Web Crush Wednesdays: Olympus Overdrive

There’s something about Greek mythology that is so interesting to me. Oddly I didn’t find the original tales about the gods and their shenanigans very relatable, but they were fascinating nonetheless. I don’t generally seek out different interpretations of Greek mythology, but this Wednesday’s webcomic, Olympus Overdrive, took a very different turn than I was expecting and I couldn’t stop myself from reading every page. I stumbled upon it as an ad while checking Homestuck for updates, and I continue to read it to this day. From the progressive characters to the idea of Greek gods being rebooted, there’s so much to like about this comic.

webcrush pic Continue reading

Paradox Space: What Homestuck Should Have Been?

Happy belated 4/13, my fellow Homestucks. It’s hard to believe that Andrew Hussie’s epic about kids, space, and fucked-up universes has been around for five years now! Even harder to believe that this gigapause is still going… However, even though Hussie didn’t surprise us all with the final update on what would have been the most fitting day (there’s always next year), he did surprise us with an ambitious new comic venture. From what I’ve seen, the fandom is pretty excited for it, and with good reason.

What’s interesting about Paradox Space is that it’s not a spin-off of the original Homestuck comic per se, but could instead be seen as stories that travel alongside the main storyline, but never interact. …Well, instead of making this explanation more confusing than the source comic, I’ll let the man speak for himself.

Paradox Space will feature many short comic stories involving literally any characters and settings from Homestuck. Any point in canon could be visited and elaborated on, whether it’s backstory, some scenes that were skipped over or alluded to, funny hypothetical scenarios which have nothing to do with canon events, or exploring things that could have happened in canon through the “doomed timeline” mechanic that is a defining trait of Homestuck’s multiverse-continuum known as “paradox space”.

It’s a project that’s ambitious in its attempts to bring back the Homestuck fandom back to being a large, contributing collective once more—a project that allows the fandom some say in what potentially happened in this expansive universe we’ve all helped form with the characters we’ve grown to love or hate. Indeed, with Hussie’s continued assurances of allowing other people the reins of the site soon, Paradox Space will become a creator-sanctioned fanwork for the fans by the fans. And considering the size of Homestuck’s fandom, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a project that had the potential to blow up as largely as this one.

Continue reading

Web Crush Wednesdays: Mya Gosling

Web Crush Wednesdays—A moment of silence for Blanco, aka Shadowfax, who, much like Chris Hemsworth, galloped his gorgeous, commanding, and impressively white form into our hearts.—

Gentle readers,

It’s been well-established that there’s lot of potential at the intersection of history and webcomics. Just ask Kate Beaton. There’s really no substitute for gentlemen and ladies of state and grandeur being drawn with squiggly lines as they go about changing the course of two-dimensional, three-panel history. To that point, who has been a greater collector of the great personages of history than William Shakespeare? When he wasn’t too busy being a gay man, or any number of women, or having serious jungle fever, or being legion (for apparently he was many), Shakespeare captured giants of history from Julius Caesar to Richard III to Pericles.

As such, that makes his work fertile ground for the sometimes droll, oftentimes hilarious work of one Mya Gosling, the author over at “Good Tickle-Brain”. This title, as Gosling is glad to inform us, is one of Shakespeare’s most delightfully absurd insults. It also serves as a good touchstone for the kind of referential humor she’s wielding in her three panel Shakespeare comics. Take this one for example:

henryVIpart1

These three-panel plays fill the void in your life where CliffsNotes used to be or where Thug Notes would be if you’d always secretly imagined your literature professor in a do-rag. They’re rarely the sort to make you fall out of your bed from laughter, but they’re at the right intersection of dryness and pith to call loving attention to the many absurdities in both Shakespeare’s work and the history he describes.

lestrade mya goslingIf tiny laugh-without-opening-your mouth comics aren’t your thing, well, you’re actually probably out of luck, but, there’s more than just Shakespeare summaries to be had. You could repose while enjoying a tiny version of the classic Beowulf or something promisingly titled The Adventure of Inspector Lestrade’s Crumbling Self-Esteem. They’re both quite charming. In fact, you’d be well-served not to ignore her collection of comics derived from Canada’s Stratford Festival, or the slowly growing collection of Shakespearean What-Ifs.

It’s all delightful, but that’s actually not the reason that Mya Gosling’s work is my web crush this week. Rather, it’s what they reflect on Gosling’s part that has grabbed my attention. Of herself, she says, “my destiny was to be an extremely enthusiastic and discerning member of the audience, and that I should leave the acting business to the professionals.” She’s taken a passionate obsession and turned it into creative endeavor, which is the point.

