The Webcomic Watchman

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Quickie review

The Doctor was asked to review a comic, under the subject line Omg review me lolz!!1 I thought he was being ironic, but I was wrong. As I looked through his almost 40 strips of work, I contemplated pouring bleach in my eyes. I also wondered if maybe this was just an elaborate prank to bring attention to some shmuck across the internet who was starved for any attention, whether or not it was positive.

While I could give this the full Doctor Haus treatment, this bastard stepchild of a webcomic doesn't deserve it. Instead, here is a simple one sentence summary review of Matt Newton's Land of Nodd, a supposed "humor" comic that forgot to be funny:

Reading "Land of Nodd"
can't be that much worse than getting lung cancer.

Thank you for your time, and good night.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Review #26: Are Uwe Boll-ing?

Oh yeah, we totally believe you.

Title: [sic] Productions
Creators: Remy (writer), Jax (artiste)
Genre: Humor, movies and naughty puns
Updates: Weekly-ish

"Dammit receptionist boy," I growled, "I told you that information ain't for your ears."

"Oh c'mon Doctor Haus! What happened to that crazy bartender guy? You never finished that report, but you swiped some hydrocodone from the pharmacy!"

"I already said you'll find out when I'm ready to tell you! So who's my next patient?"

The receptionist boy sighed in defeat. "Some dude named...Uwe Boll?"

"Eh, I do ball occasionally," I said, suddenly remembering my humiliating defeat the last time I challenged a guy to a 1-on-1 game of basketball.

"Doctor Haus, his name is Uwe Boll."

"Oh jeez, another drama queen?"

"No, but he does claim that some guy beat him up and left him in a dumpster after stealing his recent movie script. He wrote something about a movie idea he had with Destro from GI JOE and some other guy with massive dreadlocks fighting Cutsman from the Mega Man games?"

"Wait, and you're telling me these guys stole that idea from him?"

"Oh yeah, and he says they threw in a catgirl, a cross-dressing wuss who becomes a dada detective, and a militant lesbian that..."

"Stop right there," I held my hand up to his face to emphasize the point, "You're sure he was fully conscious and sane when he was saying this shit?"

"Well, aside from the bruising, yeah."

"Here," quickly whipping out my trusty notepad, I wrote down a perscription, tore off the top page, and handed it to the receptionist boy, "Give this to him."

After reading the paper, he did a double-take before saying, "You're prescribing Mary Jane for this guy?"

"Why not?" I said, "Maybe if we're lucky, Uwe Boll will have a spirit quest and come out with an original idea that doesn't suck." With those words, I ran out the door, hopped in my car, and headed for the nearest movie theater. The local movie reviewer had to be warned before he became a patient of mine yet again.

After reading this far, you might be under the impression that I'm about to bury [sic] Productions six feet under. Well, you'd only be half-right.

The story seems based around a few self-inserted characters (Jax, Remy and their buddies are the main characters, but at least they don't take themselves too seriously) getting together to shoot a superhero film on a whim, based on pretty much everything I said above. Something about a hero with large dreadlocks and another hero with a bald head ("even Destro is gonna say, 'That's a bald bitch!'") fighting Cutsman from the Mega Man games for some unknown reason. To fund the shooting of this movie, they make a deal with a mobster named Ronnie Cordova, who doesn't seem to ask for much in return. But he does have a robot butler.

What's to like about this comic? The artistry does seem to evolve pretty well from some black-and-white sketches to fully-colored and shaded panels. Also, the humor in the comic seems to swing wildly between trite parodies to the occasional original situational comedy.

However, there is one big thing that I can't seem to find a good excuse for: Several characters suck.

Maybe I'm over-generalizing a bit, but the cast has grown so large that its hard to keep track of why we should care about many of them. Has the catgirl done anything other than act as a catalyst for the blonde-haired Beldin to grow a pair and do a film noir parody? How about the token black guy/dance choreographer/CIA agent, or the CIA woman with the huge freakin' gun who hires two other crazy women who are supposed to be evil? Apparently, the extent of their evil was replacing Jax's (the character's) wedding ring, magically turning him into a Hot Topic shopper and gluing on a soul patch. And that's not getting into the fact that several of the women that appear in this comic are either militant amazons, evil lesbians, or both.

And yet, despite all this, I will give them props for somewhat staying on a storyline that isn't used too often. When the jokes actually center around the movie-making quest instead of the dead horses of gaming parody or sexual stereotypes, the comic actually has a glimmer of least until some evil femi-nazi cutout smacks one of the dudes in the face.

