Skip

Your favorite web comic sucks
June 25, 2007 11:13 PM   Subscribe

Your webcomic is bad and you should feel bad. Many of the most popular comics on the Internet aren't just weird, they're terrible. And creepy. Like Dominic Deegan, which justifies rape in a storyline. Also, Girly's creator critiques the art of several webcomics, both good and bad.
posted by clockworkjoe (114 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Okay, the first link's to a blogspot blog with a whole two entries. And it's very poorly written, consisting mostly of forced attempts to jazz up the simple declarative "it's bad". Okay, we get it, it's bad. And so's your writing, guy. I started to read the second link but my brain got bored and shut down.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:25 PM on June 25, 2007


Achewood sucks.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:26 PM on June 25, 2007 [6 favorites]


Will this be a bitchfest that goes along with the linked articles, or against the linked articles? Stay tuned!
posted by furiousthought at 11:30 PM on June 25, 2007


You got some rude titties there, Stan.

Rude titties.
posted by Avenger at 11:32 PM on June 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


"85% of everything is bullshit."

-Various no doubt, but at one time attributed to Keith Richards
posted by telstar at 11:33 PM on June 25, 2007


Bad drawing is somehow worse when it's also immitation manga drawing.
posted by Artw at 11:35 PM on June 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ninety percent of everything is crud.
--Sturgeon's Law
posted by Nahum Tate at 11:38 PM on June 25, 2007


Dude, that last one on Dominic Deegan was amazing. I didn't read the summary here so the end of the post just blew me away.
He is to writing what a child molester is to sex.
That blew my mind. When I read it, I thought "yes, yes, I know exactly what he means." Though the anger doesn't make sense until you get to the rape, it seems to me to be a near perfect description of the writing.
posted by jmhodges at 11:38 PM on June 25, 2007


How can XKCD be on a list of BAD web comics?! That's just...the world is all wrong now.
posted by misha at 11:47 PM on June 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Your favorite explanation of why your favorite webcomics suck sucks.

[this is lame]
posted by hattifattener at 11:57 PM on June 25, 2007


This would have been better if I hadn't had my concentration span destroyed by the internet. As it was, I only managed to get 800 or so words down the page before I gave up.

But I applaud the effort. Bitching is fun.
posted by seanyboy at 11:57 PM on June 25, 2007


Ain't no way of hell you get to saying Achewood sucks, son.
Man, why you even got to do a thing?
posted by nightchrome at 12:01 AM on June 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


That second link, yeah the one from LiveJournal. We're supposed to take that one with any sort of seriousness?

XKCD and OOtS, bad. Right.

Let me guess, this is the kind of person that bitches and moans about games all shortchanging gameplay for graphics, but still buys the newest Madden anyway.
posted by Talanvor at 12:07 AM on June 26, 2007


Stan Chin got to get paid, son.
posted by basicchannel at 12:09 AM on June 26, 2007


Dominic Deegan may be bad, but Dominic Durgan is worse.
posted by tehloki at 12:14 AM on June 26, 2007


I've seen the second link before, and while I don't agree with all of their judgments, it's not that bad as far as a self-righteous critique of everyone else's art goes. *shrugs* And while I dislike the first one's writing intensely, my hatred for Dominic Deegan (and my confusion at having two people I respect very much pulled into the fandom) makes overlooking the boring writing style very easy indeed. Neat find.
posted by Phire at 12:19 AM on June 26, 2007


I almost posted that second link myself after seeing it on The Comics Journal's excellent Journalista blog. I disagree with a lot of it but it's a good rundown of the more popular webcomics.
posted by bobo123 at 12:24 AM on June 26, 2007


Is UserFriendly on the list? 'cause that's worse than anything else I've ever seen.
posted by mrnutty at 12:25 AM on June 26, 2007


Man, my blog about how bad this blog is is going to have so many cusswords in it.
posted by Simon! at 12:40 AM on June 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's surprising that LJ review of Sinfest doesn't mention Calvin at all!

He's really only talking about the drawing side of the comics. I love XKCD but I can't really say that the art is much more than the bare minimum necessary to communicate the ideas, which are what the strip is really about.

It took me a bit to remember why I recognize Josh Lesnick's name - it's been some years since I've even thought of his old weird and pervy Wendy comics.
posted by aubilenon at 12:42 AM on June 26, 2007


XKCD is well-written for what it is, but in spite of - no in fact directly BECAUSE of that fact - it is despised by other webcomic writers and their sycophants.

See, Randall Munroe has no artistic ability at all. He's catering to the Linux and math geek crowd, and he's really fucking good at it. You thought User Friendly was a sad and pathetic excuse for a webcomic? How much worse does it look now?

Randall is the new kid in town, and rather than whore out jackoff material to major demographics (Penny Arcade/CAD: gamers, Megatokyo: anime), or several closely related smaller ones (Diesel Sweeties, Achewood), he's defied all logic and gone to the oldest and most growth-stunted genres in webcomics - the Linux geek comic - and he has in short order made a mockery of everything in that sphere that came before.

