Thursday, March 31, 2011

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Despite the fact that I like both the Harry Potter books and movies, I find myself waiting quite a while to see the newer movies. I’ve seen all of them but I just don’t find myself getting as excited about them anymore (maybe it's because of that one time I had a sticky foot drop down from the ceiling onto me during HP5, most random thing to happen to me in a theater ever). But after seeing this one I think I’m excited for the 8 th movie to come out this summer. Hmm, I’ve never seen one of the movies at a midnight release, I believe I need to go make some plans with local friends to do this now (it’s my last chance to do it after all).

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Summary: Adapting material from the first half of the seventh Harry Potter book, Voldemort has once again risen to power and the wizarding realm (and those muggles who know of him) are cowering in fear. Guided by the mission Dumbledore left him, Harry (and Ron and Hermione of course) try to hunt down Voldemort’s remaining horcruxes  to bring about his ultimate downfall.

The Good: I’ve always thought that the movies were pretty good adaptations of the book (although I do prefer the books, more subplots) so no complaints on the plot here. The actors were also very solid* and Radcliff, Watson and Grint managed to hold down the movie pretty well on their own (and the point where they used the polyjuice potion was also well done, not sure if they used completely different actors with a voice over or what but that scene was still well done). So I’m happy I saw the movie and it has me all excited for the final film now, although I do hope it’s a little better in a few respects….

The Bad: I’m a by the book purist and I thought that the previous movies did a fairly good job at squeezing in everything necessary to advance the plot. This movie however went the opposite direction and made full use of the five hours total (two and a half hours here) to tell the story and the movie drags a bit. Tons of character development and little action work better in book form than movie and I felt myself getting bored in parts. The second part should be more action filled, plus the trio is back together, so hopefully that will move a little faster.

The Music: Aside from a few nostalgia inducing bits of music (like the title music, who doesn't hum along to that one?) I didn’t really notice the other music in the film. I’m sure if I heard the soundtrack I’d recognize a number of the tracks but I was more interested in the visuals than the audio here.

The Visuals: The visuals, especially the opening shots with Voldemort and his followers, that struck me as very British. Low lighting but very high saturation and the blues were more saturated than the other colors, something I’ve noticed in other British productions like Sherlock^ and Top Gear. A nice looking movie, very low key looking and the bleakness in the even tone lighting helped add to the general feeling of despair. But I am hoping that some of the settings in the second movie are a bit more cheerful, there’s a limit to how much doom and gloom I can take before I get bored.

So yep, back to normal reviews now, hope everyone enjoyed webcomic month and hopefully I'll find enough new titles between now and next March that I'll be able to pull this off again next year. Got enough reviews lined up (not all written, heck no, but planned) for something every day until almost the end of the month and then just play it by ear for, well, the rest of the summer and probably next fall since school is going to try and kill me again and that leaves little time for reviewing. But that's not for a while bit so see you guys tomorrow!

*even if the fact that Harry looks like a combination of my brother and one of my cousins keeps weirding me out. Actually, Harry in the first and second movies was a dead ringer for my brother at that time, apparently my mom heard little kids in the grocery store go “Mommy, is that Harry Potter?” Heck, my brother even has a scar or two on his forehead, although it looks nothing like a lighting bolt.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Webcomics that died and really shouldn't have

Wow, sorry for not updating yesterday, had some unexpected stress from school* which helped trigger a really nasty headache for me and I've noticed that I'm even snarkier then. And today's entry doesn't need any extra snarkiness because today dear readers, I talk about the dark side of webcomics. I've proven throughout the month that there are plenty of webcomics with good art, good writing, and keep a regular update schedule, even if they don't appeal to everyone. But there are plenty of webcomics out there that did have good art, good writing, and then suddenly, stopped. No word from the author why they stopped, no resolution, nada. Gah, so, here are the comics that were great, maybe even amazing, and then just died one day, anyone who wants to try them has been warned.

Chasing Rainbows
American manga fans probably know who the author/artist of this one is by the art style (Svetlana Chmakova for those who don't) and this was a webcomic she did from 2003-2006 (pretty fun to see how her art style has changed by now). The story starts with our heroine, Pam, agonizing over having to choose between two guys. A couple of pages later, it's revealed that whatever guy she doesn't choose is going to die, don't know how but he is. The rest of the comic dealt with some of the events that day (but not the accident itself, although what it's going to be is hinted at) and flashbacks showing how she knew each guy and what her relationship was with them. The story ends completely unexpectedly and hasn't updated in almost five years now, even though Svet said recently she was going to try and come off hiatus but she's working on a new project now so I'm not holding my breath.

Alright, the title mislead me here since it says Crowfeathers and other tales of the west so I figured that Crowfeathers was a short comic that was part of a collection and therefore a complete story. Nope, the author said they weren't happy with the story, planed on rebooting it and nothing has happened yet. It's true that the beginning of the story doesn't mesh that well with where the story has gone now but you could just re-do the opening (seen plenty of webcomics that have done that) instead of killing it completely. I really loved the mythology they were building up (sometimes I complain that authors don't get creative enough with the mythologies they draw on but this, combining traditional Christian imagery with Native American myths, is nothing but  creative) and really loved the sephia toned art. Gah.

I knew going into this one that it had suddenly stopped updating at some point (just glancing at the front page tells you that much) but I saw so many people link to it on their comic pages^ that I had to try it. And so one day I finally got into it and, as I last recall, the comic had just explained something big and was about to explain more stuff and then it stopped, I believe this is the point where I started cursing. Heck, checking the date on the last news article I realized it hadn't been updated in four years and wondered if the author/artist had died, you'd think that they would have been able to post something more recently. But then in the past month, when I was sorting through all my webcomics, I clicked on the LJ link on the side and discovered something, the creator of this comic is the same Yuko that draws for Johnny Wander! AFSADFA, so they never just said "hey guys, not working on this anymore, bye?" Found this out after I reviewed Johnny Wander and I still do like that comic but geeze, this is going to annoy me for a bit longer.

Kemet Kids
Another series with interesting mythology (Egyptian this time, made me a bit nostalgic for those few years in middle school I would come across something Egypt-related almost everyday) and aimed at younger readers (more MG than YA) but it was still an interesting read but I think it didn't have that many readers since the comic just stopped one day. I think it was still in the early stages too, it was still just introducing the villains, poor comic that died before it's time....

Another comic where the reboot killed it and, unlike Crowfeathers I'm not sure why it even needed a reboot. As far as I can recall (since neither the comic nor tvtropes have a plot summary about this series) it involved a kid discovering he was actually a demon and trying to find out more about his past (since apparently his dad was a super-powerful demon who went beserk, also means we have plenty of people trying to kill our protagonist). There were some demon hunters and mages also introduced in the comic but I don't recall any major plot revelations in the 270-ish pages before it restarted, no big explanations in any case, and then the comic restarted and didn't get close to where the story had been before. Sigh, there's a reason I freak out these days when a comic artist announces that they want to re-do the story....

So there you have it folks, comics that went out with a whimper and never a word on why they did. Actually, recently I saw a comic (not one I read) where the author announced that they weren't going to do any more of it and then wrote down what the plot would've been otherwise. THAT is what you do, heck, if I ever get started on doing a comic myself I'm going to make sure that, in case of an accident, a friend of mine could post the rest of the script so the readers aren't left hanging forever, it just seems like a sensible and nice thing to do to me.

Also, since I don't have any webcomic reviews to post tomorrow, I'm just going to go ahead and start posting regular reviews again tomorrow anyway. It is a day early but since I already have some written, and especially since the winter anime season is about to end and I don't want to get as behind on those this time, I might as well. See y'all tomorrow with a Harry Potter review!

*on the list of "things you can't do in college," I wasn't aware that "major and minor in the same general department" was on that list, working on it though!
^I have since learned that many comic artists are super slow to update these pages which rather puzzles me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Webcomics that need to update more often

A short post tonight (mainly because it's been a busy day, so glad I've already got a few reviews written up for April, I need a buffer) and, like the title says, these are webcomics that update sporadically and really need to update more often (why? because they're good and there is always a need for good stories). These were just the comics I can think of that still seem to be alive (don't worry, there will be special posts for comics-that-shouldn't-have-ended) and look like they might update again in the near future. So, onto the comics!

