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February 11, 2016

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 25: WYATT by Eric Gapstur

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

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Feature: WYATT
Creator: Eric Gapstur
Format: strip
Frequency: M/W/F, alternating Sundays
Recommended if you like: Superhero strips in a domestic setting, Calvin and Hobbes, Frazz, Ink Pen

 

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When I see the modern American family depicted on sitcoms, it's usually so depressing I want to leave the country. The kids always seem so smug, dry and disaffected; hyperstylized puppets for the jaded TV writers scripting their lines. So it's super refreshing to see a comic like WYATT, whose titular character shows an energy and excitement for life, getting into mischief while remaining all the more adorable for it. The premise of the strip is that Wyatt has superpowers, but is too young to use them for anything but extraordinary household feats. Naturally, this leads to all kinds of laughter and chaos.

 

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Wyatt would prefer to be fighting crime, like his police officer father, but his age forces him to be creative when it comes to using his superhuman abilities. It's a neat take on classic comic book tropes, and as an illustrator for DC, Dark Horse and other publishers, Gapstur is the right man for the job. There's even a little Calvin-like pizzazz to the colorful Sunday strips, and as Wyatt becomes more familiar to readers over time, I'm sure his own quirks and characteristics will begin to emerge even more. It also doesn't hurt that Wyatt has an intelligent, witty counterpart in his sister, Adeline.

 

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You can read more WYATT comics several times a week right here on GoComics.

January 28, 2016

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 24: The Quixote Syndrome

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

 

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Feature: The Quixote Syndrome
Creator: Peter Mann
Format: large format
Frequency: every Monday
Recommended if you like: Existential Comics, elaborate sketches torn out of the notebook of your Western Civ classmate who reads too much philosophy and eats too much acid.

 

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What exactly is "The Quixote Syndrome" ? Comic Historians I spoke with were baffled at the question. WebMD offered zero help. The cartoonist himself has referred to it as "a chronic graphic condition characterized by inflammation of the bookish imagination — often irreverent, occasionally profound, and always with a heavy dose of strange." A deep search in the annals of the Laugh Tracks blog revealed an interview with Peter Mann in which he states that the comic began as an accompaniment to his teachings in the freshman humanities program at Stanford University, where he earned a doctorate in History and Humanities.

 

My own personal scan of the TQC reveals something at once brilliant and juvenile — a mix of expressionism, surreal character sketches, and an illuminating look at historical riddles such as what became of Rasputin's, err... magic wand. The comic isn't for the faint-hearted, and doesn't offer much in the way of recurring characters, reliable punchlines or modern-day Web jargon such as "I eat all the bacon" (though it certainly could — both Nietzche and James Joyce are rumored to have been big fans of bacon). As an old friend and classmate of Peter's (full disclosure), I've been a big fan since Day 1. But the recent "Boy Giant and Beckett" series (a fictional blend of real events and actual Beckett quotes) has me revisiting the unusual comic all over again.

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Read The Quixote Syndrome every week right here on GoComics.

January 21, 2016

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 23: Leigh Luna Comics

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

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Feature: Clementine Fox (Leigh Luna Comics)
Creator: Leigh Luna
Format: large format
Frequency: every Monday
Recommended if you like: Fairy tales & adventures stories, The Chronicles of Narnia, Watership Down, Rupert Bear, A Midsummer Night's Dream

 

Because I have two small children, I spend a lot of time reading illustrated children's books (OK, I admit I owned many of them years before having kids. It's a great genre!). One of our favorite series is "Rupert," the British illustrated children's stories featuring the adventures of a bear and his various animal and fairy tale friends. The stories begin innocently enough, with something unusual happening in the house, backyard or village, but within a few pages you're swept up on some kind of adventure featuring mysterious villains, friendly fairies, and imaginative, unfamiliar environments. Leigh Luna's "Clementine Fox" adventure has all of those elements, and before I had finished reading the very first comic, I knew I'd be looking through the entire adventure, which updates every Monday. Each installment is about the equivalent of the page in a large comic/children's book, but the detail, shading and perspective in Luna's black-and-white illustrations gives them a life and depth that makes them each feel like an illustrated episode that you can spend some time with. (The strip occasionally breaks into color as well, such as the month of December 2014).

