Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Darwin Carmichael gets a store!

Right before New England Webcomics Weekend, Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan, co-creators of Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell (which is currently on a hilarious story arc about virgin-crazed pet unicorns -- seriously, go check it out), mentioned something about bringing shirts to the Easthampton convention. My little Twittter ears perked up. Darwin Carmichael tshirts? FOR REELZ?

*Ahem* I may be a tiny bit obsessed.

Lo and behold, a mysterious link appears below a recent comic page leading to none other than a Darwin Carmichael store. And there was much jubilation. The inventory is a bit anemic at present, but you can buy art prints and this handsome t-shirt, plus a canvas bag featuring Skittles the tween-brained Manticore.

I'm thrilled to see these ladies finally getting in on the webcomics commerce. Now, more Manticore shirts, please?

Siblings with Guest Comics

I love this: Danielle Corsetto asked her non-cartoonist brother to create a guest strip for Girls with Slingshots, and he found the process a bit...well...frustrating. Cartooning ain't easy.

Super Stupor Returns

Something Positive has finished out for the year, but Randy Milholland is giving us some happy end of the year treats by updating his other comics: Super Stupor, Rhymes with Witch, and Life with Rippy (sadly, no Midnight Macabre). He's kicking off the week with a two-part Super Stupor in which Punchline faces down a Lex Luthor-style villain. Do I smell a new Super Stupor print issue?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Self-Portraits of Webcartoonists as Pokemon

This is way old, but I just stumbled across it the other day and had to share.

Featuring some of my personal favorite webcomickers, including Meredith Gran, Lucy Knisley, KC Green, and Box Brown as Pokemon at various stages of evolution.

Portrait-Dex [via Indistinguishable from Magic]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Dresden Codak Guide to Dressing Your Characters

Wow. I always knew that Dresden Codak was an incredibly detailed, beautifully colored comic, but I never really thought about all of the decisions that go into all those details and all that color.

Yesterday, Aaron Diaz posted "Costumes: the Wearable Dialog" to his art blog, an illuminating dissertation on costume design in comics: why it's important and what to consider when designing a character's clothes. I'll admit, sometimes art blogs go a bit over my head; I have trouble interpreting them as anything other than "Draw better than you already draw." But Diaz takes us step by step through the elements of design an outfit -- know what your character looks like naked, how she stands, what her goals are when she gets dressed in the morning, repeat features throughout an outfit or article of clothing. I had quite a few aha! moments reading through this.

It's also worth reading through the rest of Diaz's blog Indistinguishable From Magic for more insights into comic art, although just the thought of "How a Dresden Codak Page is Made" is stressing me out.

Oh, and Diaz has an "Ask Me Anything" thread up on reddit. A word of warning: those things can be a major time suck.

Think Geek Honors xkcd's Coupon Code

Think Geek knows the way to its geeky clientele's hearts. Hardly does Randy Munroe (who apparently sucks at taking a vacation) post the above comic than the Think Geek team tweets: "If you read today's xkcd & wondered, 'Does that work on ThinkGeek?' you might wanna try SUMMEROF1987." Sadly, it doesn't zero out your order, but it does take $10 off orders of $50+ with the message, "We know what you did. Now aren't you ashamed?"

Also, they warn, you could still end up with a bobcat.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An Early Christmas Present: Chris Baldwin Draws Ripley

Now that Chris Baldwin is busy with his sci-fi/action/dramedy Spacetrawler, he's got science fiction on the brain. And, since Baldwin has a proven affinity for the curly-haired ladies (Bruno, Little Dee), it's only natural that his artist's eye would be drawn toward corkscrew-coifed ass-kicker Ellen Ripley.

Baldwin was selling this beauty for $50, and it immediately got snapped up. Any chance you'd consider selling prints, Mr. Baldwin? Or maybe doing a full series? I have some space on my wall that's just begging for a Sarah Connor.

Ripley (Scroll Down) [Spacetrawler]

Kate Beaton's Christmas Cookies

I don't need to tell you guys how amazing Kate Beaton is. But it's not just that Beaton routinely puts out incredible comics; it's how versatile she is in her comic making.

Beaton describes "Cookies" as a memory from Christmas 2005, when she was working in the tool crib of an oil sands mine in Alberta. But, for all its apparent simplicity, it reads like a well-crafted piece of fiction. The dialogue is spot-on, and Beaton knows just which details to show: the sad fake Christmas tree left unattended on the floor, the miners nearly anonymous in their cold weather gear, the burn of frost on everyone's cheeks. And it manages to tell a heartwarming Christmas story without ever becoming saccharine.

Cookies [Hark, a vagrant]

Kenny Loggins is the Reason for the Season

I'm not entirely convinced that Hyperbole and a Half is technically a webcomic; it's more like a blog and a webcomic got together, dry-humped one out, then spawned some weird bastard child.