The entrenched stalwarts of the webcomics world hate him for this.

However, as bad as the comics in the parent post are, this is worse: Stalag '99. Just so you know what you're clicking, here's the official description of the main character:
"WolfSkunk RedWolf, a hermaphrodite WolfSkunk shapeshifter. Hir history is a mix of war and peace, with alot of heroics attributed to hir. Shi currently holds the rank of Admiral in both the millitary space command and millitary medical coor. RedWolf currently has a pet dracokitty called FireTiger, who for some reason can change into a Cowboy Bebop-ish Swordfish spaceship or a Gundam series-style mecha."
There is nothing I could possibly add to that.
posted by Ryvar at 12:49 AM on June 26, 2007 [17 favorites]


...Wow. I'm now really glad I stopped reading Shortpacked.
posted by Many bubbles at 12:52 AM on June 26, 2007


XKCD and OOtS, bad. Right.

Well, from an artistic perspective, perhaps - which is what the reviewer expressly states he is dealing with. XKCD is crude stick figures, and I take his point about OOtS often being overly simplistic in terms of layout (it's usually talking heads in a line - though it can break out in some interesting ways, and often has some quite subtle nuances to it's 'sitcom' style).

Which is not to say that I don't hugely enjoy both of them, because I do. But I can see where he's coming from (I just don't care as much as he does).
posted by Sparx at 12:54 AM on June 26, 2007


About Me
John Solomon is not my real name, but it sounds pretty cool, right?

Just as long as your real name is not Ross Peyton. But then, clockworkjoe seems a little less offended by rape (especially Puppet Rape) than the Comicblogger.

Still, in a field that includes the astute analysis of Websnark (sadly too rarely updated recently) and Tangents, the heartfelt snarkiness (toward paper comics) of Comics Curmudgeon and the solidly newsy Fleen, badwebcomics.blogspot really contributes NOTHIN'.

And seeing the artist of "Girly", where the art somehow achieves being too rough and too busy simultaneously, critiquing other comics' art (and not their writing - although Girly's writing is not the best of the web either) would be infuriating if it were not laughable.

Full disclosure: I do my own irregularly updated blog about comics, web-based and otherwise, at FunnyPaperless.com, and honestly, have never found either "Dominick Deegan" or "Girly" worth taking the time to blog about.
posted by wendell at 1:01 AM on June 26, 2007


A couple of sentences to write off XKCD, and EIGHT PARAGRAPHS discussing Megatokyo? Holy Inverted Priorities, Batman!

But that Dominic Deegan situation is way creepy. Ick.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:08 AM on June 26, 2007


Well, I just take issue with the critique. XKCD/OOtS are comics that obviously are not drawn to impress other artists, or anyone that matter, with their art. It's ALL in the storyline/writing. So what's the goddamn point? Oh look at me I'm better at drawing than you are? GTFO. Come back when your comic is even a quarter as interesting as those that you're blasting, since you're so wonderful. Christ.

I also like that he'll make this little preface for people he knows and/or likes personally, and then gently taps them for their shading or whatever, while everyone else he's just ripping into.
posted by Talanvor at 1:10 AM on June 26, 2007


I'm sorry, but anyone that bitches about the drawing in Order Of The Stick (aka OOtS) just completely missed the whole freaking point of the comic. That whooshing sound you're hearing is the concept flying by, far overhead.
posted by Malor at 1:10 AM on June 26, 2007


Might as well complain about Partially Clips, I mean, really!
This seems to be a case of, "I have a myopic worldview and I'm going to judge everyone else by their adherence to it."
Christ, what an asshole!
posted by Richard Daly at 1:23 AM on June 26, 2007


Heh, looking at the current Girly strip, just LOVE the use of... blank backgrounds and, what the hell, polkadots?!

It looks like a lot of work went into it, but it's not something I'm interested in looking at more of.
posted by Talanvor at 1:33 AM on June 26, 2007


Achewood sucks.

Achewood totally sucks. I mean, it seems almost like the joke is like that the jokes are not funny, so it's an inversion what's expected. Sort of like the kelly cartoons in the onion (which actually are funny) except with no edge at all. Is that the joke? Or do people actually think that the jokes are 'sincerely' funny on the surface?
posted by delmoi at 1:39 AM on June 26, 2007


delmoi: Assuming that you're not being sarcastic, I don't understand what you're saying. There are no jokes in Achewood. Why would you think it is supposed to be funny?
posted by nightchrome at 1:44 AM on June 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


I love Dinosaur Comics so much. I don't care about that critic's snarky dismissal.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:58 AM on June 26, 2007


The only reason I have reservations against XKCD is simply because as a StumbleUpon user, about 25% of my stumbles will usually be an XKCD comic (as an in individual comic), or an XKCD comic hosted elsewhere, or some derivative image from XKCD (i.e. that check the writer made that was to a summation of the power of e to pay a Verizon bill). Seeing it so often gets old.