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The perspective in these strips is usually focused on the characters, but it occasionally opens up to wide vistas of the forests and hillside, heightening the sense that you're on an epic journey. Clementine Fox, Penelope Rabbit and Nubbins the Squirrel are a fun trio to cheer on, and the characters they meet along the way are entertaining as well. The dialogue isn't especially wordy or complex, (sometimes there are no words at all) but I've found the strip is best enjoyed if you take your time and read through them slowly. Oh yeah, and Nubbin' penchant for turning acorns into a sippable refreshment is pretty cool as well. I'm looking forward to accompanying this crew on future adventures, and to keeping up with the work of this enormously talented cartoonist.

 

Read more Leigh Luna Comics right here on GoComics.

 

 

January 14, 2016

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 22: The Adventures of Business Cat

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

 

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Feature: Business Cat
Creator: Tom Fonder
Format: strip
Frequency: Mondays
Recommended if you like: Feline CEOs

 

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The main character in this weekly office comedy is an authoritative, well-dressed, mostly dignified business executive. Nothing out of the ordinary, really, except for the small fact that he just happens to be a cat. It's a pretty simple premise, but with seemingly countless permutations that never fail to amuse. Instead of an ordinary mansion, Business Cat lives in a giant, modernist cat play structure. He uses his stature to order a new copy machine, then throws it out and uses the box as a play fort. While his colleagues are diligently working, he sneaks up, swats them with an open paw and then darts away. Basically, he does everything you or I might want to do in an office setting, except his feline nature gives him an excuse. Somehow, in spite of it all, Business Cat still seems believable as an executive. Maybe it's his massive chest and impressive suit, or his permanently stoic expression. Or maybe we just give him a pass because, in spite of his interspecial identity, Business Cat is human, all too human. After reading through the archives, I can understand why The Adventures of Business Cat has inspired fan translations in different languages and spontaneous Biz Cat costuming in countries far and wide. Creator Tom Fonder's art and writing is right on the money, with uncluttered artwork, economical writing and great use of silent panels. Plus, it's just one hell of a character.

 

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Read more The Adventures of Business Cat cartoons every day on GoComics. 

January 07, 2016

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 21: The Best Medicine

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster


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Feature: The Best Medicine
Creator: Izzy Ehnes
Format: panel/strip
Frequency: Mondays & Thursdays

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What if all things had consciousness? It sounds like a daffy proposition, the kind of question you might hear someone ask in the middle of an acid trip or during an expensive Introduction to New Age Philosophy seminar. But it's also the premise of an amusing and lighthearted comic strip by Izzy Ehnes, in which fire alarms, planets, and cotton balls are able to react and make observations on the terrifying, hilarious world around them. Oh, and it also features a lot of talking animals. Especially deer.

 

"The Best Medicine" succeeds through simplicity — the art is straightforward, and the punchlines don't require any explanation. In a world in which comics can often be complex and convoluted, this is a refreshing approach. Izzy does it so well, in fact, that her strip even earned accolades from Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis, who said "I first ran into Izzy at a comic convention in Petaluma, California, and I thought that her work was really funny. So I immediately told my syndicate about her. In all my years of syndication, I believe Izzy is the first person whose work I've recommended to my syndicate.”

 

When it comes to industry praise, it doesn't get much better than that. Check out "The Best Medicine" every Monday and Thursday right here on GoComics.

