Tuesday, May 24, 2005

31st Leg: Vindibudd, Super Hero in Training

Another week of drama and controversy in webcomic-dom. Keenspot artists go independent and form Blank Label Comics, which looks to be interesting and bears keeping and eye on. Keenspace gets the decision to be renamed confirmed but the chosen new name of Toonspace isn't sitting too well and now everyone's scrambling for an acceptable compromise.

Me? I'm sick of all the hoo-hah and I am not going comment on the overblown molehill any more. Instead, here's a long-awaited Find report. Enjoy.





Comic: The Adventures of Vindibudd, Superhero in Training.
By: Andrew Williams

Setting and Elements: Aternate World/Dimensions, Superheroes, Surreal, Fourth-wall breaking
Content Type: Satire, Parody, Pop-culture/Social/Political commentary

Art Medium: Inks, Flat colour
Art Style: Angular, Stylised Cartoony

Is About: Superhero Vindibudd (The guy in the blue cape), who is a superhero... in training. He and his sidekick, General Safety go through a series of adventures(?) about life, love and the occasional Lord of the Rings obsession.

Website: http://www.vindibudd.com
Frequency: Irregular
Availability: Free

First Impressions and Presentation: The website is bright and bold, and a little bit gaudy, very much like its genre stereotype before 'dark and gritty' became the fashion.

Oddly enough the first thing that stuck me was not that the art, but how difficult to read the hand-lettering was.

The art is unusually angular and stylised, and appears to have its own distinctive identity. (Always bonus points there)


The Concept:
Superhero Vindibudd at first glance, gives the impression that it's a superhero comic. On closer examination however, you quickly realise this is not really a superhero comic in the traditional sense of the genre. In fact, it's closer to a political/social satire strip starring superhero characters who are the personalisations of various concepts. For example, you have the superheroine "Common Sense Girl", who shows up whenever a good dose of common sense is needed, and "General Safety" who advises criminals to "run not walk or they might slip and fall".

All in all, a rather interesting concept, and I'll admit it took me by surprise. I was expected a typical young superhero in a superhero academy bildungsroman-type story, instead it's less of a story comic than a commentry strip. I have no idea how common these kind of comics are, but I haven't come across too many of them, which is always a good thing.


The Art:
To be honest, without the character costumes, I can't tell one character from the other. For example, I went through most of the comic, thinking the character "General Safety" was another character called "Not Vindibudd", and it wasn't till later when I realised they were separate entities. I have no idea if this is a satirical poke and superhero comics in general, but Andrew does make use of this similarity as a key point of one of his storylines, so it seems to be to some extent, intentional. If it wasn't, he sure made clever use of it!

One other thing about the art is it appears to be inked with a single sized pen, and the lack of line-widths variation does tend to make the characters look flat. I'm not sure if my cohenrency level is very high today, so lets turn to the 'picture is worth a thousand words' adage:



Original art



Altered art to include line-width variation
(Apologies to Andrew for vandalising his work.)


It's a shoddy job of alteration on my end, but I hope that the thicker lines do make the image 'pop' out a bit more and serve as a contrast and explain the 'flatness' remarks.

All in all, the art for Vindibudd is capable, and doesn't feel awkward, and has its own unique look. The flatness and homogeniety does take away from it somewhat, but those are not very major factors.


The Writing:
The premise of Vindibudd that's it's satire and commentary, so it relies heavily on pop culture and zinging humour to make its points.

Unfortunately, maybe it's because I'm not American, but having read through the archives, I didn't 'get' most of the jokes. The majority simple flew past my head without my comphrehension. There were a handful of brilliant ones I did get, and I laughed very hard at those, but they were few and far between.

There are some interesting forays into continuous storylines as well. Unfortunately these forays are frequently interrupted with unrelated joke/commentary strips mid-storyline, so continuity is often broken and scattered.

The characters, like I have mentioned before, appear to be the literal manifestations of the qualities they stand for, like "Common Sense Girl", or "Easily Offended Man". It's an interesting concept, and a lot of the clever jokes work even better because of this, but it does also mean that they get very limited character growth because the characters are not just people, they're stereotypes on/with purpose.