But you gotta admit, I remember the days when 95% of webcomics all involved two guys talking about video games so things have changed.

Finally, where's Cat and Girl?
posted by champthom at 2:03 AM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ok this isn't as bad as I feared...

XKCD is a very good comic and it is worth making a distinction between good art and good director's sense. The latter is crucial for good comics, and that XKCD dude has got it. Also his sort of soulful geek writing personality is appealing.

Rich Burlew of OOTS has, if I have heard correctly, an art degree.

Ya ask me, Matt Feazell is still the best stick-figure drawer around. *coveting my copy of Understanding Mini-Comics, oh yes, oh yes*

I don't think the art in Girly is bad at all. The expressions don't really grab me, but that's pretty rare mojo anyway. (The very latest Girly is a guest comic, and those never really work anyway.)
posted by furiousthought at 2:06 AM on June 26, 2007


Perhaps I've overlooked things, but I've never seen any other prominent webcomic artist ever take a serious shot at critiquing H.S. Kim's KrazyKimchi comics (previously linked on MeFi's Kill Harry entry).

It may simply be that H.S. Kim has formal art training and knows how to use it, so no one bothers to critque him. But the more cynical side of me can't help but think that it's also because he himself can really dish out incredibly harsh yet undeniably accurate artistic criticism. Anyone who criticizes his art runs the risk of [1] looking stupid by telling him something he probably already knows (he'll often point out flaws in his own art; "horse faces" for example), and [2] inviting biting retribution if their own work happens to be weak enough in the basic fundamentals to piss him off.

Or maybe he just doesn't update often enough to attract such attention. Too bad for me, because I really enjoy it whenever he rips into things; it's always both educational and entertaining.
posted by PsychoKick at 2:12 AM on June 26, 2007


And none of his art crits are available anymore on the site; apparently lost in several site revisions.
posted by PsychoKick at 2:35 AM on June 26, 2007


For me, writing > pictures.

I love Minus and Copper and their ilk, but they can not beat the sublime writing and minimalist approach of Dinosaur Comics, XKCD and A Softer World. I'd say that the writing is what keeps me coming back to Penny Arcade, A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible (and its spiritual successor Dresden Codak) and Scary Go Round, even though the art is truly fantastic in all of these comics. This probably stems from the fact that I'm a terrible artist and can sympathise with this approach to writing comics.

Imho, ymmv, yfws.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:52 AM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Perry Bible Fellowship is the best.

Sexy Losers and Ghastly's are still worth checking once a month, even if there dead now.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:22 AM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ryvar: You have any evidence that the "entrenched stalwarts" of the webcomics world hate XKCD? I'm not sure who the stalwarts in question are, but Ryan North, for instance, has him in his list of "comics I would totally marry" and R. Stevens sent a link his way recently. Jeph Jacques has plugged it as well, and apparently at least sometimes hangs out on the xkcd IRC channel. T. Campbell has said that XKCD deserved an award it wasn't nominated for, Sam Logan enjoys it in spite of not caring for the art, so on and so forth.

Clearly Lesnick doesn't care for the art, and I'm sure if you looked you could find webcomics creators who really don't like it, but I keep up with the webcomics world pretty well and I'm just not seeing any sign of the widespread resentment you seem to think exists.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 3:36 AM on June 26, 2007


There will never be a webcomic as goddamn fucking brilliant as Part Three of Spiders. God, the possibilities for the form that one opened up...

*sighs*

Re: that first link - if you're going to attack other folks' bad writing, you should learn the difference between "suffice to say" and "sufficed to say."
posted by mediareport at 3:52 AM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only comic strip I can think of where the art is a character unto itself is the incredible Girl Genius Online. Easily my favorite comic universe of all time.

Past that, art is there to service the story. Put simply, would Megatokyo be better or worse if it was inked rather than just pencil? Would XKCD be better if it was 3D rendered? This is the path that has lead to an entire generation of unfun games.

Regarding the DD scene in question, the word is tragic, not creepy. The actual story line revolves around a girl who watched her father sacrifice himself to save her, and her mother sacrifice herself to avenge him. She is moments away from death herself when the guy steps in to save her life, without realizing what that would entail. The event haunts both of them for the rest of their lives and is pivotal to comprehending both of their characters.

It's not good, but it's not creepy. It's sad, and tragic, and horrible. If you're looking Happily Ever After, Cinderella's on Aisle 4.
posted by effugas at 4:02 AM on June 26, 2007


Actually, the guy who draws XKCD can draw. I've seen it. He doesn't draw stick figures because he has to. He draws stick figures because he's a Linux geek, and stick figures are precisely what is called for. When a GUI better than normal drawing is called for, he does so, but the strip is simple because that is what is appropriate for the strip.

Lesnick's critique of OOTS is similarly inane- the strip as it is is clear, readable, and iconic. You can look at any random character and tell that they belong to the strip. Lesnick's example of what he wants to replace it with? An ugly mess that looks like LegoRobot's work only drawn in pen and not in MSPaint.

