comedy


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell

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Wednesday's Webcomic

I return from my break a little late this week, but I return with the fascinating, deep, and kind-hearted dramedy Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell. The comic takes place in an other world where tracking your Karma is as important in life as your credit score and your taxes. Unicorns are available as pets, your landlord might be a minotaur, and pothead angels might foist their heavenly duties off on their roommates. Darwin Carmichael is, according to his Karmic balance, one of the worst people on earth. While he tries his best to improve his balance, he has a hard time making up for a single stupid mistake made as teenager. This action haunts his every job hunt, apartment application and his romantic life. He is sometimes arrested by the Karma Police in a preemptive strike against someone so (apparently)  evil, and when he occasionally meets up with someone with psychic sensitivity they usually go into fits from fear and shock at his doom.  Since he is in actuality an average joe, he has some good friends who try to help him get into the black. His best friend and ex-girlfriend Ella tries to keep him on the path of righteousness despite her own  frequently questionable actions. She herself is incredibly karmically wealthy thanks to inheriting the karmic balance of her deceased guru parents, enough so that she could commit several murders and still be considered one of the best people on earth.  His two-millenia-old and somehow still-mentally twelve pet manticore Skittles is always there to cheer him up, or sting him with a scorpion tail if he had been accidentally locked in the closet.

Unicorn

Whatever you say, Darwin!

While Darwin Carmichael’s cheerful tone and brightly colored, friendly animation style give it the appearance of a light hearted romp through international traditions of faith and creatures of myth, it does have a very deep commentary on the dangers of thinking of good and evil as merely black and white, and the hypocrisy of whatever moral authority deems itself fit to judge you. It also lovingly pokes fun at the more mundane intricacies of New York hipster culture with beings like the Leprechaun of Gentrification and the actual Muses who hang with the art scene.  It was recently completed after nearly five years of weekly regular publication. The stories are a mix of funny one-shot gags and longer philosophical stories, and is as a whole a heart-warming and positive saga of friendship, moving on from your past, and being the best person you can be.

About the Creators

Jenn Jordan is the cowriter and draws Skittle’s Crayon interludes. She is a PHD student of History at NYU. Sophie Goldstein is the other writer and the primary artist, who is currently getting her MFA from the center of cartoon studies. She is working on a contribution to the horror anthology Sleep of Reason and more of her art, incuding the recent Adventure Time cover can be viewed at her website.

Diner

In my head that’s the God of Coffee.

 


Wednesday’s Webcomic – The Tragedy Series

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Wednesday's Webcomic

The Tragedy Series by Benjamin Dewey is a series of poignant and amusing one panel comics illustrating unlikely tragedies. I’ve described it at times as a Victorian The Far Side and in the same vein as the comics of Charles Addams. Painterly sepia-toned vignettes illustrate old fashioned characters in absurd situations. Part of the charm of the series is that you can imagine finding them in the corner of some Victorian magazine or newspaper, or faded clippings tucked into your Great-Grandmother’s recipe box in the attic. The author keeps in character as a verbose Victorian gentleman giving these friendly “It can happen to you!” warnings in his comments, and he uses the tumblr format to keep the presentation of the website simple. He also uses the tumblr tags to great effect, sneaking in a little extra description of the situation into the tags section.  The author kindly includes “Sadness Reprieves” should the tragedy begin to weigh on you and these are sweet, happy, and always heart-warming.

Show And Tell

The Author and his Other Works

Benjamin Dewey is a professional freelance comic artist, illustrator and musician out of Portland, Oregon and Periscope Studio. He’s worked on projects for Marvel, IDW, and Dark Horse, as well as an excellent but sadly departed  fantasy webcomic called Tales of the White Pony. Some of its remains can be seen with even see more samples of his work at his online portfolio here. Many of the tragedies are available as prints in Dewey’s web store on Etsy.