Directions of Destiny
One of the earliest webcomics I came across that I thought was actually dead until lately but, since some concept art has gone up in the past few months, I think it might revive sometime (this already seems to be it's second incarnation so who knows!). But before all of that, could someone else whose seen Revolutionary Girl Utena look through this and see if I'm the only one getting major Utena vibes off of it? The shots with the elevator to the principal's room, the super powerful student council, the general setting of the school and the phrase "the direction of destiny" all really remind me of Utena, heck the idea of a power to change the directions of destiny sounds a lot like the power to bring about the world revolution*. Honestly that's all that has happened so far, we've met the characters, seen some mysterious things happen and heard mysterious phrases promising power, it's a nice start but really needs to move beyond it!

The Dragon Messiah
It's been a while since I read this comic (I didn't realize until a few days ago that it updated back in February so it's not dead yet) so I'm hazy on the plot but I remember it involved multiple groups of people, magic, elves, mysterious eyes, and one really kick-ass girl. So clearly I enjoyed this when I was reading it (I'll probably go reread it and hope that it really is going to resume regular updates soon) and it's also notable for being one of the comics I follow that's in two languages, English and Italian^ so, if it really does resume regular updates soon, there's no reason not to follow it if your a fantasy fan.

Another one I intially wasn't going to include since it's been so long since it last updated (past the deadline the creator gave themselves and with no new deadline set) but it looks like they have been redoign the earlier chapters and that counts as progress. Another fantasy adventure, this one involving other worlds, conspiracies (or at least it looks that way), and a quest to forge a powerful lock before the worlds are overrun with demons. A very colorful comic (it's really pretty to look at, bet it would look lovely in print) the characters are a bit flat at the moment but hopefully plot advancement will mean character development as well. I don't know how much of the comic is going to be redone (I thought only the first chapter but it looks like the second chapter is being worked on now) but the comic isn't bad at all so if you like it I would say just go ahead and read the rest, you've got the time anyway!

No Rest For The Wicked
A comic that's been on shaky updates for well over a year (tvtropes says the author lives in the Phillipines and got hit by a bad typhoon back in 2009 which is understandable) I still want to link it here because it's a good example of redone fairy tales. This one takes the setting from a more obsure fairy tale, The Dead Moon, where the moon has vanished and Princess November (from The Princess and the Pea) can't sleep because of the lack of the moon (she's even more sensitive than in her original tale so this is really throwing her off) so she sets out to find the moon. She's joined by characters from other fairy tales in a world that's a mash-up of stories with a grim touch but isn't an overdone, full-blown "dark fairytale" which I like. Yes the story is dark but it isn't trying to hard to be dark, it's just trying to tell the story and this is how it goes, this is how you re-tell fairy tales people! Fingers crossed this one updates again soon, it's short right now but I really feel like it could go on for a while and want to see it finished. 

Again, checked this one recently and was surprised to see it had updated, I didn't even remember this one until I was talking science fiction with my dad and thought that one of the ideas sounded familiar. We have a classic tale here, Earth has finally ventured out into space only to find that there are many other species out there and they are at war with each other. Trying to stay out of the war (since we are completely outgunned), Alexander Jardin is the sole survivor of a scouting mission to find out more about these two groups and is picked up by the ships of one group (the Loroi). Since the space administration here was smart and trained all it's people in case such a situation happened, he is now tentaively Earth's embassador to this group and is trying to figure out who blew up his ship, get back to Earth, and not commit them to a side in this war without being absolutely sure this is what they should do. So a nice set-up, story is still in the early stages at under a hundred pages long#, but I like it and hope that it keeps going, more science fiction for me please!

Yes the link is broken, don't know why and I can't find the mirror site for this comic to post instead, if anyone has it please tell me! Anyway, another fantasy story, this one concerns Winnie Foster who has just been sucked into another world of magic, angels and demons and just isn't having a good day. It's hard to detail more of the plot without spoilers (also since we've apparently had a major timeskip) but it's got a plot that wouldn't be out of place in a manga and with manga-style art as well. I read it more as fluff than anything else (fun and filling but not something I muse about between updates) and I do like the comic. It was supposed to come off hiatus in January but then the artist was doing another comic for the Yen Press contest and then that one stopped updating so I really don't know what's going on now. I'm hoping that things will get back to normal soon but, if the main website is down, that's not a very good sign.....

Again, no post tomorrow since I already know tomorrow is going to be hell but then Tuesday and Wednesday you get the "Comics that shouldn't have ended (and thanks for never giving a reason why they stopped updating!" pages, expect a bit of ranting and more sarcasm than usual but I've kinda been looking forward to those posts actually.....

*If the writer/artist here isn't a fan of Utena and just managed to make this comic incredibly similar all on their own I swear I will eat my hat, my good hat too.
^I've actually seen a number of comics that are in multiple languages, sometimes because of the author (like here, I think the author is actually Italian) and then other times by friends, like scanlations except legal I suppose.
#According to tvtropes it averages out to eight pages a year, suddenly I'm a bit more scared for this comic.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Webcomic Review: Dreamless, Garanos, Inverlock, Saturnalia, Strange Someone

On an unrelated note to start with, Diana Wynne Jones, I've reviewed several of her books and she is one of my favorite authors of all time* passed away yesterday and I'm crushed. I knew she had cancer and had stopped the chemotherapy treatments since they were so hard on her body but I was still hoping that she would just quietly live for a number more years (she was 76) and write a few more books but it look like that wasn't meant to me. Feel like a reread of some of her books are in order now...

Anyway, finished webcomics! I have come across a few of them over the years (I suspect they're a little harder to find since there isn't as much buzz about a finished series, also webcomics take years to tell) but not that many so here's a quick rundown of the ones I know about.

A shorter comic with an interesting premise, when Elanor goes to sleep she doesn't dream but instead sees the life of Takashi, a boy in Japan who was born on the same day she was and the same thing happens to him. The comic is about the two of them living their everyday lives, growing up with each other and falling in love with each other but, since this is US/Japan in the 1940s, there are a few barriers in the way of getting together. It's a romance in the end but with the pretty art and nice pacing I liked it, I know it's avaliable in print now but I'm not sure how many volumes/issues it has.

A fantasy comic about a young woman, Garanos, who is traveling searching for her kidnapped fiancee and fulfilling her destiny in the process. It's been a little while since I read this one (and I remember it took a couple of tries before I got into it in the first place) but I remember not being blown away by the plot or the artwork. The plot certainly works, and the art just isn't to my style (it's the shading and I've always been picky about that kind of stuff)  but it didn't do anything super amazing and I thought the ending had a bit of a cop-out regarding the romance aspect. I still recommend it for anyone whose curious, it's just not my favorite webcomic out there.

By the same author/artist of The Phoenix Requiem (and artist of Dreamless actually), Inverloch  is high fantasy involving elves, mythical animals, magic, and a quest for a missing person. I did like the story a lot (not sure if I liked it enough to buy a print copy of the comic, it would probably all depend on the price) and it was a good story, even if fridge logic brought up a couple of unfortunate implications about the characters later on. Despite that, fantasy fans should love this one, the art is cute and it flowed pretty well.

Oh I have a few issues with this comic but not because of it's content/story actually. You see, the story ends with the main character dying but, if this was any other comic, they wouldn't have hit their head on the pavement and died but instead hit their head and woken up later, continuing the story. As I understand it, the author got a chance to work on a published comic instead and had to end this one early to do so^. And it's a shame, the setting had really been established, more characters were introduced, and the plot seemed like it was really going to go somewhere, and then it stopped. This one is technically over, not abandoned, but because of the ending I would caution people trying it out since it is such a frustrating one.

Strange Someone
A quick comic, only four chapters long or so, that happens sometime after the events of Sorcery 101, this comic covers two of the minor characters there, Jeff and Connor. The story is that you have budding writer Liz who is stuck in writer's block and ends up talking to Jeff to get inspiration for writing a doctor/nurse romance and get's caught up in some of the supernatural going ons. I didn't realize when I read it that it was connected to Sorcery 101 (makes a lot more sense once I figured it out) so I would primarily recommend it to people who are already reading that comic but newbies to the 'verse can probably follow along as well.

Finally, I mentioned that The Phoenix Requiem finished up literally hours after I posted the review so I'm not going to bother reviewing that again (and yes I did notice that half of these comics were done by her, proof that people can turn out multiple complete and good webcomics!).

