REVIEWS PAGESActually, I find it a bit surprising how rarely other people see fit to review other people's comic strips, so here's a (small-scale) attempt to remedy that. I'll be slowly fleshing out this page over the next few days. I visit all the sites below on some kind of regular basis (though I don't neccessarily *love* all of them) so I feel qualified enough to review 'em. Also, a lot of them link to me. Anyway, I'm going to try and write some objective (if insanely inconsistant) reviews of them. Please, if anyone associated with any of these sites reads them, I hope they won't be offended or anything if their review is shorter, or if I seem to be picking on it...Just trying to be honest, no rancour meant. And I read all of these, so obviously they all work on some level...
Also, if you want to correct something, or want a strip reviewed, or want to tell me what a great job I've done, just say so. Especially the third one.
Keenspot and Keenspace Comics
COMICS-RELATED SITESScott McCloud's Website--Scott McCloud is the Marshall McLuhan of comics. His theories are so insightful and useful to anyone who's interested in comics, that it's tempting to picture him sitting on a mountaintop in a lotus position, dispensing wisdom to those below. His books are at the top of my list in the Best of Comics section; Go to his site for revelations and innovations that will raise you to a new state of consciousness. Also exmples of his own work, and more links to cool comic sites.
Electric Sheep--At the forefront of web comics is this major innovator, run by Patrick Farley (Hey, Patrick...you gonna update someday soon?) There's buckets of content there for those who are in the mood for something innovative, clever and WAAAAY ouside the norm. Some terrific SF stories, and a great sense of humour. I particularly recommend "A Suitable Seed" and "Thanksgiving Special".
Scary Go Round, by John Allison--Geez, no sooner have I reviewed the Keenspot strip "Bobbins" than it comes to an end. That's OK, though, John A. has transposed several of his characters to this new Modern Tales strip. It's proof positive that taste in online comic strips is pretty consistent around the world, with offbeat non-sequitors being the rule of the day. It's also got bright, colourful, flash-based graphics that I find immensely appealling, though John claims he's redesigning again (he does that periodically). Anyway, there's an array of lovably zany characters who act like...well, like something out of a British sitcom. Only zanier, like a webcomic. Imagine that. The British turns of phrase make it stand out (I couldn't get away with saying "Tupping" in my strip...though I'm working on it). If there's one complaint, it's that they can all be a little interchangeable (both visually and in terms of what they have to say), but when it's on a roll this strip finds a nice balance between observational humour and insane plots like sexy androids and Tibetan-trained superspies. I guess the best way to describe it is a British "Friends" if all the characters were insane.
Ozy and Millie, by D. C. Simpson--One of the few web strips that goes for "gentle, wistful and charming" instead of "edgy". It owes a lot to "Calvin & Hobbes" in style and tone, with "Pogo" being the other influence (i.e., a lot of cutesy animal characters making philosophical and political commentary). And glory be, the presence of talking furry animals is NOT used ironically, as a self-deconstructing mass of cliches that provide an excuse for lots of sex and violence. No, it's just a gentle, cute (but never twee) little comic that would be right at home in a family newspaper. That's not to say there isn't any reason for adults to read--like the two aforementioned comics, the cartoony exterior is often used as a launchpad for "Pseudo-insightful commentary" (as the author refers to it) and random silliness. The main characters are a pair of foxes, the zen Ozymandias (he's the Hobbes), a silver fox raised by a gently insane dragon, and Millie (she's the Calvin), a holy terror of a tomboy. The art is professional, and it's nice to see someone doing something different from the usual over-the-top juvenalia that permeates the web. Of course, if you came to the web to get away from the family-friendly tone of the newspaper comics, this probably shouldn't be your first stop.
Tailsteak.tk, by Mason "Tailsteak" Williams--Oh MAN do I love this site. Basically containing the brain drippings of a true genius of webcomics, one I would rank up there with Scott McCloud and Patrick Farley, except his art isn't as good. But man, is he ever one brilliant, innovative storyteller. Now that he's juggling a dozen different stories, along with fill-ins and rambling essays, you can appreciate what an amazing mind this guy has. Seriously, I can't say enough about this guy's work, and I expect him to be VERY big eventually...
