April 26, 2008
It has been synthesised both directly in "cold" and "warm" fusion reactions. It was first observed in the decay of ununpentium. Only eight atoms of ununtrium have been observed to date. Following periodic trends it is expected to be a soft, silvery metal.
April 20, 2008
Some may make the case that Shadow and Chug have very little left to say about video games, since the genre has theoretically been exhausted since 1997. Some may assert that they don't say anything at all, recycled or no. These people, while their views are valid, miss so much of the big picture that there is a staggering irony in the fact that they own 80" plasma-screen TVs. Shadow and Chug have recognized that content is a thing of the past. In fact, form is a thing of the past as well. What is left? Simply the sheer undiluted quintessence of messagery. Powerup Comics is communication without language, meaning without symbols, and jokes without setup or punchline. That's not to say that they don't tell jokes, of course--who could forget such classic lines as "I know how you love to game!" and "Bam! Footshot!"--but they are secondary to the aesthetic revolution that is taking place in the minds of Wilson and Krydenski. Forget nihilism, solipsism, relativism, egalitarianism, utilitarianism, Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, Daoism: they are the outmoded relics of an age that forgot how to think. Shadow has brought us back into the light, and if you're not prepared to wear shades, you can just step down.
And you can take that to the bank.
Of course, no review of Powerup Comics would be complete without a comprehensive examination of the "haters," since much ado has been made of their (frankly ludicrous) antics. Yes, it is true that there is an inordinate amount of negative commentary on their DrunkDuck page. But let's face it: DrunkDuck is the pits of the webcomic community, below even Facepunch and ComicGenesis. They adore Charby the Vampirate and Craving Control, for God's sake. In any case, their criticisms essentially amount to two things. 1.) Powerup Comics has bad writing. 2.) Powerup Comics has bad art. Both of these claims are so ludicrously wrong as to be not worth debunking, but I shall refute them nonetheless! The writing of Powerup Comics, as proved earlier, is nothing short of the only writing you'll ever need to understand the world. But the art is no less crucial in creating the post-transcendentalist nightmare we can only hope to appreciate, and to deny it would be to do an enormous disservice to Chug Krydenski. Chug's art is simultaneously minimalistic and maximalistic. What do I mean? I mean what I say.
That is the mark of any good rhetorician.
But to elaborate further, I mean only that Chug's art, while employing only the slightest morsels of "established" artistic "technique" (thus being minimalistic), manages to convey emotions the likes of which no man has ever experienced for want of capacity to cogitate so intensely. The raw sorrow displayed by Shadow in "Shadow is being an emo" is, on the one hand, only one step beyond William Wallace's tribal face paint. On the other hand, it reaches deep inside our hearts, inverts them, and deposits them, flaming, on our doorstep where we can't help but notice the trauma we have just experienced. That is the incredible mastery that Krydenski has displayed time and time again, and it is unthinkable that we can fool ourselves into believing that it is anything but the next inevitable phase in artistic hyperexpressionism.
Ladies and gentleman, it is no exaggeration when I say that Powerup Comics subsumes and supersedes every previous artistic movement. When it goes, civilization goes with it.
March 22, 2008
The Outer Circle starts off well, with the sort of bland meta-humour and sexual perversion fans of Dueling Analogs know and love. While it keeps the shitty gay jokes, it by and large dumps the meta-humour in favor of really stupid plotlines. First, of course, is the obligatory "find a new character" plot--with tits! In case you couldn't tell, the long-haired musclebound hunk of omnipotence is Steve's self-insertion, and are we in for a ride as he experiences wish fulfillment that would make Kyle Mistry envious. Napierski then descends into the absurd and fucking disgusting by writing a month's worth of story inside the fat retard's anus. Which isn't just a one-off plot, oh no! He revisits it! Steve Napierski thought that two assholes parading around in some guy's anus was a story so goddamn hilarious, it's worth retelling, no homo. I'm just gonna skip ahead, since this is taking forever, and get to the part where he introduces another female cast member just so he can deny allegations of misogyny (in a way eerily preminiscent of Brew's attempted straw man refutation), except then he fucks her. This isn't a surprise, he fucks everybody. Remember that large-breasted DJ Milkjugs in an earlier link? She was introduced almost entirely so his self-insertion could pork her. There is the horrible SASSI, yet another character designed entirely to distill Steve's disrespect for all womankind into a single archetypical bitch.
