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Cartoonist found dead in home. Details are sketchy.

I would like to take some time today, to talk about comics. More to the point, I figured I'd say a word, and give a link, maybe raise a glass, to some of my favourite webcomics out there. As the Asylum Heights Online Illustrated Novel Experience is a webcomic, it sounds like a good idea.

Cartoons on the web have been around since before there was a web, getting traded around on whatever passes for surfing the net then (gopher protocol? XNS?) Nonetheless I can say the exact day I first read a webcomic, and that day was Wednesday October the 1st 1997, the comic was Sluggy Freelance. 1997 was also the year I started Asylum Heights (that is before it was called Asylum Heights) though I think of that as more of a neat coincidence. I was striving towards the DIY alternative comix of the 70's, which I hold to be the apex of comic art thus far. That, and breaking in to use the library Xerox was a lot cheaper then buying a scanner. Sluggy was my gateway drug, and before long I was taking all kinds of crazy shit night and day. Before long I had added the webcomic classics to my fiendish habit, PVPonline, Penny Arcade, Bruno the Bandit, and dare I even say MegaTokyo. Though as webcomics started to proliferate, I started to find comics more in line with my particular taste.

In my humble opinion as an accredited agent of culture and freelance cultural revolutionary, by far the best comic placed on the net is Sinfest. Started in 2000 by Tatsuya Ishida, Sinfest was one of the old Keenspot comics a long time ago in a server far, far away. It follows a gag a day newspaper format with black and white dailies and colour Sunday strips, but goes much deeper then any syndicate strip would ever dare. (Probably why it has been rejected for syndication so many times, despite being several orders of magnitude better then anything they've ever printed.) I would describe Sinfest as a meeting of the world, taking full inspiration from the art, philosophy and popular culture of the East and West. The comic delves into the sordid morass of human nature, dealing with religion, sexuality, addiction, gender, and all of that other wonderful unruliness that is humanity. Beyond anything else it has always been exceptionally crafted and beautifully executed.

When I want the best laugh per kilo value in webcomics, there is none better then Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (or SMBC.) This gem by Zach Weiner brings a colour strip to life every day, and covers any and all conceivable subjects... but mostly dick. There are no primary characters, it has a one off gag approach that often derives its humour from (classic) misdirection, leading you to think you know what's happening and then slapping you with the twist. The humour is geeky and has the best hit ratio of any comic I've ever read. The jokes are always sharp whether they're dealing with God, Superheros, economics, relationships, engineers, math and science or, you know, dicks. Having found his groove a few years ago after a number of different goes at SMBC, Zach has diversified into film with the also equally hilarious and consistently awesome SMBC Theatre.

A comic that I found quite recently (possibly because it just started) is Edmund Finney's Quest to Find the Meaning of Life. The title says it all I suppose, this nicely crosshatched black and white strip follows the adventures of said Edmund Finney as he aimlessly wanders the world searching for the meaning of it all. While a complete work of fantasy, I don't think I have ever read something that so aptly illustrates the sheer ridiculousness of the world around us.

I also feel compelled to mention Scenes from a Multiverse. This is the new comic from Jonathan Rosenberg, the creator of Goats. Goats was one of my favourite strips that I read faithfully for many years, but sadly it has poofed out of existence just shy of its completion in 2012. Scenes from a Multiverse is the Goats spin off series, taking place anywhere is the infinite scope of probability. Basically, in an infinite Universe every single possibility occurs, so everything that might happen, no matter how bizarre must be somewhere in the infinite infinities of the Mutiverse. The strip is still in its infancy, but I love Jon's work, and you have no choice but to enjoy the zones of adorable.

When I feel up to penetrating deep into towering walls of text, my first choice is always Subnormality. The comic is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I can only say that if you want to understand the world around you, don't bother with all of the messy pomp and circumstance of philosophy, religion, and sociology and the like, just read Subnormality. One day when my marauding hordes have brought the Earth into my crushing iron fist of compassion, the new bible will include excepts from it.

I couldn't possibly talk about comics like this and not give a shout out to a couple of my, by far all time favourite alti press comics out there, that conveniently happen to also be on the web (so they count here too.) First a tip of the hat to fellow Albertan Stephen Notley and his mad dash champion of popular culture Bob the Angry Flower. Bob is easily one of the greatest comic characters ever created, and with his trusty companions Stumpy (the stump) and freddy the flying fetus he battles monsters, aliens, U.N Secretary-General Kofi annan, and sometimes aliens inside U.N Secretary-General Kofi annan... or he just sits back, smokes a bowl and leaves the giant robots to sort it out for themselves. The other can't say anything nice about comics in the world today and not mention without horrifying nightmare guilt would be Shannon Wheeler's Too Much Coffee Man. My copies of Too Much Coffee Man's 'Parade of Tirade', 'Amusing Musings' and 'Guide for the Perplexed' have been read and reread so many times they barely hold together. I think I could condense the entirety of it into one word, clever, it's level of pervasive cleverness is on par with the Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy. My heart aches every time I think about not being able to hear the TMCM opera.

Since I'm on the subject, I'll give one more comic lovers shout out to my very talented friend Jessie, her brand spanking new comic Fearful Symmetry is sure to be the talk of the block.

Rock and or Roll.

posted by davethecat @ November 8th, 2010, 12:38 pm  -  0 Comments


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