November 25, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 20: Speechless

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

 

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Feature: Speechless
Creator: Len Borozinski
Format: panel
Frequency: M/W/F
Recommended if you like: The Far Side, fairy tales, witches, Free Range Comic Strip

 

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Speechless is a great name for a comic strip, especially a comic strip that has (virtually) no words. Reading Speechless reminds me a little bit of leafing through a children's book where the animal characters and fairy tales stories have all been rewritten with slightly ironic or modern twists, delivered not with written explanations, but with a sly wink. Having to decipher the jokes and scenarios on your own activates a different part of your brain, or at least makes it work a little harder than usual. There are a lot of cows in Speechless, much like the Far Side, and there are also a lot of witches, especially during Halloween. I also detect subtle zen elements to the strip, such as those found in the early Ziggy strips, for example the recent panel in which the bear can't see the shooting/wishing stars because he's ascended too high searching for an enlightened view.

 

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There's a whole parable there contained in only one image. Art-wise, the comic is a combination of skilled line art and bright splashes of computerized color, which has evolved into more subtle gradients since the strip launched on GoComics in 2013. Speechless Cartoonist Len Borozinski is an experienced cartoonist who decided to try something more whimsical, colorful and entertaining after decades of editorial cartooning. With Speechless, he's succeeded in doing just that.

 

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Read more Speechless cartoons every day on GoComics. 

November 18, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 19: Tough Town

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

 

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Feature: Tough Town
Creator: Bob Shannon
Format: strip
Frequency: daily
Recommended if you like: Cow and Boy, Dinosaur Comics, reindeer

 

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Welcome to Tough Town, where the main character is Rudolph, a disillusioned, divorced reindeer who also happens to teach 4th grade when he's not hanging out with the aliens down at the local bar. If you're a fan of absurdity, clip art and reindeer, I think you'll like it here. To illustrate Tough Town, Bob Shannon uses Pixton.com, a digital storytelling platform that allows users to construct comics using their own art combined with the help of props, text, panels, etc. Much like the late great Cow and Boy, or the ever popular Dinosaur Comics, there is very little change in the expressions of the Tough Town characters from panel to panel, creating an atmosphere of statis that is the perfect breeding ground for deadpan humor. The lack of reaction from characters gives the reader the sense that even the most unusual events are totally normal in this space. So it's delightful, if not exactly surprising, when Tough Town introduces visiting characters like a possessed bowling ball, a sentient urine sample, a narcissistic bluebird of happiness, or an amorous Menorah.

 

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The thing I like most about Tough Town is that it consistently delivers good punchlines without ever feeling like it's trying too hard. Check out more of Rudolph's adventures and non-adventures every day right here on GoComics.

November 11, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 18: Robbie and Bobby

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

 

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Feature: Robbie and Bobby
Creator: Jason Poland
Format: strip
Frequency: Monday through Friday
Recommended if you like: Kate Beaton, Cul de Sac, Monty, children's books

 

Remember that kid you were in school with who drew really weird things in the margins of his notebooks, illustrating goofy jokes and stories starring bizarre characters he'd made up? (Heck, maybe you were that kid!) Even though I've read comics all my life, I don't know that I've ever been as fascinated as reading the ones drawn in front of my eyes by friends or classmates when I was a kid. I also don't know if I've seen a comic that captures that same excitement, imagination and sense of raw creativity quite like Robbie and Bobby by Jason Poland.

 

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Robbie and Bobby stars a boy and his robot, with cameo appearances from characters like Magnet Bat, Princess Bluestocking, Princess Boy (a pampered aristocrat who stars in his own Japanese cartoon) and Doctor Dinkus, the Learnosaurus. Poland has been drawing Robbie and Bobby since 2003, and the strip has evolved from frenetic pencil drawings to the more polished looking comic currently featured on his website. GoComics has been running Poland's treasure trove of Robbie and Bobby strips every weekday since 2013, giving fans a chance to enjoy and catch up on hundreds of the strips.

 

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While the classic friendship/antagonism dynamic of Robbie (the Robot) and Bobby (the Boy) is what drives the strip, the random topic they're discussing on any given day put it in a class by itself. Recent comics I enjoyed feature Fraggles, the White Witch from Narnia, Rapunzel, Super Mario, Peter Cetera and Super Mario Brothers. And that's just from a single fortnight. Other strips are almost dada in nature, featuring none of the main characters but exhibiting the same weirdness and charm.

