The Webcomic Watchman

Monday, July 30, 2007

Dr. Haus apologizes for tricking you all into thinking he was going to update this with regularity, but adds that you only have yourselves to blame for believing it.

There is another review being written up that should present itself within the next 48 hours. Until then, enjoy this panel from a comic that is not from the web:

Yeah...this speaks for itself.

Oh, Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen, where would we be without your awesomeness?

(Pic ganked from here, but it wasn't exactly his work to begin with.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Review #23: A Shocking Revelation!

Not your daddy's Machiavelli!
Ooooh, BURN!

Title: Mystic Revolution
Artist: Jen Brazas
Collective/Studio: N/A
Genre: Humor/Fantasy

“Dr. Haus?” The receptionist boy, banged on the office door, “Dr. Haus? We got several more patients here that need your…”

“I’m busy! Come back later!” Dr. Haus’ muffled voice yelled through the door.

“But sir, these guys need your attention…”

“I just told you, boy, I’m busy!”

“Dammit sir, I can’t keep up with all these calls!” The receptionist boy turned thee handle and burst through the door, “You need to…what is that?”

“What is what?” Dr. Haus shouted, furiously trying to Alt+F4 a window on his desktop, only to get a message from Firefox asking him if he wanted to delete all three tabs.

“You’re reading that comic? I thought you hated it?”

“Well, it seems that…”

“You called the artist a hack!”

“No I didn’t.”

Yes you did! Over a week ago! I heard you mutter it in a drunken stupor!”

Dr. Haus hesitated before replying, “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”

“Dammit, Dr. Haus! This shit is serious! If you’re trying to get back in the reviewing groove, you could at least take it seriously!”

“Taking it seriously is what burned me out before, my young receptionist. Speaking of which, don’t you have paperwork or some shit to fill out?”

As the receptionist boy left, Dr. Haus let out a long exhale, “Why couldn’t I have a hot female nurse like my archnemesis? Instead I got stuck with this lame college kid.”

With that comment out of the way, he canceled the closing of the Firefox window and continued to read the strip on his monitor.

So what do we have? Something about a L33T Ninja guy and a fallen angel (or banished GM, depending on your point of view) named Lourdes trying to survive in a dot-Hack-like world against some corrupted super-admin named Machiavelli (not this guy). Also, a couple catgirls and a guy with no clothes show up, thus ensuring further hilarity.

Over the course of the story, the team runs through the usual RPG cliches about evil bosses, level grinding and the good ol' "REZ ME PLZ" bit. Though the writer provides plenty of opportunities for romance to bloom between the two main protagonists (Ninja and Lourdes), the story does seem to tilt more towards poking fun at...something. I suppose it's a good thing that it doesn't just spend most of its time beating RPG cliches with a stick, but taking some time to establish its own unique storyline as well.

The artwork has its own little quirk as well: Constantly floating the line between full-bodied anime shtick and crazy chibi midget. Personally, I find it a little annoying, a la the crappy "Teen Titans" cartoon, but others may find it quite interesting. On the other hand, this particular style does allow the characters to express a wider range of emotion.

One little nitpick I have is that Mystic Revolution keeps switching between offering the setting as a gaming world, and as a self-contained fantasy. As such, suspension of disbelief hits a speed bump and gets tossed into the backseat often. Then again, you're probably not reading this for its realistic portrayal of World of Warcraft.

All-in-all, I'll give this comic a small recommendation. The humor is nice, the artwork is kinky, the characters are okay. The story ain't much that you haven't already seen in an episode of dot-Hack. And yet, I can't stop laughing at this particular strip. Skim through the archives, I'm sure you'll find something to like here too.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Review #22: "Are you the Beer Baron?"

Now that's cuh-razy!
Part of a nutritionally-balanced breakfast!

Title: Lackadaisy
Artist: Tracy J. Butler
Collective/Studio: N/A
Genre: Hard to classify.
Updates: Whenever

“Woah…” I muttered, the booze giving me that floaty buzz in my head, “This is some good stuff. Didn’t think you could get such libations these days.”

“Well, I got connections,” said the woman next to me, “Connections that continue to please my customers, even in this era of Prohibition.”

“Wow, when did the world start turning into a sepia tone?” I wondered aloud, staring at the bottom of an empty beer mug.

“Honey, you sure you just had one beer?” The woman asked, and as I looked up at her, she had turned into some freaky, anthromorphic cat. “What’s wrong?”

“Get away from me!” I muttered, jumping off the barstool and backing towards the door, “I’m a doctor! You don’t wanna know what I can do to your organs while I’m drunk!”

“You okay, man?” I turned around to notice a bouncer walking towards me, who had also transformed into a cat-person, “I think you’ve had one too many.”

“No.” I muttered, looking around the speak-easy, to find that the patrons of this establishment had all somehow taken on the form of anthromorphic cats, “I’m not crazy, the world didn’t just turn brown and filled with cat-people! It’s not true! It’s not true!