Of course, when we come to his review of the deplorably bad Achewood, we get "It's a simple style, but it suits the comic perfectly." No insight, no realisation of the inconsistency.

Then again, I should expect this kind of inanity from the guy who draws Girly.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:05 AM on June 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


"The artist does not create for the artist: He creates for the people, and we will see to it that henceforth the people will be called in to judge his art."

-Adolf Hitler
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:20 AM on June 26, 2007


Both the pointers in the OP originated from a seemingly eternal webcomics thread on the SomethingAwful.com forums. While the thread started out interesting (discoveries of new and interesting webcomics, discussion of the business, dissection of plotlines), it's long since degenerated into hyperbolic snarkiness, each poster trying to out do the previous with how outraged they are by the supposed awfulness of any (or every) webcomic. From the 2nd link:

Perhaps I'm meant to be subjected to both emotions at once and just sit in a pile of my own waste, drooling and flapping my hands together like a circus seal. Because that's how I picture Shortpacked! fans.

It smacks of jealousy, and reminds me of schoolkids being to be cool by accusing sucessful bands of "selling out".There's a difference between scepticism or preference and cynicism.
posted by outlier at 4:21 AM on June 26, 2007


As long as nobody says anything mean about Ozy and Millie, we'll all get out of here unhurt.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:02 AM on June 26, 2007


I think Achewood may be a difficult taste to acquire; I know I read at least three or four individual strips without being moved to read it daily or even being particularly impressed.

Color me converted, though. (I think this was the one that did it, but—el Bulli mockery aside—I don't think it would have hooked me if I hadn't already started to know the characters.)
posted by felix grundy at 5:08 AM on June 26, 2007


Achewood has become a daily craving, and I feel anger towards the creator of the strip when it isn't updated daily. I mean, people can feel free to say it sucks. But those people are dead to me.
posted by Jimbob at 5:13 AM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


One thing that interests me is that I read a few of the comics that Lesnick described as having bad or not so good art, and in all honesty I never even noticed what he was talking about.

I think that, in general, if a person isn't an artist or an art geek most people won't even notice most artistic shortcomings. As long as it looks better than the "Ed, Edd, and Eddie" type crap it seems that many people will happily go along with it. Which must be both enraging and discouraging to people who actually put effort and artistic skill into their creations...

The complaints about writing, or rather its awful lack in so many webcomics, resonated with me much more than the artistic complaints. BUT, the thing to remember is that taste is different. It is entirely possible that the writing in Dominic Deegan is everything the blogger says, simpleminded, cardboard characters, etc (I've never read it, so I can't comment on that). But even if we assume that this is true, the fact that it has a fanbase means there are people out there who *want* simpleminded, cardboard characters, and actually dislike subtle nuance and villans who don't rant about how great it is to be eeeevillll. Why shouldn't someone satisfy that desire?

I'm not saying that Lesnick, and anyone else who wants to, shouldn't complain about stuff they don't like in webcomics. I like a gripe-fest as much as the next person.
posted by sotonohito at 5:23 AM on June 26, 2007


What Pope Guilty said. XKCD's creator can draw. He just usually doesn't need to, because his comics work perfectly well with stick figures.

Personally, I'd rather see good humor at the expense of good art in comics any day.
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:36 AM on June 26, 2007


Do any of you guys remember the name of the webcomic about severely negligent doctors that was posted here a couple months ago? I've searched everywhere, and I can't find it.
Sorry for the derail.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 5:48 AM on June 26, 2007


Solipsophistocracy, it's probably Lucid TV.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:53 AM on June 26, 2007


Jimbob, I know exactly what you mean. I'm all, "Your birthday? Fuck that, Onstad. Get back to work or I will—uh—totally continue to read your comic as often as you deign to draw your underpants-wearing cats."
posted by felix grundy at 5:59 AM on June 26, 2007


Just realized I was being an insular word-geek... Just as I didn't even *recognize* the bad art Lesneck was complaining about, I'm going to bet that many of the people who like comics with bad writing don't even recognize it as bad writing. Makes you wonder how large a part ignorance plays in enjoyment.
posted by sotonohito at 6:07 AM on June 26, 2007


So, how many of the webcomics reviewed have word counts that exceed their review?
posted by dhartung at 6:11 AM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lucid TV, thanks a lot.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:21 AM on June 26, 2007


And the portions are so small!
posted by drezdn at 6:56 AM on June 26, 2007


Wow, fuck that Livejournal guy. Fuck him in the ass with a dead weasel. I detest people who come into comics with such narrow, prescriptive ideas about what it should look like. What the hell does he want Order of the Stick to look like?

It's not always how pretty the pictures look, or even how innovative your technique is or how perfectly you ape whatever's coming out of Japan. It's how the art serves the overall intent. XKCD wouldn't work without the stick figures; and it fucking rules with them.

