Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Year #1: Ping's Favourite Finds of 2004/2005!

It took Eric Burn's Websnark to remind me, but Webcomic Finds turned 1 year old on August 12th... And I completely missed it.

Which annoyed me really, because I had a feature planned for it and stuff. I wanted to summarize the picks of the year.

Better late then never I guess.

A little over one year ago, I thought what a great idea it would be if I started reviewing comics. I liked doing it. I'd often done them in forums. But I wanted something more official. I considered doing a review site by proxy, with a drawn comic instead of a review (You'll recognise my prototype for the comic that eventually became "The Essence of..."), but then I decided there were review sites enough already. I really didn't have anything I wanted to add to them and reviewing in comic form has its limitations.

Then I got one of my ideas. You know, one of those weird notions. I was rereading a Dalton Wemble article over at Comixpedia, when Dalton mentioned several topics, including the importance of having people recommend comics through links. Then suddenly it stuck me what an interesting experiment it would be if someone explored the world of webcomics through the links page. Where would you go? How many new and interesting comics could you find from the links page of a comic that you like?

And Webcomic Finds was born.

There's been some misconceptions about Webcomic Finds, the main one being that it's a webcomics commentary site like Websnark and many others. It's not. This is my travel journal, and my journey is webcomics. Occasionally I might talk about other stuff, but the main focus is exploring webcomics and finding new ones.

Now that I've had a year of exploring, I've covered a staggering number of comics, some which were ok, some which weren't and some which were unmissable. It's time to go over the list and pick out my favourite Finds of the year. This is something I'll be planning to do every year, by the way.

Firsly, this is not a top ten list. This is the ten favourite new FINDS list, which means these are the top ten new comics I discovered last year than I am very glad I did. This also explains why old favourites of mine like Fallen Angels Used Books and Count Your Sheep aren't in this list. Love em to bits, but I did know about them waaaaaaay before I started the blog, so they weren't new. There are a lot of comics I like that aren't in here, many for different reasons, ranging from me knowing about them earlier or hiatus or rough spots. Doesn't mean I don't like them, but the ones in the list are the ones that I check religiously for updates.

Now to make this a little more special, I decided that instead of just I list, I'd add a little fanart for each entry. It's not much, and I do apologise for the quality (I'm just learning markers) but it was great fun all the same.

Without further ado, we have, in alphabetical order, the ten comics that made the past year of writing this blog worth while for me:

CatharsisCatharsis was the comic featured on the 32nd Leg of Webcomic Finds. One of the few webcomics online that prove suitable for all ages, it tells the story of a girl and her dragon... and naken squirrel... and dirt bunnies... and gargoyles... Well it's complicated. Catharsis is charming, well written, and overflows on the cute. It's got a huge archive, and if you like whimsical, heart-wrenching, imaginative humour, you owe it to yourselves to plow through this baby.

Copper didn't win WCCAs for nothing, but back then at the 16th Leg, I didn't know that. Although some reader of the New York Times accused Copper of being a shameless clone of Calvin and Hobbes due to the story being about a boy and his non-human companion, other than the initial premise, there's not THAT muc similiarity, really. It's pretty much as much similarity as between say... Batman and Spiderman). Watterson deals with nostalgia, imagination and real-life. Kazu deals more with fantasy, philosophy and intellectual symbolism. Despite the infrequent updates, each page is good enough to stand alone, so it's worth your time to look over the small collection, and enjoy the thoughtful writing and fantastic art.

Darken was one of my numerous stopover comics, and at that time wasn't updating very frequently. Now that the creator Kate "Komiyan" is in the 3-times-a-week "Lazy Grind", updates have been coming in thick and fast, and this comic has been nothing short of engrossing. A medley group of stock fantasy characters (Warrior, Dragon-priestess, Thief, Dark Elf and Black Widow) are out on a quest. The twist is: their quest is to take over the world of Darken! Finely balancing humour and adventure, if you can bear the roughness of the first few pages, this comic will have you in love with the fantasy genre all over again!

Digger. Everyone's been rhaspodising about it, and with good reason. Digger is the wombat who by an arcane twist of fate, gets tunneled into a world entirely different from her own. Now she's lost in a world of oracular slugs, dead gods and metaphorical pigeons, and with no way to get back to her warren. Other than the spell-binding black-and-white art, the writing... well... this comic can somehow be charming and macabre at the same time, sweet yet scary, funny yet tragic, and Ursula Verson shows you how! Unfortunately at this time this comic requires a subscription over at Graphic Smash, but for those who would prefer it, Digger is now also available in print format. Stopovered due to metaphorical pigeons...

LinT, the full name of which is "Life in Tehran" harks back to a time when comics were simpler and most importantly, FUN. The story is a praody of the typical DnD adventurers-on-a-quest set-up, but the heroic 'heroes' have been subtituted with the silliest, craziest and most lovable bunch of characters ever. From midget dwarves to wise orcs and sock-stealing theives, the characters go through adventure after adventure in the most unheroic ways. And although there's the occasional spare moment of drama, it never gets too far before the slapstick humor pops in to remind you this is all about fun, and that's the way comics should be.

