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Eric: The 2004 Shortbread Recipents for Bringing the Funny

Humor is inexorably linked with cartoon art in modern society. Look at the terminology. Cartoon. Comic Strip. Funny Pages. While I'm never going to claim that a strip has to be funny (because I value my life, and I don't want to be burned at the stake), it goes without saying that a good number of strips are going to be funny.

Or at least try to be funny.

This warm plate of Shortbread (Tasty, Tasty Shortbread) is going out to those webcomics that I feel most Brought the Funny in 2004. Bear in mind, these are the strips I read that I think succeeded. I don't read every webcomic (I doubt I read 5% of all the webcomics out there. I doubt you do too, for a statistically valid description of "you.") So I don't claim this to be an objective list of the best, funniest webcomics in the world. These are the ones that made me smile, pretty much every day.

Your absolute hatred of me and my opinions begins... now.

(Note, the list is going behind a "read more" link because it's fucking huge. You're welcome.)

The 2004 Bringing the Funny Shortbread Recipients

Bringing the Funny: Antihumor
Antihumor might seem like an odd category for the Funny Shortbread List, but it doesn't mean "serious" or "tragic." Antihumor in comedy circles refers to an almost ironic sensibility brought to humor, be it Andy Kaufman's elaborate setups and performance art (with Foreign Man being the Ur Antihumor moment) or Peewee Herman's shaggy dog stories. In Webcomics (and particularly here on Websnark) Antihumor refers to those strips where the Funny is quieter, less obvious and sometimes takes a moment or two. It's an attitude instead of a joke, a Zen and the Art of Cartoon Maintenance -- a jazz riff in place of a melody line. It's not the destination, with Antihumor, it's the journey.

The Webcomics that Brought the Antihumor Funny are:

  • A Softer World: Perhaps it was the interweaving of photography and narration. Perhaps it was the blending of melancholy and irony. Perhaps it was because this strip always made me think of Jim's Journal, which is about the best example of Antihumor Comic Strips. But A Softer World consistently brings the Funny without ever slapping you in the face with it, and I look forward to each new strip.
  • Achewood: I've compared Achewood to Jazz before, and I think the comparison holds. Another word for Antihumor is attitude, and Achewood's attitude is rock solid perfect. It uses subtlety deftly, brings out a smile instead of a guffaw, and is so brilliant I have to wear sunglasses to read its archives.
  • American Elf: Journal Comics don't have to be Antihumor, but when they are, American Elf is there to show them how it's done well. A connected string of foibles and thoughts, cat pictures and baby pictures, heart and soul and rock and roll -- James Kolchalka is some kind of cartooning God.
  • Ascent: There is a certain oddity in being an adventure antihumor strip, but Ascent pulls it off. There is an offbeat oddity to the world, to its magic, to its problems that never fails to amuse and entertain. And, as with Mnemesis before it, there is a raw core lurking just below the surface, waiting to pop out. I can't wait to see where this is going.
  • Daily Dinosaur Comics: If Antihumor comics are performance art, then Daily Dinosaur Comics is up on the stage, naked, blindfolded, and trying to sacrifice a live chicken. Stripping sequential art down to its absolute bones by using the same clip art style artwork (the exact same artwork) day after day after day, but not only making each new strip fresh, but relating the writing to the action in the panels while doing it, this strip is pure goodness.

All of these receive a biscuit... but Daily Dinosaur Comics gets the Antihumor Shortbread -- the Tasty, Tasty Antihumor Shortbread.

Daily Dinosaur Comics is fun, fresh, funny and fearless. It's participatory (it gets huge amounts of fan art, has inspired a truly awesome song called "Crazy Utahraptor" that you should download from the fan art page and just listen to for a while), it's experimental, and it's just plain well written. Despite the replicated artwork, there is character development, there is continuity, there is consistency and there is humor. And while it does pull out punchlines (every now and again, at least), they're never nearly as important as the strip -- and its overall attitude -- as a whole. Ryan North deserves this piece of shortbread. I hope he enjoys it... and then goes stomping. Because stomping is a glorious thing.

Bringing the Funny: Character Driven
There are many different ways you can Drive the Funny in your comical strip. As odd as it sounds, Character Driven strips are pretty hard to pull off. In these strips, the nature of the characters brings out the humor of the situation. In a world of rationality and sobriety, these guys is crazy, man! Sometimes, the insane characters are balanced by a Mary Richards -- a person who's essentially sane who highlights the humor the other characters bring to the table. And most of the time, the characters have a deeper level of characterization than webcomics driven by other considerations.

