• Columns 

    The Webcomics Weekly #26: Webcomics Call Home Edition (3/12/19 Edition)

    By | March 12th, 2019
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    Welcome back, one and all, to The Webcomics Weekly! This week we receive “A Call from Home” and physically altered cop strip “Killjoys.” WE also have continuing coverage of “Blood Stain,” Elly finally gets down to very important work. “Sam and Fuzzy” are still on the case. And like Vox Machina, the “Order of the Stick” can’t say no to a contract or adventure.

    A Call Away From Home
    Chapter 1 Pages 31-34
    Updates: Thursdays
    By Moosopp
    Reviewed by Elias Rosner

    Still in its first chapter, Moosopp’s “A Call Away From Home” has yet to establish its central focus, hampered by a pacing which is built for the magazine instead of a page by page release. Part of this is due to the withholding of information about Casper while the other is because the story has chosen split its focus between Dahlton, a college-age conspiracy theorist, and Casper, the rich dude with a robot. A romance between the two is afoot but we don’t have a good grasp on who they are just yet. Additionally, it doesn’t exactly sit right as Moosopp has yet to establish ages for these characters, and their art style makes it so that it is impossible to tell if a character is younger than another or just being rendered as such. Heck, even of the three triplets it’s hard to tell.

    That said, the series so far oozes charm and the low-key romance aspects are the big draw. These most recent four pages are a wonderful showcase of the bubby character work Moosopp is capable of. Julien and Casper play off each other naturally and the charmingly awkward obliviousness of each the characters makes the humor land. The simplification that Moosopp does to their character’s designs to accentuate the jokes, as well as the large, oftentimes differently shaped, balloon play to the comics’ stylistic inspirations.

    The magazine this comic runs in, Sparkler Monthly, is a Shojo-esque magazine, and as such, the page presentation and art style is reflective of that. For those unfamiliar with the genre, this may not be the best place to start, as it is a slow burn, paced for the magazine not the update, with likeable but not too deep characters. It’s still biding its time to really hit its stride — the presumed inciting incident hasn’t even occurred yet — and with the one page a week schedule, it may take a while to get there and really get going. There’s a lot to love if you’re already a fan of the genre but for those who aren’t, check out Moosopp’s other work “Sunshine Boy” for a better in and example of their storytelling and character talents.

    Blood StainLineTapas
    Chapters 51-55
    Schedule: currently on hiatus
    By Linda Sejic
    Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

    Our journey through chapter 2 continues and it’s time to get down to business! What is that business? Surprisingly normal, and boring. As Vlad assigns Elly for her first task the monumental job of cleaning a collection of beakers. Which is actually important business, hygiene and all, but tedious. Linda Sejic dose a nice job contrasting the tedium of Elly’s current situation with the more imaginative version of what she though this job would be. In her head she thought this would be some Jurassic Park stuff, which is realized in this wider more open panels. In reality she’s making a bunch of glassware squeaky clean. The inclusion of tiny little “scrub scrub” onomatopoeia are this nice little touch that show how tedious and annoying the task is.

    Meanwhile Vlad is shaving his nose hair with a scalpel pointed at his face. Sejic does a good job in this batch of strips of ending them on a comedic zinger. The image of scalpel hair trimming is hilarious, but a more complete moment of comics comedy is at the end of strip #52 ‘The Deal’ as Elly counters her arrangement sounds a whole lot like a human trafficking ring. Vlad’s shocked realization and the inclusion of an ellipse just makes the moment.

    It seems like we’re going to finally move pass the Vlad is monstrous and evil misunderstanding routine. As he pretty much bears his soul to not judge a book by its cover, literally using his metal (or edgelord) looking journal as an example. It was a good routine, Sejic use of lighting and framing in strip #51 is a good example of this skill, but was a bit overdone at this point. I don’t think this will be the end to misunderstanding as the root of comedy in this series, but this particular routine will take a break going forward.

    Continued below

    Killjoys
    Pages 1.50 – 1.60
    Updates: Mondays and Wednesdays
    By Woods
    Reviewed by Gustavo S. Lodi

    “Killjoys” tells the story of Sprinkles and Bernard, two partners in the police force within a world partially governed by regular physics… and those typical to the cartoon and animated world. For while Bernard is a regular human, Sprinkles belongs to the clown race, where magic and absurdity are common place.

    The main credit going to series creator Woods is how the world and it’s functioning logic are introduced to readers. With some few asides, there is no exposition to be found on this series, with the audience gradually understanding the place of things, people and characters.

    Following suit, the art style tries to fit both aesthetics into a single frame, succeeding on some occasions, but being somewhat jarring on others. Where it is particularly effective is when the background setting is painted on a more realistic manner, with characters more cartoony. The flip-side is when certain characters are portrayed on different color pallets to convey that contrast, but that ends up making some pages and panel polluted.