Despite this, I can't bring myself to hate this comic. The "smart humor" fans out there may hate it, the "stupid-funny" fans will probably enjoy it, and the folks who like an actual story in their humorous webcomicry might like it if they can look past the stereotypes.

"No..." I muttered to myself, looking at the movie reviewer convulsing in the aisle of a movie theater screening room. I was too late.

"Doc, aren't you going to help him?" Someone shouted out.

"I can heal him," I shouted back as I ran down the stairs towards the reviewer, "But I don't think this guy will ever be the same again."

"What can we do?"

"I'll prop him up in a chair, just tell the management to start playing Adaptation over that screen and hope his jaded elitism will come back naturally." As the startled moviegoer ran out of the screening room, I thought out loud, "There's only one person capable of unleashing such horror upon this world: my archnemesis."

To be continued?

The NAQ! (v1.04)

Well, most websites have one of these lists lying around somewhere, so I thought I’d introduce what shall henceforth be known as the NAQ (a.k.a. “The Nack”), the Never-Asked Questions, the questions you’ve always had but were too afraid to ask.

Who are you?

I am Dr. Haus.

…care to elaborate?

I am Dr. Haus, a young man living on the east coast who is currently going to college in the midwest. I’ve done a wide range of jobs including Janitor/Bagboy/Stacker in a supermarket, State Senate Page, and reviewing music CDs for a semi-independent online publication. I’ll probably be doing more in the future.

Are you a real doctor, or actually studying to be one?

Does the Pope take a crap in the woods?

You didn’t answer my question...

Tough shit.

Fine. So, what convinced you to start a blog about webcomics?

Because I am a huge fan of the medium. An outlet where people can put their creative energies on display for all to see, without always having to argue with some big corporation for shelf space. That, and when I started this I had a lot of free time on my hands. I read a lot of webcomics, and am often searching out new ones to explore, so I decided to put my creative energies to better use.

Do you have a webcomic of your own?

I would, but I can’t draw for shit. I tried teaming up with an artist on a couple occasions to make one, but both times, the artist just couldn’t follow through or simply vanished. So for now, I just make stories in the form of the written word.

If you can’t draw, what makes you qualified to judge my comic?

There are plenty of movie critics out there who have never acted or made a movie themselves, yet any positive quotes they make get slapped on the movie’s DVD case. There are food critics who have never worked as chefs, yet some restaurants frame their articles and plaster them on the wall. Yes, I have never created a webcomic, but I’ve seen enough of them in a large variety of art styles and story genres to know what should make a good one and what should make a bad one. You are perfectly welcome to disagree with my reviews either by E-Mail or commenting in the respective post itself, but don’t bitch and moan if I give your comic a bad review.

In short: Ebert's Law

You’re mean!

Believe me, I’m one of the nicest critics out there, especially compared to Mr. John Solomon, but I will still tell even the ones I like where they need improvement. The thing about webcomics is that, for every real diamond in the rough, five more exist that are complete and utter crap, and three of those crappy are sprite comics by people who can’t even write to save their lives, let alone draw. If you want someone to kiss your ass, there are plenty of other websites out there that will be glad for the exposure. But if you want an honest critique about your comic, the Doctor's office is always open.

Okay, so what’s up with your rating system?

Ah yes, the eternal question. Basically, I just call it the “Lazy-Ass Summary,” put there for people who don’t feel like reading the 3-4 or so paragraphs I wrote about the comic.

I rate the important aspects of the comic individually: Art, Story, Humor, Action, and Characters. These usually don’t factor into the overall score, but are kind of a warning what to expect. For instance, something like Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal would have low scores in Story and Characters because it is a “one-shot gag” strip, but its humor value would be high. The overall values are often based on the comic’s strengths, rather than its weaknesses.

Nowadays, the Lazy-Ass Summary has been eliminated.

Why did you stop the Lazy-Ass Summary when you came back?

Because I decided to quit trying to rate every comic when I saw that some of them actually have totally different writing and drawing methods than others, and just let the review speak for itself.

Why do you need to warn us of “evil stuff?”

Because I used to think people cared about that shit. Nowadays, it's disappeared with the rest of the Lazy-Ass Summary. I'll warn you if there's a conspicuous plethora of sex/violence/awfulness, but I take no responsibility for anything the artists of the reviewed comics have drawn.

I’ve been contacted by some guy named Adam, claiming to be your receptionist. Who is he?

Oh yeah, he’s my means of communicating with those pitiful souls who ask me to review their comics. He always complains about me having a God Complex or something, but just because I am the greatest man alive and people should worship me doesn’t mean I have a God Complex.

Why don't you update often?