It's a weblogmic. And it's infertile, like a mule or a liger.

That doesn't mean it's not funny. "The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas" is actually killing me, and it gets bonus points because it's sure to start some horrible meme about how Kenny Loggins is immortal.

The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas [Hyperbole and a Half]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Death gets personal for Box Brown

There's a funny thing about some artists where they can work wonders with a subject that's at arm's length, but when they get too personal, things start to crack. That's how I've felt for a while about Box Brown's work.

Everything Dies has been a brilliant stroke from Brown. Brown's refined style is a perfect match for his accounts of false prophets and rhyming religious email forwards. But it's often jarring when Brown talks about his own faith, or rather his lack of faith.

I noticed back when Brown published the lovely Love is a Peculiar Type of Thing that when Brown talks about his lack of interest in an afterlife or a divine governor, he lurches from the narrative to the didactic. Against the rest of he book, it comes off as weirdly preachy. The same problem plagues Everything Dies in the early chapters. While Brown is trying to explain what he himself believes, it's a strange contrast against the memetic spread of the idea of Rapture.

Lately, Brown has gotten better at explaining himself. Or maybe he's better at easing us into his mindspace. "To Exist" is a personal meditation on Brown's frustration with responses to the ubiquitous "Coexist" bumper sticker, and while it takes a firm aim at evangelicals as anything Brown writes, there's something gentle here as he explores the notion of difference and how intolerance threatens to ever-narrow our definition of difference. "But I Don't Want to Die" chronicles Brown's personal history with religion and his gradual transition to atheism, and here, working in a more narrative framework, Brown comes off as far more honest than he does in "Pre-Need" and far less finger-wagging than in "Demonstrable Proof."

But "Ben Died of a Train" is the comic I've been waiting for Brown to write, the comic about a person who dies young and tragically. When Brown writes about death, he often envisions himself dying as an old man, something that feels oddly like a comforting fable in a series that's so often critical of comforting fables. But "Ben" is something else: art-making as a funereal act, coping with death by rewinding and distilling memories and spinning them through Brown's own peculiar lens.

I hope that in the coming year, Brown focuses more on his more his more historical and journalistic religious comics. They're great fun to read, and I find I learn a lot about a particular belief or religious group that I didn't know before. But I'm also glad he took the time to offer a deeper view into his non-religious psyche, one that's less about instruction and more about point of view.

How the Grad TA Stole Christmas

From PHD Comics, this one goes out to all the undergrads who just finished fall term finals and must now bite their nails at the thought of their graduate TA grading the damn things. Worried yet?

How the Grad TA Stole Christmas [PHD Comics]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not everything needs to be a t-shirt

I suspect that, when webcomickers get together, they have roughly this conversation once an hour.

From Thursday's Scenes from a Multiverse.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Susie Cagle wants to count you

Earlier this year when I was less employed, I applied to be a census enumerator, but apparently too late. I'll admit, a large driver was that I was curious about the census taker's experience. Fortunately, Susie Cagle has the skinny with her comic series "I'm Here From the Government" on The Rumpus. Cagle captures all the bureaucratic weirdness of the census, complete with allegedly time-saving acronyms and overly chipper supervisors.

Also worth checking out is Cagle's site this is what concerns me, which hosts even more of her comics. Cagle puts her journalism degree to good use, turning a critical eye on the social and political goings on around the Bay Area and beyond.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Year in Digital Comics

What are the best new digital comics of the past year? Who moved and shook in the webcomics world? Is the line between digital and print comics growing blurrier?

I had the honor and the profound pleasure to take part in ComixTalk's 2010 end-of-the-year roundtable with a lovely and knowledgeable group of comics commentators and journalists. Check it out.

Danse Macabre Illustrations from Dylan Meconis

Looking for a last-minute gift for the art-lover in your life? I wouldn't turn my nose up at one of Dylan Meconis' Danse Macabre illustrations. At $40, they're terrifically underpriced, and come in "The Celebutante," "The Foodie," "The Pundits," and "The Rock Star."


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Penny and Aggie Crossword Challenge

The end of the year is a tough time to be a webcomics fan. As creators spend time with family -- or desperately attempt to preserve what little sanity they still have -- they often take a couple weeks off, or post up filler.

If you're going to post filler, though, nothing tops filler that rewards your readers. I'm digging T Campbell's Penny and Aggie crossword puzzle -- and not just because crossword puzzles got me through many a law school lecture. Many of the clues are P&A-themed, with the key to the puzzle being "Pairings" (prepare for a lot of Brangelina-style naming).

I'll take more filler like this, please.

Penny and Aggie Crossword