 

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I look forward to seeing what Poland does in the future. In the meantime, I'll be reading even further into the Robbie and Bobby catalog right here on GoComics. 

October 28, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 17: Nest Heads

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

 

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Feature: Nest Heads
Creator: John Allen
Format: strip
Frequency: daily
Recommended if you like: Lola, Zits, The Buckets, Frazz, Real Life Adventures

 

As readers of this blog feature know, I tend to enjoy the weirder, more unconventional GoComics offerings, many of which started out as webcomics. But there's something exceptionally satisfying about a comic strip about everyday life when it's done as well as "Nest Heads." The long-running family comic strip by John Allen, syndicated by Creators, is sharp and funny, with wry observations on domestic life, politics, pop culture and social interactions. Charlie and Jeannie are a likable, approachable baby-boomer couple, and all three generations of the Stevens family are reliable sources of humor and entertainment. Recently, Chet found himself in the middle of a controversy when a comic of his for the school paper resulted in vehement protests from the pet-owning community (a scenario people in my profession are quite familiar with). Click the strip below to get to the start of that series.

 

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Currently underway is a series detailing the six basic categories of Halloween costumes.

 

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Nest Heads is refreshing because it keeps a positive and humorous tone rather than a snarky, exasperated take on family foibles. It's a pleasant, attractive comic that offers something for everyone. Read more Nest Heads every day on GoComics.

October 07, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 16: Berkeley Mews

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

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Feature: Berkeley Mews
Creator: Ben Zaehringer
Format: strip
Frequency: currently updates every Monday
Recommended if you like: Poorly Drawn Lines, Perry Bible Fellowship, Invisible Bread, Up and Out, Pie Comic

 

What is Berkeley Mews exactly? A left-coast college for cats? A hybrid of Bloom County and Garfield? The title obscures more than it reveals. The art and writing, however, is crystal clearly a treat for fans of Web comics and uplifting black humor. If Berkeley Mews were taught at the actual Berkeley, however, it would be rife with trigger warnings: "Do not read if you have had traumatic experiences with child-eating witches. Avoid at all costs if you can't bear to see Tom Cruise in distress." Here in GoComics country, however, the mildly sociopathic comedy of strips like Berkeley Mews are a welcome treat for the brave reader. Never mind the toilet paper icon on the A-Z listing and the strip's banner: Berkeley Mews is anything but a throwaway read.

 

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Read more Berkeley Mews every Monday on GoComics.

September 30, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 15: Unstrange Phenomena

A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster

 

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Feature: Unstrange Phenomena
Creator: Ed Allison
Format: strip
Frequency: currently updates every Monday
Recommended if you like: interplanetary pseudoscience, Tom The Dancing Bug, a hilarious and totally non-factual alternate world version of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not"

 

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What's more fun than fun facts? Fun facts that aren't true, of course. But not just plain old untrue — spectacularly, wildly, imaginatively, cosmically untrue. And with nice spot-colored illustrations, to boot. Such is the domain of "Unstrange Phenomena," a slight mis-characterization of what is in fact a genuinely strange reading experience. For example: all that recent hubbub in the news about discovering water on Mars? "Unstrange Phenomena" had even more exciting information about the makeup of the red planet years ago...

 

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"Unstrange Phenomena" has a social conscience as well, dealing with issues ranging from immigration to the illegal pet trade, sometimes in the very same strip.

 

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After reading through a lot of the U.P. archives on GoComics, I'm a much more informed citizen of the world than I was a few hours ago. And even if 100% of that information is totally bogus, I feel a lot better off for it and had some good laughs along the way. Give it a try yourself, right here on the world's finest indie/syndie comics powerhouse, GoComics.

September 23, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 14: McArroni

In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing.

