The Last Days of FOXHOUND

For those of you who care, the Desert Bus for Hope is going down on the Escapist. Check out the feed to watch geeks play the most boring game in history. It’s like watching the product of the existentialist art form.

The Last Days of FOXHOUND

Chris Doucette

500 comics

Comic is completed.

First off, if you haven’t played/gotten into the Metal Gear Solid series then walk away from this piece. Really.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, greetings my fellow fans!

I’ve been a fan of the MGS series for a long time. Well, at least the story, technical issues prevented me from playing #3, sadly. Still, great games.

The Last Days of Foxhound is basically jokes around in the world behind the games, looking at how the characters in FOXHOUND acted when they were on their days off.

I will admit that I haven’t read a lot of it, just the beginning. However, I did like it for what I did read, so you might enjoy the whole thing.

So, yeah, it’s an informative post. Have fun with that. I’m off. Finals week and all. Not that I’m studying or anything, but it makes for a great excuse. So long!

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS

Terribly sorry if this is odd, I’m a little *whooo* today.

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS

MRTIM (Mr. Tim?)

Updates daily

I came across this sweet nothing while… well, I don’t really remember where. That’s not important.

Anyways, the idea of the comic is that the author, MRTIM, is the proprietor of a comic book store. As an budding comic artist that is forced to view the dredges of our society, he digs through the nuts that visit his store and writes them down.

I’m tempted to call “bullshit” on some of them, but then I remember that people are insane as a rule.

Really, it’s fascinating to see some of the things that people come up with in their idle thoughts. The nutjobs are broken down into a few catagories: Creeps, Crazies, Jerks, Fighters, and Jus’ Folk, although you probably won’t be using those subgroups as the most efficient browsing method is to start at the home screen and go by pages.

The only thing that bothered me about CUSTOMERS was that the comments section is black text on a black background. I don’t know if I simply have something set wrong or what, but it seems like an odd choice for design.

CUSTOMERS is an insubstantial lunch-time comic that you laugh at while scarfing down your nutrients; it’s simple catharsis. I won’t write much about it because there’s not much to SAY. However, I kind of enjoyed it, and you might as well.

And if this is the first post that you’ve read in my archive because it’s the shortest, then you will LOVE CUSTOMERS. Yes, all you tl;dr little shits, this is the comic for you.

Lackadaisy

Lackadaisy

Tracy Butler

About 95 comics, including the sketchbook ones.

Updates AC, about 3 a month (supposedly)

Ah, Lackadaisy. You are a gem in the mud, truly.

In a nutshell, Lackadaisy is a story about cats running a speakeasy. For those of you not well versed in history, speakeasys were hidden bars that served illicit alcohol during the prohibition. It was a difficult business, pretty much equatable to selling drugs in modern day, just much more classy and socially acceptable.

The story follows Rocky, a musician-gone-runner for Lackadaisy with an… enthusiasm for fire and a Cheshire grin. However, he is only one of many characters, each with fairly developed personalities. My favorite would probably be Calvin (“Freckle”), Rocky’s brother, a shy boy that got kicked out of the police academy for his tenancy to go axe-crazy with firearms.

I know what most will say, and let me get it out of the way: No, this is not a furry comic. Let me quote something from the author’s page:

When dealing in sociopathic criminalism and gratuitous violence, how could it not be cats? Don’t take it too literally, though. It’s mostly just a device I like to use for characterization. The mobile ears, tails, and big eyes help me emphasize gesture and expression more than I could with human characters, they allow me to be as ridiculous as I like, and, well, they’re just plain fun to draw.

Because it’s true, the expression thing. If you’re curious, look at this picture’s Rocky and compare it to the one in the comics. The human one is a little more creepy, definitely, but you have to agree that the cats are more expressive in general.

I copied the long quote because I feel that it’s an interesting take on the idea of anthropomorphic animals. Moving on.