Problems:
I must confess I've read through the entire archive of Vindibudd, and I'm still left with a very hazy impression of the whole comic. Although nothing in the comic seems bad at all, nothing appears to particularly grab my attention either. I found it very hard to get into the comic, and it wasn't until the later chapters when I really started enjoying some of the strips. (Particularly the ones with Fluffles/Dagzar in them. I am very susceptible to cute Golden Retrievers. They rule!)


Overall:
All in all, Vindibudd is a comic with a very interesting concept and the execution is not bad at all, but for some reason, it seems to suffer from a lack of focus in direction.

There's nothing pointedly wrong with the comic, and I think a number of you will be able to enjoy this comic without even noticing any of my nitpicks. In fact, some of the strips are incredibly clever and witty...

But there's just that something missing.


The Next Leg:

Proof that I'm also susceptible to ninja-cats.

Also, I'm planning a new feature to Finds that you might find interesting. More that later.



Edit: Hmm... rereading that review a few hours later, it seems to be more critical than I intended it to be. I should include a disclaimer somewhere that the events mentioned in the beginning of the post made me crabbier than usual, so keep that in mind as it reflects on the writing. Makes you wish Blogger has those little mood emoticons Livejournal has. -Ping

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Stopover at 2005 Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards: Last Chances!

The deadline for WCCA nominations is less than 24 hours away, so this is in just before the deadline.

I'm not really in the mood for lengthy discourse, because I have been bitten by the DRAWING bug, which means I don't feel like writing but drawing lots and lots of pictures and practicing my anatomy instead. Usually I'd just procrastinate, but with the approaching deadline, I'll just reel off the ones I have nominations for and leave the ones I don't be.

Outstanding Dramatic Comic - This award recognizes the dramatic elements of an online comic's storyline.
Eight To One. Drama tends to work best when the characters involves feel human. And that what makes it work for me, really.

Outstanding Story Concept - This award recognizes the writer’s ability to create an engaging, enjoyable and entertaining plot using the proper linguistic tools of both the genre and the medium.

No Rest for the Wicked. I can't help it. I'm in love with that thing.

Outstanding Romantic Comic - This award recognizes comics that reach a high level of quality in addressing issues of love and romance in their stories, settings and characters.


It's possible that I'm an abnormality when it comes to preferences because I generally find stories that focus exclusively on romance boring. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind romances if they fit in the contexts, but I just find they don't work very well for me without something else to accompany. For this reason, I find it hard to think of a comic for this category (Yes, I know it says 'addresses romance' instead of 'focus on romance', but the way they named that category freezes my brain into typecasting it.

My vote goes to Penny and Aggie, although I wouldn't consider it a 'romantic comic', but it's got enough romance elements to work.

And this is where I leave it. There are several other categories I'm leaving blank because I can't think of anything that I feel would suit it.

Anyways, happy nominations, I hope your favourite comics make it to the voting round, I'll doubtless have a report on the voting round next.

Now my sketch pad is calling. *runs off*

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Stopover at Websnark: Oh the Drama!

Yes, I'm a little busy at the present. Watch out for WCCA part 3 shortly and Super Hero Vindibudd next week or so.

In the meantime, Websnark has some pretty hot discussion going on. Lots of drama, but the one thing that really caught my attention was this:


Chris Crosby:
on Monday, the Keen Four voted unanimously on what to change the name [of Keenspace] to. There should be a public announcement of the name later this week.

By the 5th anniversary of KeenSPACE (June 2005), every site should begin switching over to the new name and URL.


Needless to say, this is going to affect a lot of people. Some will be elated and some complain.


Me? I'll be crossing my fingers and hoping the name they chose is a good one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Stopover at 2005 Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards: The Problem with WCCA

Here comes part two... there'll have to be a part three, because there are just too many categories.

First thing I'd like to do is clarify something I said in my last post though. I clarified it in the comments of the other post, but I know a number of you don't read this through the blog but rather the RSS/Livejournal feeds, so I'm repeating it here:

Joe Zabel pointed out this following paragraph...

