One thing I particularly enjoy about Candi is that (outside of evil intelligent squirrels and a talking telekinetic ferret) it is grounded in reality. While I’ve not been back to college in years (having graduated over a decade ago), Starline X Hodge manages to capture the feel and energy found in many colleges. One thing I remember is the occasional blood drives; to be honest, much like Hodge’s Candi, I don’t particularly like needles and avoided giving blood until I started working where I am now (the company has four blood drives a year, with everything all set up at work). But that never stopped the cry for blood, and wry comments by college students of the nurses being vampires draining our blood.
I will have to admit this: giving blood hurts. I don’t care what the nurses claim. When you have a bloody needle stuck into your arm for five to ten minutes, it’s going to hurt. In fact, my arm still aches from giving blood five days ago. Thus I can fully sympathize with the character Candi, who was cajoled into giving blood because she’s apparently a universal donor – blood type O negative. (To be honest, I’d think Candi wouldn’t be large enough to donate; I doubt she’s 100 lbs. after a rain shower soaks her through.) I also sympathize with the character learning that she could pass out after giving blood; while I’ve not passed out, I regularly feel dizzy and ill after donating, and have to admit it would be interesting to see if Hodge goes with this path or if she’ll go straight for the faint.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure if the depiction of the nurses is accurate, seeing that Candi barely passed the iron test and is reluctant to give blood. Donors are often given every chance to back out, but the young lady who convinced Candi to donate is determined to get some blood from her. But seeing that my blood type’s on the opposite spectrum (AB positive), I suspect my blood’s not nearly as vital to emergency services as someone like Candi. As for my personal suspicion, I think we’ll learn after everything’s said and done that Candi was wrong about her blood type. For now, I remain tickled (if still a tad sore) that so soon after I gave blood, that I get to see a favorite comic focusing on this topic as well.
Hannalore has long been a favorite of Questionable Content fans. I think part of this lies with the combination of her innocence and the fact she’s a “wounded bird” with some significant psychological issues; this tends to trigger protective tendencies among fans. (It also helps that she’s quite cute, in a waifish fashion.) Today’s update, with Hannelore dressed up quite prettily for her pretend date with Sven was quite cute. But what truly made today’s update shine was Hannelore getting distracted by the mathematical models behind proper levels of blushing for received compliments; this is the Hannelore that has delighted thousands of fans. My hat’s also off to Jeph Jacques for varying his artistic format; the double-tall first panel was a nice reveal of Hannelore’s outfit, while the extra panels allowed the story to flow more effectively and bring out Hannelore’s charm.
A problem many fantasy webcomics suffer from is the mundanity of the fantasy environment. All too often fantasy worlds are often depicted as much like reality, but with monsters and things that go bump-in-the-night added to spice things up a bit. As such, the surreal potential behind fantasy is often ignored. While the fantasy comic Footloose has hinted at the surreal aspect of its environment (with croissant trees being one of my favorite elements), it is the visuals of the Emerald City which helps drive home the alien aspects of Faerie. This is one city where Dread Cthulhu would likely feel at home… and is a testament to the wild imagination of co-creators Emily Brady and Ally Nuttall.
Normally I avoid reviewing new comics; at least, until they’ve established themselves and shown they’re not about to suffer from the webcomic heat death called hiatus. I’m bending this rule for two reasons: first, David Willis is an established cartoonist who’s been putting comics on the web since before I started reading them (let alone reviewing them). He’s earned a pass on this. And second? Dumbing of Age is a delightful homage to Willis’ first (and in some ways best) work: Roomies.
That’s not to say that It’s Walky or Joyce and Walky aren’t good comics. (I’ll pass on Shortpacked; it was more miss than hit with me, and I almost never bother to check on it anymore. Though I must admit, the recent “crossover” with Something Positive and Girls with Slingshots with the hairless kitten was amusing enough, and if Willis ever had the S*P chibi catgirls swarm and devour the intestines of Head Alien I’d probably be cheering right along with everyone else.) But there was something special about Roomies; I don’t know if it was the college setting or the gradual slide into dramatic storytelling.