While we’re on the subject of design, let me stop and say that the art is amazing. The scenes are beautiful, the characters detailed, and most of all, it’s all accurate. Really, everything is accurate, which was accomplished through painstaking research on the part of Butler. In fact, there was one endearing part where she apologized for putting a radio that widespread until later, but she put it in because it was just so much fun to draw. Really, it’s a fascinating look into the past.

Now, the plot. Unfortunately, the slow update speed does not help form a complex plot completely. However, there is still quite a story in the archives, with the Lackadaisy trying to stay afloat and the characters doing their best to avoid bullets.

The story should be read for the characters, however. So much of the comic is set around defining who the cats are, and while I might call a different comic out on such a lack of exposition, it works really well. It seems that Butler found a magical “sweet spot” between characterization and exposition that works out wonderfully.

If it seems like I’m gushing, it’s because I am. How perceptive of you. Lackadaisy is one of the comics that I find while digging through the mud and the fur that I can unabashedly call “great” without qualification. I don’t think that it would say too much to put it at #2 on my Top Comics list, right behind Dresden Codak.

Interesting trend. It seems that quality is better than quantity after all. Hear that, daily updaters?

Anyways, Lackadaisy is amazing and you should read it. Take it from your old pal Cat…alyst. Not a furry, I swear.

Fourth Wall

By the Old Ones, there’s a lot of links in this post. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to spam you. They’re all relevant… mostly.

Fourth Wall

Aymee and Mitsune

June-present

Updates Wed and Sun

Ah, the sweet smell of startup comics. With a complete archive of 39 comics, Fourth Wall falls firmly in the “new comic” zone, so let me say that it is my great honor to bring you yaddah yaddah yah. I found out about FW through Twitter, which has become my main source of information of late… /sigh.

Fourth Wall is a gaming comic with a heavy focus on WoW. Fill in the blanks.

Okay, that’s not fair. Well, it is, but it’s not the whole picture. As I’ve said again and again and again and again and again, gaming comics are all the same, it just depends on how well they are done. And, in this humble critic’s opinion, Fourth Wall is pretty good.

It actually reminds me of Complex Actions in more way than one. A mixture of “real life” comics and in-game jokes, all prone to hyperbole and self-deprecating humor, it all rings familiar… in a good way.

Of course, the ever-present question for these comics is whether it is accessible to those that don’t play the game. My response: probably. Looking back through the archive, the average comic doesn’t require any pre-knowledge. It might help, yes, but it’s not like Daily Quests or the like, where it’s a requirement (Not that it’s a bad thing, DQ)!

One thing that I noticed was that FW has yet to stray into “Imma girl gamer hurr” territory, which is a good sign. Not that I’m bothered by the dynamic at all. “Refreshing”, let’s call it.

As for the plot, well, there isn’t any. Not that I expect one, these kinds of comics are usually hindered anything more than “in jokes”. Character development, backstories, all of these things aren’t necessary, as the characters are simply there as puppets to tell a story. Of course, dynamic characters could come into play later on, but that would require a plot arc and rinse wash repeat.

I have one thing to say about the art: it may not be incredibly detailed, but the set-up is well done. The characters and backdrops are mostly simplistic, but it doesn’t detract from the comic. What is does do is give clarity to what the hell is going on. They’re a little wordy occasionally, but only occasionally. As for the rest of the art, well, remember why I have Rule 3. It’s not bad, I’m just not really qualified to call it “good”.

As always for “new” comics, I won’t comment too much on Fourth Wall. What does it look like for the future? Well, I’ve gone over that process before, so I won’t repeat myself. Although, it is a good sign that they have found a reasonable update schedule and stuck with it so far, because those of you without one have no idea how difficult that is. If they are dedicated enough to keep it up, then I bet they will go far.