Because I have a life outside of this blog. Unless you feel like paying me (hint, hint) to post, the reviews will come when I feel like writing them.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Doctor Haus is busy getting high on life (*cough*and hydrocodone*cough*).

For the five of you still reading patient.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Review #25: "The Ultimate-ish Showdown"

Fo realz, yo!
I can't think of a better caption than that.

Title: Badass Muthas!
Artist: David Ryan
Collective/Studio: None
Genre: Action/Humor
Updates: ...don't ask

"I am not in the mood for this!" I shouted, filling the syringe with liquid from a vial I keep in my drawer for such occasions. "You got a beer bottle? I got a syringe with fucking potassium chloride here!"

"Bah, you're a doctor," the bartender finally stepped into the doorway, "You don't have the fight in you."

"Are you kidding? Do you know the comics I've viewed in the past few days? You wouldn't believe the shit that lurks in the darkest corners of the internet."

"Oh man, you really need to leave your room more. Get yourself a girlfriend. Too bad you won't get that chance." The bartender stared me down for a moment, which I took as an invitation to lunge at him with the syringe filled with potassium chloride. He dodged my attack and launched an uppercut with his broken bottle-holding hand, thrusting the shards right in my chest.

"You should've tipped me," he smiled, wrenching the broken bottle out of my chest only to see my bleeding body transform into a green leaf. He didn't know that I had acquired this new power after reading a new comic.

As I prepared to thrust my syringe full of potassium chloride into his neck, he would never know where I found it.

Badass Muthas! The story of a greenish fox-ninja thing named Guy McFly (because Speedy McNee was taken, I guess) and some blue guy called Ralph who can kameameha (did I spell that right? I really don't care) a demonic thing that's three stories tall.

Any attempt to explain the plot or setting after that will just cause severe convulsions within the reader. I'm guessing that us mere mortals are not worthy of knowing what the hell is going on. Something about how Ralph and Guy McFly (ugh) are conning people out of their money, and then get hunted down by some special forces guys, and then the fox ninja person gets injected with green fluid in his head only to escape the hospital.

Apparently, they live in a world that somehow combines sentient robots, swords, rocket launchers, very tall demons, religion, and shit like that. The heroes are apparently too cool to be facing any actual hardship or weakness other than lukewarm dialogue. Guy McFly hates authority and apparently can always escape death through ninjitsu or some inexplicable shit like that, while Ralph calls out the names of his attacks before he says them like a reject from Dragonball Z.

Sadly, it seems all the plot in the comic at the moment could be squeezed into a thimble.

The artwork has its own little charm, I suppose. It does have a way of standing out from the glut of generic manga-style that seems to permeate a good portion of the webcomic-o-sphere. But as unique as the art is, it doesn't mask the fact that this comic has little substance underneath aside from a few spectacular fight sequences.

So in the end, read it if you like fight sequences, just don't expect much in the way of plot. Then again, that approach hasn't exactly hurt Ninja Spirit.

EDIT (10:35 PM): The original conclusion was determined by the Doctor to be "not funny." A better one will appear shortly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Up in the sky! It's a shitty arc!

What the fuck?

No, seriously, what the fuck is this shit?

I was all set to do a review on another comic, and then I saw that Sunday splash image, and all that was right with the webcomic world just outright died. I think it's a sign that "Mookie" has officially jumped the mo-fuggin' couch of creativity. It also seems to be an admission that my suspension of disbelief has worn out its welcome in regards to this strip.

That particular page of the prolific Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire, for those of you who haven't read the arc, is the apex of the week or so worth of exposition of a crappy story arc. One of the Chosen that survived in some epic battle in a previous arc returns wearing a magical painted-on suit or some shit threatens to freeze the town to death. On its own, it would just be "meh"-worthy filler.

However, it seems Mookie never met a subtlety that he feels he must smash with the warhammer of "Deus ex Machina" so his idiot readers get the point. Go back to the 8/01/07 strip and click forward to see how everything was planned in minute detail, even the fucking chocolate cake that the evil ice-magic woman ate near the start of the arc.

But what really turned this whole arc into a sinkhole of suck? When it turns out that the way to stop the evil ice woman was for Dominic's white mage brother Gregory Deegan to transform into a mo-fuggin' Superman pastiche.

No, wait, I mean "Supermage!" My apologies. Apparently, in a world full of swords-n-sorcery, someone has the ability to print comic books of the most boring superhero ever. I'm guessing from the title that this guy has the power to use magic. Set aside the idiotic anachronism for a moment, can you imagine the conversation when some idiot showed his friends a Supermage comic?

"Look! I got the latest issue of Supermage! He can fly!"

"So? My brother just learned a flying spell today."

"He shoots laser beams from his eyes!"