*(The Dark Lord of Derkholem may be my favorite fantasy book of all time and when I found out that The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land was being re-released I ran for my mom and got that preordered immediately, I remember it was pretty popular with my friends in high school too.
^and, to add insult to injury, the other comic was an OEL called Yokaiden which I reeeeally didn't like when I read it, so the fact that Saturnalia ended for that one annoys me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Webcomic Review: The Zombie Hunters

With how popular zombies are these days I'm surprised this is the only zombie webcomic I follow. Actually, I can't even think of that many other webcomics about zombies (especially compared to the number of YA books about them these days), if anyone has any good recommendations be sure to leave them in the comments!

The Zombie Hunters
With a more cinematic flair than most other comics I read (the opening of the comic reminds me so much of an action movie), the comic is pretty much what the title says. It's after the zombie apocalypse, it appears that the majority of the world is overrun and our characters are all infected. Here zombism works that the bite doesn't kill you but once you do die you rise up if were infected and those survivors are shunned a because of it.  Our characters however could care less about that, they're happiest when they're in the field scavenging whatever has been left behind and kicking zombie ass, despite all the dangers. Currently the comic is in a really big flashback explaining how one member joined the team and another died and, when that finishes up, I really don't know where the story is going to go next. Maybe they'll find a cure for zombism but I really can't tell at this point, just hope there is a plan for it!

Hmm, I think I annoyed the artist for this comic in a livestream once by thinking that Jenny and Milo were siblings not lovers. There was some comment along the lines of "do I need to draw them doing it so people stop making this mistake?1?" but, in my defense, I've made this same exact mistake with other webcomics, guess I'm just too used to seeing siblings in anime who look nothing alike and extrapolate from there. And that wraps up the alphabet folks, yay! Tomorrow I'll make a post about completed webcomics and then I'll have a couple of other special posts to round off the month and then it's back to regular reviews.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Webcomic Review: XKCD

Believe it or not I do of another webcomic that starts with "X" but since it's being rewritten now (or at least I think that's the plan, it's been quiet for a few months) this is the only one I've got up to review today. And XKCD of the unpronounceable name doesn't really need much of an introduction since it's one of the most widely recognized webcomics out there (heck, my dad reads it!) so on with the show!

As the banner on the website proclaims, this is a strip comic about "romance, sarcasm, math, and language" although I would replace romance with science myself. This is a comic where the more familiar you are with more traditional nerdy pursuits (math, science, literature, classical nerds as my friends and I call them) the more you'll enjoy this comic since it assumes you either already know what it's talking about or are willing to look it up to follow along. I actually haven't read through the archives and it's not necessary here, most strips are independent and usually there will be a link if it's a call back. So, if you don't mind some really brainy jokes and aren't reading this already check it out, make sure to see the alt-text!

Trying out something with the fonts today since the text normally looks a little small to me, if you like it more/less please tell me!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Webcomic Review: Wasted Talent, Weregeek, What Birds Know, Winters in Lavelle

I have no idea how I manage to follow four awesome webcomics that start with the letter "W" while I only follow one for a much more common letter like "L." Oh well, life is strange like that, onto the reviews!

Wasted Talent
Another journal comic I just found recently that, like Today Nothing Happened, started when the artist was in college so the comic covers from then until current day young adult life (which, as someone whose starting to get a little freak out by "life after college" is rather reassuring). Following the life of the Jam it's a fairly realistic comic with only a little embellishment so anyone who likes slice-of-life or journal comics would probably enjoy this. I think it's also fun to see life from an engineer's perspective instead of an artist's (also fun to see comics made by non-USians) and just a fun comic in general, go look at it!

I've mentioned before that I know a number of comics that switch between fluffy, slice-of-life stuff and then more plot centric arcs and that's really hard to balance. Weregeek pulls it off in a really interesting fashion by focusing mostly on the characters regular lives but having occasionally having snippets from their tabletop games. For, as the comic title suggests, this is a comic about nerds (young adults, not the high school/college crowd) who live their ordinary lives by day but have all sorts of fun after work. The more nerdy references you know the better you'll like the comment (and if you don't the comments should be able to tell you at least what series it's from) and everything is done in good fun so you'll usually end up laughing at the page anyway. There does seem to be some sort of conspiracy lurking in the background of the slice-of-life side of things but that plotline may have been abandoned by now, one problem is that the story moves pretty slow since it's a three or four panel strip most days. Oh well, I'll take well done gags over ill-paced ones every day.

What Birds Know
A fantasy webcomic that has taken a mindf*ck turn of late, the premise of this story is that Vandi, Dores, and Elia are on a school trip to collect mushrooms for a teacher which should only take a few days to complete. But in those few days we've learned the backstories for all of them (all with some unhappy parts), learned about their families, and watched them slowly go crazy. To be as spoiler-free as possible, the first part of the story starts with a mysterious story about a prince, which is later repeated at the beginning of the third chapter and, while almost nothing has been explained about that, there have been enough hints in the story to suggest that this is directly related to the other weird/creepyness of the story. The creepiest part of the story however (and done on purpose) is how such strange and disturbing things will happen to the girls and then a cut to how their families are still going about their normal lives, or how most of the girls just accept these things that are happening. I'd love to have this one in print so I could reread it easier (since the reread I did before this review was really enlightening) and I recommend this to fans of fantasy or deconstruction in general (it's not a full-on deconstruction but it's doing something interesting).

Winters in Lavelle
Another fantasy comic, just without the mindf*ck part. The story starts a little before the comic does with Aiden Winters discovering a magic globe at his house that allows him to travel to another world and one day his sister (Kari), who knows about it and doesn't like it, follows him to the world (Lavelle, title drop!) and now their a bit stuck since they don't know where the corresponding orb is to bring them back home (and, to make matters more interesting, their dad figured out what happened and seems to be freaking out, plus the fact that Aiden's grandmother told him about the orb in the first place, makes for an interesting subplot). Oh, and Aiden and Kari now have magical amber stuck in them, are being chased by mysterious deer people, and might be getting mixed up with some rebels (politics please?), sounds like a fantasy story to me! The comic still feels young to me, past the introductory stage but not by much, so I can't wait for more, is it Friday yet?

I've got yet another speaker to hear tomorrow (I think the photography department is trying to bore me to death) but since I only have one comic to review tomorrow everything should go up as normal! But, since I'm already talking about it, no reviews Monday since I have back to back club and speaker (and they're not even the last one! ;-; ) which means that I'll spend three straight hours knitting and that doesn't leave much room for reviewing, at least I like knitting....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Webcomic Review: Unshelved

I believe I've mentioned before, but I've spent the past four summers working in the local libraries* and one of them was actually a paid job and, as I discovered, when you work 30 hours a week you tend to have a bit of downtime. For me this usually occurred around Wednesday or Thursday (when I finally finished shelving all the books that had come in over the weekend/Monday and Tuesday) and I would see if anyone needed any help in the back but normally everything was quite back there too. One day one of the other librarians showed me this comic mainly because she wanted to show me their yearly contest, Pimp my Bookcart. I still regret that I couldn't do that over the summer working at the library and, having spent so much time working at a library I can say yes, pretty much anything that happens in this comic I could see happening/actually has happened to someone I know.

A series of strips (it's a long running comic, it took me forever to read the backlog) involving various librarians and patrons at a fictional library. Told in the gag-a-day format (except for Fridays which usually have a book review instead) there is no overarching plot here but fully embraces the slice-of-life genre instead. It's true that some of the events in the story are more fantastical than others (the mascot library page who never takes off his outfit comes to mind) but, as I'm sure anyone in customer service could tell you, you do run into a lot of strange people and strange experiences in the world so the story still manages to feel relatively realistic no matter what it throws at you. My only problem with this comic is that it's a little hard for new readers to get into because of the sheer size and lack of archive (I had to bookmark each day where I stopped reading or just remember the strip number) and you do need to know something about the characters to get the jokes. You might be able to make do with the character bios on the "about"page but it would probably be a good idea to just slowly work your way through the archives instead and be prepared that it might take a while.

It is honestly my goal someday to do the "pimp my bookcart" contest, guess I'd better try yet again for a job at the college library, this could take a while...

*I am a third gen librarian after all....