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Feature: McArroni
Creator: Julian Loayza & Carmen Perez
Format: color illustration, various
Frequency: currently updates every Monday
Recommended if you like: a hybrid of Angry Birds and fine art with a Charlie Chaplin slapstick sensibility

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I love comic strips with no words. Something about discovering their meaning or punchline without any verbal clues allows me to appreciate them more on an artistic level. And there's plenty of artistic integrity to the unusual McArroni comic, which has run on GoComics since 2012 and has been in existence since 2008. Animator Julian Loayza created the strip with his wife, Carmen, before moving to the United Arab Emirates to work in the coffee trade.

 

The strip stars a mischievous bird and his friend Amadeo, but there aren't really storylines as much as odd scenes and situations rendered in colorful, detailed drawings. In 2014, the creators of McArroni posted black-and-white drawings every day, and later that year experimented with collage and photoshop techniques. But it's the classic, colorful illustrations that best define McArroni, and which you can currently read every Monday on GoComics.

 

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September 16, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 13: Bent Objects

In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing.


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Feature: Bent Objects
Creator: Terry Border
Format: single-panel photography and sculpture
Frequency: three days a week (M/W/F)
Recommended if you like: Seeing food items and other small objects anthropomorphize in fascinating, delightful ways.

 

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Terry Border takes playing with your food to the level of an art form. Using still photography and wire sculpture, his longtime project "Bent Objects" stages food items and other small objects in bizarre, inventive scenarios. Much like the action figure photography of Chris McVeigh or the pioneering claymation work of Will Vinton, "Bent Objects" creates its own universe, one in which previously inanimate objects assume a new sense of scale and a bizarre sense of purpose. It's not hard to imagine a hallucination-filled sequel to "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" featuring set designs and animations from Terry Border. Only it would have to be a more positive and fun-sounding title, like "Delight and Imagination at the Breakfast Table."

 

What's most remarkable to me about "Bent Objects" is not just the picture-perfect personifying and juxtaposing of food objects, but how consistently great they are. A scroll through the samples on Terry's website shows the following: a posse of marshmallows holding up a match to a tied-up traitor marshmallow, a trio of zombie peanuts cracking open the shell of a victim and eating his insides, and an old raisin with a cane tottering through a cluster of ripe, green grapes. It's like reading a series of offbeat short stories, a sensation that's only aided by the witty, succinct captions. As the late Roger Ebert once said of Border's work: "brilliant."

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Read more "Bent Objects" every M/W/F on GoComics.

September 09, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 12: Molebashed

In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing.

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Feature: Molebashed
Creator: Wes Molebash
Format: strip
Frequency: three days a week (M/W/F)
Recommended if you like: humorous and heartfelt observations about the weirdness and wonder of being a new parent

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There's something isolating about being a new parent, even for those lucky enough to have friends or family members going through the same experience at roughly the same time. The demands an infant puts on your time, attention and emotions can feel all-consuming, and even with the support of your partner, you're often awake for hours holding your newborn and asking yourself how it's possible that your life changed so suddenly and dramatically. On the other hand, having a kid is heart-expanding and can be tons of fun. So it's with great excitement that I began reading the comic strip "Molebashed" on GoComics — it felt like (retroactively) having a companion during those first few weeks of weirdness and wonder.

 

An largely autobiographical strip by cartoonist Wes Molebash, this thrice-weekly feature begins with the journey to the hospital and continues from there, with sharp artwork, wry observations on being a parent and — to my mind — incredibly true-to-life observations about the supreme comedy of raising a human (the pull-out chair thing in the strip above is identical to the one I spent two nights on in April 2012). It's also been remarkable to me how quickly the rituals of child-raising can become routine, but with a keen sense of awareness and humor about the situation, I have a feeling the Molebashes' journey will be anything but boring. Read the whole thing from the start right here on GoComics.

September 02, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 11: Up and Out

In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing.