Adorable as they are, these comics aren’t simply throwaway jokes. If you’re not up on your Shakespeare, some of them will make you work a little bit. That’s a good thing. You can read a comic artist’s entire web presence and not learn anything, and that’s simply not the case here. You can check out Gosling on Twitter and Facebook. I’ll leave you with this pleasant reminder of all the ways that Titus Andronicus is just like A Song of Ice and Fire:

titusandronicus_mya_gosling_shakespeare

Not Dismissing Problems in Dumbing of Age

racism not cartoon villainy dumbing of age“I’ve never seen this happen, so it isn’t a real issue,” is a line spoken way too often in geek culture. Unfortunately, with more and more types of people being recognized as consumers, more hate has reared its head. Geek culture has been progressing and has become more accepting than before of the increasing audience, but this hasn’t always been quick or easy. The previously mentioned line is at the heart of this slow process.

With more groups present, however, more experiences are available to the group mindset. Having members of various ethnic groups, genders, and sexualities provides more experiences than a single person can have on their own. However, it is not impossible for someone to speak on an experience they haven’t personally lived, as long as it’s handled with care.

David Willis, probably best known for his Shortpacked! strip about false equivalence, has been doing a pretty decent job with this. Another comic of his, Dumbing of Age, is a “slice-of-life” comic set at Indiana University chronicling the lives of many of his characters from other works, re-imagined as college kids. It’s like a reboot that exists parallel to the normal universe. In this comic, he explores issues like dating, struggling with one’s own religion, various college struggles, sexuality, parental issues, and race. For example, during the past year, he introduced a transgender character, an action which was met with much praise.

Spoilers for Dumbing of Age ahead. Continue reading

Web Crush Wednesdays: Alexandra Douglass and ‘The Cloud Factory’

There’s nothing I like better in this world than a good webcomic—well, maybe sleeping in, but webcomics come damned close. And though the internet is saturated with a new webcomic about every fifty seconds, there are some that set themselves apart from others. My Web Crush for today may not officially be out yet, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be one of those special, unique pieces of art.

webcrush picIn taking a look at the official site for Alexandra Douglass’s comic, The Cloud Factory, two things really stick out to me. One, and the most obvious of all, is that the art is beautiful. Each sweeping landscape looks as professional as the concept art for a video game and there’s something visually interesting about each and every character; there’s no doubt that this comic is going to be a treat for the eyes. Second is that Douglass has put a lot of time and effort into both the creation of her own fictional world and promoting her work in the real world. She’s quite obviously dedicated to making this something amazing, so I can’t help but want to support her.

The Cloud Factory has a charming premise drawn from something in the real world that is oft overlooked: smokestacks. In her own words

“The origin isn’t a unique one; there are a few factories on the river just south of Indianapolis, which I would have to drive past any time I went downtown or to work. Smokestacks always look like they’re making clouds, but on overcast days when the clouds hung particularly low, it really looked as though they were coming from the factories themselves.”

Though she says it isn’t unique, I am hard-pressed to think of someone else who has put the idea into practice.

As of now, not much of the plot has been revealed (which is to be expected, really), but the world-building Douglass has done in the meantime paints the image of somewhere with a lot of depth and the potential for intrigue: how could it be that all is what it seems in a land where the production of clouds wrecks havoc on one town? Due to the success of her Kickstarter, fans can also anticipate regular updates of a full colored page every day for at least a year, which is fantastic, given the quality of art. All signs point to the series starting on the first of July, and I, for one, am excited to see how this story unfolds!

Let Saika Tell You About Homestuck: Act 1

So after Ohayocon, where we nearly drowned in Homestuck cosplayers, I was forced to admit it to myself. There must be something to this Homestuck thing. I haven’t really had time since Ohayocon to breathe, however, let alone to get myself mired in as complicated a fandom as Homestuck seems to be, so I was putting it off. And then I found myself laid over for several hours in Narita Airport, and decided the time had come to do the deed. I’m not finished yet (I’m only up to Act 3 as of writing this), but I figured I’d share my Homestuck findings with you, dear reader, and tell you that it’s not as scary as it seems.

So here goes. Let me tell you about Homestuck.

sburb_logo

Continue reading

Erstwhile—A Fairy Tale Webcomic

I love fairy tales. Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? No one, that’s who. Fairy tales have a simple structure, usually only employing the most necessary of details to get to the real meat of the story. They usually use flat, stock characters—the beautiful princess, the heroic lad, the evil witch, the noble king. Fairy tales are meant to be told, and to be adapted to the storyteller’s whims. The Grimm brothers collected hundreds of stories, though we only hear about a handful: Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin, Hansel and Gretel… But what about all the other stories?

Erstwhile - Fairy Tale Comics

Enter Erstwhile, a webcomic that sheds light on the equally wonderful though often forgotten other tales from Grimm. Co-Creators Gina Biggs, Louisa Roy, and Elle Skinners are members of Strawberry Comics, a studio that’s mission is to promote women in comics and the much-ignored genre of love and romance in the medium. Each story adapted by Erstwhile has its own artistic style. My favorite is All Fur, a retelling of Allerleirauh, also known as Thousandfurs. It’s shockingly dark and tells the story of a brave princess who works hard and courts the prince in her own way. Others adaptations include The Farmer’s Clever Daughter, Iron Hans, and Brother and Sister.

