The Webcomic Watchman

Monday, September 24, 2007

Retrospective (Part III)!

[the "Dr. Haus is pretty fucking swamped with work for the next few days, but does not wish to lose the 10-50 readers who actually come back for this thing yet" edition]

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja
Then: "Then explain how he can be fighting old-fashioned pirates with a portable electric system, wrangling velociraptors, and turn frozen shamrocks into makeshift shuriken? This shit isn't scientifically possible!"

Now: It's still pretty damn hilarious, but more in a stupid-funny than smart-funny way. The action scenes are also top-notch.

Otenba Files
Then: In the following chapters, we are introduced to the stereotypical team consisting of the huge dumbass (Koda), the little whiny bitch (Juppy), and the chain-smoking angry badass (Tamka). They fight, they yell at each other, the female members go off and get fucked (either in flashbacks or in current time), and then they do it all over again.

Now: It died. Then came back. Then died again. Still some good ol' sketched out yuri for you folks out that appreciate that sort of thing, but at this point, I've just stopped caring.

The Bastard Swordsman by Dan Glasl
"But the main character is a woman. Wouldn't a more accurate title be 'The Bastard Swordswoman?'...Who else could he be referring to? That guy who bares a resemblance to Shan-Yu from Mulan? That drunk dude who doesn't even have a sword? Or is this another one of those comics where the main character magically had his/her gender switched and doesn't know why?"

Now: There isn't any TG-ism in this comic (thank God). The action scenes have gotten a little better, but TBS still doesn't seem to be rising above anything more than a generic action comic. However, the artwork has improved considerably from previous strips. I'm still waiting for a scene where the protagonist does something other than be useless without that Shan-Yu ripoff possessing her body.

Podunk U

Then: "The Doctor hopes that someone will put this comic to sleep."

Now: It's dead. Trust me, it wasn't worth it anyways.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Webcomic Drama!

Part I

Part II

Actual review coming sometime in the next few days, but with Yom Kippur coming up, keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Review #29: The Medicating of the Dead

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Bowler hat beats do-rag!

Title: Dead Winter
Artist: S. Dave Shabet
Genre: Zombie-Horror...sorta
Updates: Tue, Fri

It all started when one guy came in, and muttered a single word to the Receptionist Boy: "Pills."

So the receptionist boy made him fill out a form and sit in the waiting room. A few minutes later, a few other dudes hobbled towards the desk, mumbling the same word: "Pills."

The receptionist boy ran out of clipboards to hand them as he told them each to fill out their info. If they don't fill that shit out, then the insurance companies don't pay me a cut of the profits they suck from their pockets. Next thing I know, the receptionist boy runs into my office just as I'm doing some hardcore research on my computer.

"Sir! They're climbing over the desks, and bursting through the doors!" He shouted, "They didn't even finish filling out their forms!"

"Who?" I asked, suddenly hearing about twenty voices groaning in unison, "Pills!" This time in a more demanding tone.

I walked into the hallway, and shouted at the assembled crowd, "I don't have any pills to give you unless you have insurance!"

"Pills!" They shouted, and shambled towards me.

"Okay, fine, you want pills? Take em!" I threw handfuls of hydrocodone at them that I kept in my jacket for other research purposes, "Take 'em and leave me alone!" Only about half of these brain-dead folks took the pills and shambled away. But more started pouring in. I should've known they'd only want more.

Eventually, I ran out of hydrocodone to throw at them. "Receptionist boy!" I shouted, "Grab my universal problem-solver and meet me at that overturned table! We got ourselves a mostly-un-dead druggie infestation!" I ran backwards and kicked over a nearby snack table as the receptionist boy fetched my problem-solver. The nurses weren't going to like that when they came back.

"You guys want some drugs?" The crowd grunted an affirmative, "How about some hot lead?" My problem-solver accented this perscription with a bang as I pulled its trigger, "Mixed with a small dose of tungsten and antimony!" I fired again as the brain-dead druggies went down, "In the rather convenient form of double-ought buckshot!"

Ah, nothing like a crappy Dawn of the Dead parody to try and talk about a comic that sounds more like Shaun of the Dead.

The story starts with a waitress named Elizabeth Rose Cooper (or just "Lizzie") who got a B.A. in English. You see how that turned out early on in the story. She is just trying to scrape enough money to get by with her boyfriend and a cat.