    In terms of plot and script, this would be your traditional buddy cop story, if not for its fantastic elements. Movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Cool World certainly come to mind, but Woods make “Killjoys” its own by the very specific rules governing the place. The use of a certain prop gun is a great, clever example of how twisted this world really.

    All in all, “Killjoys” shows a lot of promise and few areas it must surely improve to become stellar. If the art department hits its stride consistently (like it does on some pages) and the plot manages to move forward a bit more smoothly, balancing exposition, this would be even more fun. In spite of that criticism, this is surely a fun series to explore, and one that readers should want to revisit often.

    Order of the Stick
    Pages 61-65
    Updates: Varies
    By Rich Burlew
    Reviewed by Robbie Pleasant

    And now we have the fight scenes! Each character against his, her, or their evil opposite, and each fight with a gag. While some of the jokes work better than others, overall it gives us plenty of good action to enjoy.

    For Elan vs Nale, we get some classic good twin vs evil twin combat, complete with the usual banter. Nale does drop a mention of their father, though, which hints at the relationship they’ll show much later on. Elan, meanwhile, gets to weaponize being annoying, to very amusing extent. In fact, the bardsongs and tumbling skills he demonstrated in earlier gags come into play, so even those little details were set up nicely.

    Meanwhile, Haley vs Sabine plays on the gag about demons vs devils in D&D, because even experienced players can often confuse the two, and succubi have switched between one or the other from edition to edition. The use of a D&D archery feat helps solve the dilemma, once more utilizing the game mechanics in a way that works within and advances the story. (Admittedly, the constant use of gender-based insults gets a little tiring, but Rich himself even acknowledges and makes up for it down the line.)

    Belkar vs Yikyik is the fight with the least dialogue and most action. For two small-sized creatures, it’s actually a pretty fun fight. It doesn’t even need to have them talking, and having them roll off-panel only to have Belkar walk back with Yikyik’s head as a hat leaves the actual details of the kill up to the reader’s imagination.

    Somehow, the battle with the two fighters is actually the least engaging, as Roy and Thog fight it out. Even then, the dialogue is amusing, with Thog talking about being a barbarian/fighter multiclass for the bonus feats, and Roy bringing up higher-level fighter abilities. The best part of the fight comes in when they switch; remember, Nale is the evil twin, leading to this great line: “I’ve been suppressing the urge to beat the crap out of someone who looks EXACTLY like you for a long, long time.” Seeing Nale suddenly realize his mistake and book it is hilarious to say the least.

    Continued below

    Then we have the elf wizard battle, with Vaarsuvius vs Zz’dtri. There was a gag earlier about how all drow as player characters were ripoffs of Drizz’t (a gag based on historical fact, as many players can attest), which comes back into play. The copyright lawyers make a hysterical return, turning a gag into a properly foreshadowed clever victory.

    “Order of the Stick” continues to be incredibly amusing, from the banter to the foreshadowing to the gags. If you’re expecting anything less from it, you haven’t been paying attention.

    Sam and Fuzzy
    The Big Cheat parts 1-5
    Updates: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
    By Sam Logan
    Reviewed by Dexter Buschetelli

    “Thief, not therapist. Sue me.” Many great stories begin at the end and end at the beginning, and do all sorts of storytelling shenanigans in between. “Sam & Fuzzy” is at its most Fight Club in this week’s review as it jumps back to the story of Fuzzy and Hazel, giving hints and tidbits in how it relates to the overall tale. “The Big Cheat” begins on a quiet note. Fuzzy awakens in Hazel’s apartment hearing faint voices and, being his nosy self, investigates, giving us a glimpse of the beginning of his sleuthing ways.

    As minimal as these installments are they provide a great, though subtle, callback to our last review and the very beginning of this series. “N-M-S” gave us a moment of vulnerability, showing that Fuzzy clearly has some unresolved feelings regarding the mysterious Hazel. This flashback circles the wagons back to their initial connections and tells the audience she is hiding something. Whatever Hazel is setting up, we’re given the impression that it is big, and that Fuzzy is going to be left in the lurch, leading him to meeting Sam and establishing (or re-branding) N-M-S.

    These five portions of this chapter are as quiet visually as they are narratively, but Fuzzy’s fuzz awakening is played well, with rough circles representing a stirring from a deep but drudging sleep.

    This chapter looks to shed more light on the relationship between Fuzzy and Hazel but for now we are left with little but crumbs for an appetizer before a hopefully more filling course in our next runthrough of “Sam & Fuzzy.”


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    Michael Mazzacane

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    The Webcomics Weekly #49: You Know What’s Better than Kung Fu? Cybernetic Kung Fu. (8/20/19 Edition)

    By | Aug 20, 2019 | Reviews

    I bet you're wondering what the big tease last week was. Did anyone guess? Surely it wasn't a second person looking at "Order of the Stick" nor is it a look at the new comic "The Red King." Maybe it was us going on "A Nice Long Walk." It couldn't be the comic who's photo is featured and also directly below this paragraph, could it? Only if this were "A Better Place."

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