People like that, all I can do is shake my head and accept that they're judging things on some set of criteria that's completely askew from anything I use.

side question: am I the only one who gets badly jarred whenever Lucid TV experiments with a different style?
posted by COBRA! at 7:03 AM on June 26, 2007


Ziggy blows all this crap away.
posted by Mister_A at 7:11 AM on June 26, 2007


Past that, art is there to service the story. Put simply, would Megatokyo be better or worse if it was inked rather than just pencil? Would XKCD be better if it was 3D rendered?

That isn't what is being complained about.

It's not about inked vs. non-inked.

It's about comics that are hand-drawn and unique, with varying facial expressions, poses, and shots, vs. copy-and-paste. (The content could be great, but that's not what's being complained about in the second link. No one has said yet that XKCD sucks, except for the people in this thread).

Knowledge of anatomy vs. not enough.

Understanding of composition, texture, space, and colour, vs. none at all.

Varying and dynamic line widths vs. boring, stagnant, "my 0.1 point Staedtler loves me" lines.

Art that feels 'free' and as though the artist is in control (take, say, Perry Bible Fellowship, or Penny Arcade) vs art that feels, at time, forced (Questionable Content, I'm looking at you).

It's not just about "OOH PRETTY," and the writer of the second link even says things along the line of "this comic is pretty, but it's not enough."

Some of the greatest art has been done with a decent pen and an inkwell -- Picasso's lines are famously dynamic, and sometimes, all he had to draw was a lightbulb.

It's not about the amount of shiny technology the artist can use on the art, but whether the artist is in control.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:25 AM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Although, I do agree that the Livejournal guy's critique of some things is... off, but considering he's not critiquing the comics themselves, merely the art, my issue with him isn't huge.

And XKCD rocks, although the art (usually) doesn't, but the point is that it works with the comic. Although the author of the second link would disagree, it's a minor quibble I have with him.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:28 AM on June 26, 2007


At the risk of screwing myself out of a free place to crash if I ever travel to Australia, I must render this opinion:

Achewood blows syphilitic goats.
posted by trondant at 7:41 AM on June 26, 2007


I think the first most important thing in making comics is clarity. The images and the text work together to express an idea. xkcd is clear, even if it isn't well drawn, and that's what mainly matters.

I don't get the appeal of Achewood, either, but I've never really tried.
posted by interrobang at 7:46 AM on June 26, 2007


It's about comics that are hand-drawn and unique, with varying facial expressions, poses, and shots, vs. copy-and-paste. (The content could be great, but that's not what's being complained about in the second link. No one has said yet that XKCD sucks, except for the people in this thread).

I think we agree more than we disagree; I just think that there are cases where hand-drawn and unique isn't necessary (besides which, the Livejournaller voids that exact criteria with Diesel Sweeties).

Here's the problem, I think: there are lots of statements which can be made about art that people like to hold up as rules, when they really function much better as guidelines. Hand drawn expressionism feels like it should be mandatory, but really, it's only mandatory except when it isn't. Same thing with varying poses; I can see the appeal in saying that a comic that lacked varying poses would be universally shitty and lame. But the second I say that, some genius will figure out a way to make it work.

Ultimately, meaningful criticism's a lot harder than the average butthole with a website seems to think it is.
posted by COBRA! at 7:48 AM on June 26, 2007


PBF is on its own level. That guy is a certified genius and I bow to him.
posted by autodidact at 7:54 AM on June 26, 2007


Wow, that list includes all of my (past and current) favorites. I guess I'm just a loser who still thinks Penny Arcade is funny.
posted by triolus at 8:20 AM on June 26, 2007


And btw, one of my favorite print comics, Knights of the Dinner Table is terribly copy-and-pasted, constantly. The writer hasn't done new art in years. Despite that, the comic is the most funny D&D-related comic, ever.
posted by triolus at 8:21 AM on June 26, 2007


I can see the appeal in saying that a comic that lacked varying poses would be universally shitty and lame. But the second I say that, some genius will figure out a way to make it work.

Get Your War On.
posted by straight at 8:23 AM on June 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


dear lord. we should shut down these pages immediately! I know some people like them, but think of how much valuable space they're taking up on the internet! there's just not enough room for everyone!
posted by es_de_bah at 8:32 AM on June 26, 2007


I can see the appeal in saying that a comic that lacked varying poses would be universally shitty and lame. But the second I say that, some genius will figure out a way to make it work.

Dinosaur Comics.

Megagamerz.

posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:33 AM on June 26, 2007


I hate you, Milkman Dan.
posted by straight at 8:37 AM on June 26, 2007


thanks, straight and XQUZYPHYR
posted by COBRA! at 8:45 AM on June 26, 2007


Adding in: I was one of the artists featured in Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists. I challenge any of you to read it and not find at least one cartoon there you'll absolutely love. The range in the book is incredibly broad, from strips like Death to the Extremist which is, literally, two dots and word bubbles, to amazing artwork like A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible.

I would say it's very likely you'll hate one and love the other, but I would also say it's nearly impossible you'll hate both. That's just how webcomics work.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2007


If anyone's still reading, I have a couple questions.