Small Stories, by Derek Kirk Kim--Beautifully drawn, wonderfully observed character studies. Often extremely funny, too.
Bob the Angry Flower, by Stephen Notley--It took me a shamefully long time to review this one. This is the godfather of "bizarre, random humour that goes off on a new tangent every second panel" that's inspired such strips as Men in Hats, Wendy, and Roger and Dominic. But there's just something about this strip that outshines them all, and I don't think any of the aforementioned strip's authors would argue with me. The art is perfect, for a start: fluid and dead-on "cartoony" in a WB way. And then there's the fact that the strip's reality echoes that of Bob himself, a character who could be loosely described as "manic-depressive and overly ambitious". There's really no point in me trying to describe the brilliant stupidity that is this strip. Go. Go now.
OTHER SITESCHUD.com--One of he best, if not THE best, "upcoming movie scuttlebutt" sites, chock full o' news, opinions, and interviews, much of it exclusive, and always served up in CHUD's own twisted style. What makes this site so great? Many factors, but the big one is probably the fact that I write for them. Also: BEST...MESSAGEBOARDS...EVER.
The Wax--Run by a close personal friend of mine, features some of my prose stylings, but never mind all that--it's a clever humour webzine based in Montreal with lots of neat web toys and essays. T-bone claims he invented the "torture-a-..." genre of interactive entertainment.
The Sleep Deprivation Institute--An eclectic mix of madness run by caffeinated weirdo sheep Widgett, who writes for the all-knowing Corona's Coming Attractions. This site, though, lets him cut loose on any topic, no matter how irrelevant, unconnected, dangerous or unsanitary. Features some of the coolest links I've ever seen, and was tempted to steal for this page, but didn't cause Widgett deserves the credit.
And You Call Yourself A Scientist!--There's dozens of movie review websites out there, but this one has a neat angle: the webmaster, Liz, is a real scientist, as well as being Australian, a woman, and a baby boomer (I think). So she can provide a unique perspective on various SF, horror, and other cult films. But ultimately, it's not the "angle" but the fact that she always has interesting stuff to say about a film that makes this a favourite of mine.
Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension--All hail Jabootu! This site provides exhaustive reviews/analyses of many classic "so-bad-they're-good", and more than a few "so-bad-they're-just-bad" flicks. And when mr. Ken Begg has sliced open one of these flicks, there's rarely anything more that needs to be said (except maybe for one of Lyz's scientific analyses, above). Ken's reviews are MASSIVE, but they're also probably the funniest you'll read, and in a weird way, provide a lot of insight into flims and filmmaking.
The Institute Of Good Cheer--James Lileks is the king of kitsch. Here you'll find utterly, hilariously repulsive or ridiculous items (including cookbooks, pinups, ads, comics, and so on) which all, astonishingly, were made by actual human beings and intended to be taken seriously at one point. Laugh so you won't cry, especially when you visit the jaw-dropping "Gobbler Motel". Lileks also writes an extremely witty and funny and well-considered daily column that also happens to be full of cranky right-wing billiousness, but what the hell, I fogive him.
Homestar Runner--I'll find it very hard to believe you haven't heard of this site, because if you haven't, I'm going to have a hard time summarizing. Basically, it's the only really good flash animation site in existance as of this writing; it's full of little interactive games and funky music and hidden gags and just bizarre little clips that have no meaning yet are hilarious. The hero is Homestar Runner, a moronic little marshmellow-like creature with a lisp, but the real star is the supposed villain Strong Bad, who dresses like a Mexican wrestler and will respond to your emails with pithy comments and randomness ("LIMOUSINE!!!" "FHGWAGADS!!"). My personal favourite is the utterly inexplicable bizarro-world version of Homestar, "Homsar". Could this me the future of the net? Probably not, but it probably deserves some kind of credit as not existing within any other medium.
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