Sunday Review: Girls with Slingshots

I. Freakin’. Love. Girls with Slingshots. It is undeniably one of my favorite webcomics to read every day. See, my morning routine usually goes a little something like this: Get up, use bathroom, turn on computer, check Dominic Deegan, check Girls with Slingshots.

I stumbled upon GWS round about spring of last year, as I was getting sucked into the Women’s resource center on my college campus. Anyone remember Boobquake (teehee “boobs”)? That’s about the time I found GWS, when someone posted a lovely link to Danielle’s comic. The next few hours after that were rather hazy, but I do believe I managed to get through the archive in a day or two (in between classes, of course).

GWS follows a lovely and fun cast of characters, namely Hazel (the protag); Jamie (super awesome bff), and McPedro (Scottish talking cactus). There’s a few others thrown in there, which I’ll let you read and find out *coughcough*Clarice, the dom librarian*coughcough*

Sorry. Must be choking on the lack of an update on Friday and Saturday.

GWS is very much a girl centric comic, but it touches on all sorts of issues (Boobquake [teehee “boobs”]). She roots her characters in the real world, making them easier to relate to, rather than some emo girl dating a sparkly ass vampire. Danielle is really fabulous about addressing hard hitting issues, like making sure your vents are properly attached so your cat doesn’t get out and give birth to crazy goo-like cats. Its a terrible problem affecting many pet owners each year!

Short of the long, if you like seeing girls deal with real life situations with hilarity thrown in, you should read GWS.

Also, boobs.

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Sunday Reveiw: Dominic Deegan

I’ve mentioned Dominic before in a previous post, but I feel its high time to give Mookie a spotlight all of his own.

I was first introduced to Dominic Deegan back in high school (2005ish) and I’ve been following it ever since. Dominic can be credited to starting my interest in Webcomics as a whole, and my secret desire to write an epic with an expansive world.

In a nutshell, Dominic Deegan is the misadventures of a seer, his talking cat, dysfunctional family, and fiancee; but that barely scratches the surface. Dominic and the supporting cast have been to hell and back to fight a war (seriously), fought off necromancers (Dominic’s older brother, Jacob), and even had a silly super hero arc. Tension is broken up by punny one liners ( “isolate” when talking about an ice sorcerer) or hilarious mistranslations from one language to another (thanks to Dominic’s dad).

But when serious shit goes down, Mookie keeps everything together. The stories are very well crafted and leave me guessing through out the whole arc as to who the bad guy really is. But I must be coy for a moment, want to know my favorite part of Dominic Deegan? Flaws.

No character is sacred for Mookie; everyone has their flaws. Dominic, the titular lead character? Social misanthrope, sarcastic, and rather cranky sometimes. Moving beyond personality, Dominic now finds himself missing a leg, which took a lot of getting used to (on Dominic’s part). There is no invincible, “I can kill everyone” type of character; everyone has their flaws, a weakness of some sort, or a sordid past to work beyond. Mookie gives nothing to his characters, but rather makes them work for it.

I am very jealous of him, needless to say.

I highly recommend Dominic Deegan to pretty much everyone over the age of 14. There are some adulty situations that arise in later arcs, and people dying in gruesome manners in almost every arc (nothing really shown, but lots of blood). And good luck slogging through the archives; there’s easily close to, or over, 1000 strips there. Mookie has been very good about updating every day, be it with a strip or a piece of filler art.

That’s all from me. Rock on.

Sunday Review: The Meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Where to start, where to start?

Bing! Idea!

I’ve been shadowing the career of Der-shing Helmer, writer and artist of “The Meek”, on DeviantArt (as Alexds1) for a wee bit. His (working under an assumption here) comic offically launced in 2008, much to my great pleasure, and I’ve been attempting to religiously follow it since.

“The Meek” follows the story of Angora, a young woman trying to save the world from war and runs around naked for most of chapter one. No worries! She gets pants by the end of chapter one. Upon closer inspection, however, the Meek actually focuses on three main characters: Angora, Luca, and Soli. What’s nice about “The Meek” is that each character (well, thus far) gets their own chapter, since each of the three is trying to accomplish a task.

