Friday 27 March 2009

A Review of Woo for You!

Hello again, faithful readers. I must begin with the bad news. Due my excessive workload and sleep deprivation, I didn’t get the chance to find and review a really obscure comic this week. That means getting in touch with the artist, asking their permission to use some of their comic in the review (for the taster, chief!) and it usually takes a day or two for them to reply. Anyway, yeah, I didn’t do that. And so! I decided to review a less obscure but no less recent comic. With any luck, I’ll get quick permission to post a picture [I got it, son! - Ed.]. If not… I don’t know… I guess I’ll draw a bad rendering of it? That’s what happens when you cross the Trax! Yeah! Wow that sounded awful once I read it back. “Just the Trax, ma’am.” I need sleep.

So, I’m gonna thank Cameron right now for suggesting the comic Sandra and Woo. If, like me, you’ve seen the advertisements and haven’t read it, then you were missing out on some good stuff! Originally, I was going to review this one in a month or so but, since I read the entire archive in one sitting, I think I’ll review it now. Sandra and Woo is about a young girl who finds and adopts a raccoon, Woo, as her pet. Fortunately for us all, Woo can talk! And he be knocking out the funnies. There are numerous other characters too: Sandra’s father; and her friends Cloud and Larisa; Woo’s friend Shadow, a fox; and Sid, a Squirrel. It’s written by Oliver Knörzer and drawn by Powree, AND it only began in October!

This comic is entirely reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes. Mostly the writing, but some of the comics are portrayed in a similar fashion to the old Calvin and Hobbes strips, but in no way is it ripping it off. It’s all very original, and very well written. These similarities are usually intentional, an homage of sorts, to the excellence that is C&H, (not Cyanide and Happiness, that’s another thing entirely). So if you’re into Calvin and Hobbes, you will like this strip. It’s full of the witty and inspirational observations!

How can I describe the art work? Well, you can check out Powree’s DeviantArt page and make up your mind with your eyes. Or, you can just check out the comic and make up your mind with your eyes that way, son! I recommend the latter, since it kills two birds with one fantastic stone. Her work is very good, animé-cartoonish, but still retaining a sense of realism for the comic. The strip itself is done in black and white, and is done in very clean black lines. Refreshing! See to believe, chief.

A summary! Sandra and Woo is a good read if you like intelligent humour and cute fuzzy animals. So what the heck are you waiting for, Marty? Go and read it! Updates twice or thrice a week, usually Mondays and Thursdays and one other mystery day (Hint: it’s not Monday or Thursday!) Here’s your taster, guys and gals, have a good week!
Peace and chicken grease.
Coyote “Write-Me-do” Trax

Friday 20 March 2009

Webcomics are neat.

Once upon a time I had a job. Really, I did. It was in what you “Americans” would call an “apartment store”… No, that’s not right. “Department store!” Though they’re a whole lot smaller here than what you may be used to. Long story short, I worked there and it sucked but I needed the money. At the time I recall thinking to myself “Dude, this would so make a great webcomic!” Of course, I never actually drew one. That’s how I do things. I suss them out verbally and don’t follow through. I’m a peach like that. Anywho, today’s comic brings back to life my dream of seeing a comic about people working in a department store! And I gotta say, there be funnies to be had, chief! Also, New England Webcomics Weekend is on this weekend in Massachusetts! It’s the first one ever, hopefully everyone going will have a great time. Webcomics are neat.

Surviving Retail by Chuck Egan started (sorta) in October, but the comic didn’t really get going ‘til December (all 2008, people). It’s about the intertwining lives of retail employees, the trials and tribulations that it entails, and essentially how to survive working in a large department store. Be it the co-workers antics or the customers complaints, this comic illustrates (quite well, I might add) life in Bird’s Department Store. (I know I ended two sentences with “department store”, so sue me.)

This is a very well written comic, with several key characters, each with their own little quirks. The humour itself is mostly situational with the rest coming from the characters’ own personas, which are starting to develop nicely along with as the strip progresses. It’s one of those real life comics (not to be confused with Real Life Comics by Greg Dean) in that we can all kinda relate to it. We’ve all been in a department store at one time or another, either working or shopping, so it’s easy enough to keep up with. Looking back a bit, it’s what I’d imagine “Friends” to be if it were set in a department store instead of a couple of apartments and a coffee shack.

Hit me up art-master! Done in black and white (no shading), the comic is pretty good. It gets a thumbs-up from me, at least. The characters are all drawn quite well, and if I were pushed to find a fault, well, I guess the facial expressions could be a little better. I don’t know, they can come across as a little faceless, but only in the literal sense. But it seems to work as it is, guy. To coin a paraphrase, “If somethin’ ain’t broken, then there’s no need to repair it.”

And that brings us to the end of tonight’s show. I’d like to thank Frank and the Frankettes for providing the music. And a special thanks to you, the audience. Oh, and a reminder that the New England Webcomics Weekend is on this weekend. Chuck himself will be there, check it out if you’re in the area. I’d go, but I’m not on that continent. Remember, you can follow Surviving Retail every M/W/F. Here’s a sample to roll over the credits. Goodnight everybody!

Saturday 14 March 2009

Practice makes perfect...