So if you love fairy tales (check) and love supporting lady-comic-artists (check), check out Erstwhile, the fairy tale comic.

Why You Should be Reading Girls With Slingshots

Girls with Slingshots is the greatest webcomic in the history of webcomics.

 

Let me explain.

Girls With Slingshots is written by Danielle Corsetto, who before writing GWS full time wrote and drew The New Adventures of Batboy for the infamous (and now defunct in its paper form) Weekly World News magazine. GWS follows the adventures of Hazel Tellington and her circle of friends as they navigate the problems of young adulthood. It even has its own TV Tropes page.

Hazel is the proverbial straight-(wo)man, in more ways than one. She’s largely unlikeable due to having commitment issues, communication issues, Peter Pan syndrome, and unacknowledged issues with drinking so much alcohol her pet cactus speaks to her in a Scottish-Irish accent. The most striking thing about her character, however, is that she is woefully ignorant of anything but straight sexuality. In her longest-lasting relationship, Corsetto gave Hazel the traditionally masculine stereotype of using the relationship for sex, communicating through sex, while her boyfriend wanted to talk about “feelings” and their long-term plans.

But Hazel’s long-suffering friends are what keep people coming back to the strip. Her best friend Jamie experiences a crisis of sexual identity, identifying as straight, then a lesbian, then bisexual, then rejecting the idea of labels all together (after coming to the conclusion of being a bisexual, romantic lesbian). Notably, Corsetto explores the many definitions of virginity by having Jamie cling to the “technical virgin” definition. Jamie’s girlfriend Erin is asexual. Maureen and Jameson meet online and get married. Maureen’s sister Melody is deaf, which presents its own set of issues when she begins dating a hearing man. Hazel’s good friend Darren is a gay drag queen. Clarice works at a “bookstore” (read: porn store), moonlights as a dominatrix, and dreams of becoming a librarian. Hazel’s boss Thea (who is black) is a lesbian and contracts an STD.

Corsetto does her research to ensure that many of her characters are as fair as possible to their diverse backgrounds. At the same time, she plays with stereotypes, at times embracing them for comedic effect, while at other times allowing her characters to be deeply flawed (causing general uproar in the comment section). I highly recommend you check it out.

New ‘Shortpacked’ Arc Hits Close to Home

I’ve been noticing a trend not only on my Tumblr dash, but in the general consensus of the net and its denizens on what the hot topic issue to discuss this season is: sexism! But when is it not sexism, honestly? At least this time there’s a figurehead for our discussions: Tony Harris. Harris, a comic author that has worked for both Marvel and DC, recently has come out saying a whole slew of offensive things that boil down to “hey girls, you can’t actually like nerdy things because you’re a Fake-y McFakerson and I’m on to you and your tricky lying skank ways.”

Okay, it was better thought out than that (barely), but it brings up a point that we’ve already brought up here once, and will probably do so again: is it possible to be a fake nerd or geek?

More importantly though, does it even matter?  Let’s, for the sake of argument, say that yes, there are fake nerds and geeks that want in this super special club of fandoms and feels and whatever else there is. Who’s going to care or notice? For one, if they’re attending cons, they’re essentially giving money to support other nerds and geeks. If they’re watching shows, they’re adding viewership ratings that may help keep the show on the air. Literally, the only problem I can see with this is that the lack of knowledge they may have on your fandom of choice may be slightly annoying. If that’s the case, either teach them and help them understand—who knows, you may make a nerd/geek of them yet!—or ignore them and go on your way. It’s. Not. That. Hard.

But, I’ve completely veered from what I wanted to bring to light for today. This morning, I checked out the webcomic Shortpacked (which we’ve already praised for one of author David Willis’s previous strips) and was completely sick to my stomach, but in a good way, I’m hoping. It seems as though in his latest arc he’s going to tackle this new, unapologetically geeky girl generation through the eyes of Lucy, the newest addition to the Shortpacked line-up and also an unapologetically geeky chick, and her being harassed by someone that looks freakishly like Mr. Harris. Although it’s only on its first page, it’s already uncomfortably hitting close to home. I’m interested to see where he takes it, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope it ended in a cosmic dick punch.

Web Crush Wednesdays: Batman and Sons

It’s Web Crush Wednesdays and today’s Web Crush is Batman and Sons.

Whether you are a Batman fan or not one, you will love this comic. It’s hilarious watching Batman act like a father to all of the Robins, and if you do know anything about the comics, then you will love the jokes poking fun at some typical comic boo tropes and unanswered questions.

My only criticism is that our favorite Batgirls aren’t represented. Black Bat is seen once but that’s about it, but the comic is on going, so it’s not too late for them to make an appearance and the comic is still excellent.

 

 

That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed my latest Web Crush!