The Webcomics that Brought the Character Driven Funny are:

  • Casey and Andy: The strip that brought the term "Asstard" to my vocabulary. Casey and Andy has raised the science of the batshit insane character to an art form. Every character is insane in their own way -- the titular mad scientists, the seemingly normal girlfriend with the claws, police uniform and deadly attitude to puns, Quantum Cop, Satan, Cujo, the Planet Devourer... even Jenn, the most normal of the crowd, finds she can't spend time around "normal" people any more. And I look forward to seeing all of them.
  • Nukees: There is a sense that Suzy Gee is actively trying to divorce herself from her own innate strangeness, but as a whole she is destined to fail -- and we're the beneficiaries. From Gav's cheerful evil to King Luca's insane geniality to Zen and the Art of Being Danny, the distinctive personalities of Nuclear Engineering can make me laugh just by showing up.
  • PvP: Probably one of the most imitated strips, PvP stays above its competition through nuanced characterization that takes the archetypes of geek, tech and gaming humor -- the pretentious Mac user, the Hapless and Outdated Boss, the Hot Gamer Chick, the Geek Girl, the Leet Gamer Kid, and the Innocent -- and broadens them into real people with real motivations that lead to real Funny.
  • Queen of Wands: Good characters are like brushstrokes, and Aeire paints exceedingly well. Felix's gentle lunacy, Shannon's "older sister" quality, Angela's wicked delight, Seamus's pleasant spinelessness, and always Kestrel's childishness, petulance, compassion and slow maturation drive the humor more than anything else in this strip. I feel like I know all of these people, which is of course insane on my part, but what the heck.
  • Sinfest: On the flip side from Queen of Wands, Sinfest drives its humor by having simple, straightforward characters with simple, straightforward motivations. Slick, Monique, Squigley, Crimeny, Seymour, Satan (Satan shows up on this list a lot, doesn't he?), God, Percival, Pooch, the Professor, Mary Ann... in the end, it's the clear personalities that make this strip funny as Hell.
  • Suburban Jungle: The raison d'etre of Suburban Jungle is "are you crazy? Is that your problem?" That underscores the hysterical cast of characters that populate what has to be my favorite strip featuring animals who walk on two legs, not on four (insert "House of Pain" lyrics at home) and try to deal with their crippling neuroses. In fact, Tiffany Tiger is arguably the sanest of all the characters, and as a result she's been steadily crowded out of her own comic. Underneath all of the craziness, though, is a core of emotion that really comes out. The day I discovered I was sympathizing with Leona was the day I knew Robey had landed me.

Biscuits all around for these great strips and the characters who drive them... but PvP gets the Character Driven Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Character Driven Shortbread.

There are two sides to this shortbread -- the humor that comes from the characters being who they are, and the depths of characterization those characters have developed, and PvP absolutely nails both of them. Brent Sienna is a fantastic character on so many levels -- he's pretentious, annoying, cynical, and nice. Put Jade, Miranda, Marcy, Sonya and Gwen into one big room and you get a microcosm of women in webcomics, from the geeky and techy to the hot and manipulative. When the self centered jerk and foil who runs the competing magazine turns out to be a generally better person than the PvP boss we sympathize with, you're seeing top characterization, and PvP's characters make me laugh and ring true pretty much all the time.

Bringing the Funny: Dark
There is an overall feeling that Dark Humor must be Angstful Humor. That's just plain wrong. There is something deeply funny in the horrible, probably because if we can't laugh at tragedy, we'll be overwhelmed by it. I'm a sucker for black comedy, as long time readers know, and so the narrowing down of comics that Brought the Dark Funny to six was hard. So, with a healthy dose of cynicism, we explore the morbid and hideous that made us laugh until tears streamed from our eyes.

