Digital Strips Podcast 303 – Review – Monsieur Charlatan

The world just hasn’t been as mysterious since that great day when Al Gore bent at the waist and farted out the Web. The Internet is a great place for solving the unsolveable. From “How hot of a girl did that nerd in my math class marry?” to, “What happened in those last seasons of the X-Files?”, the Internet can answer just about any question.

In keeping with this tradition, this week we solve the mystery of the worst song you could possibly be forced to tap dance to.

This week we also get all kinds of culture up in here as we head over to Grand Paris for some dark, depressing suicide attempts. And then Jason decides to ruin it with his own personal brand of sexism. Way to go, Jason. Way to go.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the comic. This week it’s Monsieur Charlatan, a tale of murder, mystery and intrigue. It’s also got colorful art and word balloons that make us say colorful things.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Just listen, all will be made clear.

We also talk about the gag-an-update comics that we’ve been reading, enjoy a non-safe-for-children midsection and listen to Steve do a horrible French accent.

All this and more on episode 303 of The Digital Strips Podcast.

Show Notes:
Toon Hole – 6:45
Skadi – 7:15
Just the First Frame – 7:30
Quiddlebee – 8:15
Kurtz’s blog post – 9:00

Music in the middle is White Magic is for Sissies by Knight of the Round


Giving Away Your Product (RSS Feeds Kill Page Views And Thus, Comics)

MaximumbleRecently, Chris Hallbeck (The Book of Biff, Maximumble) stopped including the entire comic in his RSS feed for fear that it was giving away too much too easily. There was a day when this annoyed me and having to click through to view the actual website that housed a comic was enough to drive me to drop it from my list.

However, I’ve now softened on that notion. It could be because I have met Chris in real life on one occasion and now want to help him succeed in his endeavors in any way I can. It may be that the pervading sense of entitlement on the Internet is making me sick and I want desperately not to be a part of it.

Whatever the reason, I no longer care about that extra click and have even started going out of my way (and what a long way it is) to visit each website in my RSS feed to make sure their pages are getting the proper hit from my readership. This is likely a drop in the bucket for most of the comics I read on a regular basis, but it is certainly a behavior that I hope all readers consider. Eventually (hopefully), a comic can reach a level of superstardom so rare and so sky-high that page views are no longer a concern, and in this case, reading via feeds doesn’t register on my radar. But when I know the creator is struggling just to get each update online, when it’s apparent that this is a labor of love and nothing more, it’s my duty as a consumer of their content to at least give them the Web equivalent of paying a fraction of a cent for viewing their work.

So how do you feel about reading comic via a feed? Do you do what you can to make sure the creator gets the respect they deserve for each comic produced? Or do you read through your feed without visiting any actual websites, denying those content providers their proper due?


Digital Strips 235 – Book Club: Templar Az, Chapter 5

Holy friggin’ butt monkeys. Steve is updating on time. Take that past performance!

This week we jump back on the smelly Greyhound and head South to Templar Arizona for the final episode of Digital Strips Book Club dedicated to this comic. We discuss what’s happened in the story, what that means to the characters and most importantly, what that means to us as readers.

But before we get all AP English on people, we start out talking about the comics that has stood out to us this last week.

Twilight Monk2:45 We reviewed this comic and couple months ago, but thanks to our “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Trent Kaniuga just barely found out. He posted a nice note with his link on his site and it made us visibly blush and verbally gush for a couple minutes.

Realm of Friggin’ Atland4:45 It’s back baby. The long months of waiting for the return of one of my top 50 comics (which is quite the honor given how much time I waste spend reading web comics) is back and of to rip roaring start.

SuperFogeys 5:45 Jason worked the system to see a future episode and he brags about it.

Listen Now9:00 A listener sent in these comic and I found myself reading it so I tell people about it.

During the break I sneak in a plug for our new side project. It’s still a baby but we love it.

We then jump into the real show. We talk about the comic, it’s huge list of character that seems to be slowing in growth and the sudden jumps, which are not getting any less sudden. I discuss my theory that this story is actually more of a play story structure than that of a comic. Then we jump into the characters, which ones have grown and improved and which ones bore the butts right off of us. Then we give our final thoughts over all.

Next weeks show will be about Remind so check that comic out and let us know what you think. We’d love to read some comments from the listens in the show.


