While I’m somewhat reluctant to talk about Jeph Jacques’ surreal slice-of-life webcomic Questionable Content (due to the fact I’ve written over two dozen articles on the comic in the seven years Tangents has updated), I have to admit that the newest running gag concerning Claire’s continued calamitous comedic attempts at puns has forced me, screaming and kicking, away from Skyrim and back to reviewing. (It was tempting to claim that Glych had me tied up in the corner somewhere while she worked on the site, but I’ve found honesty is the best approach to these things; besides, anyone who’s run a modded Skyrim knows of how tempting it is to play with the wide variety of mods.)
The funny thing is, I’m not really a fan of Claire or her usual target, Emily. As I’ve mentioned before, I felt the current cast was well crafted and had plenty of potential for additional stories and development. And seeing that Marten and his core group of friends had a tendency to riff on a variety of topics, it would be fairly simple for one of them to start punning in turn. Still, having Claire constantly inflicting puns on the others does help provide her with a quirk that suits her. We’ve seen her tendency to jump to conclusions (due perhaps in part to her own background) and the fact she’s fairly high-strung. Having her constantly try and fail to be funny works somehow.
Of course, the reason it really works is the Fozzie Bear grin Claire pastes on her face as she tries desperately to get a laugh in response. I can even relate with her desperate plea in the final panel as I’ve killed a number of jokes in the telling; I can mimic the cadence and tone of a comedian and yet the joke just lies there, twitches a couple of times, and then gives a tiny little whimper before it dies. Not even Emily is able to save one of Claire’s jokes, though to be honest it was a fairly weak pun. And in the end, this may add a touch of charm to Claire as she tries desperately to fit in with humor that falls flat. The true question is how long can this gag run before Claire’s touch of death drags it into the grave.
For those of you who only check on the fantasy stick-figure webcomic Order of the Stick once a week (or less often) due to its… irregular updating schedule (resulting from a conflict between broken glass and cartoonist Rich Burlew’s thumb, though let’s be honest – the comic never had a set update schedule even before Burlew was hurt), for the last week OotS has been updating daily. This has continued into the weekend, and includes multiple twists… including several revelations about Malach that were quite the shock to me (and to poor Durkon).
In many ways Moloch has proven to be a far greater threat to the group than the rest of the Linear Guild (or Tarquin), even though the only two protagonists to face him have been our fuzzy-headed halfling and Durkon. And given his abilities, I suspect Malach would prove a threat to the rest of the crew as well; whether or not the inevitable appearance of Vaarsuvius will tip the tide or merely continue the mad caper to include yet more of our adventuring band remains to be seen (though I must admit some amusement that Durkon considers Roy to be stronger-willed than most of their companions – not that I dispute this, but as a gamer I’m familiar with the vulnerabilities warriors have to enchantments).
Ultimately this only serves to weaken the crew to the point that they will not be able to stand up to Xykon and Redcloak (remember them?) when they inevitably return at the worse possible moment. And return they will; I very much doubt our heroes will have a chance to rest and recuperate, leaving our heroes the horrific choice of destroying yet another Gate (assuming there’s a way to do so or that they can even find the Gate in time) or retreating in the hopes they can wrest it back from our foes in time. In short, Burlew is back in grand style, and so too is his magnificent fantasy comic. OoTS is still as powerful as it was when it started, and best of all, there’s nowhere for it to go but up.
Addendum note: And as usual I’m wrong. I must admit, I did not expect what happened to Durkon. I can see several plot twists ahead… and it works quite well with the prophecy concerning Durkon which also suggests that he’s not going to be restored. Still… what should truly be interesting is how this changes Belkar. He’s already started to walk away from the path of evil by caring for a mere cat. But to witness the loss of Durkon… and to wonder why he himself still lives when Durkon fell? That’s enough to change anyone.
Around three years ago, I reviewed a coming-of-age comic called Taiki about a teenage girl in high school. While I initially considered the comic to be yet another high school comic, Taiki ended up being more about Taiki’s realization that she was gay, and her relationships and friendships while in school. Still, I must admit one of the reasons I read the comic was it was on my update schedule; there weren’t really any special moments or elements that stood out and encouraged me to review the strip after the initial review.
This saddens me as the notable event that has finally drawn a Secant from me is cartoonist Laura Knatt’s decision to wrap up the comic with Taiki’s graduation from high school. While Knatt originally intended on the storyline continuing past high school, her decision to end things here make sense. The comic first began when Taiki started school (though I don’t recall if she was in her Junior or Senior year; she was sixteen, so it seems likely the comic went through a couple years of school). Thematically, ending things now creates a proper sense of closure for the strip.
If there’s one problem that Taiki suffered from, it would be the diffuse nature of the strip. The comic accurately portrayed the lack of purpose that many teenagers in high school suffer from… but when telling a story, it’s helpful to have a clear objective in mind. The lack of a significant plotline resulted in the comic drifting from story to story without leaving a true impact. This isn’t to say the comic wasn’t enjoyable; it is (and worth reading even as it has ended). But while the comic touches upon several elements including a young lesbian’s realization of who and what she is, it failed to impart much emotion into these revelations.
It’s only natural a comic that focused on the day-to-day life of the faerie Robin “Puck” Goodfellow would have its share of odd characters, especially seeing that cartoonist ElectricGecko chose to depict Puck as a redhaired woman when the comic first appeared in a college newspaper back in 1998. As such, Puck’s cast included such varied characters as Pucks’ succubus college roommate Phoebe and her father, Satan (who naturally “ran” the college). While the comic moved past its college roots when ElectricGecko rebooted the comic in 2011, Satan did end up coming along (retired) only to rear his shadowy head as ElectricGecko decided to indulge in that time-honored trend of many humor cartoonists: political humor.