Dumbing of Age doesn’t bother with previous continuities. We don’t have alien abductees (yet) (though considering Walky and Sal know they’re siblings in DoA, I’m doubtful the aliens will be here; at least, not in the same capacity), and Walky is actually taking college classes with the others (though he’s not run across Joyce yet). Hell, if you look in the background here you can see Mike and Dina (the hat-girl who got blown up in IW); DoA gives Willis the chance to pull out all the stops and bring back old favorites.
Along with the reboot comes new art; Willis has gone full-out, designing multiple outfits for each character (seeing that normal people don’t have five of the same outfit in their closet). Willis also brings 13 years of artistic improvement to the series, giving DoA a significantly improved look over Roomies (and, for that matter, It’s Walky). I especially appreciate the effort Willis is putting into backgrounds; far too many comics skimp on backgrounds (though considering how much actual work goes into the art I can understand their lack in even well-established comics).
There’s not really much else to say. Dumbing of Age is a bit of a reimagining of Roomies, so we get such things as Roomies-era Joyce (with the innocence and naivety that led to such delightful phrases as “premarital hanky-panky!”) but brought forward to the 21st Century with Facebook and related social networking media (and really effective cyberblocking software). Another shift from Roomies lies with the focus of the strip, with Joyce taking over the primary character role from Danny; how long this lasts we’ll have to wait and see. Much as Joyce started to muscle in on Danny’s turf in the original Roomies, so too do I suspect we’ll see other characters shift the focus more and more from Joyce. In the meantime, I definitely recommend this strip; considering we’ve had 11 updates to date, the archives won’t take long to peruse. For now.
Addendum note: Reading Roomies is not required to get into Dumbing of Age. As continuity with his previous webcomic series has been tossed out the window, DoA is an entirely new beastie that homages its past, but is not burdened by it. Just in case I went off on a tangent instead of making that clear….
While the most recent update of Blip does little to actually continue the storyline, I must admit I found the 11 Stages of Virus Grief to be an amusing take on the Kübler-Ross model (often referred to as the five stages of grief). I don’t know who hasn’t suffered from a virus or malware attack these days, so these steps are something many of us can empathize with. Of course, I’m not quite sure Step 11 is much different than Step 2 (to be honest, it took me a tiny bit to realize K was spitting on the computer in panel 11), but I could easily see this becoming a new internet meme for those of us fighting computer viral infestations… and wishing that we could nuke the bastards who wrote that malignant code back into the stone age.
Addendum note: Don’t look up the comment under #4, Depression. Not even on Wikipedia. Not if you value your innocence. Trust me on this.
There’s times I run across webcomics that defy easy description. If they have a storyline, it’s either so complex that it would take several pages to sum up, or so confusing that I’m left saying “you’ll have to read it for yourself; I can’t sum it up.” L.A.W.L.S. (Large Air Whales Like Silence) is definitely in the latter category, and I’ve been waiting for over a month hoping that some flashback or information dump would occur and help explain just what’s going on here. Sadly, there’s been no such luck; in fact, I suspect I’d be in for a long wait.
The short of the comic is that it’s about a guy named Joseph who’s wandering through a surreal landscape looking for an Air Whale so he can bludgeon it to death. And along the way he beats up on semi-cute (and some not-so-cute) talking critters, gets beaten up by some girl named Candace who hates pogs (and whose story ends up being more interesting than Joesph’s), and finds out that God hates gay fish. Oh, and some Hitler parody named Twitler is in the comic, too. If all that doesn’t sound like I’ve been drinking an entire bottle of Scotch before writing this, then obviously my spellchecker is working better than expected.
Obviously there are people out there who like these surreal gag-oriented comics, especially if the comic tries to offend as many people as possible. I must admit, it is decently drawn and I rather like Candace (who looks like she’s trying to grow out a dye job) and watching as the antics of the talking critters slowly drive her toward homicide. But I’m not really sure what else LAWLS has to offer. I will warn you that if you’re not amused by bathroom humor, get offended by slams against God or the like, then you probably should avoid this comic. But if you’re into the surreal comic scene and enjoy semi-structured streams of consciousness comics over completely random gag strips, LAWLS may be what you’ve been looking for.