If he was borderline racist in Dueling Analogs, there are no holds barred in The Outer Circle. Anti-Semitism abounds as Richard, the twiggy jerkoff pal of Steve (and apparently based on someone he knows who actually likes Napierski's work) is the butt of two out of every three jokes, and they're all either about how gay or Jewish he is. There is an entire set of comics with the punchline that, despite his protests to the contrary, Richard just looks super Jewy. Making fun of racial stereotypes: It's the new softcore pornography!
The art is Dueling Analogs copy/paste writ large, since Napierski is no longer bound to drawing new characters if he wants to parody a new game. With a fairly small cast, he's free to copy and paste the same characters for every panel, every comic, until we realize that somehow the shit-eating grin on everyone's face is even more annoying than Shadow and Chug's (of course, Shadow and Chug kick ass and Steve Napierski is a clinical retard and member of Hitler's Youth Squad, so the comparison is hardly valid).
I'm not even a month into its archives, and I'm already pissed off at the incredibly bigotry Steve rams into every joke. It's just non-stop. The timing is also really bad, even when the content isn't blatantly ill-thought-out. There's no build-up, and there's no punchline. There's nothing but Steve standing around, smirking at how witty he thinks he is, and dreaming of writing the next story arc in which he convinces a girl to play FATAL with him so he can use his rigged dice to roll a 13-inch penis and 6-inch-wide asshole.
Then there are the crossovers with fellow shitty comic Housd (which is thankfully over; Ali is apparently one of about two webcomic fucks with the knowledge of when a new idea cannot be rammed into his extant piece of shit. The other, by the way, is Clay Yount, who started Cosmobear because he realized that it had nothing to do with Rob and Elliot.) There are the recurrent serial killer strips, because inverting Jason Voorhees is so goddamn witty and original and not-vomit-inducing and OOPS I LIED. It's possible to deconstruct shit, build it back up, and turn it into a bizarre recontextualisation of its former self. Of course, what Steve is doing is more akin to looking at the shit, drawing a little smiley face in it with his finger, and scanning it. Condescending Mac elitism, as you'd expect. By the way, that's in the middle of an entire arc that involves Steve getting his yuks at the imagined expense of other video game comics. Tragically, this is nothing new, as we already know that he is a goddamn expert when it comes to
The Outer Circle is basically Dueling Analogs with fewer video game references and everything decompressed. What Dueling Analogs told in a day, The Outer Circle tells in two months. The throwaway characters Dueling Analogs introduces to provide commentary on just how sexy Guilty Gear is turns into an entire cast of misogynistic quasi-rapists. The occasional and obnoxious copy-pasting of a severely limited set of rather awkward poses turns into an unholy nightmare of a shitty template and obnoxious character designs. Bleargh.
March 21, 2008
March 15, 2008
In a way, it's understandable. Josh Lesnick, author of Girly and a multitude of other comics that are more-or-less pornography (as far as I know, Girly is the only one that's less), is another person who is vocally opposed to bad webcomics. In such a small world of webcomic-hating, it's no surprise that the followers of Solomon have gravitated to Lesnick, and possibly vice versa. There are only really two great blogs that even address webcomics: Your Webcomic Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad and These Webcomics Are So Bad, by Sonty Mick. The rest are crap like Eric Burns or Robert Tangents or Malethoth Kazyanenko. Self-effacing humor: a way of nullifying the fact that I suck? Not likely.
The thing is, while Josh Lesnick may be an admirable man for daring to take on the Culture of Nice, he's not exactly the bee's knees when it comes to making webcomics. You see, as I subtly stated in the opening paragraph, Girly is boring. What is Girly, you might ask? It is the tale of two wacky lesbians, who are also superheroes! That's all there is. From that description, you can easily extrapolate all the stupid drama and plot points: Are they really going to fall in love? What about the other superheroes? What if they break up? Oh it's just so fascinating and also arousing.
Okay, I lied, there's also an entire chapter dedicated to gender-swapping. Even hotter!