I have nothing against the said big guns, but throwing awards at comics that are already widely-acknowledged to be at the top of the field seems rather redundant to me. It's a waste of resources, and I highly suspect it makes very little difference to those that receive the awards.

...and argued that the WCCA is about selecting the best comics, not the little guys of webcomics. And in a way, he's right, but I realise that my very poor wording of the statement (my fault) gave the wrong impression of what I'm trying to say.

Here's my clarification:

My reasoning behind the statement was made after looking through the WCCA mission statement:

....This kind of recognition comes in a diversity of levels and a variety of forms; financial rewards, critical acknowledgements, and of course fan recognition. Every form of entertainment also promotes itself and it’s participants, as well as encouraging their strife for greatness, through some kind of award system ... But every kind of award helps to feed this desire for recognition from a target audience.

A fair goal, and don't get me wrong... I'm not talking about excluding the Big Guns just because they are big guns. I'm talking about turning attentions elsewhere because they've already won it.

The problem here is that the WCCA was created to emulate the Grammys/music awards. But unlike the Grammys or movie/music awards, webcomics don't come in crops of a completed one a year. Some of them last forever (seemingly) because it's a constant work-in-progress. They may be good, but because of the extended time scope, they also end up being accoladed for the same thing multiple times over for no reason other than a stretched time frame to completion.

The big guns have already gotten their accolades and awards long ago. Getting it again for the same thing over and over seems... redundant.

Imagine a "Grammys" where all movies ever made are eligible instead of the new ones completed. No matter what new movie of whatever quality comes out, movies with cult followings are probably still going to dominate. (Because they believe their comic is the best, and out of loyalty they want it to always be named as the best, to the point of fanatical voting to ensure it defends the 'best' title... even if it ceases being the best out there at one point.)

I see WCCA in the same situation. Instead of rewarding the best AND the new, they're giving the awards to the same people over and over again. And this breeds stagnation in the 'industry', because it's not about who's best anymore. If it's about those with the biggest fanbases who will vote for them. Isn't that what Top Web Comics and Buzzcomics are for?

It gets to the point where the awards start looking worthless to everyone else because it's been warped out of its purpose.

And ironically an effect of this is people stop bothering to nominate comics, so you have this narrow list of nominations comprising of fans of the previous winners.

If the WCCA was all about "The Top Webcomics" or "Most Popular Webcomic Championship", then by all means, Best/Most Popular Webcomic, small fry, big gun, I wouldn't care. (No offense to TWC or Buzz intended, but I see their systems more of championships-type contests, something different entirely.)

But I think WCCA is about what is acknowledging best that comes out. I know everyone and their mother will disagree with me, but I think the WCCA started on a flawed premise. They should be about the BEST and the NEW, not just the same old few BESTS that have already been acknowledged the best of their batch time and time again.

As time goes by, it's going to become a bigger and bigger problem, especially at the rate webcomics have been growing. The WCCA need to realise this or risk becoming obsolete (much like Webcomics Awareness Day). Something needs to be changed, one way or another.





Okay, soapbox over. On to round 2 of nominations:

Nominees, Part 2



Outstanding Use of Color - This award recognizes an online comic that has a highly successful use of color in its art.


Oddly enough, my first choice is A Lesson is Learnt, but the Damage is Irreversible. I don't understand the comic, but the colouring-work is quite the something else!

Others under consideration were Inverloch and Copper.

Outstanding Layout - This award recognizes an online comic whose art is notable for its highly successful compositional elements.


Another obscure comic you've never heard about, but Mute. It takes comic layout to a whole other level. Panels? Speech bubbles? Forget that. Comics can be so much more!

Outstanding Use of Flash - This award recognizes comics that make superlative use of Flash or a similar program to achieve in webcomics what cannot be done in print comics.


For the record, I think is a VERY poorly named category. It really should be "Outstanding Achievement in Digital/Web Media" . The "Flash" in it is misleading, and most people are only going to think "Why only Flash?! What about Adobe Photoshop/Paint Shop Pro?"

