Archive for the ‘webcomics’ Category

Is it PTBATTD* already?

10 May 2010

Today as I was driving home, when I was about three blocks from home, on a busy and slow road, I saw this guy.

He was wearing black cargo shorts with shiny silver snaps and buckles and maybe studs.  Shiny!  The shorts ended just above his knees.  He was wearing tall black boots, made of what seemed to be canvas, laced up the front, to just below his knees.

His knees were covered in some sort of black neoprene-looking material, perhaps some sort of leggings, but it was hard to tell because of the black cargo shorts and the black boots.

He was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and a black pocket-covered vest, like a photographer’s vest, over the top.

He was pushing a black bicycle up the hill.

And he was black.

So imagine, you are sitting in your car, and you see this guy.  Who is this guy?  Why is he wearing these clothes?  Have you ever seen anyone wearing black canvas lace-up boots and black cargo pants with shiny silver snaps and buckles?  I was happy the traffic was very slow, because I totally stared at the guy.

I wondered if he was having “Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day” (PTBATTD) today.  This is a holiday invented by Aaron Diaz, the artist of one of my favorite webcomics, Dresden Codak.  Shortly after he invented it, the holiday became much more popular than his webcomic.  Originally the holiday was in December (2008), then moved to September in 2009.

Maybe the guy was pretending to be a guy from the future who was completely misinformed about the fashions of 2010, or perhaps he’d gotten the year wrong when he entered the coordinates into his time machine.

I think it would be fun to celebrate PTBATTD, but it is the sort of thing where you need a group so you can video people reacting and then all have a good laugh over beer afterward.

Good Advice

28 March 2009

Yesterday’s Unshelved contains 2 of my three New Years’ Resolutions for 2009.  The other resolution is “weed,” which I have already done some of (I pulled three weeds from among the crocuses yesterday).

More recommended webcomics

26 December 2008

It’s been a while since I told you to go read Girl Genius, which is still my favorite webcomic, and xkcd, which runs a close second.  They are still the only webcomics from which I actually own merchandise.  However, I have some more to recommend that you check out.

First, the delightful and charming tale of a young yeti on his own in the forest: The Abominable Charles Christopher.  Charles Christopher is the yeti, a naïve but large character with an open heart and a silent demeanor.  He travels and makes friends, exploring his world.  In addition to following Charles Christopher’s adventures, the comic (by Karl Kerschl) also portrays vignettes featuring the other furred and feathered denizens of the woods.  Soap operas play out among the birds and rabbits, and while I would never watch a soap opera on TV, Kerschl’s art is engaging and his animals expressive and I am drawn in.  Give Charles Christopher a try if you liked Watership Down, or if you enjoy Miyazaki films such as My Neighbor Totoro.


Lucy Lyall’s Kaspall also features animals, but the denizens of Kaspall (a city) are human-like and have furry faces and tufted ears and clawed hands.  They wear clothes and are in the roles of police, landladies, bartenders, professors, fishermen, students.  We observe a regular society that also includes actual humans, and which has several mysteries.  Why do humans show up in Kaspall and why can’t they get home again?  What is causing mysterious deaths?  And whose dreams are becoming reality?  This fantasy uses mystery to draw in the reader and I keep checking in every Monday to see if there are new clues or revelations.


Cartoonist Kate Beaton is in a completely different vein.  Not only does she draw human characters, they are mostly historical figures such as Napoleon, Benjamin Franklin, Jane Austen, Nikola Tesla, and many of the Prime Ministers of Canada.  She doesn’t draw a story, and so it doesn’t have a title, other than “Kate Beaton’s comics.”  You can see her work on her comic site or on her Livejournal.  Beaton is a master of expression, and her characters sneer, pout, crave, grumble, and munch in simple line drawings.  She also draws insightful little conversations between herself and her younger self which go exactly as one might expect: poorly.

I hope you give each of these comics a glance at least once.  If you don’t like them, maybe you know someone who would enjoy reading them.

UPDATE: Kate Beaton seems to be calling her webcomic “Hark! A vagrant” now, after her Livejournal.

How I waste time…

2 March 2008

One of the things I probably do way too much of is read webcomics. I started with Unshelved, which came recommended by my husband on his previous blog. Unshelved, by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, is about librarians. I am not a librarian. However, the humor is easily appreciable by the reading public and on Sundays features recommended books. It is a very conventional-looking, 3-panel black and white comic strip produced daily, and is an easy introduction to the seductive world of webcomics. I read it every day.

From Unshelved, I found Sheldon, by Dave Kellett. This is another very conventional style of comic strip. Soon, I started reading more and more webcomics in very short order (mostly over the summer, when I had time to read the comics from the beginning of their archives). A physics teacher on one of the e-mail lists I am on sent a link to this xkcd comic, for example. Last year, I didn’t know anybody who read xkcd (a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language) by Randall Munroe. This year, all my AP Physics students read it. Xkcd is the one webcomic that I actually bought a t-shirt from:stand_back_square_0.png

I do get sucked in by plot, in particular. I have always loved reading novels, and comics that are serials with a complex plot that unfolds over time are like potato chips to me. I can eat way too many potato chips at once, and I can get sucked into a plot to the detriment of getting necessary things done. I have learned to buy novels when I have a break from school coming up, and I don’t go to the library during the school year. Comics, at least, regulate how much time I can spend by publishing new panels only a few times a week.

My favorite webcomic with plot is Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius. It follows the life of Agatha Heterodyne (the girl genius) who discovers that she is the lost heir to the famous Heterodyne Boys, scientist/inventor/heroes who mysteriously disappeared at about the same time Agatha was born. The story takes place in an alternate-history Europe ruled by Baron Wulfenbach, a tyrant whose focus is stamping out all remnants of “the other,” the enemy who presumably destroyed the Heterodyne Boys and wreaked havoc over most of Europe. Like xkcd, the Foglios update their comic every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Unlike xkcd, you can buy paper versions of the story to read without the aid of a computer. I own volumes 1-6.

A webcomic with plot, physics, and obscure references geared toward the well-educated is Dresden Codak, by Aaron Diaz. Dresden Codak usually contains a plot in every comic (some of which are long for comics–you have to scroll down a lot to read the whole page) except for the Hob series, which is still incomplete as of today. I am highly skeptical that Diaz can earn a living at this, as he claims to be attempting, since he updates the comic less often than once a week. However, I certainly appreciate his work, especially this one and this one. It does help to have already taken a course in modern physics (intro to quantum physics) to understand the second one, but wikipedia does a good job of explaining it.

These few webcomics are not all the ones I read, but I don’t feel like making an exhaustive list here. I would feel obligated to review them all, and I have other things I need to do. I definitely recommend Unshelved to just about anyone who likes comics, but the others are for people with certain tastes. Sheldon is similarly geared towards a general audience, but I don’t find it as consistently funny as I find Unshelved. Maybe you will really like it, I don’t know. Xkcd is really pretty geeky, and Dresden Codak is highly intellectual (I feel smug if I think I get all the references, and feel bummed when I don’t). I recommend Girl Genius for its art, humor, dialogue, and engaging story, but if you are a person who hates reading fantasy/science fiction you probably won’t enjoy it.

I know there are a lot of other webcomics out there that I have never heard of. If I find any more to recommend to you, I’ll try to remember to post about them here.