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 Feature: Up and Out
Creator: Jeremy Kaye
Format: varies
Frequency: three days a week
Recommended if you like: sadistic cats, creepy uncles, undead friends, hapless hobo-kidnapping criminals, cat-puters

 

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Let me first just say how much I've enjoyed the evolution in popular comic strips over the past decade. While classics like Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes and Red and Rover will always be regarded as the gold standard of family-oriented newspaper comic strips, the online comics that receive thousands of views these days are often way too weird or subversive for a mass print audience. Which isn't to say either category is better than the other. Just that it's nice that today's cartoonists are able to explore dark, weird and socially questionable material online, whereas on the print side we still get complaints about things like ketchup being depicted as fake blood in a Lio daily. In other words, print comics have to worry about not offending anyone, while Web cartoonists are often all about pushing the envelope.

 

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All of that being said, however, even the open-minded and black-humored among you might well find something to disapprove of in the delightfully sociopathic "Up and Out," a comic written and illustrated by Jeremy Kaye, in which women are hit on at their husband's funerals and a child is incinerated for messing up the Pledge of Allegiance. "Up and Out" has been online for a few years, with many of the strips popping up on reddit or Tumblr. Kaye also recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to publish his first "Up and Out" collection. In the meantime, fans of weird, awkward and sadistic humor should check out "Up and Out" on GoComics. In spite of all the blood, death, kidnapping, meanness and disappointment, I found reading "Up and Out" to be a positive and lighthearted experience.

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See for yourself right here on GoComics.

August 26, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 10: Lard's World Peace Tips

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Feature: Lard's World Peace Tips
Creator: Keith Tutt and Daniel Saunders
Format: strip
Frequency: daily
Recommended if you like: peace, silliness, Toothpaste For Dinner

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It was an exciting discovery to find out we had something on our roster in which the main character is named, and who also resembles, Lard. Lard is an affable, round little fellow in pursuit of an ambitious aim: world peace. A collaboration between accomplished author Keith Tutt and illustrator Daniel Saunders, both of the U.K, Lard's World Peace Tips is a fun daily nugget of amusement. Even when the suggestions themselves seem totally absurd, Lard's wish for peace feels genuine, and you keep rooting him on. (In fact, you can submit your own tips for world peace on the comic's website.) The art style reminds me a little bit of a simple, psychedelic take on Britain's famous "Rupert the Bear" characters, with the character Little Joe a cute castaway from David the Gnome's forest. But that description hardly does "Lard" justice. It's a harmonious self-contained universe, and one I'll definitely be revisiting again and again.
And...

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...one that you can check out every day right here on GoComics!

August 19, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol. 9: Shutterbug Follies

In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing.

 

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Feature: Shutterbug Follies
Creator: Jason Little
Format: single page
Frequency: Mondays and Thursdays
Recommended if you like: graphic novels, thrillers, Ghost World, Charles Burns

 

When I first started reading graphic novels in the mid-aughts, I felt a tingle of excitement similar to when I first dug into art forms like jazz, or documentary films -- exciting new worlds that existed totally outside of my nascent awareness of them. Early additions to my graphic novel shelf included Daniel Clowes' Ghost World, Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, Charles Burns' Black Hole and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. Right next to those was a lesser-known classic called Shutterbug Follies by a cartoonist named Jason Little.

 

Shutterbug Follies contained a high level of intrigue and suspense (a style he referred to as "bubblegum noir") along with a strong sense of time and place, (New York, fresh out of high school, a time just before digital photography became cheap and ubiquitous). My boss at Universal thought it would make a great feature film, and I agreed. But I also thought its magic fit perfectly into the fish-eye-lens-shaped comic panels that populated the pages of the graphic novel. The bad news is I no longer have a copy, having given it away to a friend several years ago. The good news is the whole thing is online for you and me to read and reread. Where? Where else but GoComics, of course. Check the whole thing out starting here

August 05, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol 8: Free Range

In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing.