The other thing about this is that the description of "what cannot be done in print comics is extremely vague. By that definition, Infinite Canvas would qualify, but that has a category of its own already.

I think I get what the gist of what they mean, of course...

Unfortunately I can't think of much, other than:

The Infinite Gag Strip, which uses Java... but you get the point.

Outstanding Use of Infinite Canvas - This award recognizes comics that make superlative use of the "infinite canvas" popularized by theorist Scott McCloud, where a large section of narrative is on one "plate" and the browser window is used to navigate along the narrative, rather than click to bring up new pages.


One thing I'd like to see other than this is a category for webcomics that use animation. I think that's an area that has been under-explored in webcomics still.

Ascent. I think the impresses me about it is how Sylvan Migdal makes use of Infinite Canvas without it being annoying, and creating it in such at way at it fits together in separate installments so well. It's not constantly eye-blowing and mind-shattering, but it's subtle and pleasant to go through.

Outstanding Website Design - This award recognizes outstanding website design of an online comic, where the design and interface of the entire site enhance the experience of reading the comic.


Alpha Shade. I like how they attempted to emulate a really book in digital format. It sometimes feels a bit crowded, but the points go for the experimentation.

Outstanding Comic- This is the over all most outstanding comic most effectively using every element of the creative process; art, writing and technical. This is the category that best represents the collection of all of the other categories


Copper. There are a lot of comics that shine is their own categories, but Copper is the best all-rounder I know of.





And that's for todays' batch of nominations. Whew!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Stopover at 2005 Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards: Vote, Damnit!

May is the month of comics. We had the rather obsolete Webcomics Awareness Day, then Free Comic Book Day and now it's time for the nomination round for the 2005 Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards.

Now, the mission statement more or less says that the formation of the WCCA is to encourage and reward outstanding online comics. Sadly, the WCCA HAS had kind of a bad reputation, mainly because in the recent years, it appears to have failed at it. These awards have been dominated by the likes of the 'big guns' of webcomics (PvP, Mac Hall, Penny-Arcade)... ironically those who are already drowning in fan-mail and accolades; those beyond the need to have this kind of encouragement already.

Now the odd thing here is, the winners of the WCCA awards are NOT decided by the votes of the fans. It is decided by the votes of their peers (if I may use such a term for other webcomic creators). One would presume that the majority would have had better sense than this. Unfortunately, looking at a few comics in some of the categories, it more like a popularity contest than a serious evaluation of anything.

I have nothing against the said big guns, but throwing awards at comics that are already widely-acknowledged to be at the top of the field seems rather redundant to me. It's a waste of resources, and I highly suspect it makes very little difference to those that receive the awards. Naturally, many people get turned off the awards because of this, and supposedly, boycotted last year's awards as a result... Ironically giving control of the whole thing to the people who vote for what they know instead of what they think is the best out of the lot.

(Or they vote for themselves, which is another matter entirely)

There's nothing much we can do about this really. I suppose it's too much to hope for people that will actually take a look at the other comics in the category and before selecting one of them for their vote... But one thing we CAN do however, is make sure that at least there's a decent selection up there. That means nominating comics you think really DO deserve the award, regardless of how futile the effort is.

And not only voting for that comic... but by making sure others know that you're voting for that comic, just in case someone else who agrees with you but would have never thought of voting is inspired to vote as well.

It's easy to be apathetic, but ignoring a problem will not make it go away. Before giving up, at least try to attack the problem head on first. Boycotting anything always should be the last resort.

I started this blog because I believe that there are a lot of good comics out there that people just don't know about. And they can't care about the comic you think deserves recognition if they don't know it's there. So make sure they know it's there!

If you have a webcomic, you have one vote. Same as me or any other eligible person out there. The playing field is level. The choice is up to you.

Remember...















...


please don't hurt me.



William G over at Delineated Life posted up his list of nominees. Interestingly, I was planning to do the same thing before he did, which is not the first time he's eeriely done something when I was considering doing the same thing.