There's a cast of supporting characters, such as the Stupid Asshole Guy who gets yelled at in a way eerily reminiscent of early (and middle and later) Dominic Deegan, and Stupid Ditzy Girl who is basically Kyle Mistry's creation transposed into a lesbian drama. There's Super Hot Guy, the Mexican who is irresistable to the ladies, but must learn to curb his raw sexual prowess. Also, he has two brothers or something who dick around trying to rescue him. There's the Super Hot Policewoman and the Shy Nerdy Will-He-Or-Won't-He Policeman who finally plucks up the courage to ask her on a date and ends up having super hot sex you guys. There's the Super Hero Who Is Really Not That Super who nevertheless gets in the way of our wacky superhero lesbian pals. It turns out, by the way, that these obnoxious labels are the sum totality of their characters. If you're thinking to yourself "well but they're just supporting characters" I remind you that the two principle characters are defined entirely by the traits Wacky Lesbian and Depressed Lesbian.
There's no easy way for me to transition into the discussion of the art at this point, so I'll just do it with arbitration. The art is stupid and terrible. It just... it just is. It starts off as animu shit with giant eyes and no noses and ends up as animu shit, only with completely incomprehensibly dense panels that are so goddamn action-packed that nobody can say what's going on. The whole time, the characters' tits are getting bigger and they're making out with more people so the intended audience (people who won't shell out ten bucks for his fully pornographic comics) can jerk off more-or-less continuously. It's basically if all the creepy softcore teeny animu boppers of Chugworth were combined with the creepy softcore levitationtits of Lowroad, although Lesnick's characters are even more "stylised." (read: hideous abominations of flesh and ink.) The art revels in mawkish facial expressions, distended bodies, and poorly-drawn fanservice. Based on what I've read of Doctor Voluptua, it's not just limited to Girly.
Beyond the fact that the comic is constructed entirely of shitty characters and shitty animu, it's really, really, really boring and long-winded. You have weeks where all you hear is Depressed Lesbian whining about how depressed she is and wondering what her true feelings are for Wacky Lesbian. Multiple times, even after it's clearly established that they're an Item (wink wink). That gender-swapping arc, in addition to the sort of lame fanservice you'd expect from a TG comic includes Mookie-esque exposition, which is to say redundant, impossibly long-winded, and ultimately more obscuring than illuminating. From what I hear, it's even worse with more recent comics. I don't even dare look.
This post doesn't have any links in it, because I'm terrified of providing links. If you just sort of skim through the first comic of each chapter, which are actually fairly difficult to find (try the bottom of the page), you'll get what I'm saying. It's a fast-forward of Lesnick's development from shoddy animu wank provider to professional shoddy animu wank provider, with a heaping dose of terrible writing to accompany it. I don't think I can brave the archives long enough to actually provide more specific examples. This is the reason why I probably will not write about Questionable Content, although the fact that it has some 1100 comics in its archives might have something to do with it.
Girly is shit.
February 22, 2008
XKCD no longer tells jokes. It's a plain and simple fact. Just look at any of the recent comics. Can you guess the formula? It's pretty simple: Nerdy concept (typically something from science fiction, since Munroe exhausted his actual knowledge of science years ago and is coasting) + ANOTHER nerdy concept (if we're lucky) + sarcasm = High-brow hilarity. It's the same thing as PvP, only with Linux and velociraptors instead of the Dukes of Hazzard and Megatron. I would like to note that Dinosaur Comics has perfected the art of including raptors in webcomics, by the way. In any case, programming languages are hilarious things, Randall. Or IRC chatlogs, even better! That last link brings up something very special in the XKCD world: The romantic comic.
Yes, for XKCD isn't just about how much Randall just LURVES to nerd things up with all the actual humor of a brick wall. It's also sophisticated, deep romance, because Randall knows a thing or two about love. And so we get stuff that's unfunny, but on purpose! Or maybe it's not on purpose, because half the time it's combining these romantic encounters with more lame references to mathematics and how funny nerds are, what with their antics, and the laughing, with the thing, and the, yeah. But some of them are things of elegiac beauty and heartbreak. Or not, because XKCD is written with all the subtlety and tenderness of a shitty blog about webcomics. I'm pretty sure nobody cares about the emotional vulnerability of a guy defined primarily in terms of being a snarky asshole. Might I also add that that first strip there involves a psychological analysis so implausible that it would only fit into the Ender's Shadow series, topped off by a mind-bendingly arrogant cunt?
Mind-bendingly arrogant pretty much sums up the fanbase, too.
XKCD is for those of us who realize life is not all about happy endings and trophy wives and who is better than who and all that shit. It's for those of us who live in reality. It's for the intelligent. It's for the insane. It's not for fairytale douche-bags like [Sonty Mick]. --Anonymous
xkcd is for those among us who don't wallow in self-pity. It's for those of us who are filled with awe for the ordinary, not those who seek to fill emptiness with bland fiction.