1. Is there any webcomic, or any comic strip at all, that you think is very well written but needs better art?

2. Is there any comic strip that you think is well written but is too intricately or realistically drawn, that needs simpler, more cartoony artwork?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 9:26 AM on June 26, 2007


1. Sure. Every single piece I've drawn needs better art.

2. For my money, Wondermark's a lot fussier than it needs to be. It's not that the art detracts, but the extreme level of detail doesn't add much. But that's subjective.
posted by COBRA! at 9:35 AM on June 26, 2007


Sjoberg, I'd say that Something Positive could do with "better" art.

I read it religiously and am thoroughly invested in the characters and story, but even after years the artwork makes me cringe.

Not that this proves anything. It's just a personal opinion. I've just always felt that there is a disparity between the writing and the images and it is the only one that springs to mind that fills both criteria stipulated by you.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:40 AM on June 26, 2007


COBRA: Do you realize that the art in Wondermark is actually scans from 19th century books?
posted by crickets at 9:46 AM on June 26, 2007


COBRA: Do you realize that the art in Wondermark is actually scans from 19th century books?

I've wondered about that, but never bothered to investigate. Is it just straight scan, cut, paste, or does he do any drawing over them afterwards?
posted by COBRA! at 9:49 AM on June 26, 2007


Besides Bad Gods, A Year in Comics and Xoverboard?
I bring these up out of admiration for the MeFites who make webcomics, who will never hear a discouraging word from me.
posted by wendell at 9:57 AM on June 26, 2007


I totally concur on the Bad Gods thing, by the way. I learned some things from Lesnick's essay, which is more than I can say for the first link, and I'm definitely working on improving my drawing skills and style.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 10:00 AM on June 26, 2007


Am I reading a different LiveJournal link than everyone else? The one I'm reading is just a critique of art, not the comic itself. Everybody here seems so upset that he says XKCD sucks, but the page I'm reading just says the stick-figures aren't drawn very well.
posted by Bugbread at 10:15 AM on June 26, 2007


The afore-mentioned Girl Genius comes close to overdoing it, in my opinion. Really, his art is almost too intricate for the resolution of a normal screen, especially the early b&w strips. It looks way better in print. Of course, Phil Folio started out in print, in larger magazine formats and is adapting to the web as he goes.
posted by bonehead at 10:30 AM on June 26, 2007


XKCD

Thanks Ryvar. The first time I've seen that comic. These two made me LOL. I shall get to the rest later.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:55 AM on June 26, 2007


Am I reading a different LiveJournal link than everyone else? The one I'm reading is just a critique of art, not the comic itself. Everybody here seems so upset that he says XKCD sucks, but the page I'm reading just says the stick-figures aren't drawn very well.

The problem, at least for me, is that comics is necessarily a medium in which both art and writing are important; they work together. It's not that there's art and there's writing and they work in adjoining offices but only see each other during coffee breaks. Ideally, anyway, they should form a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts.

Analyzing only the art of a comic is like going through Tolstoy and analyzing only the nouns. Yes, it's doable, and yes, it might even reveal some things about the work, but it's still missing a very big something, you know?
posted by jiawen at 12:21 PM on June 26, 2007


I agree with jiawen. You can't pick the comic apart and analyze the halves; it's a synergy.

For example, Calvin and Hobbes wouldn't have been as great if Hobbes wasn't drawn the way he was: with Calvin, he is an animated, walking talking friend. When others see him, he is obviously just a stuffed animal.
posted by misha at 12:30 PM on June 26, 2007


I agree that the two work together, but I disagree that you can't look at one part. You can do that. What you can't do is look at one part, and then make some sort of global statement about the comic. You can say "comic X has shitty art". But you can't say "comic X is shitty, because it has shitty art", because there may be an element in the comic that makes shitty art better for it. I'm not seeing him doing the latter, only the former. He talks about whether the art is good or not. He doesn't (as far as I can tell) declare the comic good or bad based on that.

(In fact, he kinda flubs it here when he gets to Achewood, which, for some reason, presumably because he likes it so much, he lets his opinion of the comic as a whole get in the way of analyzing the art itself)

We do this all the time in literature. We look at the symbolism of X in some novel, despite the fact that there's much more than just X in the novel. We talk about which novelists write good dialogue, and which write bad dialogue, even though novels are more than just dialogue. We talk about which authors use purple prose and which write as minimalists, even though writing style is not all there is to a novel. Heck, there are sites that are all about reviewing the scientific accuracy of the science in sci-fi novels, despite the fact that science is the least important thing in many sci-fi novels. There's nothing wrong with any of those, either, until you start making global declarations based on the little sliver you're analyzing.
posted by Bugbread at 1:01 PM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I totally concur on the Bad Gods thing, by the way. I learned some things from Lesnick's essay, which is more than I can say for the first link, and I'm definitely working on improving my drawing skills and style.

No, no, no, Lore, in the words of Billy Joel: "Don't go changing to try and please me... I love you just the way you are!"