"My uncle taught me the same spell last month."

"He can run really fast!"

"My mom already knows that spell. What else can he do?"

"Ummm...he can punch through steel?"

"That golem my sister made ripped open a bank vault."

"What about seeing through walls?"

"Dominic can look through fucking time and space."

"But I paid four bucks for this!"

"Greg, you're a fucking dumbass."

Of course, at the end of this arc, Gregory saved the day, and got an inexplicable Supermanmage cape to wear out of the deal while his dearest brother Dominic planned the entire thing to teach him a moral about not overusing his power or some shit.

When you have to start ripping off fucking Superman, and not in a satirical sense, perhaps its time to put down your pen and come back in a few years when you can throw a storyline together that doesn't hinge on a walking, talking deus ex machina.

On a related note, the vengeful John Solomon explained this arc a lot better than I ever could have.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Special Edition: News Reel #1.1

Well folks, Dr. Haus has been using his writing energies for things that don't include writing about webcomics, and has been inoculating himself with perfectly legal drugs for unrelated reasons. So until such time as he feels like doing another one, here's a few that may or may not find themselves reviewed:

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Review #24: A Thesaurus of Penis Jokes

Oh my God! It's a head on a deformed sack of flour!

Title: Caveat Lector
Artist Creators: Christopher Mesaros and Adam Coleman
Collective/Studio: None
Genre: Philosophy/Humor

Ladies and gentlemen, your esteemed Watcher of Webcomicry, Doctor Haus here. As you know, American doctors often have to supplement their income by selling out to The Man. But I would never stoop so low.

On an unrelated note, might I interest you in this completely original comic? This comic contains a plethora of penis/vagina jokes and pickup lines that you often need a thesaurus handy to understand. But it is a sure-fire way to pick up that intelligent girl or guy who happens to carry one around when going to bars.

After all, how can you go wrong with lines like these:

"...I like to think there's a vas deferens between us."

" you fancy sex with men?"

"Casimir, get your Balzac off of my forehead!"

Caveat Lector knows your privacy is paramount to receiving this product, so we've wrapped it up with the musings of a pair of philosophy majors whose goal is...well, I don't think they have many goals outside of getting laid and making Matrix metaphors while showing how vastly superior they are to their intellectually inferior bretheren. It's like the Nietzschean idea of the Ubermensch, except they would prefer to spend their vast brainpower on beating up straw men (both figuratively and literally) and making risque puns.

As a free bonus, we'll even throw in not-so-subtle digs at religion using easily-squashed Christian stereotypes. Order now!

Please order now! The insurance companies have my family at gunpoint!

So what more is there to say in the uber-serious section? Quite simply, this comic is about a couple of up-and-coming philosophers named Kether and Casimir, and how they verbally destroy inferior straw-men with their awesome brain power. Two regular characters on the receiving end of their abuse are a stereotypical dumb Southerner named Tex (oh, and he's also a closet homosexual) and a whiny, sheltered, devout Christian named Ezra.

So they don't like religion, idiots, or simple vocabulary. What do they like? Women...or at least the idea of them. I mean, seriously, never have I seen so many sexual innuendo or references since The Lounge, but at least John Joseco can draw sexy women pretty well while indulging one's desire for fap-worthy material. With Caveat Lector, you'd probably need a dictionary to understand some of the references, and then slap your forehead while asking yourself why anyone would laugh at that joke.

And most of the women that appear are one-dimensional characters: like the hypocritical Batel, the amazon-esque Danni, or the various NPCs who show up and disappear.

The drawing in this comic is often like watching talking heads on clay surfboards that look like torsos, with arms that usually don't materialize unless the script calls for it. Occasionally, you'll see a very good exception to this rule, but for the most part, the drawing style has stayed pretty much the same from the beginning, except with some 3D effects added and somewhat more emotive faces.

What's infuriating about this comic is that it has the potential to be so much more awesome, but Mesaros and Coleman waste their time on stupid, sophmoric shit like this. The intelligent webcomic lovers might feel insulted by the sexual puns that seem to pop up almost once a week, and the stupid-funny fans may not be willing to sit through the word balloons with rich vocabulary. I guess the target audience here is philosophy majors who want to get laid, but are too embarrassed to Google up actual porn.

If you want an intelligent webcomic with much better drawing and a sense of humor that doesn't rely on sexual innuendo, I prescribe Dresden Codak. If you want stupid humor, try the Nineteenth-Century Industrialist. If you don't care about the writing and want fap-worthy material, then look for The Lounge or Otenba Files to satisfy your needs. Unfortunately, Caveat Lector brings you the worst of all these worlds.