Note from Jeanette: I’ll be taking a brief break from Wednesday’s webcomic next week, for a vacation and to read more archives. I want to be sure I read an entire library before I recommend a comic and I need to add more comics to my line up. If you have a recommendation, please send it to jeanette.diaz@gonnageek.com! You can expect the next installment on July the Third. Please enjoy this Sadness Reprieve to console you in my absence:

A Sadness Reprieve


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Battlepug

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Sometimes a webcomic is born from a strange place. In this case, an established mainstream print comic artist designed a t-shirt on the fly. The characters on the silly t-shirt became so wildly popular that a weekly webcomic had to follow, because the clamors of internet could not be denied. I mean really, who could deny the sweet, gigantic face of BattlepugThe Battlepug itself is the giant, fearsome mount of mighty barbarian mage-warrior, who is on quest for vengeance against those who destroyed his family. In an age lost to time, where bandits roam and kings squabble over petty grievances, a malevolent wizard is using giant, adorable beasts to destroy a seemingly random sequence of towns and villages. Our hero, the Warrior, is the lone survivor of one of these attacks. As he journeys to find vengeance against the mage he is joined on his quest by the massive and lovable Battlepug, a mad old hermit, a foul-mouthed and powerfully magical child, and a fearsome female soldier.

Battlbug is a tongue-in-cheek look at the pulp novels of the past, and the characters almost always approach their absurd situations with complete seriousness. This is a sword and sorcery comedy, although there are hints of a more serious storyline beneath it. The art is reminiscent of pulp novel covers and illustrations as well. It is brightly colored and richly detailed. THe characters are expressive and original, and every single one of the massive Battlepug’s sweet, derpy expressions warm my heart and make me squee! Even if he is rampaging through a battle! Who can say no reading more comics with that face? As an added bonus, fan’s pug pictures are featured on Fridays! The comic itself updates with excellent punctuality on Mondays. In 2012, it won the Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic. The first volume has been published by Dark Horse.

The Author and his Other Work 

Mike Norton is the writer and artist for Battlepug, and is the owner of a pug named Ninja. He has an impressive comics resume that includes the Waiting Place, Runaways, and Green Arrow/Black Canary as well as many others. He has also recently been working on Revival with Tim Seeley, to much critical acclaim. The colors are done by Allen Passalaqua, a photographer and colorist who has worked on Justice Socitey of America, Spiderman, Green Arrow and Black Canary.

A Boy and his Dog.

Our hero meets his mighty steed.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Roy’s Boys

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This week I make a departure from my usual fare of long complex ongoing storylines to tell you about Roy’s Boys, a series of biweekly comedy one-shots from two writers and and best friends. The strips are semi-autographical, irreverent, and feature adult humor. I’ve found myself laughing uncontrollably to the point of falling out of my chair more than once! Be warned, these are grown men discussing the things that grown men discuss amongst grown men; namely dick jokes, women, and video games. Despite being of the female variety myself, I find their jokes hilarious. Some slice of life events are touched on such as visiting home, wooing a woman, and cohabitation but it is at heart a cheerful, fun comic about two best friends. Roy, the neater and generally more put together friend is featured on Mondays and Shane, the goofier and less-composed ginger friend is featured on Thursdays.

SUGAR HIGH

Shane hasn’t had straight sugar in quite a while

Both authors base the characters on themselves and minor and major events in their own lives, and alternate writing and drawing for their comic avatars. There is a style difference to help differentiate between the author on sight and both are drawn in black and white with a friendly expressive newspaper look. The comic has updated with no interruptions since 2010, with multiple guest comics from friends as a special feature. Two print volumes have been published, with the first two years each in a separate volume. You can purchase them here.

The Authors and their Other Work

Roy’s Boys is written by Ron Chan and Sean Kelley, two artists based in Portland. Sean is a freelance cartoonist, illustrator and game critic. He’s an associate editor at  Thunderbolt as well as Try Indie, which is devoted to indie gaming. Ron is a freelance illustrator and comic book artist, with many notable covers and contributions to series such as The Guild and Husbands. He created on my absolute favorite prints in my collection: Lucy and Lizard. I once had nightmare it was destroyed in a move. It was horrible.

Firm Spoonful

Yes, there are spoons that don’t bend in ice cream.