You showed vast improvement during the active life of Lore Brand Comics (first ... latest) and I was hopeful that you were considering expanding it to the point-of-view of other characters. The illustrations in your Supervillains Book of Ratings piece were perfect, and I eagerly await seeing more from Sean and Wormwood and The Capybara Brothers, although design-wise, the one brother's square head is somewhat distracting. But if your art starts looking MORE like "Girly", you are in for a blog-whooping.
posted by wendell at 1:06 PM on June 26, 2007


(In fact, he kinda flubs it here when he gets to Achewood, which, for some reason, presumably because he likes it so much, he lets his opinion of the comic as a whole get in the way of analyzing the art itself)

I think that's the weakness of the whole piece; he does the same thing with Diesel Sweeties.

I dunno. I've spent a lot of time thinking about webcomic art in the wake of this, and the one thing that's really struck me is that most of the stuff I like has an unusual look; to me, I think that might edge technical prowess (the one exception being Penny Arcade,-- I love it, and think it looks great, but visually it's really just a very well-executed example of Standard Webcomic Style #2).

The other thing that hit me is that, for me, writing does trump art. Art's important-- I can be turned away by an exceptionally bad-looking comic, or I might stick with a clunky one if it's purdy-- but ultimately, I'll forgive a lot of artistic sins/ugliness if the thing's well-written.

Oh, and this goes way back to the top of the thread, but holy shit, Dominic Deegan looks awful in every way a comic can be awful. Ugly, badly-written, rapey, wow.
posted by COBRA! at 1:11 PM on June 26, 2007


You know, I'm having a hard time putting into words just how angry the review of Order of the Stick makes me, from the livejournal post.

"At best, it's a stick figure comic that looks good for someone who isn't really an artist."

Just. Ugh. Fuck you, you pretentious twat.

Order of the Stick has long had, in my opinion, some of the best art direction in the webcomics world. It isn't that the art is technically difficult (though it is far more difficult than a lot of people seem to think); it's that Burlew manages to do a wonderful job of framing and pacing his comics. He's willing to change up the layout and perspective as is necessary, and really breaks out of the standard 3-to-4 panel monotony that most webcomics fall prey to.

It may be true that every single strip is not a masterpiece, but it is perhaps the only strip that I am currently keeping tabs on that manages to fairly frequently take my breath away when it comes to having the occasional "perfect" strip for a piece of a storyline. His art does an excellent job of complementing the dialog and storyline, instead of being just a collection of generic setpieces behind a bunch of talking heads.

(some recent examples)

So I must reiterate: fuck you, Josh Lesnick. Just because you don't like the particular art direction that Burlew has made does not make it not art, nor does it make it not well done. I don't even need to look at your own art to label you a poseur, because your words do it for me.
posted by tocts at 1:16 PM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


good call on the oots layout examples, tocts
posted by COBRA! at 1:23 PM on June 26, 2007


Bugbread, I agree that you can analyze just the art of a comic. (I said as much.) But in comics, there is a huge interplay between art and writing, or at least there is in the best work.

Matt Feazell's art is just stick figures. He draws pretty much everything with equal simplicity. But analyzing the art alone, without reference to the writing, would give you the false notion that he's just a bad artist. In fact, the style of the art reinforces the writing. Cynicalman has a very blah, postmodern, cynical life, and the art expresses that perfectly. (Sidebar: I have to note, "Ert!" is my favorite onomatopoeia ever.)

I could look at Holden Caulfield's "people-hunting" and say that Holden puts his hat on with the peak to the front or back seemingly randomly, and that this means that Salinger is a poor writer. I'd be wrong, because I'm not taking into account the greater context of the work. If I just analyze the symbolism of the hat itself, without reference to the overall work (Holden's cynicism, his ambiguities towards adult life, etc.), I'm doing a disservice to the work. And just like if you analyze the symbolism of a novel and forget to reference things outside that symbolism, I think you are doing a disservice to the work if you pick it apart into pieces so small that they no longer contain the magic of the work as a whole. I don't think comics art should be analyzed in complete isolation from the writing, and that is what Mr. Lesnick is doing.
posted by jiawen at 1:45 PM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]




wendell: Oh, don't worry, I'm not taking the art in a Girly-ish direction. I feel a little weird talking about my own stuff in this thread, but here goes: one thing he mentioned was variety of expression, with that helpful little table of Ctrl-Alt-Del characters. Between his essay and Scott McCloud's "Making Comics," I've decided that I'm not going to map out three stock expressions like many artists do. (Or, in the case of Lore Brand Comics, one expression.) When the time comes to draw Dorno's eye-ridge, for instance, I'll often draw it six or eight times, trying to get the distinction between "surprise and annoyance" versus "distrust and disbelief."

And that, for me, is the distinction between the two links in the post. I don't agree with Lesnick's attitude about stick figures, but I'm a grown up and I can decide for myself what sounds valid to me. Even though I disagree with a lot of what Lesnick says, there are still things to learn from him. Conversely, even though I agree with a lot of what Solomon says, I don't get anything out of it other than "Things I don't like suck!"
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 1:51 PM on June 26, 2007


I've wondered about that, but never bothered to investigate. Is it just straight scan, cut, paste, or does he do any drawing over them afterwards?