Whoops! I forgot to write this! Busy week involving labs, crabs and tonsillitis. And no crabs. Well here we be! Another week, another webcomic. Have you noticed the new title thingy? How could you not! Look at it up there, all shoddy and half-assed. I haven't actually had time to take it down to fix it. And no, I'm not a furry, that's not a "fursona" or whatever they call it: This is marketing, son! A marketing ploy. I’m pretty addicted to that Twitter thing. I demand you join it, if only to follow Wil Wheaton, he’s a funny guy. So I saw Watchmen last week. Good stuff, though there was a bit more quantum blue penis than I'm used to. Oh, and I’m sure y’all will be pleased to know that I’ve come across a treasure trove of comics in the last week or so too, so we’ll be plenty busy for the weeks to come. It figures, as soon as I start to tone down the blog a bit, I find more stuff to write about.

One of these new comics had me in stitches! That’s a pun, son. You’ll find out why right now. The Practice is a comic about two paramedics (not a bunch of lawyers, in case it crossed your mind). They drive around in an ambulance and get up to all sorts of crazy, medical-related doin’s! Sounds awewsome, doesn’t it? It gets better, one is a hardened, world weary, cynical medic and the other is the wide-eyed, naïve, newbie. Suffice to say, it’s got the makings of a great buddy-movie. Picture Dr Cox and JD from Scrubs as paramedics in comic form and you get the idea. The best part of it all is that it’s funny because it’s true. The Practice is written by Anna Bancroft, a real life medical person, who’s brain train took a left turn at sanity leaving only hilarity in its wake (must be all those long working hours and hospital fumes). She started it in mid-February (of this year) and it’s been going strong ever since.

This comic is exceptionally well written. It follows Rule One of writing in general: Write about what you know. And she knows her medical jiggery-pokery, let me tell you that much. And you don’t need to know fancy terminology for this, oh no sir! It’s not that kind of humour. It’s your basic run-of-the-mill cynical dude with his still-wet-behind-the-ears companion. “So what?” you say, “How is that new and exciting?” The real difference comes in the context. In this paramedic setting, there are new comedic doors open that people like you and I wouldn’t have even considered! It really is very well put together in that respect and I found a bit of a new appreciation for the old-school buddy comedy.

As far as comics go, there are many styles, most have a generic 3 or 4 panel thing with their content essentially making or breaking it. It’s nice to see something break the mold for a change. This is like, I don’t know, the art deco of comics. The characters look like they’re based off signs from a bathroom door (with some minor modifications) but that simplicity gives it a great sense of charm. Heck, Anna, if you’re reading this, you should get into the art business if whole medical thing goes down the tubes. Facial expressions are something I always look at. Here we’re only given the characters’ eyes, but more than enough emotion is conveyed across to the reader.

It truly is a unique perspective, elegant in its simplicity and side-splitting in its hilarity. And if I may paraphrase the site itself, it explains why they call it a medical “practice”. Fortunately for us all, practice makes perfect… But then nobody’s perfect… Who the hell is practising then? You know what, I’ve confused myself. The Practice updates pretty much daily, and you can follow Ms Bancroft’s musings on twitter. Oh, and here’s your taster, chief!

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Is "meh" a word yet?

Ok, wow, so one or two things. First off, I’ve joined the gigantic attention-yearning foray that is Twitter. Really, it’s pretty much a big huge “LOOKEE HERE AT WHAT I AM SAYING!!1!ONE”. But here’s a CT-guarantee, folks! I’m gonna find you all good comic strips, every single day. And in a rare, double-whammy decision, I’ll disparage all the crap ones! Yes, I will! So follow me on twitter with all the other Twitts (the extra ‘t’ means it’s non-derogatory!). Secondly, I’ve been meaning to bestow some thanks. Many of you have “electronically” mailed me, thanking me no less! I love you all, but it is I that should be thanking you for your readership and keen interest in webcomics. Also, a very special thank-you to Lifon, who has commented on pretty much every post. You guys can learn something from him. Learn with your eyes.

Man oh man, I love pandas. So when I happened across Pandamonium!! I was pretty excited. There aren’t nearly enough Pandas out there in the webcomic world. Written by Jonathan and Hanna Velez, Pandamonium!! follows the tale of a Panda, his son and their sometimes pal Frank, the monkey and their life in the city zoo. Pandas, being the fuzziest of all the endangered species, are treated like kings. Endangered kings! So prep your eye-buds for some lazy-ass-panda-oriented humour, kids. Because that’s what this is. And having only started in December, there’s not much catching up to do!

Now this isn’t really a story-style comic, but there are a few related comics throughout. And there are some very nifty one-offs! Speaking honestly, the pure fact that they’re pandas is what makes this comic. It’s not something overly clever or witty but, by gum, there be panda bears! And a fair few of the strips within had me chortling (who says that anymore?). I’m not sure what I can really compare it to, it’s not spectacular. But… Pandas!

The obligatory paragraph on the artwork is here! There’s really not much to say. It’s mostly a simple black and white comic, with some of the one-off exceptions. The drawings are pretty… Hm… Is “meh” a word yet? Naw, it's ok and definitely getting better. Further, the pandas are cute and it all adds to the charm. And that’s what matters in the end, right? And Tin Man, you had a heart all along! And Scarecrow, so did you!

All in all, I’ll be following Pandamonium!!, and here’s why. It’s got potential. You know my motto, new webcomics are still finding their feet, their niche and their comfort zone artistically. I wish it the best! Here’s a taste of some of the good stuff.

I’d also like to add (as an addendum, yes) that all suggestions for review are welcome with open arms! Though I do generally review comics that are less than a year old. Long story short, check out Galaxion. It’s Sci-Fi and it’s awesome, and it’s been running since March ’07, so I won’t be reviewing it. Sorry! But you can expect Twitters about it! Or “tweets”. Or whatever they’re called.