Monday, March 21, 2011

Webcomic Revew: Today Nothing Happened, True Magic, Trying Human, Two Kinds,

After glancing over my list of webcomics I realized that I should be able to make one large post today and take care of all the "T"s that way, huzzah! So today we have one journal comic, another fantasy parody, a fantasy, and one of the few sci-fi titles I follow!

Today Nothing Happened
Unlike the other semi-journal comics I follow, this one isn't fictional at all, although some situations might be exaggerated, and it proves something my mom and I have been saying for years, reality is way stranger than fiction. The comic originally started as a school project, the creator liked it so much that she kept it going, so it covers college life and young adult life after college and I think it's a bit uplifting, that even now people can still live happy lives and sometimes I feel like the world needs that reminder. I might also be biased towards this comic since Shazzbaa and I seem to live in the same state (so whenever there's a post about crazy weather I'll go "YES, THAT'S EXACTLY IT!") and I was bemused to see Blitzkrieg from Conventional Wisdom cameo a couple of times (and vice-versa over in his comic). Plus, I like videos of cute kittens so it stands to reason that I'd love a bunch of comics about the strange things cats do and if the main page doesn't make me crack up the incentive voting piece normally does. So I'm recommending this to all fans of journal comics or of everyday humor, this is honestly one of my favorite webcomics and I really hope that it gets printed soon!

True Magic
Out of the several fantasy parody series I follow, True Magic is my favorite because I think it does the parody aspect of it the best (which isn't to say the others I've reviewed or bad, this just means I have opinions).  The basic plot of the story is that some peasants, fed up with how they have no rights against their ruling nobles, are journeying to the capital to try and change the laws but are having a hard time just getting to that point. The peasents are all genre-savy (which is played for laughs agaisnt the very not genre-savy nobles), things rarely go as planned, cliches/tropes are usually subverted as well, and each page usually makes me laugh about it at least once. This one also has a bit of an erratic update schedule but the plot is simple enough that I don't have trouble remembering what just happened. The art is a bit more basic than some other comics but it works just fine here, again I'm more amused by the writing than anything else.

Trying Human
I suspect the reason I read fewer science-fiction webcomics than fantasy ones is because there simply are fewer out there but this one seems reasonably well known. Not to be confused with the BBC show Being Human, Trying Human splits it's focus on Rose (recently an alien abductee), Hue (an alien who has fallen in love with Rose*) and Rose's boyfriend Rodger (who was just recruited to go work in Area 51). There is a central plotline to the story although I'm not exactly sure what it is (flashbacks at the beginning of each chapter suggest that something went wrong at Area 51 about 60 years ago) and, since the government is covering up the fact that aliens are real I'm sure there's a government conspiracy in there somewhere, but none of these plotlines have really connected yet and it feels like it'll be a while yet before they do. The plot feels well paced however, and does a good job balancing three or four different points of view, so I'm not worried about the plot, it just seems to be moving at it's own pace. So for now we have various high-jinks involving aliens and Rose, various alien related work involving Rodger, and ominous foreboding involving Philena, the woman in the flashbacks, it's a fun enough read in any case!

Two Kinds
Hmm, normally I just think of this as a fantasy comic with a lot of anthropomorphic characters but I suppose most people would call this a furry comic^. Oh well, the art is pretty and you see plenty of cat/fox girls in anime anyway, it's not that much of a stretch. The plot here involves three main groups of people, humans, Keidran (the afore mentioned anthropomorphic characters) and the Basitin (who looks more like anthros than humans) who all hate the other species and are engaged in a number of skirmishes, if not war, against each other. The amnesiac Trace (human, not a nice guy before the amnesia) wakes up to find the world in this state and eventually falls in with the Keidran Flora and the Basitin Keith and so far the three of them have been traveling around and keep running into trouble with the various governments. Now that one big arc just ended I'm not quite sure where the plot is going next but, as I said earlier, the art is pretty and the story is entertaining enough (even thought tvtropes brought up some fridge horror involving Keidran slaves kept by humans, squick).

For some reason I can't get Two Kinds to load today and it might be because they're switching website providers (or some such thing) so here's another web address in case anyone else is having the same problems. Not many comics left now, one U, four W, one X and one Z, anyone want to guess what each of them are?

*yes from meeting her during the abductions, the comic makes it seem way less creepy than I could ever hope to describe it but still.... 
^frankly I've never been quite sure what the anime/manga fandom in general has against furries but okay guys, you can go rant about it and I'll be over here reading my comics.....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Webcomic Review: Steampunk Soiree, Strays, String Theory

Sorry this is going up late, forgot I had work today so between that, homework, and the 24 hour otakus help Japan podcast (which was pretty awesome even if I missed some of the best guests) I've been a bit busy. Guess it's a good thing that these will be shorter reviews tonight huh?

Steampunk Soiree
A newer webcomic that still seems to be finding it's feet, the story here focuses on thieves August and Berkely going on jobs and their unwanted guest Eva (long story that would spoil the first chapter) may be a main character as well. Honestly that's it so far, the comic only premiered last July and hasn't been able to hold a very consistent schedule due to school work, but I do like what the comic is doing so far. The title proclaims it as steampunk yet so far that's just been the background of the story (and that's a good thing, I prefer stories that use genre as a setting, not as something that defines the plot) and none of the characters are exceptionally chatty so there's no way of knowing if there will even be an overall story arc yet. But I do like the art, I like the characters, and I think I like where the story is going so I'll recommend it anyway, here's to hoping it gets more regular updates soon! (also, it has the coolest domain name ever)

Another comic that's still in it's early stages (actually, like Everblue the synopsis of the comic on it's website mentions things that haven't yet happened in the comic, oops?), this fantasy story revolves are Meela, a young lupian (she looks like a human with a wolf's tail  but they seem to be separate species, there are another human/animal looking hybrids in the story as well) who recently lost her brother (her only family member) and is on her own. She runs into Feral, another lupian who is a mute bounty hunter, and is currently following him around and bothering him and, besides the odd nightmares she's been having recently (which are definitely not flashbacks to her life, although her backstory so far looks just as gruesome)  are the only things of note so far. The story seems to be setting up a pretty big plot but so far almost nothing has been explained or revealed yet (and with a once-a-week update schedule it could take a while to get to this point). So I do recommend the story (the art in particular is very pretty looking, I suspect the creators are anime fans) but with the warning that it could take a while before this story really gets going, fingers crossed that it's pretty soon!

String Theory
2057-2060 in an alternate Earth where the Cuban Missile Crisis went terribly wrong is our setting (not that you can tell yet from the story), it's a little hard to describe the story so far without spoiling the first chapter. So I shall be vague and say that it involves a mad (and not-very-nice) scientist named Dr. Schtien, an intern named Delia, and an explosion. The update schedule on this series keeps throwing me off so I'm having a hard time remembering all the plot so far but it seems to involve government conspiracies and grudges, huzzah for politics, and if the Cuban Missile Crisis is mentioned in the setting then that must be important somehow to the plot. The comic hasn't given me any motivation to stop following it, it's just that the erratic update schedule is making it hard for me to get enthusiastic about it (heck, I thin this is supposed to be a full color comic but a lot of times the comic is updated in only black and white). I think that this could be an amazing comic, just prove me right please! 

Huh, hadn't realized beforehand that all three comics came under the "okay so far, awesome if it keeps going!" header tonight, bit odd. Not much else to say about all of this (except that I had the Wolf's Rain opening stuck in my head while reviewing Strays) so I'll be back again tomorrow with more reviews!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Webcomic Review: Shurb Monkeys, Skin Deep, Sorcery 101

Alright, got half of the "S" comics up today and look for another three tomorrow, which, weirdly enough, all start with "st". Yeah, I don't know how webcomic artists come up with names either but it is funny to see trends like that.

Shurb Monkeys
These days Shrub Monkeys is a journal like webcomic (sadly one that hasn't been updated much within the past year) but the first 25 or so strips are rather, random, didn't remember that until I skimmed back through them, wonder if the print books will be like that as well (actually, there are a number of rather random comics stuck in here that I'd forgotten about). In any case, these days the comic is about the adventures of it's artist and, since I enjoy random, slice-of-life shows, it's right up my alley and it doesn't require me to remember any important backstory so it's easy to read, even with the breaks. I also like the color scheme in the comic (white, blue, black, and purple), bit of an unusal choice and I'm sure it'll look great as a print comic, just wondering what they plan to do with the random/filler comics that pop up early on.