I was curious about this for a long time, too, and then he youtubed the process of creating a Wondermark strip.
posted by booksandlibretti at 2:24 PM on June 26, 2007


For those of you new to XKCD, leave your cursor over the comic for the tooltip.
posted by Cyrano at 4:28 PM on June 26, 2007


I have a webcomic. I'm pretty sure it sucks. But it's a good art thing for me to do, and it makes my girlfriend's parents laugh, so that's a good thing. :)

But I like Josh Lesnick, he cares and thinks a lot.

I don't think people should get all bent out of shape about webcomics, though. What are we, The Comics Journal?? Sheesh!
posted by zoogleplex at 4:53 PM on June 26, 2007


I'm of the opinion that XKCD would be better if it were more freeform -- more like a blog with occasional illustrations. The stick figures often feel superfluous. There's no reason the writing has to be an image instead of plain text (unlike Dinosaur Comics).
posted by blasdelf at 5:14 PM on June 26, 2007


Funny, Blasdelf, I sometimes feel the same way about Questionable Content.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:46 PM on June 26, 2007


I thought one of his criticisms was pretty much right on. That webcomic is so bad it's actually funny.
posted by vodkadin at 8:10 PM on June 26, 2007


regarding this xkcd: it bothers me that the line lengths would still have synced if he had typed 'definitely for real'.
posted by felix grundy at 8:20 PM on June 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


All these supposedly bad webcomics are like fine wine next to the pure liquid excrement of Shaun Reveal's Boston and Shaun in its unholy prime. [warning: unintentionally horrifying]
posted by obvious at 11:15 PM on June 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now I am confused and angry.
posted by Artw at 11:51 PM on June 26, 2007


All these supposedly bad webcomics are like fine wine next to the pure liquid excrement of Shaun Reveal's Boston and Shaun in its unholy prime. [warning: unintentionally horrifying]

*clicks the link*

Why do you hate America Metafilter? That's going to give me nightmares.
posted by Many bubbles at 11:57 PM on June 26, 2007


It even uses Comic Sans! Wow!
posted by jiawen at 12:18 AM on June 27, 2007


I would like to point out that the Single Asian Female Comics are, indeed, hilarious.

Also, this is what literature is from now on.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:07 AM on June 27, 2007


I clicked on the Boston and Shaun links. I now understand that the idea of something being so bad that it makes one nauseous is not hyperbole. It is the truth.
posted by graymouser at 5:29 AM on June 27, 2007


Wow. Wow. Wow. I will never, ever feel bad about my comic work again. If I just rolled ink onto my ass cheeks, sat on a sheet of Bristol, and drew speech balloons coming out of the two blobs saying "Fart!", it would still be orders of magnitude better than Boston and Shaun.
posted by COBRA! at 7:12 AM on June 27, 2007


So Boston and Shaun are the new Pokey the Penguin? (Oh no! Italians!)
posted by wendell at 9:31 AM on June 27, 2007


That Boston and Shaun comic is amazing. For all the wrong reasons. I can't stop reading it. Shaun Reveal is like the Uwe Boll of the online comic world.

And it's been going on for over two years.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:53 AM on June 27, 2007


Boston the Shaun, what in the hell is this?! Obvious, you bastard!
posted by Talanvor at 10:26 AM on June 27, 2007


That is... very very odd.

After reading a few of those, I think I understand Achewood now.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:55 AM on June 27, 2007


Sticherbeast - the image is a flash movie. Why? Why?
posted by Artw at 2:18 PM on June 27, 2007


Artw writes "Sticherbeast - the image is a flash movie. Why? Why?"

Two guesses: to prevent hotlinking, or to prevent trivial copy-pasting. Sure, if you really want the image, you can get it relatively easily (Ctrl + PrtSc -> Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> MS Paint -> Ctrl + V -> Click "Yes, make the canvas bigger" -> Click "Select" tool -> Drag over strip -> Right click -> Click "Save selection as...") (or the equivalent in PhotoShop, or The Gimp, or iDraw, or whathaveyou), but it's still harder than the default, which is just (Right click -> Save As...).

I'm not saying it's a good thing, just that that's my guess about why he does it. Like a lock on your front door: it won't keep out dedicated criminals, but it will keep random folks walking down the street from ducking into your house to use your toilet. Or take a picture of your toilet, in this case.
posted by Bugbread at 4:21 PM on June 27, 2007


slimepuppy writes "And it's been going on for over two years."

Check the "in its prime" part of obvious's comment, and you'll find that while the current Boston and Shaun page only goes back two years, the old archive goes back to 1999!! 8 years!!
posted by Bugbread at 4:32 PM on June 27, 2007


...and probably about as many fans. But it has its cult following, naturally.
posted by obvious at 8:18 PM on June 27, 2007


« Older Eunice Kathleen Waymon Live   |   The Beautiful Function Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post