It's for people with an intelligent sense of humor, not a chip on their shoulder.
My current theory is that XKCD's fanbase consists of people whose sense of intelligence is strongly entwined with their ability to appreciate this so-called "intelligent webcomic," and they're incapable of NOT liking an XKCD strip, lest it betray their mediocrity.
I haven't mentioned the art, and that's because if I did I would have needed to preface it with a "good writing can save bad art but XKCD doesn't have good writing" blurb. Now I can just rip into it, having established that XKCD has terrible writing.
Actually, there isn't much to say, since Randall fully understands that he draws expressionless stick figures that aren't good for conveying much of anything beyond quick bits of sarcasm and references to nerd culture, but then again neither are the characters so it's a good match. I guess he does think he can do landscapes and life drawing, but he wisely chose not to actually draw that crud outside of his math class doodles.
There's nothing more to say about the art. It doesn't fail to accurately convey the emotions with which the characters speak, since the characters never experience any emotions other than "puzzlement," "tragically beautiful romance," and "child-like wonder." It doesn't put off the comedic timing, since there isn't any in the first place. It gives us a cheap way to tell that the snarky guy is still being snarky and that the girl is still being female, and that's about all you could expect from a comic with such low standards.
This comic pretty much perfectly encapsulates everything that's wrong with XKCD. It's tiresome, it's formulaic, it's poorly-drawn, it's poorly-written, it's pretentious, and it's insufferably boring.
Okay, maybe that was going a bit too far. But seriously, these two sum it up.
February 20, 2008
Snafu Comics has been running since mid-2002, if not before--I'm not entirely clear on the point. Apparently it died and experienced a rebirth, much like Chugworth and Cartridge Comics and Titus & Mal and Power Chord and so forth. But that's of no account, as the farthest back the archives on the site go is this mess. Just looking at it, you should be able to point out several flaws. One is the vomit-inducing artwork. I don't know how Dave creates his comic, but that's seriously on par with the hand-drawn Bob and George tripe. That comic was later shoddily copied and pasted with a new joke about a terrible band. This sort of tacky third-grader shit is all over the place. If those links taught you anything, it's that Stanworth has no idea what people look like, how to draw facial expressions, how to shade beyond liberal application of dodge and burn, how to draw props, how to draw attractive women, how to keep anything in perspective, or basically do anything but create crude things that rank somewhere between stick figures and human excrement in terms of sensory appeal. In more than a few, he takes that googly-eyed/mawkish grin combo straight from Scott Ramsoomair. The thing is, even though the comic has been running for four and a half years, his shit is still terrible.
In that last one, we see yet another webcomic hack who decided to take his shitty superhero self-insertion persona and turn it into a recurring character. A man with dozens of nipple-shooting lasers, except two that "aren't [his] mutant nips"--of course, males don't lactate, so there's still some pretty freaky biology going on in that trainwreck. And that's about all you can expect from Snafu, really: terrible jokes about hero-worshipping nerds and extremely weak video game humor. Oh, and we can't forget the fact that Travis is so offensive! He wants Dave to kill himself. Honestly, Dave? Go for it. We can do without this mediocre shit.
I've dumped rather a lot of links on you, but it's hard to accurately convey just how stupid Snafu Comics is without the visceral experience of reading through it and wallowing in its blandness. In most places, it isn't offensively bad, even when it tries to be. As far as I know, Dave isn't making tons of money off the comic, although he does own a site that hosts three Bleedman comics, so maybe that's lucrative. There isn't any sexual fetishism in the comic, though there are more pedophile jokes than there ought to be (the ideal amount is either none, Electric Retard, or references to literary pedophilia, by the way.), so I can't feel revolted by it. I haven't talked to any Snafu Comics fans, so I'm not sure if anyone actually reads this, although there have been namedrops from This Comic Sucks (now defunct), VGCats (it was its featured comic for quite a while), and I believe Digital Purgatory. It doesn't really matter, though, since a comic doesn't need an abundance of rabid fans to be bad. It just needs terrible art, terrible writing, and no redeeming features. Snafu fits the bill pretty well. It's an extremely bad webcomic run by a guy who runs a site dedicated to bad webcomics.