Skin Deep
Well, this comic is a little hard to talk about not because of hiatuses but because the comic has been on a short story for two years now (actually, the latest page of the main story line was posted back in August of 2008, there have been a couple of other short stories posted in the meantime as well as the current, erm, prequel side story thing that's posting right now). The basic idea to this story is that the creatures of legend and myth are in fact real, they have just developed some sophisticated magical clocking technology (using medallions) so they can blend in with humans. This magic does have an interesting side effect however, namely that people who are the offspring of a mythical animal/normal human relationship will be born human and remain so until they come into contact with one of these medallions, enter Michelle and her problem which kicks off the Orientations chapter (and there seems to be a similar problem going on in the Exchange chapter).  I have to admit that I like the Orientation plot line more than I like the Exchange one (the backstory being built up there is much more complex which I love), hence why I'm a little testy about taking so long to get back to it (the comic only updating once a week isn't helping out) but the current comic isn't bad at all, don't get me wrong there. And it is nice to have prettier art now, even within Orientation there was a big art shift and it's a very good looking comic now, sadly the latest chapters aren't available in print form yet. But, since it is a webcomic, it's all up on the website and I would recommend people check out the short stories as well (they don't add much to the main plot but they are pretty fun).

Sorcery 101
I probably need to completely reread this comic so I'll keep the review short. Set in an alternate world with magic (unknown to the general public however), vampires, demons, werewolves (which is apparently just another way of saying wolf demon), the story mostly follows Danny (an adult which is an oddity in the comics I follow) whose a former crown prince, a wannabe sorcerer and blood-bonded to a vampire whose currently teaching at a local private school. As for plot, there are a number of rivalries between, well, everyone but there's no central plot line in the story yet which is probably why I have a hard time remembering all of the episodic chapters. The story crosses over with As We Were (both by the same author, same artist as Today Nothing Happened) and Strange Someone (which I think was done round robin style, now completed) and those stories made things a bit clearer for me, but since Strange Someone takes place in the future it's a bit spoilerific. I'd recommend the whole set of comics to fans of urban fantasy, I just feel like I should really reread this before I say something wrong and make a fool of myself.

So, more "S" tomorrow and I'm almost done with the alphabet! Still got a couple of special days after that but expect a break sometime this week since I can afford to take another at this rate, plus I have the sneaking suspicion that I'm going to have a lot of homework this week which, sadly, takes priority.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Webcomic Review: Red String, Roza

Not much to say about these comics today, I'd rather be outside right now actually but the wi-fi at my school is, finicky, so like a true nerd I just stayed inside and did this instead, yay?

Red String
I remember seeing an ad for this series in the back of a Dark Horse book once and it took me a while to realize that it was in fact a webcomic (it's not longer published by Dark Horse by the way but I still come across volumes of it in bookstores sometimes). Set in Japan (even though the author is an American), the story initially focuses on Miharu Ogawa, a spunky young girl who comes home one day to find herself engaged. Annoyed by this (who wouldn't be?) she shortly afterwords runs into a young man in a park and the two of them strike up a friendship only to realize that they're the engaged couple* which sets up some interesting questions about choosing love. The story eventually expands to include the love lives of Miharu's friends and takes a few standard shojo cliches and messes with them. I've said before that I'm not a fan of romance series so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was well-thought out and that the characters weren't idiots about their situations. The art isn't as amazing as some other comics I've reviewed so far (but thankfully, unlike many shojo series, it doesn't suffer from screentone abuse) but it's pleasant enough and I got a print of FuukoxHanae last year at a convention^ and I hope to grab some of the books there this year. It's a nice story and I wouldn't mind rereading it and that's a good enough reason for a buy for me!

Starting out as a single chapter, Roza and the Horse Prince, Roza is the story of a girl (three guesses what her name is) who is traveling the world looking for a cure to her unusual curse, her blood turns into fire whenever she gets cut, very problematic. So far she's run into a number of other people, some magical some not (and one or two who are also cursed) and the story is taking a while to get moving. I feel like we're past the introduction at this point but it's been a while since the story properly updated so I'm a little hazy on what exactly is going on. In any case, the story is only in it's fourth chapter so it's still early on and I really do like the set-up/the plot so far, just update more please!

S goes up tomorrow but that will probably be split into two posts, I don't want to write up reviews for five or six comics at once so hopefully you guys won't mind!

*sine this happens in the first couple of chapters, and is pretty easy to see coming, I'm not calling it a spoiler. Plus, it would be really hard to explain everything else later without saying that much.
^actually, my mom let a friend of hers from out of town use my room for a night and I wondered if she saw that print since it's hanging by my bed, probably not since almost no one does but I had a laugh about it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Webcomic Review: Questionable Content

This one shouldn't come as a surprise to webcomic fans, almost everyone has heard of Questionable Content at one point or another. So it's a bit hard to give it an introduction, I remember marathoning through the comic last year and often running down the hallway to show pages to a friend/posting links on my FB page because I was that amused by the comic and that's a pretty good sign!

Questionable Content
QC starts out as a comic about Marten, a post-college, 20-something an indie-rock music lover, who lives a fairly normal life in his apartment with his AI robot Pintsize, and then runs into a young woman named Faye one day. Not long afterwards Faye's apartment burns down (think she had something to do with it as well) and moves in with him, I swear this isn't a magical girlfriend story. The cast quickly grows and by now Marten is the central character, not necessarily the main one since the comic likes focusing on the others just as much, and they're all living their slightly strange lives (romance, work, snarky conversations, nothing especially strange there). The story is a joke-a-page format (usually within some kind of arc) and in the realistic fiction genre, did I mention the robotic AIs, transforming vespas, and pizza delivery superheroes that populate the background of the story? It's a really fun comic to read (every time I visit the tvtropes page for the series I usually end up reading a dozen strips before I go back and click the other examples, it's really easy to get sucked into and no matter how many times I've seen the jokes I still laugh at them) despite the art. Jeeze, the next time I see someone complain about how their art sucks I will point them to this comic. Go look at the latest page and then look at the first page, it's the best example of an art shift I've got and it's pretty inspiring too, although the old art is so basic I'm not sure if I want to buy the book for it. Yes I would re-read the series and probably loan the book out to friends but the art in the beginning is just so basic (I know some of the strips have been re-drawn but I'm not sure how many, that would probably be the deciding factor for me). 

Despite the ultra-basic art it starts out with (since, as I just said, it gets much much better as the comic goes on) I heartily recommend this comic to pretty much everyone. As a quick note, the title is questionable content and there's nothing really bad in the comic itself but all the characters are adults so there are references to sex toys, sex, ect so if you don't want to see that you might want to give this one a pass. I hope people won't, I'm a bit of a prude yet I never minded any of the stuff in here, it's a really funny comic and one of my favorites, hope someone else enjoys it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Webcomic Review: The Phoenix Requiem

Alright, my evil British Lit paper is done and only one review to write today, clearly this is a good day. Oh and thanks to Everblue for linking to these reviews, my pageview count just shot up and I hope you guys find some other awesome webcomics to follow!

The Phoenix Requiem
Unlike many of the comics I've reviewed before, this one is almost done! I'd be surprised if the comic runs more than a month longer actually but all that means is that new readers don't have to worry about catching up to the comic and can take it at their own pace. Set in a Victorian-inspired world with supernatural elements (namely a war seven hundred years ago between the spirits and hellions where both sides were vanished and the world lost it's magic), everything seems calm in the village of Esk where Anya, a doctor in training, a regular workaholic. Then on a regular winter's day, a young man named Jonas appears on the edge of the village on the brink of death and Anya manage to save his life. Romance begins to follow but with a plague brewing and Jonas demonstrating some non-Earthly powers life is about to get a bit more hectic. The art here is very lovely, originally cell-shaded the old pages have been recolored and now the style resembles a Victorian painting much more so I'm hoping to get a copy of the first book sometime (it's even published by the same people who do The Meek and Lackadaisy Cats) since it's very nice to look at. The plot flows well and has some very nice plot twists that I didn't see coming at all which is always fun. There's a good deal of romance in this story, which is usually a turn off for me, but seems to work well enough here, although it does make me worry for the ending a little bit...