I am very much in love with the Meek’s artistic style and humor. The physical gestures that Der-shing manages to work into each chapter bring a little bit of humor to each situation. I am also very impressed with the depth that Der-shing has taken into building his war. He’s created different cultures with languages and religions, and a massive backstory to go along with all of it.

Needless to say, I am very jealous of Mister/Miss Helmler.

I highly recommend the Meek to anyone looking for a good fantasy comic that doesn’t revolve around elves and fairies and sparkly ass vampires. Helmer’s unique mix of humor, writing, and art make him/her a very formidable artist with a day job.

Combining two mediums

Let’s talk about that for a moment shall we?

Looking at a few of my favorite TV shows, its hard to pin down. The Closer and NCIS are both really great shows I feel. There’s something about the writing,  the acting, and the whole production team that makes it amazing. It’s also the rapport that the cast members have with each other that ties everything together. It’s also great when you can see how characters have grown and evolved over the seasons.

In NCIS, the character Tony DiNozzo grows up from a petty, obnoxious jerk to a responsible member of his team, giving up (for the most part), his hazing of McGee (McGeek, etc.). Or in The Closer, the main character Brenda Lee Johnson starts out working in a department that absolutely despises her, but by the end of the season, she’s won them over.

Let’s talk about another one: Webcomics.

Webcomics, like Solitaire, are my guilty pleasure. I have one to read for just about every day of the week, its a wee bit ridiculous/awesome. Two of my favs?  PVP by the amazing Scott Kurtz, and Dominic Deegan by Mookie Terracciano.

I first had the pleasure of being introduced to both back in high school, around 2004ish (God, I feel so old at 22; GET OFF MY LAWN). I discovered PVP when I was working in a local comic book shop, in comic book form. When I couldn’t find another issue of it, I decided to follow the comic online, and became a dedicated reader. As for Dominic, a friend of mine introduced me to the series, and I spent like a good two weeks reading the archives before I finally caught up.

If you clicked on the links, you’ll notice that both comics are very different in writing and style. PVP is rooted in the real world, with one of the current story arcs involving an office move to Seattle (which Scott did for realsies), and the style is very finished and professional. On the flip side, Dominic Deegan is rooted in a fantasy world (something akin to Dungeons and Dragons), with real world problems between the races (aka racism; so punny), and an ink finished style.

What makes a TV show great? Is it the acting, and the ensemble cast? Or is it the writing, and the characterization that goes into each episode? How about a webcomic? Is it the art? Or is it the writing?

When it comes to a mix medium, its sometimes impossible to separate what makes it great, and there are other times when its not.

Let’s look at another TV show: Top Gear.

For the uninitiated, Top Gear can be best described as three middle aged men dicking around in cars. The original Top Gear just finished its 16th season on the BBC since its re-air in 2002. The show is broadcast all over the world, and is seen by millions each week. There have been two attempts to recreate the success of the BBC version, with Top Gear Austrailia and Top Gear United States. Australia lasted two seasons, and the American version isn’t far behind.

Speaking on a personal level, I loath the American version. Despite the fancy studio, identical challenges for the presenters, it’s a piss poor copy of the original. There is no recreating the original show.

Why? Its the chemistry between the presenters. There is a genuine hate between James, Richard, and Jeremy, but at the same time, they (sort of) respect each other. On the American version, its too scripted; they’ve tried to script the personalities of the three presenters, and its failing miserably. There are very few genuine moments within the whole show.

“What in the world does this have to do with writing?!” I can hear you scream from across the internet. “This was a pointless rant about your favorite things!”

“Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t.” I would respond with shifty eyes.

Going back to Top Gear, The Closer, and NCIS, I don’t so much watch the show to see what cars they talk about, or the crimes they solve. In fact, I could sometimes careless. I watch the shows because I like the interactions between the characters. Arguments between Jeremy and everyone else; the trouble Flynn and Provenza get into; or the petty arguments between Zhiva and Tony.