 

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Feature: Free Range
Creator: Bill Whitehead
Format: single-panel
Frequency: daily
Recommended if you like: Reality Check, Off The Mark, Kliban, Close To Home

 

When I explained a job to a friend of mine recently, he told me that I should check out the comics drawn by our friend Thomas's dad. "He posts it every day on Facebook!" my friend told me excitedly. "Oh, great," I thought. For a comics editor/proofreader, hearing that a family friend draws comics is usually prelude to reading dozens of cliched or poorly constructed gags, pretending that you think they are funny, and then receiving a lifetime subscriptions of emails from them "just checking in" to see if you're interested in helping them find their strip a larger audience. But in this case, Thomas's dad turned out to be Bill Whitehead, the author of the daily "Free Range" comic. Not only is "Free Range" a longstanding single-panel strip syndicated by Creators, it appears every day on GoComics! "Free Range" doesn't exactly rewrite the book on single panel comics, but it's also not trying to, and that's a big part of what I like about it. It's very comfortable in its own skin. It inhabits the cliched scenarios of one-panel comics through the decades (psychiatrist's office, homeless guy on the street, guy lost in the desert), but approaches them with a freshness and humor that feels anything but cliche. Many of my favorite gags (a few of which are posted below) get a great joke across without requiring any words. The detailed, colorful artwork is also very impressive for a daily strip. I've enjoyed these on Facebook for a couple of years now, but am happy that it's available to everyone else via GoComics as well. Here's a few more recent faves: 

 

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Read more Free Range comics every day on GoComics!

July 29, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol 7: Pie Comic

In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing.

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Feature: Pie Comic
Creator: John McNamee
Format: large formats
Frequency: 3+ times a week
Recommended if you like: Invisible Bread, Poorly Drawn Lines, PBF Comics, XKCD, Creased Comics

 

When searching for a good candidate for this week's post, I scrolled past the words "Pie Comic." What a delicious and simple title! I love pie, and I work for GoComics. How come I have never heard of this strip? The answer, it turns out, is that it just launched on GoComics two weeks ago. However, the strip's creator, John McNamee, has built a large following for Pie Comic on Tumblr and other sites for the past decade or so. With his other writing credits including stories and videos for The Onion and sketch comedy troupes, John's imagination and talent seem especially well suited for comics. I like the simple but fun-to-look-at art, the sharp and effective punchlines, and the fact that you never know who the characters will be from strip to strip or what unexpected turns things will take. Here's a couple more recent examples:

 

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Read more Pie Comic today right here at GoComics.

July 22, 2015

GoComics A to Z, Vol 6: Reply All

In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing.

 

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Feature: Reply All
Creator: Donna A. Lewis
Format: four panels
Frequency: daily
Recommended if you like: Cathy, Dilbert, humor related to office politics, self-appearance and family members who don't know how to use email properly

 

Each week we get submissions detailing people's childhood dreams of creating a syndicated comic strip. Many of them write that it's the only job they could ever imagine having. But it's often those who have labored in other professions who wind up finding the most joy and consistency in the cartooning profession. In other words, when you work hard for something and know what the alternative looks like, it's hard to take that success for granted. At least that's the vibe I get from Donna A. Lewis, whose daily comic "Reply All" chronicles the day-to-day neuroses and social interactions of Lizzie, a highly self-aware single woman in the public relations industry. Like Stephan Pastis, Lewis has a background in law, and she still works as an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security even while producing "Reply All," which has been syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group since 2011. Lewis' art isn't terribly sophisticated, but when it comes to the writing, the characters' clever exchanges, modern concerns and streamlined dialogue give "Reply All" a subversive, socially conscious flair. For example, take the two-day sequence on mansplaining below.

 

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The issue is handled in a way that a white male reader like me (presumably the most offending category of "mansplainers") feels in on the joke. The feminine perspective will appeal to readers of Cathy (a character Lewis has said she does not personally identify with), and the office humor is similar at times to Dilbert, but "Reply All" feels more of-the-moment than those two classics, like a comic your witty colleague doodled during a meeting and made everyone in the office giggle. Which, in fact, is exactly how "Reply All" came into being. Here's a couple more recent strips: 

 

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Read more "Reply All" every day right here on GoComics.com!

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