Funny enough, this is the webcomic that really got me started on webcomics back in September 2009. Sure I'd read a few before but I started this one when I was feeling a bit out of it (I was getting over something, my mom still swears it was swine flu), blazed through the whole comic so far in one go, went to the links page, bookmarked every comic there and then slowly read through all of those and, for the ones I liked, bookmarked all the comics in their links pages and repeated the process. I probably glanced at 200-ish comics over a month and eventually narrowed it down to something more like 40/50 that update weekly. So thanks to this series for showing me that some webcomics do actually update on a regular basis without sacrificing plot or artwork in the process, I didn't believe it was possible before this one!

EDIT: Heh, the last two pages went up just hours after I posted this review and I think I'm happy with the ending (and too lazy to change the review to past tense, heh).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Webcomic Review: The Meek and Misfile

Sorry for not posting yesterday folks, it was double club night for me and the speaker at my second club took a good deal longer than I thought (I even snuck out early along with the rest of the back of the room) and DST tried me out as well. So I'm being smart today and putting out the reviews early, wohoo!

The Meek
When this comic launched it sounded like the whole internet was talking about it and, since I was newer to webcomics at the time, I wasn't quite sure what all the fuss was. Now however I get it, this comic has amazingly detailed art and it seems to be setting up a story on-par with long running novel series, something far beyond what most webcomics do. I say "seems" because unfortunately the story isn't that far along yet, we're on the third chapter, focusing on the third group of characters (out of how many I have no clue) and the creator has had to put the comic on hiatus many times to work on freelance jobs. However, they said just the other day that they finished up their latest work and there aren't any more planned hiatuses so now would actually be a great time to start the comic. The first chapter is NSFW due to a topless character (and it's not erotic art or anything, it's "oh, that character is running around naked as a sign of her innocence, cool" but still, reading that at work isn't a great idea) but chapters two and three don't have that issue. Finally, if the promise of an epic-sized plot isn't enough to intrigue you, the art is gorgeous enough to warrant at least a quick glance. Tons of details (the close-ups of the pages are humbling for those of us who can't draw), a really good grasp of shading, and even the color scheme in each chapter is different, it's amazingly well thought out. The first chapter is published and I plan on getting it sometime so seriously, go browse through it now.

With a premise that wouldn't be out of place in a manga, an angel in heaven mixes up some people's files which control their lives and makes one girl lose two years of her life and turns another boy into a girl, hijinks ensue. The pot smoking angel responsible for all of this, Rumisiel, is the only person besides these two (Ash the-boy-now-girl and Emily) who remembers what happened and is worried that his superiors might make the change permanent has fled to Earth and currently can't get back to Heaven to change the files even if he wanted to. As the story progresses Emily eventually becomes happier with her life since it gives her a chance to do the last two years of high school over and actually have fun with them (especially since she thinks this change may have saved her life) but Ash is still trying to figure out just what they feel about all of this and rather disturbed by some of the changes. Before he was rather distant from his divorced parents but now she has a good relationship with both (her mother even helped pay for a nice engine for her racing car) and a couple of other differences in his/her life just serve to confuse them even more about if going back to being a boy would be better or not. When the story isn't talking about that (and those kinds of philosophical thoughts come in starts and bursts, they're not the main bulk of the comic) it's mostly about car racing and, as someone who watches Top Gear for the humor not the car bits, I think all the car racing bits are really cool and really well done (the cars are probably the best drawn bits of the comic). It's a surprisingly fun ride so, even though the art here isn't nearly as good as some other comics I've suggested, I say go though the archive and check it out!

Tomorrow it's onto the letter P (because I don't follow any currently updating webcomics that start with N or O, although I do have a couple of them on hiatus) and then no more skipping until V.  So, short of my British Lit paper proving even trickier than it already has, see ya tomorrow!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Webcomic Review: Lackadaisy Cats

I feel like I follow another comic that starts with L but I can't seem to remember what it is, even after going through all my bookmarks. I suppose, if I'm not crazy, it must not update that often and to be perfectly honest, Lackadaisy doesn't have a set update schedule either the twitter or the artist's deviantArt account (plus the new pages usually pop up on the dA front page), believe me that this one is worth the odd updates.

Lackadaisy Cats
Aside from one inaccurate radio, one inaccurate car, and a bunch of anthropromophic cat characters, it's the Roaring 20s and the bootleggers are making a killing. It's a violent world with eccentric, stoic, and just plain crazy characters all running around trying to make a living and not get in the process which makes for a very fun character to read. I absolutely adore the 1920s and this is one of the first pieces I think of when I think of fiction set in that era (I'll admit it's partially because there isn't a lot but it is a seriously fun read). The comic is worth a look for the art alone, I've reviewed a lot of good looking series so far but this one has, in my opinion, the best art. Lots of rich textures, tiny details, great shading, and the whole comic is in a lovely set of sephia tones (which, judging by the recent tutorials on how to do, aren't nearly as easy to do as they look). This comic is in print now and I hope to get it sometime, I want some of that lovely art on my bookshelf!

Only got two comics to review tomorrow (thank god, got back to back club meetings again and that'll take all evening) then I'll skype a couple of letters for Tuesday so come back soon!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Webcomic Review: Kagerou, Khaos Komix, Kinnari, Kiwi Blitz, The Knit Princess

Whew, I *think* I remembered every regularly updating webcomic that starts with "K" that I follow but I don't have my list with me so bear with me if I update this later. And yes this update already has five webcomics on it, what can I say, webcomic artists just love giving their creations odd names (I actually know of even more that haven't updated lately!).

While a lot of the comics I've reviewed so far have been rather short, even those comics have been around for a couple of years already but Kagero probably takes the cake since it's been around and updating (without restarting or any of that, it's been one continuous ride) for ten years. That's a really long time and, as a result, the archive is quite impressive but not nearly as impressive as the art shift (yes I want to buy these books, just holding out to see if the artist will be at my local con). So what is the story about? Well, Kano has somehow been pulled to another world and is charged with becoming the champion to protect a princess but this whole adventure could be going on inside my head. He's a young man with a traumatic past (that still isn't fully explored), has at least three other personalities (or possibly real people) living in his head, and there are some complications with the princess he's supposed to protect as well. On paper it sounds like a generic fantasy but in practice it's a colorful mindf*ck that really needs a character sheet and may require a reread every now and then. This one has a bit of an erratic schedule update by the way, what I do is follow the livejournal community for the series and get the updates that way and that's probably the best way to follow the comic (unless it has a twitter I don't know about).

Khaos Komix
A quick word, this one also gets a mature warning and the site itself provides a mature warning on the front page, there is quite a bit of sex in this series. I don't recall anything explicit in the series, I think there is some in the side comics however, but if you aren't okay with the idea of gay sex (and it's not subtle at all) you probably shouldn't be reading this.
Now that that is out of the way, this comic is mainly about a bunch of British teens coming to terms with their sexuality, some with more angst than others, and the story is formatted to follow one teen at a time. Each story builds on the previous one and each one starts in a slightly different place time wise (some earlier than the previous story, some in the middle of the previous story) and none of them end when all the issues are worked out, you still see the characters in the background of the later stories dealing with their problems. Judging by the archive, we've still got at least one more story to go now and I hope this story will have some happy endings in it. The art is alright in the story, I haven't reread it recently but some people have complained about art shifts in it yet I never noticed anything like that when reading it. So, the arts okay, the story is good, go read it if you're in the mood for something mature!

Part of the reason I love reading webcomics is because they're a bit more diverse than all the books/anime/manga/TV I spend my time viewing and this is a great example of that. Based off of Indian mythology, the story seems to follow Neel and Manu and, since the title comes from the word kinnara which means "slightly human," they are probably not what they appear to be. So far they've had prophetic dreams, been attacked, and had another adventure or two in the dreamscape but I'm having a little bit of a hard time following the plot. Partially this is because it only updates once a week and I sometimes forget to check but this is also a fairly new comic so the central plot hasn't made an appearance yet (I also wonder if my unfamiliarity with Indian myths is hurting me but so far there have been detailed author comments explaining the unfamiliar stuff). So I'm hoping for a little more exposition soon, otherwise I'm going to be confused for a bit longer.