 


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Narbonic

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Because I had written about Girl Genius and Dresden Codak in the previous weeks, I now have MAD SCIENCE on the brain. Specifically, mad scientists of the female variety, which brings me to the now classic daily webcomic Narbonic. Narbonic is the story of Dave Davenport, a chain-smoking recent graduate in Computer Sciences who lands a job as a henchman with Narbonic Labs right out of college. His new boss, Dr. Helen B. Narbon, is a certifiably mad and and gerbil-obsessed scientist with a penchant for buggy doomsday machines. Her cheerfully amoral gun-toting intern Mell is searching for some direction in life but until then has a large stockpile of grenades. Later on one of her experimental gerbils, Artie, achieves sentience and tries to be the voice of reason, but usually fails miserably. Dr. Narbon’s lair is frequently attacked by her rival, amorous mad scientist Lupin Madblood, the vigilante hero Antonio Smith: Forensic Linguist, her own twisted creations, and her diabolical mother. What at first appears to be a light-hearted comedic strip seductively lures you into an intricate story of madness and morality, love and the fear of intimacy, and the many different shades of good and evil. Many a “throwaway” line becomes a Chekhov’s gun much later, so pay very close attention!

Dave and Mell

Narbonic is mostly a black and white daily strip with the Sunday strips in full color. The colored Sunday strips are very rarely part of the main story line, but are usually some type of side story,  fan art, fan songs, or fan poetry of the main story. This includes long palindrome songs sung by Helen’s Giant Ur-Gerbils. This is another opportunity to watch an artist evolve and refine her technique, although the artist’s style remains consistent.  In the beginning it is a much rougher hand drawn style and smooths out beautifully over time.  Not only is the comic a long cohesive story, in the original website Dr. Helen Narbon’s secret origin story was hidden in the file names of the images, a few words at a time. A fan compiled it into this text file.  The comic ran from 2000 and was completed 2006 and the comic has been re-running with Director’s Commentary for a few years now. I recommend reading it and the hidden backstory file after reading through the original comic. It has also had a few print runs, and the books can be acquired here.

The Author and Her Other Works

Narbonic was Shaenon K. Garrity’s first webcomic, but it thankfully wasn’t her last. She’s either created numerous other webcomics, as well as numerous published short stories columns and you can peruse her body of work in her gallery. I shall draw attention to Skin Horse, her current long running project which has some connections to the Narbonic universe  She has been an editor with Viz Media since 2003, a colmunist for Comixology, and is a long time volunteer and advocate of the Cartoon Art Museum located in San Francisco. The Cartoon Art Museum is the only Comics and Cartoon oriented museum in the western Hemisphere. You should visit and/or give them money. You should also read Garrity’s brilliant retelling of The Trouble with Tribbles in the style of Edward Gorey.

Meet Helen. Meet her Ur-Gerbil.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Bucko

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The comic Bucko begins with Rich Richardson, dubbed Bucko by the woman whose couch he’s passed out on, rushing through the streets of Portland on his bicycle as he tries to get to his job interview. Remembering he almost had a threesome with the woman, Gyp, and her roommate before he passed out destroys just about all the confidence he has, and then the post-drinking diarrhea that strikes mid-interview is about the worst thing that can happen… until he finds the dead body in the men’s restroom. What follows is a mystery, although the objective of it does end up different. The city of Portland seems weirder than the Wonderful Land of Oz as Bucko and Gyp, his almost hook-up, stumble on oddity after oddity encountering Juggalo queens, ghost bicycles , and a candle-making Suicide Girl.

Bucko Page 1

Bucko is complete as of January 2012, and has been bound up by Dark Horse Comics in one volume. The artist and writing duties are split between Erika Moen and Jeff Parker respectively. The story call itself a comical murder mystery, and while it is comical, there is a murder, and there is a mystery, the three are not exactly interconnected.  It’s a very offbeat and winding love poem to the city of Portland and the people who’ve chosen to live there and make it so darn odd. It’s also riotously funny. This comic gave me more than a few stitches in my side! I don’t feel I can say much more, or feature more images, as I don’t want to be one of those movie trailers that spoils all the jokes.