In all, I’ve enjoyed Fourth Wall, and I hope that the creators stick with it. If you see my name pop up in the comments as soon as the comics go up, well, blame Twitter and my erratic sleep schedule. I’m getting on a tangent; take my word at face value for once and give Fourth Wall a shot. All gaming comics are dependent on your tastes, but it’s worth sampling.

Sinfest

I have a couple beta keys for Bloodline Champions, if anyone wants one then shoot me an email.

Sinfest

Tatsuya Ishida

2000-present

Updates daily

I know that Sinfest is “Old News” territory, but the sheer amount that I mention it merits a review.

My relationship with Sinfest has been a rocky one at best. One thing that you can’t accuse Ishida of is doing things half-assed, because when the comic is good then it’s good, and when it’s bad it’s really bad.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: for the most part, Sinfest isn’t terrible. Most of the time it’s actually quite good, with  decent satire of politics and religion making up the humor. And it keeps up the same jokes throughout the ten years that it has been running.

But before it gets too full of itself, let’s pop this little bubble, shall we? Because Sinfest has two big issues:

  1. As I said, the same jokes are used throughout the series. Not in the sense that the general idea of the jokes are similar, they’re all almost exactly the same. Really, if you’ve read it for one year’s worth, then you’ve read the entire lot. Yes, there’s a few new bits thrown in, most of which came around recently, but by and large the stories are cookie-cutter. Any material gets old if you hear it enough.
  2. Long time readers will know that Sinfest comes up whenever a comic tries to make a point. The reason for this lies in the later comics, when Ishida tried to use Sinfest to soapbox a few political messages. While this is respectable enough, you have to do it subtly, and they must be balanced with normal jokes. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a political blog in comic form, and no one wants to read those. Sinfest violated both of these ideas; the messages are forced down your throat by a spoon wrapped in barbed wire, and there were months where almost everything was “on message”. Not good, not good.

While both of these things are present in any long-running comic, the sheer volume of them is cause for concern. I had read Sinfest for quite a long time, and I eventually grew tired of it and quit follow it. Recently I found the link in my bookmarks, and I read up to the present… bad news: not much has changed.

It’s sad, really, for a comic to be effectively ruined by these things. The characters were inventive parodies… wait, let me rephrase that. “The secondary characters” were inventive. Sinfest suffers from Batman Syndrome, where everyone in the story is much more interesting than the main characters. The Devil, God, Lil’ Devil, and the religious nutjob, these were the greatest assets of the comic, while the main characters were fairly cliched (and in the man’s case, a little creepy).

Oh, and stories about your anthropomorphizing pets didn’t work for Garfield, it doesn’t work for you.

In all, Sinfest is a good comic that is let down by its own importance. My recommendation? Read the first few years of the archive, then leave it in the dust.

Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery

Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery.

R. Smith

08-10

I offered to review any comic that you wanted, for an hour or so. No one responded, which is too bad because that means that today’s piece is on Yehuda Moon! Yaaaaayy.

I really wasn’t going to review this comic for multiple reasons, the most prominent one being that majority of you won’t like it. Not because it’s bad, definitely not. It just has a very narrow audience.

I came across it while searching Google for “What the fuck is a derailleur?” and saw a bit of it at the bottom of the page. Curiosity piqued, I jumped in and read the whole damn thing.

While that might sound like a point in its favor, I was more interested in the culture that it represented than the comic or story itself. It’s fascinating from an anthropological sense. However, that’s really where the positivity ends.

First of all, the comic caters to a very specific kind of reader. Basically, if you can closely identify with one of the characters in the comic, then it’s for you. If not, then it’s just going to be preachy nonsense.

And preach it does. It’s a great misfortune that Yehuda Moon took the Sinfest approach to soap-boxing by bluntly shoving the point down your throat without even the slightest courtesy of covering it with barbecue sauce first. Hell, I mostly agree with them and I find that it’s incredibly abrasive at times. I can’t imagine someone with different opinions would go through… I think there might be chafing.

