I’m not 100% sure what the benefit of transcripts on comics are. Technically they would allow blind readers to enjoy the strip, but I somehow doubt they frequent web comics. My guess is that they’re for searching for specific strips and so that Google can find certain strips. I’m going to add transcripts to all the strips after #100 and I’ll work on the ones before that here and there as I have time here and there.
Sandra and Woo is a three person job. The writer is Oliver Knörzer. He’s German so the strip is also published in German. Just as in No Pink Ponies, this does not affect the English script. It sounds just as natural as if written by a native speaker. Powree, the strip’s artist, does an amazing job. The art style is something I’d call, newspaper comic style. It’s very different from most of what you find in web comics. Very similar to the attention to detail in the aforementioned Calvin and Hobbes. Sarah Dunphy serves as an editor and probably is part of the reason why the comic works so well. Not only has Oliver mentioned Sarah’s incomprehension of a joke as the reason for a rewrite (an invaluable job Dan plays here at INM), but he’s also mentioned once or twice that she helped a little with an english phrase that wasn’t working. There’s been a slight art shift in the recent strips, but it’s not because Powree needed to develop her skills. It’s because Oliver and Powree felt the characters looked a bit younger than they were intended and that was causing some dissonance with the readers.
Sandra and Woo may be *drawn* in the style of a newspaper comic, but it definitely takes advantage of being on the net. First of all, it has profanity. Now, don’t misunderstand me. It’s not a profane comic; it’s not using profanity for the sake of profanity. But it involves realistic people and people swear sometimes. Also, the protagonists are kids in Middle School and a Racoon. So there’s some sexuality. I find the kids to be slightly above their age in the way they think/speak/act. It’s not as blatant as South Park, and I think it helps that the kids in Sandra and Woo are a few years older than South Park. But the content is not as shock-based so it’s not as jarring either. Of course, as they mention in one of their strips, it could be age-amnesia on my part?
Also, it kinda helps that I was more on the innocent side growing up. I mean, yeah, kids were using profanity around me around the age of 9 or 10. But some of the other stuff…. like Larisa being a Fille Fatale seems a bit much. Anyway, it doesn’t bother me because I think there’s always something valuable about seeing an adult topic through kid’s eyes. And the kids’ personalities aren’t derailed. It’s not like how I felt the Peanuts became (esp with Linus) where the kids were not real kids. The kids in Sandra and Woo still act like kids and all that comes with it. Plus, it can set up some great jokes like this one:
Another thing that *most* newspaper comics shy away from is overt political statements. Sandra and Woo is not afraid of that. But they do it in a way that, to me, is not too anvilicious. Examples include Cloud’s mom being a former Burmese freedom fighter and mentions of the plight in Burma and random mentions of healthcare reform and other little things. I guess whether you find it distracting depends on how much politics bothers you. Finally, although this isn’t that big a deal with web comics, *most* newspaper comics tend to have a mono-racial cast, whether that’s white, black, asian, etc with a token character or two from another race. Sandra and Woo’s world is a global world that acknowledges multiracial couples don’t matter to kids. They find a particular boy or girl cute and just go out with them.
So I’ve hinted at the plot here and there while describing the comic, but to cement it all, Sandra and Woo is about Sandra and Woo. Aren’t tautologies fun? Hehe. Anyway, Sandra is an 11 year old girl in middle school who ends up adopting Woo, a racoon. The first handful of strips just focus on her and Woo and, if it’d stayed that way, it would have been a fun, cute comic, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did. After establishing her relationship with Woo, including one early plot twist I don’t want to give away, it moves to focus on her relationship with her schoolmates and Woo’s relationship with some animals in the forest. It was here that the comic blossomed. In a recent blog post that accompanied one of the strips, Oliver mentioned that it was no use arguing for a ship between any two characters because he has the plots figured out for years going forward. I don’t know if this extended to the beginning or if the comic naturally evolved to include some of her friends. It certainly seems to have had a bit of a shift, not a hard right turn, but not gentle either. (At least from the point of view of someone reading all the archives at once)
In due time, we begin to explore the other characters apart from their interactions with Sandra and that’s always fun. I love when comics allow us to gain dimensionality with the characters by showing that they act in different ways in private. (Unless the character happens to wear his or her heart on his/her sleeve) Sandra and Woo follows the plot model of a series of loosely connected story arcs. In other words, there is continuity from arc to arc, but a few days or months may pass between arcs. This is as opposed to “Questionable Content” which is essentially one long arc (or a series of arcs with less than an hour separating them) or “Between Failures” which is also essentially one giant arc per day in the lives of the employees. So far the biggest overarching plot point is a love triangle between the kids. This is handled in various ways, as you can see from the first strip I posted up top. For the most part, characters don’t just apear for an arc and disappear. There was one interesting arc about Woo’s love life that appears to have been abandoned or maybe we were supposed to figure out that stuff happened offscreen or maybe it’ll come back in a future arc.