The Authors and Their Other Works:

Jeff Parker has an illustrious comics writing resume including many  Hulk titles, Agents of Atlas, X-Men: First Class and UndergroundErika Moen is a cartoonist, well known for her always honest and often raunchy autobiographical webcomic Dar! which I find incredibly inspiring. It’s worth watching her for the incredibl print work she does, which I regularly covet and mug little old ladies to acquire. Well,  not quite mug. More like work in exchange for wages to acquire, but old ladies are involved. Both of them work out of the freelance hive Periscope Studio in Portland, where I’m sure brilliant cartoonists are cultivated in tanks.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: Bite Me

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If you’ve been reading this column for a bit, perhaps you’ve been wondering, “Gee whiz, Jeanette, how did you get so hooked on webcomics?” (You probably haven’t but I’m going to tell you anyway.) Well,  I got bitten by Bite Me! by Dylan Meconis. It wasn’t the first webcomic I had seen, but it was the first one that really showed me that webcomics could really challenge all the things I that disappointed me about mainstream comics. Here was something that was funny, action-packed, historically based, bloody, full of puns, and most of all original. I hadn’t felt like I’d seen anything unique happen in the mainstream comics I had read for a long, long time. And then here was this hilarious romp through the French Revolution with some old-school Undead vampires loaded with decapitation puns, Anne Rice references, and history jokes!

Bite Me Page 1

Bite Me! begins with Claire, a sassy and bored tavern server who is passionately following the revolution in Paris. In walks in this smooth, dashing, and heroic gentleman and Claire; who is a heroine who pursues and doesn’t wait to be pursued, unfortunately stumbles… literally… into a new life as a Vampire. Lucien, our dark chevalier, must save his coven from the bloodthirsty new government and take this over-eager new  fledgling along with a bizarrely useful skill set along for the ride. They are joined in their mission by Ginevra, who takes being EEEVIL very seriously, and Luther,  Lucien’s sarcastic, German werewolf BFF. The comic was begun when the the author was in high school and completed over a few subsequent years as she did a lot of growing as an artist. She keeps the art style admirable consistent as her skills grow, but you can also see her shading and anatomy drawing smooth out. Watching someone’s art skills grow is something I always love doing! The comic is also complete as well, and recently had it’s tenth anniversary.

The Author and her other Works

Dylan Meconis is a freelance artist and illustrator. She’s worked on illustrations for some of the illustrious Thursday Next series and Portland’s Alt-Weekly the Portland Mercury. She works out of the Periscope Studio, a Portland, Oregon freelance art studio that seems to be a think tank of brilliant artists and writers. Her current ongoing webcomics project is Family Man, a more serious prequel for Bite Me, a surreal historical fiction telling Luther the Werewolf’s origin story. (You can bet I’ll be writing about that soon, but don’t wait for me if you want to read it.) Bite Me! was unfortunately out of print for some time, and for the tenth anniversary a Kickstarter was successfully funded to print a special edition as well as some of her other digital comics that had never been printed.

Bite Me cover

The cover sums up EVERYTHING I love about this comic.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: A Girl and Her Fed

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Wednesday's Webcomic

A Girl and her Fed is an exciting, complex and romantic thriller.  It has conspiracies, civil rights abuses,  science and Big Government gone wrong, and a lot of dick jokes. It begins when a Girl discovers she’s been put on a Terrorism Watch-list by a shadowy government organization and decides to track down the culprits with her long-time friend, a hallucination of Benjamin Franklin. The Fed assigned to watch her, who was part of a failed government experiment to hook bionic communications chips into their brains, can see her hallucination and she realizes that she is in fact being haunted by the ghost of Ben Franklin, as he has been telling her all along. She can also see the cranial chip’s interface, which (unfortunately for the agents in whom it is installed) resembles George W. Bush’s floating head. After the mysterious death of another agent, the two discover there was a lot more to the microchip program then anyone originally suspected and that it is somehow connected to the busybody ghosts of the founding fathers. They begin an investigation and adventure, also aided by a foul mouthed, genetically engineered super Koala. And that is only the beginning!

A girl and her fed

This has been one of my favorite webcomics to watch evolve and grow, especially the art. Arc 1 is complete and Arc 2 recently started. Through sheer charisma and writing quality it has amassed a very big and devoted following  and through the authors efforts and what must have been a LOT of practice the art style has evolved from rudimentary and expressive to clear, colorful and dynamic.  From the very beginning, the chemistry and sexual tension of the unnamed Girl and her unnamed Fed is absolutely scrumptious and gets even better as the art is upgraded. The comic is currently mid-upgrade with one redone page every week, so sometime after starting it you will run into the old art style. As the pages are upgraded some of the text also  becomes unnecessary and is changed at the author’s discretion and all of the original pages are hidden neatly behind the new ones. The art is primarily being redone so as to make it easier to publish and enough has been completed to publish the first book.