Regardless, here they are. Like William G, I'm am not trying to tell you what to think. I'm just telling you I think, in hopes of giving the reader ideas for nominations. If you agree with my nominations and have a vote, please feel free to nominate that comic too. If not, please nominate another of your choice. In some case, I've also included my second and third choices, for variety's sake, and comments on categories I declined voting for because I'm not sure what it was about.

Nominees, Part One

Nominate those you know, but vote for the nominees you think are the best...


Outstanding Newcomer - This is an award that acknowledges the best new comic of this year. Eligible candidates would be any comic that debuted within the last year.


These are hard choices to make, but for my first choice I would have to go with Gianna Massetti of The N00b. While the art is not spectacular (but adequate) the writing, spirit and humour itself is a phenomenon that captures the heart. I would genuinely miss The N00b if it stopped, because it's one of my top favourites right now.

My second choice is probably one you've never heard of, but regardless: Zack Giallongo of The Tenth Life of Pishio the Cat. The comic concept is original, Zack is a top-notch artist, and the story is intriguing and compelling.

I would have liked to nominate Scarecrow for the third choice, but I'm not too sure if it's too early for this comic, it's started such a short time ago...


Outstanding Artist - This to award the artist whose body of work best demonstrates all of the visual elements of art including line, color, design and composition.


Kazu from Copper. Beautiful colours, poignant images and they go perfectly well with the context they are presented in. It's not perfection, but it comes close.

Second choice goes to Sarah Ellerton of Inverloch. Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the prettiest and consistent (also in terms of production) comics I've seen.

Outstanding Black and White Art - This award recognizes an online comic that makes use of highly successful black and white art.


Personally, I really think that this category should be split into Outstanding Black and White Art and Outstanding Greyscale Art, because the two types of art are so different and require such different techniques altogether. But to get down to business:

Digger. Unfortunately the currect page doesn't lend itself well to showing off the gorgeousness of the art, but a peek through the free samples the archive should convince most people Ursula Vernon is the master (or mistress) of black-and-white!

Fallen Angels Used Books would get my first vote for the Greyscale category if there was one. Unfortunately, there isn't, so here it goes.

Let's not forget Flatwood, which makes a good marriage between pure black and pencils... and the creepiness that produces.

Outstanding Character Art - This award recognizes an artists' skill at rendering the characters of an online comic during the previous year, where the visual flavor of the character design is effectively presented.


Sadly, I couldn't think of anything for this. Mainly because I couldn't understand the point of the category.

Outstanding New Character Design – This award recognizes the original creation of visually effective character design specifically from the previous year.


Ditto.

Outstanding Environment Design - This award recognizes visual design work of environment, props, or setting of an online comic, where the visual flavor of the environmental design is highly successful.


Nahast: Lands of Strife, get first choice for this one. The world is complex and intricate, and best of all, it draws you right into it.

Reman Mythology I'm still waiting patiently for Amy to come back and update this thng, but damn, yes, the world building here is astounding and I want more.

Outstanding Character Writing - This award recognizes an online comic whose character or characters have been rendered though image and narrative development to an extraordinary level of quality.


Eight to One. Brian Duffy is just very very good at ripping out the core of a person's soul and transplanting it into a character drawn on a piece of paper.

Outstanding Anthropomorphic Comic - This award recognizes comics that make the best use of anthropomorphic characters such as talking animals, plants, or usually inanimate objects.


I don't really see much point in have a whole category just for anthromorphism. A comic is a comic, but if I had to pick one I'd say Digger would do.

Shivae might count as well. What can I say? I'm a sucker for cute carnivores.

Outstanding Fantasy Comic - This award recognizes comics that stand out in their use of fantasy elements.


It took me just 0.3 seconds to come up with a name for this one:

No Rest for The Wicked.

I could read this thing over and over and over again. And again. It's the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meeting Grimm's Fairy Tales. The results... instant genius.

Outstanding Gaming Comic - This award recognizes comics that successfully base their stories around video or roleplaying games, their characters, players and/or creators.