I recommend this comic. I’d say you should read the first 20 to 30 strips because of the shift towards the other secondary characters and how that makes for a different dynamic. It’s definitely going in my RSS reader.
I’m putting out a call for some guest strips. Between the recent holidays here in the US and the time I’ve lost while creating my next character, I’ve depleted a large portion of my buffer. I want to build that back up again, so to give me a little extra slack I’m asking if anyone wants to contribute to a week or two of guest strips. I know at least one of my dedicated readers is a webcomic artist, but I’m will to look at anyone’s work who’s interested in contributing. Use my email address off of the contact page to let me know if you’re sending me something. Thanks!
No Pink Ponies is drawn in a style best described as a mix of manga and Western. None of the girls are exceptionally buxom nor do they have gigantic eyes, but you can definitely see a manga influence. The comic is a story-based comic that usually ends on a punchline every strip. It starts off with protagonist Jess seeing a cute guy working in a comic book shop. Her friend Lyla puts the idea into her head that she should open up a comic book shop to meet him. It doesn’t quite make as much sense as it could, but no big deal, most comics have a weird strip to set things in motion like when Faye randomly sets her apartment on fire in Questionable content so she can end up living with Martin. And never again was shown to be dangerous while cooking or in the kitchen. (Or Dan/Dave blowing all their money in Japan and needing to room with with Min) Anyway, it doesn’t matter – I’ve seen it in tons of web comics. The point is, he ends up working at her comic shop. The comic includes regulars like Layla’s boyfriend, four nerds that hang out there all the time, and Maureen. For a time, the author was using his Sunday strips to do a Wolverine parody, but that seems to have ended as the story’s gotten more complex and he probably didn’t want to waste time not moving it forward.
As for the story, I enjoyed reading it. I marked it for putting onto my RSS reader. I enjoy the characters and the author’s writing style. It’s funny without being slapstick. It appeared to get a bit of Cerebus Syndrome for a particularly serious sideplot with one of the characters. But since then it’s gone back to its pretty comical tone. The comic is not one of those OMG YOU MUST READ IT comics like Misfile or Sister Claire. But it is a fun story. You could probably check it out in an idle afternoon and see if you want to follow it.
This comic is very young with only 25 strips completed as of today. Like the Chris Cantrell comics I reviewed yesterday the adventures of Rob, Gary, and Gen occur in small, self-contained story arcs. However, this doesn’t bother me as it did in Please Rewind and I think it’s because this strip doesn’t have as obvious of a reset button. No one’s been killed multiple times or done other things that are later ignored. I guess within a continuum from Penny Arcade to Questionable Content I tend to prefer comics at either end. It’s harder when you try to combine the reset button with a bit of continuity. At least, that’s my best attempt at understanding why I wasn’t so turned off with Shot Glasses even though they’re, at the most basic level, doing the same thing. I think it’s also why I enjoyed The Deadlys more than Please Rewind.
Taking a look at the comic’s cast page shows that the writer has some pretty deep plans for the characters. At least I hope he does, because I’m curious about this relationship between the male characters. From a story point of view, it’s interesting that there’s so far been no sexual tension between Gen and any of the guys. That’s neither a good or bad thing. It’s just interesting that they have a cast of two girls and a guy that are just friends with nothing complicated going on. That doesn’t preclude them from introducing it in the future, but it’s worth noting compared to all the other strips I’ve read.
They frequently have strips about video games and have taken the same approach as I have done in INM – they have the video game avatars replaced by the characters. (Like I did in the non-canonical L4D strips here and here) I really like this style (and not just because I use it myself) because it helps you keep track of who’s who and map the character actions to the characters controlling them. Not that there aren’t reasons to use the actual characters when the rule of funny demands it.