A Girl and Her Fed Classic

This is why you should practice, practice, practice!

The Author

K.B. Spangler puts an incredible amount of time and energy into creating side-story material for the comic in addition to her other profession as a researcher. While the comic is available for free, there’s a dazzling array of short stories, wallpapers, pins, tees, and this incredible plushie of Speedy the Koala for sale in her store. Also, a full-length thriller novel about a side character is due to be released soon! The first three parts have been released on a sponsorship basis as a sort of self-run Kickstarter. The main character of the novel does not appear until very recently in the comic timeline, so I would definitely recommend the comic first. Speedy the Koala also has a hilarious in-character Twitter feed.

Armed Speedy

You should follow @speedysays on Twitter… Or Else…


Wednesday’s Webcomic – Erstwhile

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If you’ve read original Grimm Fairy Tales you know that many of the endings are anything but happy, the justice tends to be biblical, and the logic tends to belong in Bedlam. Erstwhile is the beautifully drawn, true-to-the-source adaptation of the lesser-known Grimm fairy tales. The artists also don’t cut out any of the tragic bits, the bloody bits, or any of the downright weird bits. It’s a collaboration between three artists, who take advantage of the short story collection format to change up the art each time with different styles, color palettes  and techniques.

Death of the Little Hen

My favorite part about the comic (Other than Grimm in all its grisly glory) is the art styles which always suit the story being told. Since all three artists have other series, I imagine drawing the same style every day can get a little weary, and they want to flex their muscles a little . The colors change to suit the tone, from the sad cool blues of The Little Shroud to the deceptively cheerful warm earth tones in The Bird, the Mouse, and the Sausage.  The first volume has been printed with the aid of a kickstarter and has the first eight tales, as well as being printed in truly luscious full color.

A Tale with a Riddle

About the Authors

Gina Biggs is the ringleader of our merry band of storytellers, and is the author of the long running romance web comic Red String. Louisa Roy is the author of the fantasy comic Velharthis, which is currently undergoing a ground-up rebuild. Elle Skinner is the author of Missing Monday.


Wednesday’s Webcomic: JL8

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Wednesday's Webcomic

I’m going to take a chance that you haven’t heard about this week’s webcomic today, because if you haven’t there is a HUGE gaping hole in your life. That hole is in the shape of JL8.  Often fans of mainstream comics will get a little burned out from the intensity and the grandiosity of their favorite franchises and need a good dose of their favorite characters diluted into their purest forms. Traits such as Superman’s nobility and his naiveté,  Batman’s cleverness and his ego, and Wonder Woman’s loyalty and her poise. Distilling and scrunching these character traits into adorable costumed preschoolers complete with super powers, author Yale Stewart tells short stories of justice and friendship in the format of old-fashioned newspaper superhero strips.

JL8 Spiderman

JL8 is adorable and sweet but it doesn’t shy away from conflict. The kids in another class room are a familiar bunch of villains and ne’er do-wells, led by a mini Lex Luthor,  although younger Lex still has lustrous shampoo commercial hair.  Behind the scenes comic heroes such as Jules Schwartz and Neil Gaiman make unnamed appearances and many comic tropes are lampooned and lamp-shaded with abandon. The series thankfully never tries to explain why a bunch of super-powered children go to the same school and why they all live within flying and walking distance. For the sake of your enjoyment, please take your logic and put it in the back of your closet with your cynicism and the roller skates you never use.

JL8 Luthor and the Legion of Doom

The Author and his Other Works

Yale Stewart is creating JL8 as a true labor of love. It’s unfortunately impossible to earn money with JL8 since he does not have legal permission to use DC Comics characters. He even had to abandon the series’ original name, Little League, since the Little League baseball organization is extremely zealous in it’s protection of their trademark. Fans have been rabid to support him, so thankfully Stewart recently released the semi-autobiographical comic Gifted on the pay-what-you-can model.

JL8 Dodgeball Darkseid Gym class