Also, there's some guy named "Black Monday Blues" who kills a shitload of people for some reason. He also seems to be a Mets fan. I'm not sure why he is able to sleep in the middle of a zombie infestation, or how he found time to set up an elaborate trap to kill one guy. I suppose that us mere mortals are not meant to know this.

Their world is turned upside down by a zombie infestation. Of course, zombie infestations only happen in movies, so no one seems to notice except for the various TV and radio reports. Instead, Lizzie tries to retreat to her happy place where she suppresses her anger without any form of medication and the world becomes more colorful...literally.

The artwork is an interesting blend of ink and watercolors to provide some nice shading, though there do seem to be a few anatomical issues here and there...okay, a lot of anatomical issues, though they get better on in the later strips.

My one biggest caveat is the character of Black Monday Blues. Funky name aside, he seems to be a bit out of place in this comic. His run-n-gun scenes just seem to kill the story's momentum when laced in-between the scenes of Lizzie getting pissed off at her boss and her lot in life. I'm hoping the connection between the two characters and the zombie outbreak will be made clearer in later strips, but now it just feels kinda awkward.

In any case, the comic does provide an interesting twist on the usual zombie-horror genre with some tongue-in-cheek humor and a cat. If the unique artwork doesn't turn you off, then I'd definitely suggest keeping your eye on this relative newcomer to the world of webcomicry. Sure, the story could use a little work, but I'm sure there's still plenty of ground to cover.

I fired several times until the problem-solver clicked empty. The receptionist boy cowered behind the overturned table, obviously not accustomed to such violence from a supposed doctor against folks who were brain-dead enough for me to consider them zombies.

"Here," I tossed a bunch of keys at him, "Run down to the pharmacy, grab as much hydrocodone, cough syrup, and anything that could be used to get a quick high. It's the only way we can hold off these druggies until help arrives."

"But what about you?" He shouted, picking up the keys with shaky hands.

"Apparently, gun violence can't solve all our problems," I muttered, throwing the now-useless "universal problem-solver" at a nearby brain-dead druggie and unwrapping a needle full of morphine. "So let's try drug abuse instead."

To be continued...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Retrospective (Part II)!

[a.k.a. the "Dr. Haus is sick (how ironic)" edition]

Clown Samurai by Quinn Fleming
Then: "Utamaro is a clown who hasn't made any kid laugh in three years. One day, he stops for a drink at a bar in Brooklyn after making a kid cry at his birthday party. Somehow, the bar is owned by a prominent mobster, who takes "Maro" in the back of the bar and gives him an offer to join their group. As a clown, he is able to infiltrate the home of another mobster whose daughter is having a birthday party of her own, and shoot him in a fierce firefight."

Now: The comic is still up, but it has stopped updating.

Emergency Exit by NJ Huff
Then: "The comic gets even bigger when you have a girl who wields a "Zapper" (a.k.a. that light gun for the NES classic, Duck Hunt) as a real weapon, a mailman who has a monocole and a pirate hook, a green-haired gamer who can talk to a female cat named Fred."

Now: Updating almost daily now with a much more serious tone than its earlier days. Admittedly, my comparison to early Megatokyo strips might've been a little hyperbolic. Most of the "serious" stuff has come in crossovers with NJ's buddies behind Beyond Reality and Parallel Dementia, and the goal behind the collection of the artifacts has not been made clear yet. Still, EE has become much more interesting since my last words on it.

Neotopia by David Coacci
Then: "Though Neotopia is a bit of a generic name, I'm willing to look past it as Mr. Coacci has built one hell of a strip with a solid foundation (provided you're willing to read some of the background material he wrote up). I just couldn't pass up the sight of seeing an elf in a Sam Fisher-esque suit."

Now: Domain name has changed, and the action sequence has ended and given way to a little more exposition behind the major players in the strip. The artwork is still pretty damn amazing. Also, it actually updates once or twice per week.

The Avatar by James Firkins
Then: "The real kicker of this comic is this fellow, "Sir Godfrey of Boullion." He seems to play the lovable retard of the comic, though it is unknown whether any of the characters really like him or not. Seriously, just try reading multiple strips featuring this character. It made Dr. Haus' brain implode, the sheer random retardedness of Godfrey will cause the same reaction within your own skull."