That’s the real problem with Yehuda Moon. As I said, I enjoyed it, but so much of it was blatant soap-boxing. Really, it’s okay to make a comic that is an opinion piece. But you have to balance that with downtime, comics that are just fun.

The downtime comics are actually quite good, actually. Well, I enjoyed them, no accounting for your tastes. However, there’s so much of the archive that’s just there to preach “the message”… well, let’s just say that it’s a very good thing that Yehuda is so “wacky”, or the comic would just be crap.

The plot is… eh. There’s a lot of material about running a business, which is decent enough, and Yehuda’s crazy antics do lead to some interesting threads. However, it’s all incredibly contrived. The entire town seems to exist only to stop Yehuda’s plots just before they become perfection, but they still let him get far enough to get “the message” across.

The art’s pretty good, though.

In all, I liked Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery, but I have a feeling that it’s only because I’m interested in the culture. Taken from the perspective of a person with ambivalent feelings, I doubt that it’ll be all that great. It’s kind of like the WoW comics; if you like it, then you like it, if you don’t then you don’t. Simple enough.

Rosscott, Inc. /"The System"

Rosscott, Inc.

Rosscott (Duh)

432 pages

Updates MWF, mostly.

I’ve said before that a comic can support a following with simplistic or just plain terrible art if the writing was good enough to hold its own. Rosscott, Inc. is a prime specimen for experimentation on. Does it work? Let’s see!

Rosscot, Inc.‘s visual style is basically the arrangement of all those little symbols that you see on information signs, the International Symbols Signs according to the website. There’s no additional art, simply rearrangements of the symbols, which is respectable enough. Why not use something that’s standardized and instantly recognizable, especially in a comic that focuses on (and is named after) the System? It’s a rational choice. However, this turns the comic into a real-life version of a sprite comic, so it won’t win many points for style in my book.

But here’s the thing that matters. Does Rosscott, Inc. feature writing that is good enough to justify a following? The answer: “mostly”.

If I had to describe the humor of The System in one word, I’d probably do it in fifty. If held at gunpoint, however, I’d probably say “erratic”. While I can’t expect every update to be solid gold, there is a lot of pieces that just seem like filler. So many comics in the archive are simply nothing, while others seem to just be a description of some mundane task that Rosscott was doing that day. While this is a staple of comics in every sense of the word, you have to find absurdity in it or else you’re just blogging. And no one likes bloggers, the ego-maniacal fucks.

However, there are quite a few bits that are pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. You just have to dig through all the boring “filler” to get to it.

Here’s a protip: The guy loves cycling and the dog is a murderer. Now, if you find yourself getting bored with the first comics (and you will), just read the archive backwards. The newer material is much better, and there isn’t a lot of “running gags” that require you to follow them from start to finish. Some of it may seem odd, but I told you the only big common threads of thought in the beginning of this paragraph.

Overall, I enjoyed The System. I don’t know that I’d sit on the edge of my seat in anticipation for every update, but it was worth a chuckle. If you find yourself with excess time that needs to be legally disposed of, you could do a lot worse.

Flaky Pastry

Flaky Pastry

Félix Lavallée

317 pages

Updates every Friday

Alt-text: Aye

Flaky Pastry is a soft-fantasy, semi-slice-of-life comic. Seeing that “soft fantasy” isn’t actually a thing, translation: It doesn’t bother with strict boundaries of species and realms, and the whole “my lord Azekeria” Tolkien-equse stuff (much like soft science fiction, duh) is left out.

The party includes a Goblin Insane Mechanist-Nympho, a Chaotic Evil Elven Warrior, and a Person Who Happens To Have Cat Ears Scholar (noted again and again as not a “catgirl”).

Neighbor, their neighbor, is an albino super-scientist that plays whatever role he’s needed for. Also, if you’re ever doing a presentation of “author insertion persona”, or “Marty Stu” for you literary types, then simply point to Neighbor as an example. Not to say that I don’t adore the guy, mind you. Kurt Stein also makes appearances as Nitrine’s “boyfriend”, but he’s mostly there to play the comic foil.