February 19, 2008
The art is pretty much shit, consisting entirely of poorly-drawn stick figures. Even though I tend to prattle on in the newsposts about perspective and blocking and shading like I'm trying to learn how to draw well or something, none of the comics are ever cleaned up beyond the "shitty pencil sketch" stage, and all the characters are abrasively simple in design. There's the guy with no hair, the guy with a flat-top, and the girl with a ponytail. Everyone has the same eyes ripped straight from Dominic Deegan and the same mouths taken wholesale from everyone's favorite master of facial expressions, Tim Buckley. In general, it would appear that the only expressions I can draw are "offended," "bored to death," and "stupid VGCats nonsense." I could go on and talk about the fact that the overwhelming majority of the comic takes place in a single poorly-scaled room or describe the completely retarded shadings, but that's pointless. All you need to see is this panel, and you should be able to see all the failings.
That panel is also a pretty good indication of what you can expect from the writing department. Almost all the jokes from Canine Coprothrustive Conundrum consist of the flat-topped one saying something politically incorrect and the bald one being aghast. Sometimes the bald one approves because they're both bigots! But it's all okay, because apparently they're extremely well-read and well-researched and geniuses and did I mention that they can rationalize their bigotry? Yeah, I'm pretty sure nobody cares about the fact that you cited an 1842 study proving the natural superiority of whites over asspees. Aside from the unbeatable formula of bigotry and shit, I enjoy talking about shit nobody cares about. Seriously, did anybody play TimeShift? Has anybody outside of the elitist heavy metal circle heard of Varg Vikernes? It doesn't matter, because the jokes aren't funny even if you are familiar with the material.
And just as you would predict from a comic from a hack author, it's quickly diving into a drama omlette. We also get to meet a new character, who is actually less characterized than Lilah from CAD, since I don't know if she plays video games or not. In fact, I don't think she has any interests at all, except potentially her interest in being an object of flat-top's affections. It's a painfully transparent setup for a whole series of self-insertion sequences, and I can't wait to see how long it takes before flat-top and Girl are making out, cohabitating, and eventually making babies.
Sorry, that last sentence got away from me for a while there.
There are also a lot of little issues with the comic. There's a shitty layout, although the comic is at least on the principle page. There's no archive, which doesn't make a difference because seriously, what fuckin' moron would want an archive of this tripe? There's an ugly little banner at the top of every page reminding you not only that you're reading CANINE COPROTHRUSTIVE CONUNDRUM, but the author is apparently the least competent graphic designer in all history. There's an enormous comment box at the bottom of every page, which no one has commented in. For some unknown reason, the comic has its own forum, which is blessed with a glorious deficiency of members. Each page includes several obnoxious "vote for me" buttons, except since I'm a talentless artist there isn't actually any incentive to vote for me. At least it's not in Comic Sans, although Letter-O-Matic isn't exactly tops as far as fonts go.
Really, all you need to know about Canine Coprothrustive Conundrum is its origins story: It was explicitly constructed to attract an insipidly stupid fanbase who would, when the time is ripe, send its author huge amounts of unearned money. Really, that's how it came to be. Unfortunately, it turns out that I'm a lazy asshole who can't even stick to my own plan, and I haven't been able to stick to the script except through sheer incompetence, as evidenced by the fact that as of this writing, the webcomic has received an average of three returning visitors per day. One of whom is probably me. Canine Coprothrustive Conundrum isn't a financial juggernaut like CAD or The Wotch, but it's still an abysmal failure of a webcomic. Don't read it.
If you are familiar with John Solomon's famous blog, then you may have an inkling of what to expect from me. I do not have his credibility, and I probably do not have his eloquence, and I almost certainly do not have his incredible wrath. I do, however, have a more than passing knowledge of several bad webcomics, and I intend to pass that knowledge along to you. I hope that I will not repeat any of the Elders' entries, since I intend for this to be a tribute and a catharsis, not a complete ripoff.
As a final note, I present my daily webcomic routine:
Penny Arcade, 8-Bit Theater, Sheldon Comics, Starslip Crisis, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Sinfest, Dominic Deegan, XKCD, Shredded Moose, Sluggy Freelance, Thinkin' Lincoln, Dinosaur Comics, Dr McNinja. I also infrequently check CTRL-ALT-DEL and VGCats.
This list is actually shorter for having read John Solomon's blog.
Welcome, dear reader.