Wowio Now Owns ~MILLIONS~ Of Horribly Designed Webcomic Sites (DrunkDuck)

Forget the hype, forget the press releases; the move by Wowio, the premiere site for eBooks online, to purchase DrunkDuck, one of the largest warehouses of webcomics on the Internet, gives them a load of digitally-distributed comics to choose from. Are they all great? No. Are some of them great? Not really. Are a select few worth taking a look at? Yes, and so Wowio now owns that handful of webcomics. With the recent buyout of WeVolt to leverage their social networking skills, Wowio is setting itself up to be a power player in the webcomics space. Of course, by power player, I mean, “company to own a lot of comics”.

Now if they would just buy out a web designer to alter the God-awful designs that haunt the spaces behind the DrunkDuck comics themselves, we might be in business.


Badaboom Is The ~NEW~ Comic Sans

This is more of a rant, so the bulk of the conversation will be reserved for an upcoming Digital Strips podcast (new show every Monday or your money back!) but stop… right… now. If you create a comic or are part of the lettering team on a comic, take a moment to review your fonts and typefaces. If Badaboom is among your repertoire, then congratulations, you’ve chosen a versatile font that can be used in a variety of ways and is the perfect comic-book-y font.
If only it could used for good

If, however, Badaboom is your only font, head on over to Blambot where you can pick up a multitude of free fonts for use with dialogue, sound effects, and more and stop ruining the webcomic community.


Webcomics ~ARE~ Taking Over… Webcomics? (Zuda, That Is)

The new contestants for Zuda went up this morning, and Webcomics are representin’ in this battle of the webcomic heavyweights!

Both Brock Heasley (The Superfogeys) and Ryan Estrada (every other webcomic on the ‘Net, including a previous Zuda entry) are competitors in this month’s Zuda contest, so I’ll be keeping an extra critical eye on the way things play out. Best of luck to both these talented fellows and stay tuned for our ZudaWatch podcast on these and all the contestants in the 02.10 competition, coming soon!


The Webcomic Overlook Evaluates The Biz ~OF~ Reviewing Webcomics

Via a tweet from The Superfogeys creator, Brock Heasley, I’ve stumbled across this introspective write-up from luchador blogger, El Santo, on the business of reviewing webcomics. The post is interesting in terms of what he will be writing about on his own blog in the future, but it’s the comments about giving time to new, unknown webcomics vs. covering the big guns that piqued my interest the most. On the goal of focusing on the unknowns, he writes:

This is actually a very noble aim. I mean, does the world need another person gushing about how much he loves Penny Arcade? Do we need yet another person saying why xkcd is the greatest webcomic of the century? Isn’t ragging on Ctrl+Alt+Delete just getting a wee bit tired? Wouldn’t you rather hear something new?

I applaud all bloggers who live by this code. I’ve encountered quite a few, in fact, have expressed the same sentiment […]

See? Someone applauds us. So we’re doing something right.

In terms of what we here at Digital Strips cover, the unknown approach seems to work the best for us. Sure, we can throw the success stories a bone here and there, but my personal goal for DS is to help those comics that are incredibly talented but not necessarily connected to the greater webcomic community find their way to that road that will lead to the community that eventually builds towards a greater following and thus, greater success.

While I can’t disagree with El Santo’s reasons for reviewing bigger, more recognized webcomics, we decided a while back to make this our mission statement and luckily, we’ve been able to keep the podcast alive, which is our best shot at connecting with readers/listeners about a new property they need to notice on their radar.

Thanks to El Santo for getting this discussion started, and please chime in with your thoughts on the topic.

The Webcomic Overlook: Why Captain Nihilist reviews the “big” webcomics (El Santo, 2009)


Preaching to the Pews

Years have gone by, 5 for those who are counting, since I started reading webcomics and it still surprises me. It is amazing how a medium that feels so niche can also have so many followers, but isn’t that the point? My previous post talked about Diamond not distributing the last week of the year and how it is a great opportunity for webcomics to get on the shelves. But why has it been so hard up until this point? Since my memory works like a plate of spaghetti, another memory came falling out about a mini storyline completed a month ago on Least I Could Do.

It has been some time since I concluded that success of webcomics is due to the combination of Internet and niches. That’s why it so hard to make it on to the comic shelf, because your entire audience is spread around the world and they are not even going to think about running to your home town to buy of the 5 shelves you convinced owners to give you. Instead webcomics sell online, along side their free product. This creates an environment of immediately hostility for those creators who stray even one inch outside their reader’s comfort zones.