Kiwi Blitz
I only discovered this comic recently, it's a newer comic compared to some of the others I read, but it's already out of the introductory phase and into the main plot, huzzah for fast pacing! Our protagonist is Steffi, a hyper young girl who loves battling in giant, animal shaped robots and when her dad (a robot designer) giver her her own kiwi shaped robot she decides to not register it for the fighting games and use it to fight crime instead. Aside from a few cusewords in German the comic is family friendly and I probably would have enjoyed it as a kid both for the plot and the very brightly colored art. The first volume is in print now but I'm on the fence about buying it. As I just said, the art is very colorful and fun but I'm not so sure if I want to reread it so I'll wait a little longer and see where the story goes before making a decision^.

The Knit Princess
There are webcomics about everything including knitting it turns out*, who would've guessed? The story is a fluffy, slice of life story that is going to be enjoyed more by knitters than anyone else (since almost all the humor is knitting based) although any craft person will probably snicker at the idea of projects moving around by themselves or pets messing them up. They recently got a new artist so there has been a dramatic art shift and I personally like the new art better (it's a bit simpler and the characters seem more energetic) but the writer is still the same so no changes to the humor.

 Sorry if this was kinda late tonight, it's been a busy day and I'm so glad I've only got one webcomic to review tomorrow, any guesses on what it is?

^Yes I recommend it, if I review it here during this review month that means I recommend it, it's just that I don't have a lot of shelf space these days so I'm picky about what I buy. Speaking of which, need to move some stuff around again, don't think I can squeeze another shelf in....
*I'm still trying to figure out if this or the webcomic about librarians is odder, Knit Princess probably takes the cake however since Unshelved is mostly realist.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Webcomic Review: Johnny Wander, Juathuur

Js today, hopefully I'll get the K post up tomorrow (it's a little bigger plus I'm going to be busy, I'll post on my twitter if it won't go up after all) and I should post about the loan L comic on Sunday, almost halfway through the alphabet!

Johnny Wander
Another journal comic (in case you can't tell by now I'm very fond of the genre) that deals mostly with the lives of Ananth (who does the blog posts) and Yuko (the comic artist) and their various friends. There are a few fictional short stories in the archives but the majority of the comic is just about every day life (cats, cooking experiments gone wrong, life being strange ect). It's a very relaxed feeling comic yet manages to get a giggle out of me with almost every update so it's great if you don't have much time to read or even if you do. Some of the comics have been collected into a volume (and, since it's labeled volume one, I suspect there will be more over the years) and I'd like to grab it sometime, and maybe some of those cute keychains from the short stories.

As a quick note, Juathuur is a story in two parts, the first comic (now completed) is One Way or Another and the second part, Gatecrash, is the one currently updating. And, since they are two consecutive comics, yes you need to read them in order or you will be horribly, horribly confused.
Anyway, the simpliest way to summarize this series is that it's a fantasy story focusing primarily on Faev who is one of the juathuur ("wanderer," a group of people with magic) and the first part is her discovering her heritage, discovering her magic, and finding really really icky secrets about the world (since part two is a direct sequel it's too hard to explain without spoiling). The first part is in black and white but part two is in full color and it updates three times a week so, despite the already massive size of part two, the story is flowing pretty quickly. My only complaint is that there are tons and tons of characters to keep track of but there don't seem to be any extraneous characters (plus it got much simpler to tell them apart once the comic switched to color). The art itself has gotten much better from the beginning of the series and it wasn't terrible to start with. Just discovered that there are print copies of the books but, due to the massive size of the series, I'm not sure I'd want to start buying the series before I knew how it ended*, although it would be easier to reread in book form. I still completely recommend this series since it's both plot heavy and visually pretty, just be prepared to spend some time reading!

And my heart goes out to Japan today, it's hard to even comprehend that they just had the fifth strongest earthquake in recorded history, especially after seeing Christchurch get slammed so recently. I know a lot of people are donating to the red cross, YA author Maureen Johnson is holding another set of giveaways for people to donate to the shelterbox campaign, so I hope everyone who is able to donate even just a little money does. The world is starting to scare me quite a bit these days, may you live in interesting times indeed.

*ie, was really sure I wanted to invest that much money in it, still feeling burned by TRC/Holic and I'm much more cautious about long running series now.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Webcomic Review: Head Trip and Haru-Sari

Only two comics again today and technically I should put Head Trip in the unusual updates page but I really didn't want to review just one webcomic again. So oh well, two short reviews for ya!

A comic that's been underway for a while, the archives even show how many more chapters it has until the end, Haru-Sari is set in either the future or another world where the government has mucked around with genetic tailoring and created elves, piete people who can wield magic yet usually go mad and die before they're 30. The story starts with June, a human who has some cat-like features (which is common, apparently the different people like that are supposed to represent different races) being treated for a kind of nervous system disease and whose new doctor is Huang, an elf who is notable for being the only elf doctor. The story focuses more on Huang however as he gets tangled up in secrets and conspiracies revolving around elves and I find it an interesting read. The update schedule has become a pretty wonky lately (the creator got sick a lot last year and had some family circumstances I believe) but hopefully the updates will get more regular again soon, they were very regular beforehand so it seems likely!

Head Trip
 Despite the fact that the schedule updates for this one have been screwy for a while now, Head Trip2 has a good sized archive of sarcastic and crosses-the-line humor. Mal, the red-haired main character, is not supposed to be an author avatar but, having read Shinga's livejournal, some of the stuff in the comic comes from her life, but you really can't tell since it's all got the same dark humor. Most pages are unconnected gags but there are a couple of storylines in there, all following a group of really odd and sarcastic superheroes and, unlike 2 Gamerz, I actually like these strips just as well, probably because those strips also have a gag a page (ie, even though it's a continuous storyline it doesn't suddenly get serious). So if you can take the occasional dead baby joke or two check it out!

 Hmm, taking a day off reviewing didn't seem to help me get more of my paper done at all, damn. Oh well, tomorrow is brought to you by the letter J, hope to see you then!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Webcomic Review: Galaxion, Get Job, Girls with Slingshots, Gunnerkrigg Court

Whoops, this is a bit late isn't it? I have a crazy number of things to do over spring break so I'm going to take a short break and post the next reviews (two for the letter H, yay my favorite!) on Thursday instead of Wednesday so I hope this doesn't throw anyone off too badly!

One of the few sci-fi webcomics I read (I totally need to read more), this is the story of a crew on a strange ship that just got a bit, stranger. You see, sometime in the future humans have begun to colonize the stars but their ships are still rather slow and take weeks to reach the farthest colonies. So the two great space exploring factions have joined up to test out new technology that, if it works, would dramatically cut down the amount of travel time needed. Three guesses which ship they stick it on and three guesses how well it works, should I mention that these engines failed the first two times? This comic is out of the introductory stage but, with only one update a week, the pace moves slowly and it's easy to forget exactly what happened from week to week (thankfully the creator provides links to the beginning of each scene for when this happens). But, if you find that happening to you, I'd advise going through the archive and browsing through the various short stories (all of them are pretty short but really help you to remember the characters better), I still need to read the original version of the comic she has posted actually. This one does have one volume out in print now (hoping volume two will come out later this year) and I'd get it since the comic is certainly worth a reread!

Get Job
Poor Get Job, since I have it bookmarked in a funny place (stupid firefox not letting me have bookmarks in multiple places) I find myself forgetting about this comic and each time I remember it I don't know why. It's a fairly new comic but I feel like I already know our two characters (who are avatars of the team behind the comics, it's a semi-journal, semi-fantasic webcomic I believe, like Enjuhneer) which is a huge accomplishment since each strip is only three or four panels long.  Not much else to say about the comic since it is so new however, but it's a pretty amusing comic about two dudes going through life that I'd recommend, especially to people who don't want to read through tons of archives. 

Girls With Slingshots
For some reason this comic really reminds me of Questionable Content, and I meant that in a good way! Large cast of 20-somethings and following their lives as they get drunk, work (or try to find work), fall in and out of love, and just have lots of problems (plus a talking cactus).  Despite the aforementioned surrealism (talking cacti and ghost cats eh?) the comic still manages to feel rather realistic, in a very snarky mature sort of way* that usually gets a snicker out of me. This one has a number of volumes out in print now (the comic is over 1000 strips long at this point so some backlog bingeing is in order for new readers) but I'm not sure if the comic has enough reread value for me to buy the books. Maybe, I'm sure I could loan them out to my friends and be a hit with them. Finally, it occasionally crosses over with All New Issues (which I wrote about here), funny enough the cats cross over more than the humans and I think some of the cats are from another webcomic all together, so if you do blow through 1000+ strips check over there next!