Interestingly enough, while you may have heard of the “politics of Hell” at some point (which are decidedly Machiavellian in nature), I can’t really recall too many instances of the Devil being depicted as a politician or being into politics. Given the ineptitude of Satan in the comic (seriously, he recruits a mob boss as his opponent in a Mayoral election so he can have “real” competition… and then has troubles depicting himself as the better choice) the latest comic with Satan driving through a slum insulting the inhabitants with a megaphone (including Puck, who’s rather pregnant at this point) is pretty much par for the course for him.
I must admit that while it’s hilarious watching Satan panic as Puck chases his car down the street after he called her a “crack-whore” (seeing that she lives next to a crack-house), I feel there’s potential for his inclusion in the comic outside of his inevitable defeat as mayor. Seeing that Puck and her boyfriend are living with his daughter Phoebe (who he apparently forgot lives in the neighborhood – not surprising as Satan’s always been depicted as mildly inept in the comic) there is plenty of potential for non-political comics, say if he got it in his head Phoebe should settle down and give him grandkids or the like. And while most of the cast help act as Puck’s foil at one point or another, I suspect Satan would do it with style and panache, while giving her a chance to prevail at the same time.
Given the tradition of new beginnings on the start of the New Year, it may come as no surprise for comics to choose January 1st to emerge from the dread mists of hiatus. Thus it probably should come as no surprise that Rich Burlew’s epic stick-figure fantasy comic Order of the Stick has chosen to emerge from a three-month-hiatus on this date, with a musical recap interlude that could only have been more amusing if Buffy and crew had sung it while fighting demons. What makes it even more fun is the reaction of Elan’s companions to his suggestion (with Belkar begging their priest to deafen him once more, while Roy groused at how recaps don’t advance the story).
As recaps go, it was fairly quick and summed things up for the current storyline quite nicely; amusingly enough, it even proved Roy wrong as Elan proves he isn’t a complete idiot as well as he used the recap to reveal he sussed out the fact they’re fighting Elan’s father (a realization Roy was about to reveal himself prior to Elan’s insistence on recapping the story). Best of all, it even gave Burlew a chance to explain in-comic the reason for the hiatus (as he’d cut his thumb against glass and couldn’t bend it nor draw; and yes, there’s enough artistry in the stick figures that he couldn’t just “work around it”). In any event, it’s good to see OotS’s return; of all the comics to go on hiatus, this is one of the few I missed the most.
Each December, Randy Milholland enjoys toying with his readers by pulling a last-minute plot-twist to end out the year. This year’s Something Positive is no different in this regard. But while in years past Milholland did such little teasers as having PeeJee sleeping with Davan (as in curled up in bed with him without his knowing) or Davan’s (dead) friend Scotty Scotty stealing the contents of a time capsule for “dickery from beyond the grave,” or even the suggestion that Davan was Rory’s father (which in many ways he is, if not in blood), I must admit that this latest twist caught me completely by surprise, with Vanessa proposing to Davan right after stating her intention to go away to graduate school.
It is an extremely sweet and adorable scene, especially seeing that my best friend’s fiancée proposed to him as well (though admittedly she’s not going away to college or anything so the Long Distance Relationship aspect isn’t there). It’s also admittedly evil of Milholland, seeing that I’m a firm believer that 99% of all long distance relationships are doomed to failure; yes, I’m a romantic at heart, but I also believe that without physical contact, relationships tend to drift apart. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but loneliness can sunder all but the strongest of relationships. So as far as Milholland being evil to his primary protagonist, I’m not quite sure how much more evil he could get than this.
When Alina Pete decided to have her cast of characters in Weregeek LARP (Live-Action RolePlaying) for the White Wolf game Werewolf: The Apocalypse, I admit I was curious as to seeing how this would play out. About the closest I’ve come to LARPing is participating in an SCA event as a guest probably a decade ago (though I’m sure members of the SCA would look at me askew if I called their “reenactments” a LARP in front of them), and while some of my friends were a part of Boffers for a bit (which is something akin to a fantasy SCA in that people still use padded swords on one another, but tend not to build actual armor from what I could gather) I never really was into LARPing at all.
The first part of Pete’s Werewolf game was fairly true to her renditions of her characters’ Vampire game; we basically were given a mind’s eye view colored by imagination, but never really got into the nitty-gritty of things. But finally a week back, we finally caught a glimpse at the more… mundane aspects of the game. And it is logical enough for people to use props such as a massive puppet similar to the Chinese Dragons in some parades; it’s on par with the use of miniatures in regular tabletop roleplaying. But I must admit that it never dawned on me that people would use rock-paper-scissors to represent the die-rolling aspect to determine who actually prevails.
For all that I enjoy watching Pete’s imaginative renditions of the various games she loves to play (and which her characters are involved in), I must admit I truly appreciate this brief outside glimpse at what’s behind the game. While I doubt I’d ever get involved in LARPing (seeing that I tend to prefer running games instead of dealing with the unpleasantness of vindictive GameMasters who gleefully kill any character I run) it’s interesting to learn more about these games and how they’re run. And who knows; maybe some of Pete’s readers might become interested enough to try joining a LARP themselves. I’m sure Pete would be tickled to learn she’s inspired her readers to try something new.
Posted in Secant
Tagged Gamer comics