On the subject of Webcomics, PVP has such a range of characters and a collection of nerdy humor to keep me satisfied. The recurring jokes are my favorite (i.e. Brent’s unwavering loyalty towards Mac products, coffee, and getting attacked by a panda). With Dominic Deegan, if you wait long enough, Mookie throws in a few puns that will make you giggle. Or shake your head. I love the puns because, its not limited to one character; everyone makes them at some point in the series.

Don’t focus so much on the story, that the characters can’t breath.Remember that your characters are people too, so give them a leg of their own to stand on; a personal trait that makes them stand out. Do you have a detective that constantly gets lost, despite having a GPS? Or a wise cracking side kick that can turn any bad situation into a punny one. (see what I did there?)

Webcomics

And my rather useless commentary about them.

While lurking around on the internet, I came across a link for a webcomic called Collar 6. The site itself is still in its infancy, just recently hitting 231 strips since going live in 2009 (I think…)

Breaking into the webcomic market is a very hard thing to do. Its even harder when you’re aiming at a very specific audience, which in this case is BDSM. You have to keep your audiences attention with every click, and once they get bored, they probably won’t be back.

I applaud the artist/writer because s/he’s doing something that I sure as heck can’t do: draw. So rather than focusing on the art style, I’ll play to my strengths and focus on the writing.

Starting out, Collar 6 admits that it is a BDSM soap opera; little bit of crazy, little bit of humility, and rarely do the two meet. Its set in a distant future where bondage is not frowned upon, and is in fact openly accepted.  Sweet! This sounds interesting!

Only a little.

There are some pros. I did like the breaking of the fourth wall by two very minor characters. The villain is also pretty bad ass and batshit crazy with an awesome outfit to boot. Also, a spanking match? I didn’t not think that could be made in to an epic event.

But this wouldn’t be a critique if I didn’t critique.

Okay, that sounds like I’m bashing it. I think the story has a great potential, but it does need help.

In the arc that just finished, the author pulls not one, but two (and possibly three) deus ex machina out of no where. Suddenly each character has a dom and sub spirit thing they can channel. Then, one character blacks out/goes into a trance and can communicate with another character. And to save them, the main character channels her sub spirit and saves the day!

Topping it all off, the main character has some major Mary Sue tendencies. Her mistress is very forgiving of her faults; the main character being extremely selfless at some points; she comes from a foreign land and ran away to escape her former master; and the secondary protags literally going out of their way to make sure nothing is her fault.

I’m super excited that the author did put in the bit about using safe words, because that is something every BDSM couple/group/etc. should be using. Also super happy that the story isn’t about forced BDSM, but rather with the character’s choosing to enter into the relationship.

But I still feel as if  I missed something when learning about BDSM. Aren’t mistresses/masters supposed to punish their slaves when they step out of line? In the beginning stages of the comic, the main protag is introduced to the villain while out on a public walk, doesn’t address her mistress properly, and isn’t punished until later.

Don’t be afraid to punish a character! That’s part of the growing process; everyone needs to grow, even fictional characters. There has to be some sort of change that takes place within each arc, be it physical or emotional. Collar 6‘s main character does do some growing, but I feel its at a very awkward and disjointed pace.

I know with every relationship, the level of punishment is dictated by the dom, but it’s the little things that can really jar your readers and turn them off. And what really turns me off this comic is the main character. And the walls of text. Don’t be afraid to go over four panels or even extend a speech to  a second page! I skipped through most of the text and still got what was going on.

I find her very annoying, and I prefer the secondary or tertiary (that’s a two dolla word for third) characters to take over. There was one point where I was hoping that the main character would leave and never be seen from again, but that didn’t happen. During the spanking tourney, it was like DBZ all over again, with everyone pulling stuff out of their ass (not literally) to save the day.

With some revisions to the main and secondary character, I feel this could be a really great story. I do like the interjections of silliness to lighten the mood, and there is something endearing about the story. Hell, I read all the way through it which says something about it. Or me. Or both.

And as a side note, I’m just gonna leave this here. I said I wasn’t going to critique the art, but there are some useful tips that any artist could use. Plus, its really funny.