Gunnerkrigg Court
Not much to add since my last review of this series, any more plot would be spoilerific, although I will say that there are now an awful lot of Chekov's Guns in the series, the art has of course gotten better, and yes I still want to buy the books (haven't yet since there on the expensive side for me but I've heard rumors that they're going out of print, ack!). So, go read it, it's one of the best written webcomics I currently follow and has fantastic art to boot.

Like I said above, no post tomorrow, a quick H one on Thursday and then one on the letter J (since I don't follow any webcomics that start with I, odd) on Friday, see ya then!

*So no mature warning on this comic like FreakAngels yesterday but a word of caution for under 16s reading it. Let's just say that between this and Questionable Content I learned a lot about sex toys, heck, we have a character who works in a sex shop so that shouldn't be surprising here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Webcomic Review: Fey Winds, Footloose, FreakAngel, Fungus Grotto

Two fantasy parodies, one straight up fantasy, and one after the end kinda urban fantasy story, yep, sounds like my reading list!

Fey Winds
The story initially started off as a straight fantasy (Kit and gang are traveling the world searching for magical objects) but it very quickly (and by that I mean, within the first chapter) starts to become more of a parody of epic fantasies but parodies are very tricky to do* and this one just isn't quite working for me. I think it's because by now the story and the characters are going way out of their way to point out all strange things in an epic fantasy instead of presenting them in such a way that the reader notices and gets a chuckle without anything being said. As an example, the story makes a blatant twilight reference (sparkling in sunlight) yet there's no way for the characters to even know about Twilight, much less internet jokes about it, so why is it being played for laughs? The artwork is very nice (not a very noticeable art shift here but the shading has gotten much richer as the story goes on) so I will recommend this comic (heck, I'm still reading it) but it's not my favorite parody on the genre. The first volume is also in print for those of you who prefer flipping pages to clicking buttons.

Funny enough, this webcomic is also a parody but I didn't realize that until I reread it awhile back and started enjoying the story a lot more then. The story begins with Keti and her parents (the stars of some gigantic mash-up fanfiction called InubYAKash ) fleeing Earth where they had been living in hope that Keti wouldn't get caught up in her own life threatening adventures. Since that didn't work she's enrolled in the school of Kung Shoe, making friends and antagonists and going off to save the world! I like this series better than Fey Winds because it's much more over-the-top and generally insane. Some of the characters are aware they're in a story and will make jokes to that extent, the rest of them just make snarky comments about the weird things happening to them, even if some of the outrageous things that happen to Keit via "primary protagonist syndrome" make me roll my eyes. Don't believe that there is a print edition of this (and I'd buy a copy if there was, it's well worth a reread for more laughs) and there is also a currently updating side story called Magical Transvestite Cherry which I'd recommend once you catch up to the main comic. Actually, it looks like they have a few other side-stories I wasn't aware of, guess I know what I'm reading later!

Surprised that this is the first mature warning I've had to do so far^ but mature content warning for this comic. Lots of blood, gore, sexual situations, cusing, the whole shabang! So if you're under 16 you might want to avoid this comic, or at least be throughly prepared to explain when your parents come up behind you someday when you're reading it.
The FreakAngels are a group of twelve 23-year olds with physic ablities who caused the end of the world several years back and are now atoning for it by protecting and rebuilding the town of Whitechaple. However, a rather familiar antagonist has come back to cause more destruction for them and this reunion is going to reveal several big secrets about all of them. So it's a story about several severely messed up people and one normal person who seems to be getting dragged into all of this as well,  a more basic plot compared to some of the other stuff I read but the plots twists are all very good. Also, while all the gore tends to squick me out, the art for this series is gorgeous. Six full color pages each week with an incredible amount of detail on each page, it's really impressive art for any medium and I'd imagine it looks even better in person in the print editions. So, with the aforementioned warning, I would recommend this to fans of after the end/dystopia stories will probably love this.

Fungus Grotto
A younger webcomic that just cracked 100 pages, Vielle was a college bound human who took a nap under a tree while fretting if she should go to college or not and wakes up in a strange world. But, as is obvious to the reader but possibly not Vielle, it appears that she has merely shrunk and entered the world of the faeries and swiftly meets one named Myth (whom the story is currently focusing on). Like I said, the story is still in that introductory stage but I like it so far, partially because I like Vielle a lot (more than Myth sadly, sadly because the story has been focusing on him for a while) and because of the gorgeous art. Every page is full of vivid colors and great shading, I'd buy the print copies for the art but I'm waiting a little longer to see what the plot is going to do before I commit to buying them. Despite that last line, yes I recommend this comic to fantasy fans because it's good so far and has lots of potential for later on.

Over the past few days I've seen my pageviews go up (still not a lot of readers) but I'm still ridiculously excited over it, who would guess so many people would want to read reviews of webcomics?

*I'd argue even harder than the real thing many times.
^Well, I might have done one for a book a while back but still, it took me this long to get to something graphic? I feel like I'm failing as a college student....

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Webcomic Review: Enjuhneer, Everblue, and Evil Diva!

Still messing around with the formats for these reviews so apologies if my switching back and forth is bothering anyone. Not much else to say here so onto the reviews!

A journal style comic that is part fiction, part based on the artist's current/past experiences in life and college, it's about a art student named Jenny in a geeky tech school* with LARPers, mutant squirrels** and general mayhem. In short, it's a fluffy little story about both what you want college to be like and what it sometimes is actually like (I can completely see some of the comics events happening in my life in any case). The series has undergone a major art shift (from hand drawn basic comics in the beginning to computer colored strips now) and, while it had a good sized cast of side characters, everyone looks distinctive enough that you'll recognize them even if they don't appear for a while. I've already recommended the comic to several of my friends so, if you enjoy oddly realistic mayhem in college, go check this out now!

As a heads up on this review, this is currently one of my favorite webcomics so I may gush a little bit. 
Set in a fantasy world covered mostly by water, Luna is a quiet yet secretly adventurous teenage girl who is starting to open up to others after Ten crashes into her town after the town guard shot down his flying boat and she offers to repair it, fascinated with all the modifications he made to it. My only complaint about the story thus far is that it's still a pretty new story so we're still in the world building part (heck, apparently the story has two other main characters, one of whom I saw a mini-comic about and the other has only appeared in the background on wanted posters) and, since it's only a once a week update, we might be in the introductory stage for a while more. But the updates have been consistent and continued even when the earlier pages were being re-drawn so this isn't as big a concern as it is for other comics. Finally, the art! The style and shading look a bit similar to the artwork of The Meek^ which means that it looks amazing. Lots of rich colors, a good grasp on lighting, an astonishing amount of background detail, and seeing the comparisons between the old pages and the newer re-drawn ones so just how far the art has come so quickly. I don't believe the comic is available for purchase outside of conventions yet but this is a webcomic after all, just click the link about to read it!

Evil Diva
For my final webcomic today, we have an amusing story of a devil who finds herself doing more good deeds than evil ones, clearly the right thing to do in this case is become a superhero! That's how the site phrased it actually but the story reminds me a little more of a magical girl story than a superhero story (and by that I mean, since Diva uses a wand for a few transformations, not a set costume, that's why it reminded me more of a magical girl, otherwise it's a pretty thin comparison). I like the series so far except for one, semi-important thing, why the heck did the art change/did the story have a timeskip?!? I know that there is a new artist for the comic now but I saw her work, she could draw in the old style perfectly well and, combine that with the sudden age up of the characters I'm really confused. It looks like this is going to be explained in comic soon but it still really threw and confused me. So I'm warming back up to the series now but I'd still recommend other people to go check it out. Oh, and we need more "Really Old Man Adventures" mini-comics, I loved those!

*Huh, enjuneer, unjuneer, unengineer, crap it just took me over a year to get that pun, I'm not exaggerating when I say I just figured it out. 
**Crud, I still need to post pictures of my knit Tails plushie too...
^and yes, the artists are well aware of this and joke about it, I've seen Der-shing Helmer (The Meek) joke about kidnapping Michael (Everblue) to go do coloring on their comic.