My eyelids sprung open in an instant as I woke in a puddle of sweat in my own bed. The covers were unbearably warm. As I turned my head to face the nightstand and check the time, I saw a review I didn’t remember writing lying next to my alarm clock.

The semi-popular August J. Pollak once wrote that this comic “is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” While that might be a bit of an exaggeration, this comic is still pretty freakin’ awesome.

Sorry, that wasn’t very analytical language, was it? Let’s get serious for a brief moment:

This comic is set in Prohibition-era St. Louis. For those of you un-American folk reading this, it was a tragic moment in our nation’s history when alcoholic beverages were outlawed by a constitutional amendment, later repealed. The story is set around a speak-easy from that time, basically a place that secretly defied the ban to deliver booze to those who knew where to look. The only difference is that all the characters are anthromorphic cats, instead of people.

The story involves a big cast of characters, from a cold, Slavic cat with an eyepatch, to the feline equivalent of hillbillies, to the quirky, um...protagonist. In any case, it is interesting the way these varying personalities bounce off of each other, and makies for some pretty good writing.

The art does seem to have a Disney-ish quality to it, if you look at the very impressive drawing of the characters. Also, like a Disney movie, you have guns, explosions, a cat with the hugest-freakin’ smile I’ve ever seen (yet doesn’t stretch to un-anatomical proportions, a la The 19th Century Industrialist) almost getting run over by a train.

Sure, the artist does take a long time to release new strips. But the end result is more than worth it. The comic is well-drawn, the characters are well-developed, the humor is funny, and the action sequences are cool, what’s not to like about this comic? Well, if the idea of a world populated by cats turns you off, then maybe you should stay away from this. But otherwise, you’ll probably find something to like from this comic.

"Dr. Haus," shouted a man from outside my bedroom in a strange accent, "I got me half a Heineken with yer name on it!"

Upon hearing this, I reached under my pillow and pulled out a syringe. Something tells me I should've tipped that bartender from the other night.

To be continued...

[UPDATE: This post now has a title, and the review itself has an extra paragraph. The Doctor regrets the accidental omission.]

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Review #21: "How to drown in self-pity"

Title: spiky-haired dragon, worthless knight
Artist: "ak-ryuu" (real name unknown)
Collective/Studio: N/A
Genre: Fantasy, with a touch of humor.
Updates: Tue-F

"Alright kid," I said, "I'm trying out a new format with these reviews I've decided to do again. So...what's your name again?"

"I'm worthless..." the kid responded.

"Kid, nobody's worthless...except maybe Carlos Mencia and George Bush."

"No, that's really my name."

"Huh." I muttered, flipping the papers on the clipboard again, "What seems to be the problem then, Mr. Worthless?"

"That's just it! I'm fucking worthless!"

"I heard you the first time."

"No, it's just that...I'm supposed to be this bad-ass knight from some unknown medieval time, but because of some stupid freaking curse placed on me, I can't pick up a weapon!"

"Really?" I asked, biting off a piece of gefilte fish from a toothpick that someone left in the break room, "That sounds serious."

"Tell me about it, I can't touch so much as a toothpick without it shocking me!"

"Wow, that must be some serious curse. Here, hold this." I said, handing him the toothpick while I slapped on some latex gloves. I suddenly heard a loud crash of plate mail hitting the floor of the room where I do my doctor stuff. "Ooh, you should've checked 'allergic to seafood' on this chart."

" was the toothpick," He growled from the floor.

"Okay, so you want me to test your reflexes then?" I held out a large rubber mallet as a joke, but that worthless knight's face looked like it was trying to escape his head.

"Stay away from me!" Worthless shouted, running out the door as fast as he could in his plate mail.

"What a wuss," I chuckled before I looked over his archived strips for a little bit, and then prepared my latest review.

The main point of the story is thus: A young knight-in-training named Vincent Worthless is cursed in that he cannot pick up a weapon, which kinda sucks when you're supposed to be a knight. Apparently, the curse can be broken if he kills a dragon with his bare hands. When he meets a baby dragon at the very beginning of the story, you may think, "Damn, that was a quick comic." Surprise, it isn't.

From there begins the tale of the spiky-haired, mind-reading, booze-guzzling, trick juggling dragon, named "Spiky," who seems to have all the best lines, yet remains so darn cute that our protagonist can't bring himself to snap her neck. And then there's Vincent Worthless, who seems to spend most of the time moping about how much his life sucks, his curse sucks, the Baron and his black knight Siron treats him like shit, and he can't find the only girl who showed interest in him (long enough to steal his money, I might add). I suppose he's the medieval equivalent of your modern-day emo stereotype who feels like writing shitty poetry on his journal instead of actually doing something about his endless cycle of self-pity.

I'm sorry, but that's pretty much the main story. It's been going at a very slow pace during the course of less than four years. And the only character who's really kept things interesting has been Spiky, but one baby dragon can't pull all the weight in a comic where she shares top billing with a character who is about as sympathetic as a random emo kid on MySpace. As for Vincent, the only thing he seems to have done is get his ass kicked around.