So why did the guys at LICD jump on their soap box and tell an audience, generally known for chasing free products, that illegally downloading products is wrong? I don’t know about you but that sounds like shooting a gun off in a small metal box. There are going to be readers that disagree, violently. Yet a short walk was taken and although the why seems obvious, the “what’s for lunch” question seems just as interesting. Has Ryan been drinking an endless supply of red bulls paid for by Bono? or perhaps he personally believes deep down that he isn’t entitled to the hard work of others and that the best solution to make valuable products cheaper is to stop buying or stealing them at high prices? In the end only the artist loses because the middle men all have insurance from theft.

Besides having a pair of bowling balls for walking around with a match at a gas station Ryan showed me something else. They may be running a business with the strip and Blind Ferret but him and Lar are still artists. The product is never sacrificed for the green and the message always comes from the same place. That makes a good start to creating a webcomic. Don’t worry about your readers or any outfall. In the end what you should really care about is if your comic still makes you proud today as the day you started.


Making of a Webcomic: ComicPress

We’re about three months into our little adventure with the crew and I’ve learned a few things. Some of these were obvious. For instance I’m terrible at artwork and the writing for a comic. Writing full blown scripts seems like a piece of cake compared to restricting myself to under 20 words per page. Other tid-bits I knew would be hard and turned out easy to start but a near nightmare to advance, and that is where ComicPress comes in.

Starting out was SOOOO much easier than what I thought. My first criteria, for the comic, was it needed to be hosted on DreamHost along with everything else we run. That pretty much ruled out most of the hosting communities but that’s when Midnight threw in ComicPress. Of course I’ve heard of it and even discussed the idea with tons of people. The problem is I never personally used it so I couldn’t vouch for the product itself as the answer to hosting.

The Good: It’s WordPress. That’s immediately enticing because I’ve been using the open source software for years now and it has only been getting better. On top of it being fantastic blogging software it has tremendous flexibility in tailoring the front and back end. If I need support there are multiple forums for me to read. Next there are several different templates developed requiring zero customization to get your comic going. Perhaps the best selling point, and what sold me, was how many of my favorite comics are using it. Nothing sells better than your friend giving you something you wanted all along.

The Bad: I don’t know a darn thing about PHP. Well I know how to edit existing code but there’s no way I would pursue a job coding, unless they paid me a lot of money. Also don’t know the innards of WordPress if they were spilled in front of me. This means if I want to edit anything I HAVE to read all those forums until I find something remotely similar. Then we have the problem of two artists (well let’s say an artist and a writer) but only one blog path. How in the world do you get us to have separate columns for our posts?

The worst happened recently. There was an upgrade to WordPress that nuked the comic viewing. None of the posted comics would display unless it was on the homepage. Brought up the forums a couple of weeks later and found a defect database where there was a bug that matched my problem. The solution required me to have detailed knowledge, which I don’t have. Tried contacting Tyler with no luck. Eventually I spent 2 weeks learning PHP and debugged it myself. I’m not complaining that I had to learn something new, but that there was ZERO communication. It was almost as if those guys could care less about me good or bad.

Do I recommend this product? Yes, it is a brilliant piece of work that deserves respect. Just understand that unless you are a current paying customer you’re going to be ignored. Shoot, I offered to pay for their time and got nothing.


The Web Comic Enema Continues with You’ll Have That

The next comic in my list is a sad one. Not “My mom ran over my dog today” kind of sad or even “we’re out of ice cream” sad. This is more of a “My best friend got a really hot girl friend” kind of sad. I’m happy for the comic, there’s just no place for me in its life anymore.


The Comic: You’ll Have That

The Creator: Wes Molebash

The URL:

The Verdict: Honorable Discharge

Not too much I can say about You’ll Have That that hasn’t already been said. It was great. Now it’s over. I’m sad about that, but I’m tired of skipping over the link every morning. It’s time for me to move on.

If you’ve never read YHT, go read it now. If you tried reading it in the past and have since found yourself in a serious relationship, go read it now. Molebash took the slice of life, it’s funny because it’s true, relationship comic genre and mad it his own. Andy and Katie are such realistic characters, I feel like I actually know them. And unlike the characters at QC, I wouldn’t feel intimidated going up to them at a party or something.

Molebash has decided to delay his next comic endeavor to let it mature for a bit. Since mature is one of the first words I think of when I think of YHT (and not the immature kind of mature like the comics with giraffe’s with boobies) I’m sure this can only be a good decision. If not a heart breaking one.