The N00b. I'm a bit jaded with the gaming genre, but the N00b really breathed new life back into it for me.

Outstanding Superhero/Action Comic - This award recognizes the finest comics that incorporate action/adventure elements including superpowered characters.


Probably predictable of me, but Magellan. I generally don't like the superhero genres, but this has made me like at least this comic in it, damnit! Relying more on good stories, grounded logic and excellent characterisation than the 'wow what powers does X have!'. Ultimately engrossing.



More to come, but I'm running out of time, so I'll finish the list of nominations later.

In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, post and let me know. It's astonishing how much your brain clogs up with cotton-wool when faced with all theses choices...


ps: Image of 'Captain Planet' is copyrighted, i think. Used here for parody purposes.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Stopover at Girl-A-Matic: Read it, you know you wanna!

It's a little late for a post on this (give me a break, it's finals!), but today is (still) Free Comic Book Day. Apparently this is day that comic publishers give out free comics to encourage readership.

For webcomics this usually doesn't mean much because most web comics are usually free anyway, but with the event of subscription-based comics, FCBD takes on a whole new significance.

Today is Free Comic Book Day 2005, Modern Tales has announced that all series on anthology site Girl-A-Matic are free to view for a 24-hour period. I realise a few people may be unfavourably indisposed towards the site due to the feminism 'debate' we had not to long ago, but since the opportunity's there, it would be a great idea to check out the comics when you have the chance to.

It's hard for me to do this, because there are so many comics on the site, but I thought it'd be great to take this opportunity to give a shout out to some of my recommended GAM comics:

Jupiter
Ok, I'm biased, and I admit it: Lynn's a friend of mine. All that said, this was the comic that drew me into following GAM comics. Jupiter is a circus girl with problems belonging, and runs away from the circus and joins a school ;). Paradoxes, jokes, strong character interactions and one hot knife-thrower...

Um... Damnit, did I type that last part out?

Kismet: Hunter's Moon
Someone once described "The Jaded" as a spy thriller. I'm not sure how that came about, but Kismet... now THAT's a spy thriller. Dark, atmospheric, bloody, and intriguing. If you think that GAM's all about 'girly' comics, this one will prove you very very wrong.

Bite Me!
Dylan Meconis is a comedic genius. Bite Me! is just plain FUN and Funny. Tired of the usual Anne-Rice-esque angsty vampire comics? Bite Me! is a whole new twist on the genre, delightfully and subtly satirical, and a completed comic to boot! I love this comic!

Dicebox
This one's a bit odd, but one thing you can't deny the art is jaw-dropping. The writing and story content is a Marmite-case (i.e. You'll either love it or hate it), and the subject matter is definitely not run-of-the-mill and might be a tad controversial. The story of two friends trying to make their way through a futuristic world... but they're not exactly what they seem.

There are loads more GAM comics that are great, but I'm sorry to say if I keep on writing, I'll miss the deadline and the archives will be closed.

Also um... not sure if you'll be interested, but for a few more hours, the archives to this comic are kinda open for the next few hours too. Maybe I flatter myself, but if you've ever been curious well... now's the time.

Happy FCBD!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Hotspot #9: Crossovers, Contrivances and OOC

As a rule of thumb, I HATE comic crossovers.

But then again, the majority of the crossovers I see seem to consist of the main characters of both comics dancing around in some contrived situation, which incidentally appear constructed to allow them to show off their abilities to the max, and seemingly more intent on going: "OMG! Look! Characters from two different comics on the SAME PAGE!" than you know, telling a goddamned story.

This has been a major beef with me for ages. I've seen far too many comics, good and well-written comics at that, that fall flat on their faces when attempting crossovers. It's weird. In their normal spheres they act rationally, talk normally, and have an interesting story. But when it's crossover time, characters suddenly start stiffening up and acting OOC (A common fanfiction term I borrowed. Stands for 'Out of Character'), very much like a self-conscious amateur acting in front of a camera for the first time.