Magellan Justice Academy. Fans of superheros who have gotten bored of the incessant rehashes and ret-cons will find a breath of fresh air in Magellan. Kaycee is the underdog 'norm' hero who is accepted into Magellan Justice Academy, a training academy for superheroes. How can she hold her own, especially when things in Magellan seem to be going into odd directions? It's hard to but a finger on why Magellan works so well as a superhero comic. I think the reason is that the superhero facet is a secondary aspect of the characters, and who they actually are the first. It's less about who has what power and super-ability, but who has the guts, the responsibility, and the good sense. Rule One of good writing: Make the audience care about your characters. Stephen Crowley succeeds massively at this, and Magellan as a result is addictive and compelling. Graphic-Smash only, but with lots of free samples. Stopovered!

Nahast: Lands of Strife has been struggling with updates lately, but you can tell creator Alexander Melchor is really trying. Another one of the fantasy comics, Nahast is different in that it has its own world and high level of world-building. The story behind Nahast is serious, and intricate, with the occasional light moment. Humour really isn't the central theme of the comic though. This is a epic fantasy, though it reads more like mystery and mythology wrapped into one. It's hard to put my finger on why this comic is addictive as it is, but if you don't mind the filler and sporadic update, give it a try and maybe you can find a better way of describing it. Discovered through a stopover.

No Rest for the Wicked is one of the most brilliant fantasy concepts online. Basically, it takes traditional european fairytales, interwines the plots and retells them in the most ingenious way imaginable. The moon has been missing, and Princess November, the Princess from "The Princess and the Pea" can find no rest until it is found. Accompanied by Little Red Riding Hood and Puss-in-Boots, they set out in search of the moon and her grave. The art for NRFTW is manga-styled, but creator Andrael has taken pains to make it her own personal variant of it. NRFTW is one of my favourite comics of all time, and if this comes out in print, I'm getting it. I like it that much. Found on the 6th Leg.

Shivae! by Tiffany Ross is an anthro comic. When I first found it back in one of my stopovers, I was surprised that something this good had managed to exist this long and elude me. Shivae! is an interesting look at a non-human centric world of creatures known as Shivae, which are sort of part-dinosaur part-winged-horse-like creatures (that's a lot of dashes, isn't it?). When aliens start showing up and invading their world, the Shivae come into conflict with the settlers and more often than not, are hunted for the treat they present to the settler's livestock. Their only solution is to run, but how far can they run if the settlers keep spreading? Other the cute character design and the gorgeous colouring by Tiffany's colourist, Flowerlark, the writing is compelling, yet touches on a lot of serious issues in a non-preachy way. Definitely worth a read.

Reviewed back in the 2nd Leg, The N00b is a tongue-in-cheek jab at the world of Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming. Our protagonist is a newbie who has just embarked on an adventure in the world of Clichquest, a cumulative parody of games like Worlds of Warcraft and Ultima Online. While the rougher language may turn a few people off, and The Noob's writing is ingeniously funny and more than make up for any shortcomings in any other department. When you hear an RPGer explain with a straight face that "deus ex machina means "God without a car", you know that Gianna Masetti is an evil evil genius.

That concludes my list. There were many many more comics that I would have loved to include in there, but sometimes a line has to be drawn. But if there were only ten new comics I could recommend to you, these ten would be it.

Looking at the list, I can't help but notice a really high percentage of fantasty comics in it. I must make a mental note to expand my reading tastes the next year. We'll see if things change. My agenda for Year Two is to have more random picks. I'm also thinking of doing more reader-interactive picks. We'll see.

It's been a long year, with many ups and downs. I've made a lot of new friends writing this blog, which I'm grateful for. No doubt I've made a few enemies too, but that's life, I can't please everyone. It also got me a number of of requests from numerous webcomic artists requesting for reviews (I'm working through the list guys. It's long. I'll get through it eventually) and invitation for other groups to write for them (which I would consider if I had more time).

But most of all, I'd like to think most of you out there liked reading Webcomic Finds, and I sincerely hope I've managed to introduce you to one of two new comics that you liked.

And that's the most important thing, really.

10 comments:

  1. Yay, congratulations on a whole year of Webcomic Finds! Here's to many more. And thanks for "Finding" me way back when. :D I'm very happy that you're still enjoying the comic.

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  2. Wow this is great one year. Gratz.

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  3. Congrats on the year mark, Ping! Here's to getting in another year before your brain explodes from all the projects you're always doing! By the way, It's not "Life in Tehran"... or whate'er that was. Just LinT. But hey, I don't mind confusion.

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  4. Colby: Hahaha! It's too late! My brain explode already!

    It must be my funny memory remembering wrong, but for some reason I remembered it as "Life in Tehran". Sorry. Will correct that.

    Andrael: Hee hee I'm one of the people who starts refreshing the page everytime it's near update time. I'm addicted, I tell you. Addicted!

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  5. wooohoo! congrats, ping! heaps of great work is contained within your blog. (and yay, thanks for the nod! :D )

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  6. Thank you very much, Ping, I'm really flattered :)

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  7. Aww, thanks for including me :) And more importantly, congratulations! I don't read blogs often, but I find myself checking in here a whole lot. And I'm still utterly amazed at all the stuff you manage to do at once.. Serious round of applause for that :)

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