Now: Back in the day, the comic did have some of the most retarded humor of any webcomic I've ever seen. Nowadays, Mr. Firkins has done a complete 180-degree turn, making his strip into a much darker tale involving a CIA agent after the death of the American President.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Review #28: The Spiritual Journey of Dr. Haus

I can has cheezburger?*

Title: Crowfeathers
Artist: Amy Watson ("Sagebrush")
Genre: Western/Supernatural
Updates: Sat, Tue
*(for those not acquainted with the "LOLcats" meme, click here)

"Receptionist boy!" I shouted, stumbling into my office and making various folks in the waiting room jump up, "I have returned from my trip, and I have seen many awesome sights! I have looked into the face of the angels, I have seen giant one-eyed cat pouncing on a demonic crow! I saw a Native American shaman become possessed by a giant Sessomaru spirit! And I have seen..."

I suddenly stopped in the middle of describing my spirit quest. The receptionist boy was asking me why I stopped, until I held up a hand in his general direction. That's when I saw that crow, that creepy fucking crow from before.

"Doctor Haus," the crow spoke in English, "Your quest has not ended."

"Why not, dammit?" I yelled back at the crow, "Why must I be the one to sift through these webcomics?"

"It was not me that chose to be a Webcomic Watchman, Doctor Haus."

"You say that as if I have a choice, oh great and wise talking crow."

I could almost swear the crow laughed when I said that sentence. I took a moment to glance at the waiting room and watch the other folks waiting for their work to be reviewed. They all seemed to be frozen in place, jumping up from their seats upon my arrival. Time just seemed to stop as I focused on that laughing crow.

"There is always a choice, Doctor Haus. You could very easily walk away from all this."

"No, I've come too far to stop now," I growled, "I'm gonna finish this fucking review."

"Are you sure you are prepared for this responsibility, oh self-appointed Watcher of Webcomicry who claims to be a doctor?"

"Damn right I am, you talking crow! Now gimme that sweet, sweet spiritual release!" I shouted.

Next thing I knew, the crow was gone, and I was waking up inside a model tepee in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Crowfeathers, the story of a young kid named Chase Corbeau living in the old west. A half-French, half-Indian (think Sitting Bull, not Gandhi) kid whose real father was actually some ancient sky god, thus giving Chase the ability to turn into a giant crow.

Chase is not having much luck in life: A trio of witches ("the Brujas," according to the cast page) turned him into a crow from the start of the comic. Through a very extended flashback, he reveals how his mom and grandpa were killed in a fire by a crooked ex-sheriff, though the current sheriff Jimmy Tate and his sister take Chase in. After that, he gets attacked by a one-eyed cat demon with a hard-on for Chase, discovers that the town doctor is actually a snake-person, and then later in the story finds himself being a pawn in some supernatural civil war.

That's the best I can summarize the plot without giving too much away, but then again, this comic is currently on its 25th chapter.

It starts out interestingly enough with a bit of good ol' schoolyard drama and a crow who has somehow survived in what appears to be modern-day America that contains the essence of Chase Corbeau. After chapter 5, the story has essentially become one whole flashback with several interesting twists and turns.

However, I don't get when this story turned from a supernatural Deadwood into a Western Yu-Yu-Hakusho. Maybe it was the borderline snuff in chapter 8 (no, I'm not linking it), or the whole spirit battle scene over in chapter 17. Or maybe it's just the fact that I've tried to read over the whole comic within a few days. In either case, it seems there's still little about how this connects to the events at the start of the story: Why did Chase end up getting sealed by witches if he's fighting all these evil spirits? Couldn't these witches do something about those evil ghosts too? And how did he survive to what appears to be the modern day?

Let's move on. The artwork looks decent enough for black and white pencil and pens, but the characters still have that generic manga style look to them. This guy, though nicely detailed, looks less like an evil undead ghost and more like that old man who yells at those darned kids to get off his lawn. I'd hope a western-based comic would at least have some more western art influences to go along with it, but hey, to each his/her own.

There's a lot more I could cover about the story, like how Jimmy Tate's dead wife and son are constantly used as a cudgel to make you feel sympathetic to an otherwise flat side character, or the lack of elaboration on the relationships between the various spirits that inhabit this comic. But then this review would destroy 56k modems all over the world.

Overall, the doctor will give this comic a light recommendation, but only if you're willing to dig through all the strips to find the relevant story info.

"...and that's why I can't ever go to a museum again," I told the recptionist boy.