There haven't been many action scenes, and the humor is chuckle-worthy, but not "ROFLCOPTERS!" funny. As for the art, it's passable, but I never thought I'd see something that would make me yearn for the stick figure-ness of XKCD. I swear those stick figures show more emotion in one strip than shd-wk has done in a year.

This comic hasn't done much to earn my ire, but at the same time, I can't think of a very good reason to recommend it either. Sure, Spiky ain't bad, but you can find a wittier animal companion in FOXHOUND, and he doesn't even have top billing in the comic! In the end, the comic is just too damn dry to swallow without enough booze to make the little jokes sound really funny.

With that review done, I raced down the hall after the sobbing worthless knight, only to find him being rushed to the IC ward. Apparently, he tripped over a crate full of old syringes that someone forgot to take out of the hallway. I did the only thoughtful thing I could, and gave him the username and password to a MySpace account I set up just for him, should he survive the ordeal. I may not have been able to cure his self-pity, but at least I could give him a way to vent it, considering he couldn't even shoot up a school without shocking himself from holding the gun.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Review #20: What's this?

Title: The Nineteenth-Century Industrialist
Artist: Renee Katz
Collective/Studio: ComicGenesis
Genre: Humor
Updates: M/W/F (I think)

"Doc, you gotta come back!"

"Receptionist boy..." The doc muttered, shaking a glass full of ice in his hand, with a small brown spot at the bottom indicating that some alcoholic beverage once inhabited it, "I...I thought told you...piss off."

"Uhh, no you just told me that now."



"Okay, then here's your second one: piss off!"

"Dammit Dr. Haus! What happened to you?"

"I just couldn't keep it up." The doctor gulped down whatever drop was left in his glass, then proceeded to start chewing some of the ice around in his mouth. As he chewed, he continued, "Dammit, what is going on with webcomics these days? Everyone tryin' to be the next Penny Arcade or...or the next...whatever fucking insult to 'Dot-hack' this is! Dot-hack! Hah! More like the artist is a hack!"

"Dr. Haus, you were usually snarkier with your put-downs! You even reviewed one in the style of the Rude Pundit, even if it was with more restrained language! You're better than this!

"Oh really?" He proceeded to chew the remaining ice around his mouth from the cup in his hand, "Like what?"

"Well, there's this one I found in your absence that I can't stop reading."

"Lemme see it," Dr. Haus said, "What the hell is this shit?"

"It's The Nineteenth-Century Industrialist, sir."

"So, who cares about the industrial revolution?"

"Uh, sir. It's not that simple."

"Then what is it about? A stereotypical rich, evil Jew with bad teeth?"

"Well...yeah, actually."

"Then I don't wanna read it."

"Dammit sir, look through the archives!"

"Fine, if it'll make you shut up."

And as the beloved Doctor Haus flipped through the archives of this comic, he suddenly felt a warm feeling in his gut, one that wasn't induced from the booze he just drank.

"Hmm," The Doctor muttered, cracking his knuckles, "I feel a review coming on..."

It seems that this comic is a one-stop shop for 'stupid' humor.

Lesse, right off the bat, you'll notice this strip contains lots of tension between the old 19th century industrialist with bad teeth and a monocle named Hiram Thorpe who hates the environment and his workers, yet is inexplicably the owner of a factory in the present day (probably because he bleeds oil). Throw in the disgruntled poster boy of the working-class hero, named "Grimey," who seems to clash all the time with his foil in the small, androgynous, happy-go-lucky worker named "Sooty". What do you get? FUN! IN ALL CAPS! WITH SEVERAL EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!

Also, there's some dude named Professor Scourge (who knows the secret of how Thorpe appears in the present, but won't say why), and Karl Marx shows up early in the comic. Oh, and don't forget Uncle Sam, Pope Panzerfaust I, and other people who don't really matter.

So, what's to like about this comic? One-shot jokes and schizophrenic humor. Witness how, in one strip, Uncle Sam fucks up Thorpe's office before verbally berating him. Directly following that strip is a mini-arc where the Pope and his "Priest Patrol" try to forcibly extract some charity from him (no, not like that! What the Hell is wrong with you people?).

The art also seems to match this style of humor perfectly. Sometimes, you'll see Thorpe's mouth stretch to ginormous proportions when he's berating his workers. Other times, you'll see him turn all chibi-like when he's happy. Also, just look at the last four panels in this strip. Thorpe's face takes on an almost Looney Tunes-esque transformation.

Long story short, if you want to find a stupid humor comic that doesn't simply retread gaming jokes and pop-culture references, but allows you to laugh at your asshole boss who won't give you that raise for your minimum wage job, despite working to the bone for him (me? Bitter? Nah.), then you'll love this comic.

And as the bartender came to pick up the tab, the Doctor had disappeared, leaving only that brief review on the barstool as proof that he was ever there.

"Dr. Haus," The bartender growled, grabbing a pre-made broken bottle, "You think this shitty review will sate my thirst for money? Guess what, when I punch out, your ass is mine!"

To be continued?