with meaningless existence, and how each character comes to term with it. The main character is a robot, Irving (or 111001, as his robot friends call him) who is capable of thinking outside of 1’s and 0’s and dreams of the number 2. Upon waking up, he finds himself on a new plain of existence, reality or thought. We know not what it is. But here Irving meets the two other main characters, Oswald and Adeline. Both have similar stories to Irving, having been in a place where their existence was unreasonable, and they woke up one to find themselves “here”. (That’s where the comic draws its name from, son!) The story is essentially Irving coming to terms with this new existence. What was once purpose without meaning is now meaning without purpose. I have high hopes for this plot, but it does run the risk of getting real old real fast. I can’t wait to see how it goes.

Art-house magic! Since this is a comic about mundane drudgery and the overcoming thereof, we are treated to shades of melancholic grey, “here” being a lighter shade than Irving’s previous existence. The characters themselves are drawn in a more doodle-like fashion to convey a better sense of non-conformity to the normity. Also their names are written on their shirts. I don’t know why that is, nor can I offer a reason. It makes my job easier though *smileyface*. Interestingly, each character has its own speech-bubble font. I like this aspect. It’s a nice touch. At times there’s a very “Matrix” type look to it, what with loads of quasi-meaningless numbers floating around that are liable to take an eye out if people aren’t careful.


Overall, The Republic of Here is a decent and insightful comic. It might even make you think about your own life! Or not! Frankly that’s up to you, chief. To sum up, it’s a nice allegory for mankind’s mundane existence and how so few of us dream of things outside it. And if worse comes to worse, it could easily transcend the genre into humour! All they need to do is open a bar called “Cheers” on this empty plain of existence and throw a pregnant sassy waitress into the mix! Ahem… But I digress. Read The Republic of Here! I give it 3 out of 5 paw-prints or ‘Trax’ or something. Do you see?



Peace and chicken grease.


Coyote Trax