So far I’m enjoying Shot Glasses. I’m looking forward to see where they go. They’re about in the spot we were in with Season 2 where they’re updating only once a week so it’s hard this early on to tell where they’re going to go with the comic; there just aren’t enough strips to know for sure. But so far I’m really enjoying the art-style and the pacing and topics. Are video game strips overdone? I think it depends on the type of strip. Dual Analogs and Penny Arcade pretty much have the gag-a-day video game/video game industry thing working well for them. I think another entry in that space would have to do something special to stand out. But, given that playing video games is a huge part of our lives as geeks (and a large portion of those of us making webcomics are geeks), I think comics like Shot Glasses that comment on games but have their own story on the side can co-exist quite nicely as long as the characters are compelling and the story is fun. I’m not going to go as far as to say that Shot Glasses is a must-read. It’s a bit early for that. But I will say that, of the latest bunch of comics I’ve finished reading through, I’ve enjoyed it the most. So, my recommendation is to do a quick read through the archives and then add it to your RSS feeder and see if it doesn’t continue to delight you.
I recently finished reading through the archives of The Deadlys and Please Rewind, both by Chris M Cantrell. (Found The Deadlys off of a Project Wonderful ad on this site – so they work!) They’ve both drawn in what I call the “Family Guy artwork style” it’s also the style used by Ctrl+Alt+Del. Please Rewind is the older of the two, having started in 2004. It revolves around a foursome working in a video rental store: Hank is the owner who also works at the store. Tony and Monique are sibling. Calvin is a young guy who works there. Up until now the strip has mostly revolved around Hank and Tony with Monique and Calvin providing support roles whenever the comedy requires it. The characters are engaging enough that I read through the entire archive. But, because it’s an episodic strip, there isnt’ any character growth. Almost all of the characters have died at least once. Two of them got sucked into a rip in the universe. But there’s real hint of continuity. Recently, a love interest of one of characters was introduced and that’s added a bit of continuity, but it’s too early to see if this sticks. I wasn’t sure where to stick this in the review, but there are also occasional movie parodies – they’re funny but have nothing to do with anything.
Everyone has different goals for their webcomic and it’s not fair to try and shoehorn others into the format I like based – heavy story-based comics. But I feel like Chris has done a good enough job with the characters that it’d be fun to see some character growth. As I said, there’s some possibility of that with one of the characters and the love interest, but I’d like to see a little more. Chris appears to have been pretty practiced with his art style and comedic timing before starting Please Rewind because, unlike most webcomics (including mine), there wasn’t a huge evolution in art-style or writing over the last six years. So, my recommendation is to start at the beginning and read the first 20 strips or so. You’ll know by then if you will like it because it’s pretty consistent throughout.
The Deadlys is Chris’ 2010 entry into the webcomic space. I love the originality of this strip. While Please Rewind it a generic formula (not to say it’s not funny or that he hasn’t made it his own), The Deadlys is a lot more original for a webcomic. It’s basically a Munsters or Adams Family type of situation with a Jason Voorhees clone for the Dad, and a vampire mother and daughter. The strip is similar to Please Rewind in art-style and format although it tends to have a lot more continuity. Or, if not, the author is certainly fond of brick jokes/call backs.
The archive on The Deadlys is still a bit thin, so it’s hard to tell exactly where it’s going to go. So far I really like it. It’s a good, light strip – the exact opposite of Misfile or El Goonish Shive. This makes it a great comic to jump in and out of. The jokes aren’t amazing, but they hit very well and I find myself chuckling at nearly all of them. If you like gory humor (think The Dark Knight’s limbs getting hacked off in The Holy Grail) you’ll probably enjoy it a lot.
We did it! After a rocky start, we’ve survived for 2 years! Longer than most, but not that long compared to the real web comic staples. I know a lot of people really get annoyed by anniversary and milestone strips in the regular flow of the archives. So, to help out with that, I’ve taken advantage of the way Comic Press sites run to feature this in the blog section. Thanks for reading for the past two years and I hope you’re with us for the long haul. I’m really excited about where this Season will take our characters.
So I was looking at my WordPress stats today and these are the currently listed top searches:
misfile henta, misfile hentai, comic where an angel mixes up filing cabinet boy turns into girl ash, comic where an angel mixes up filing cabinet boy turns into girl, soft core hentai mad scientist
I’ve mentioned it over the last few months, but starting with Season 3 we’re now a Monday/Friday strip. Perhaps at some point in the future we can become a MWF strip. I’ll be updating the header sometime today.
That wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. Of course, it helps that I already did Dan’s blog last year so I was able to work out all the kinks. Again, your link to the main site shouldn’t change as long as it was http://www.notmadcomic.com . And you may need to modify links to individual posts. (I may have some cleanup as well although I usually replaced the domain manually when I’d make links here in the comic).
Thanks for your patience.