"Doctor Haus, if you didn't want to go to the museum, you could've just said 'no.' I didn't need that whole drawn-out story." The receptionist boy sighed and put the IMAX tickets back in his jacket, "I guess I'll just have to go by myself."

As the receptionist boy left the office, I looked outside the window in the waiting room. And then I saw that crow again. That creepy fucking crow.

"Looks like its back to watching webcomics for me," I sighed, throwing up my hands and walking back into my office. I had reviews to finish.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Yep, Dr. Haus is digging through the archives to sate you folks whilst he tries to get another review finished.

I blame Aarin for convincing me to try to update this with some form of regularity. Yeah, you heard me.

Joe and Monkey by Zach Miller
Then: "Take a delivery guy named Joe, a talking monkey, and a robot with a compulsion to steal everything (hence the name Kleptobot), and throw them all in the same part of Minneapolis where hilarity will inevitably ensue."

Now: Still funny in that subtle, newspaper-strip way. There's also the makings of a story too if you look at Miller's recent foray in GoComics (check the archives). And he's come out with two more books.

Edge the Devilhunter by Sam Romero
Then: "Romero pulls no punches in his strips, and apparently expects none to be held back. EtD gives voice to some of his politics, envisioning a futuristic America where the government is controlled by faceless corporations, American highschoolers are drafted to fight the never-ending War on Terror, and “NYPD Inc.” has a way of tracking down those who dare dissent from America’s government."

Now: A giant penis-face monster from Hell (Zajra, a.k.a. "Dickhead") breaks up a romantic moment between Jack (the protagonist) and Princess Tail. This could very well be the freakiest thing I've seen in a webcomic that wasn't mostly pornographic. Probably not the ideal strip one would want to see if reading this comic for the first time.

The Hero's Handbook

Then: "I know this comic is a parody and not a straightforward fantasy comic, so some pointless humor and plot devices are acceptable. However, clustering them all together within a short span of comic pages is just lazy in terms of storytelling. In a span of 13 strips, Lute breaks out of jail (with some help), conveniently finds the "Hero's Handbook," and spots nearby weaponry to fight the evil bandits."

Now: Hasn't updated in three months and change. The updates that have occurred since the above review was written haven't helped HHB suck any less.

Onward Bound by Darrick Chen and Dustin Baker

Then: "The setting appears to be a smorgasboard of different themes. It's set in an Old Western canon, yet the protagonist runs into a spellcasting mage, a sheriff with a metallic, steam-powered arm, and likes to smoke a slow-burning Dwarvish tobacco."

Now: The main link takes you to a page with a "Coming Soon" message. Not sure what's coming soon though.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Review #27: Pulpit of the Gnome

Not exactly subtle, is it?

Title: Kidnapped By Gnomes
Artist: Kathy Peterson
Genre: Humor, political
Updates: Mon, Thur

[Sorry folks, the doctor isn't including a secret narrative with this one. You'll have to just take the review as is.]

This comic is about two gnomes named Ed and Wilson. One of them is blue, and one is purplish. They appear to live with a women named Kathy (self-inserted character?), who is never actually shown in the comic but implied in offscreen speech bubbles.

Kathy says all the way back in strip #1 ("The Disclaimer") that they won't be including any references to " games, furries, tv shows, L33T speak, anime, obscure sci-fi, or underage Japanese girls in their panties." Okay, I'm pretty sure you've just driven off a good portion of your potential audience with that statement, but what have you decided the gnomes should talk about if you want to shy away from the usual pop culture references?

Apparently, the answer is politics. I will say it is difficult to do political satire that doesn't feel like writing an old man sitting on the porch yelling at everything, (I'm looking at you, Fighting Words Comics.) but is quite spectacular when done right. So how does Ms. Peterson deal with it? Apparently, by retreading the same ol' right-vs-left humor. The political satire is a little funny, but I've seen a lot better and edgier.

There's also a bit of situational humor to be found: Wilson has a crush on Ann Coulter as a running joke, Ed wants to conquer Delaware for some reason, and they both hate the vacuum cleaner. But it just isn't enough to hold my interest.

As for the artwork...if you pick one comic at random, you'll notice that there's a lot of unused blank space just sitting there that could be used for...well, something that's not blank space. The gnomes themselves look less like this and more like amorphous blobs. Not to mention the arms that only appear when the script calls for it and the balls for feet.

To conclude, the Doctor recommends you take a look at Monkey Law. It's a decent example of how to write political humor while making the characters into something more than just political mouthpieces.