I always say (okay, “I’ve said before, maybe”) that the biggest reason why slice-of-life comics fail is because the only material that you have available to write about is either mostly in-jokes or angsty drama that no one care about other than the real-life counterpart to the characters. Otherwise it’s all just small-talk-worthy crap. Reading Pastry has made me wonder why more of these comics aren’t set in the fantasy setting (and there is only one fantasy setting), as they allow for much more freedom of thought. After all, you don’t need to make a complicated backstory about someone’s dad killing themselves for a character to be interesting when it can be a dragon!

Oddly enough, this leads to a fairly ordinary cast outside of the main characters, at least compared to what would be expected in a world with goblins and elves and such. Everyone is very human-esque, albiet some follow certain archetypes like Holy Spice, Witch Spice, Crossdresser Spice, and so on. It doesn’t detract from the story, really, but it’s odd. I suppose all the “different” people flock together?

Now for the important part: the story. Everything in Pastry is done in satire of either fantasy or real life, and it’s all wrapped in marvelous camp. I don’t believe that you’ll need to love fantasy to enjoy Pastry.

Well, now that the humor is out of the way, let’s talk text. By the GODS Pastry tends to go for the blocks of text. It’s really a shame, because this technique is usually invoked for comics with terrible art, but Pastry‘s is pretty good. While it isn’t usually a problem, it occurs more than is nice.

Actually, Pastry has a problem with the writing overall. The stories are good, yes, but the actual presentation is rather lacking at times. It resorts to boldfacedly going point-by-point in conversation, which does get boring. However, the bad writing is partially made up for by the expressive nature of the characters, which tends to show their emotions a lot more than the writing itself. Which I suppose is the more difficult of the two.

Overall, Pastry is a comic that I read for a great, long while. Well, at least until I got to the end of the archive. There’s another problem with slice-of-life, it requires a running story, which is not well presented in a once-a-week format. The comic is good in long stretches, but I doubt that you’ll be crawling to your computer at 11:59 on Thursday to await an update. Still, the archive is good and certainly worth your time.

KinokoFry

KinokoFry

Rebecca Clements

108+ comics

Updates AC

Alt-text?: Sometimes

Before I start: the site is broken into a “diary” section, “BEC” (which seems to be her turning submitted ideas into comics), and a normal comics section with the majority of the work, the main page really only contains the “diary” section. Anyways.

KinokoFry is a fairly autobiographical, very environmentally-friendly comic that I stumbled across… somehow. I don’t remember, but that’s not the important part.

There really isn’t a story to follow, and I’m not going to try to piece one together when I can talk about the art instead.

Madame Clements’ comic is done in a beautiful, Seuss-ian style that really impressed me. That’s what really got my attention when I was browsing through it, the wonderful controlled chaos of the art, the non-jarring transitions between simple and complex forms, it all adds up to something fairly beautiful.

Early comics in the original series are more what you’d expect from a daily, one-frame jokes with no inherent purpose behind them other than entertainment, done in a bit more “mundane” style. The stories revolve around mushrooms living their… mushroomy lives. It has its moments.

The later writing is touch and go on entertainment value, it is rather preachy sometimes, although I suppose that if you really believe in something then you might as well use your talents to get the message out, and perhaps people will listen better. The quality of these “informative” pieces falls somewhere between Sandra and Woo and Sinfest. Aka between relatively subtle and so obtuse it’s aggravating. Personally, I didn’t mind because I was too busy drooling over the art, but the objective critic in me (He lives in my head. His name is Mike. He tells me to kill.) says that it might not be for everyone, especially if you’ve grown tired of environmental preaching.

Overall, I was entertained by KinokoFry, and I think that I’ll keep tabs on it in the future. Cheers!