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Eric: It it? No... no, it couldn't be... no wait, it is... it's an IRREGULAR WEBCOMIC SNARK! YAY!


(From Irregular Webcomic. Click on the thumbnail for full sized LEGO archeology!)

I've been trying, desperately, to Snark about Irregular Webcomic for days now. Every time I start an entry, something comes up, and by the time I can get back to it the spark is gone. It's like doing Reader Response in English 101, only without the smell of chalk and sitting next to attractive 19 year old Freshman girls. So it kind of sucks.

But Irregular Webcomic doesn't suck. And it proves a couple of things. First off, you don't need to be able to draw to make a webcomic. Secondly, physicists with coding backgrounds can take overwhelmingly large casts and multiple themes and make them comprehendible through the power of User Interface Design.

David Morgan-Mar is an Australian scientist with a love of role playing games and lego. A longstanding GURPS contributor, his webcomic is based on the idea that he runs many many roleplaying games. The different miniature figures and LEGO creations represent his campaigns. Along the way, he's broadened into surreal areas (I don't think GURPS Crocodile Hunter has come out, for example, and the whole sequence of William Shakespeare as advertising copywriter just came out of nowhere.) Because there are so many different campaigns and ideas he works with (he calls them themes), his "previous strip" bar breaks down by theme -- so you can look at the last strip he did and backtrack, or look at the previous strip in the same theme, or the like. When themes cross over, he puts navigation bits for each of the previous themes on one page. Clearly he spent time on the coding to make it all pretty seamless. Either that, or he's obsessive-compulsive and doing it manually. If I were him, I'd claim the former even if the latter were true. But of course, I'm not him.

It's one of the few comic strips where the cartoonist-as-character schtick works, since Morgan-Mar's self-photos generally represent him-as-gamemaster, which makes sense. It's silly, and funny, and it's amazing how expressive you can get LEGO men. Today's strip (yesterday's really, by the time you read this) is in the Cliffhangers theme, which centers on a family of archeologists in the Jones family named after states (Montana 'Monty' Jones, his father North Dakota Jones, his grandfather Schliemannian Chair of Archaeology Minnesota Jones, and apparently now a Doctor Ginny Smith -- Ginny I assume being short for Virginia) fighting various Nazis and Hitler's brain in a jar. There are also Space themes, Nigerian Finance Ministers raising money through spam, Harry Potter gone horribly wrong, the Crocodile Hunter, hobbit puns, occasional guest strips, and amazingly high production values for photocomics (on the Space strips, for example, Morgan-Mar snaps pictures on his little built LEGO set with a blue screen behind a window, then screens in Hubble space telescope pictures of starscapes. Say what you want -- this is not a lazy comic strip).

This strip brings the Funny in a laid back kind of way. Morgan-Mar does what he does because he likes doing it, period. He's a total geek in a good way, unafraid to let his massive brain for science influence his humor, and yet also unafraid to do a whole sequence of jokes based on lego Death-figures who are given very specific jobs (Death By Insanely Overpowered Fireballs, Death by Being Sat On By A Giant Frog, and so forth). It's good soup, damn it.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at September 14, 2004 9:29 AM

Comments

Comment from: Senji posted at September 16, 2004 4:28 PM

I wouldn't put any bets on Ginny being short for Virginia; given the potential for Potter crossover I'd guess at Ginevra....

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