As for the plot... There usually is no plot. They're usually a collection of scenes the creators thought would be 'uber-cool' to see their characters in, with the merest excuse of a plot to hang them together. Which usually runs along the lines of:
Some evil mastermind steals/kidnaps something that matters to both Team A and Team B.
Team A and Team B go afte the evil mastermind.
Team A run into Team B.
Team A and Team B get into a disagreement/misunderstanding and get into a 'fight' (Last part is optional, but this is usually to allow them to 'show-off' their powers/abilties)
Both cool down, teams decide to call a truce, and join forces to defeat the 'evil mastermind'
Yay all is happy, they become friends and go home with good cheer.
Ping pukes.


Can you spell "contrived pablum"?

I want to know why, for the love of God, can people NOT come up with something more original than this when doing crossovers? This kind of shoddy writing would not be acceptable in a normal comic, it should not be acceptable in a crossover either. It just shows a lack of respect to the reader, assuming they're going to lap up the substandard stuff just because characters from their two favourite comics are OMG, in the same thing together.

And of course, if you have a reader who only reads one of the comics, they're either going to be confused as hell or bored to tears. Either way, presenting an insipid story to introduce your characters to a new audience sure is a great way to get people interested. Uh huh.

Yes, that was sarcasm, by the way. I'm not going to point out which comics (and there are very very many, among them the 'big guys') who have been guilty of the crossover bug. You all know who you are.

I'm not saying that all crossovers suck, of course. Just those that don't are damned rare. For future reference, here's some stuff I'd like to see in properly executed crossovers:

  1. An original, non-cliched plot and plausible reason for Team A and Team B to get together. It usually helps if you plan the plot FIRST then base the scenarios on it later, and not the other way around

  2. A plot that should able to stand alone on its own merit even without the presence of Team A or Team B. Pap is not any more acceptable if your stick good characters in it. It just makes the good characters look poor.

  3. Proper introductions. Don't assume we automatically know who the other party is. Chanting their names to each other in two panels does not count either. Introduce the personalities of the other party to the audience.

  4. On the other hand, don't get too long-winded with the intros either. You don't have to go into excruciating detail, but introduce them as much as you would a secondary character in one of your normal comics.

  5. Get rid of the Automatic-Trust On button. It does not magically appear after 'disagreement' and 'fight', just so you know.

  6. Stop the characters from acting OOC! I swear, the moment most characters enter crossover mode they become as wooden and stiff and featureless as a board. Instead of being characters living their lives out, they usually become horrendously bad actors acting out scripted scenes without much heart in it. Some of them even get an inexplicable case of enhanced PMS and become irritable and irrationally agressive towards the other team for no apparent reason (except to trigger the 'big misunderstanding', mahybe). I hate this. HATE HATE HAET!

  7. Have the characters REACT to the other team as people. I cannot stress this enough. The other team should be treated as the individuals X, Y and Z, not 'members of Team B' who are coming along with us.

  8. Get rid of the 'Reset and everything goes back to the way it was' Button too. It's damned annoying. Just makes the whole N-number of pages done the crossover absolutely pointless.



In short, treat the other party as characters, not features. Just because it's a crossover doesn't mean you have to stop thinking. A good measure go with is the 'Secondary Character Replacement Rule'. Would the crossover still work if you replaced the guest characters with fascimile nameless secondary characters? If it doesn't, you're in trouble.


All that said, two of my favourite GS comics, Killroy and Tina and Reckless Life, appear to be entering some sort of crossover thing. Both comics are very similar at heart, with a mix of outrageous goofball humour, strong characterization and dramatic plot/action.

So far my "Ping sense" says it looks promising, because the premise behind them meeting appears to be fairly sound and fitting in context. Tina is currently busy playing vigilante. Locke is an anti-hero thief. The non-appearance of the 'evil mastermind' is a definite plus. The plot would work even if Locke was replaced with Random Thief X or Tina with Vagabond Vigilante Y.

We'll see if the rest of it soon enough, but I really hope it lives up to the start.

Also, be sure to check out the Modern Tales sites on Free Comic Book Day (May 7th). A little bird tells me Joey Manley's doing something special to celebrate. Something like free comics... *cough*