The Webcomics that Brought the Dark Funny are:

  • Chopping Block: I was so happy to see Chopping Block come back from hiatus. The archetypical black comedy in webcomics, from the shadow-laden artwork to the horrific subject matter, the core message of this strip is "serial killers are people too," and it makes everything from Delusion of Reference to the eating of human eyeballs funny as Hell. It has to be the only art form in any media to offer a plush serial killer toy, and that might describe it better than anything I can say. This Gag-a-Day strip also makes it clear that Dark Humor doesn't have to be Story based.
  • College Roomies from Hell!: There is always an undercurrent of horror in CRFH -- one that may be funny, but also waits to snap shut on our characters like a bear trap. I never get the feeling that anyone in this strip is safe, though sometimes the horrible things that happen to them (and the horrible things they do to each other) tickle me six shades of pink.
  • Gaming Guardians: The day that EDG discovered he had been moved into the body of his evil ex wife, realizing he was trapped far away from his friends -- who themselves were now being set up for a horrible trap (especially Radical, who EDG had entered into a new phase of their relationship and who had already had a trusted friend, loved one and father of her lost child turn out to be a shapeshifted enemy)... and as the horror of the situation settled over him, he still paused to check out his female body's large robotic breasts... I knew Gaming Guardians grokked Dark Funny.
  • Scary-Go-Round: It goes without saying that any webcomic that kills the most popular character more than once (Shelley will soon earn her Frequent Dyers Card) and who has as its cheerful mascot Krakkager the glossy black bug beast that will eat us up though sugar makes him sleepy is well acquainted with the dark side of Funny. Scary-Go-Round took a subset of the cast of Bobbins (though I still miss Rich) and sent them through a stylish form of Hell, and we've been grooving on the horror ever since.
  • Sluggy Freelance: In any given year, Sluggy Freelance might come across as Light or Dark, Epic or Down to Earth. This year, with the long culmination of years and years of Dimension of Pain Halloween crossovers, demon incursions and the death of innocence, we'd have to put Sluggy firmly into the dark column. And yet, through it all we never stopped laughing, which is Pete Abram's special gift.
  • Something Positive: Some artists love their characters, and can't bear to hurt them. Then, there's artists like Randy Milholland, who can only orgasm when he's made a fictional character cry. Something Positive is brilliantly cynical, hysterically dark, and isn't afraid to build up our hatred of a character so much that when we see his broken silhouette through a blood stained window, we cheer and laugh.

It's dark biscuits indeed for our nominees... but Something Positive gets the Dark Funny Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Dark Funny Shortbread.

This strip dives into Dark head first and doesn't care if the water's just three feet deep leading to cracked spines. Milholland can make rape, poverty, stupidity, physical handicaps, coat hanger abortions, miscarriages and deviancy funny without making them gratuitous. God himself may enjoy laughing at Davan and his friends, but somehow there's still always the sense that they're going to hang together. Aubrey is a total horrendous whirling bitch to Davan and Peejee, but you never think for a second she isn't wholly devoted to them. Trips to the hospital are forms of love, and emotionally abusive fathers are somehow better than any of the possible alternatives. This comic rocks.
Bringing the Funny: Down to Earth
In a field where the staff of a small software design company can be regularly put at ground zero of battles for the fate of the entire world, and the members of a Science Fiction Club can become the greatest paladins in the battle for reality itself, there is something to be said for those comic strips where people just hang out and try to eke out a living. The Down to Earth Funny derives its laughs from the mundane. This doesn't preclude elements of the fantastic -- you can have robots and elves in your Down to Earth strip if those Robots and Elves are working at the local Kinko's and hanging out in coffee bars. Most of all, however, the Down to Earth strip brings an element of real life to the strip. The characters need jobs and have to take out the trash, and almost no one gets given several million dollars by a bored billionaire as a lark.

The Webcomics that Brought the Down to Earth Funny are:

  • American Elf: Not all journal comics count as Down to Earth Funny. Heck, a good number of Journal Comics don't count as funny at all. But American Elf finds the humor in everyday living. Spandy climbing the stairs or James and Amy singing as they walk down the sidewalk, drunk. These little slices of life, and the smiles they evoke, are what Down to Earth Funny are all about.
  • Boxjam's Doodle: There's nothing that says "Down to Earth" can't coexist with Surreal, and Boxjam's Doodle proves that about as well as anything I know. Sure, all the automobiles are represented by dinghys with outboard motors (because Boxjam can't draw cars, or so he says), and Boxjam's best friend has a mallet for a head, but the core of the humor comes from taking out the trash, the arguments of husbands and wives, hating one's job or coworkers... it's like regular life, distilled.
  • Gin and the Devil: First off, I should mention that thanks to all the comic strips I read, particularly all those with Satan as a character, my initial thought was "Gin and the Devil" was about a girl named Virginia and her buddy Lucifer Morningstar. That's not Matt Milby's fault -- it's mine. Milby, on the other hand, has created a a strip where hard liquor and bitter disappointment sometimes collide. This is a strip about expectations that don't get reached, and they turn out darn funny. This strip reads like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," if T.S. Eliot could draw and wrote about young people. So, nothing at all like Prufrock, but the analogy means something to me.
  • Penny and Aggie: As far away from Gin and the Devil as you can get and still be drawing on bristol board, Penny and Aggie is just about the first high school girls' strip I've read where the girls actually feel like they're in high school. Popular or marginalized, the struggles are the same, humiliation comes in unexpected packages, and no one looks that cool when they've been crying. Oh yeah, and it's funny.
  • Questionable Content: Indy rock as love story makes for interesting situations and interesting characters locked into interesting relationships, with nary a world conquerer or glossy black beetle in sight. Even the one fantastic touch (Pintsize, the AnthroPC) feels like a cross between a normal character and a recalcitrant PC. I can accept Pintsize and still recognize that this is a strip where folks spend their time talking in apartments and coffee bars, and the wild twist is the cute hipster waitress who studies Marine Biology and Philosophy turns out to be 17.
  • Todd and Penguin: As with Questionable Content, the fantastic touches (the talking penguin and the talking cat) don't detract from the essential normalcy of the strip. At the same time, the essential normalcy of the strip doesn't detract from the sense of wonder. Penguin is a child who wants cookies and the chance to play. Todd feels overwhelmed by adult life and by the jobs he can manage to get. Even the reversion to childhood that took place this summer was a coma dream instead of a true flight of the fantastic... and Todd and Penguin makes money troubles and heartbreak fun.

All natural biscuits to everyone on the list... but Penny and Aggie gets the Down to Earth Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Down to Earth Shortbread.

T. Campbell and Gisele Lagace are no strangers to wild, out there plots involving aliens and supernatural powers, but their collaboration into the psyche of two very different teenage girls who discover they're not actually all that different at all is fascinating and funny, all at once. The core priorities of these two girls might run to popularity, boys and style right now, but under the surface you can feel them maturing and learning about the real world -- and you laugh hard at their stumbles as they go along.

Bringing the Funny: Epic
Sometimes, the humor of the situation derives from not having enough change for the parking meter or being too drunk to find the car you're too drunk to drive. And sometimes, the humor of the situation derives from the Vogon Construction Fleet that's show up to destroy Earth to make way for a Hyperspace Bypass. It is to the Hitchhiker's Guide fans that I dedicate this discussion of Epic Funny. Not so much an award for the storyline (that will come with the Bringing the Story Shortbread List) as the humor that the storyline evokes, these are the webcomics that not only have wide ranging plots of limitless potential... but absurd wide ranging plots of limitless potential, and the humor comes from them.

The Webcomics that Brought the Epic Funny are:

  • College Roomies from Hell!: It all started so innocently. A bunch of guys and a bunch of girls went to college and started living together, loving each other, hating each other, having sex and accidentally hotwaxing their hair. And then the stakes went no-limit. Wars with the Devil (what is it with the Devil and Webcomics?), secret island lairs with mermaids and unicorns, succubus girlfriends who can't cook, laser beam eyes and werecoyotes -- this dark webcomic Brings the Funny in broad situations that we'd better laugh at, or else we'll end up too horrified for words.
  • Gaming Guardians: This strip's very core premise is Epic and Absurd -- an organization that travels between different universes (based on role playing games, no less), protecting them from subversion and invasion (and, one assumes, Wizards of the Coast buyouts) and Avalanche Press's Cover Art. That the story leads into dark, painful areas doesn't change the underlying humor, or the sheer scope of it.
  • Narbonic: Narbonic's approach almost resembles short fiction -- we have adventures and affairs and short little sagas. And while some seem almost mundane -- or as mundane as Workplace Humor gets when the Workplace manufactures mutagens -- others clearly deal with Lupin Madblood trying to regain control of his android army to TAKE OVER THE WORLD or the gang having a slumber party and repelling the forces of Hell. Whether getting unstuck in time or shot to the moon, Narbonic doesn't think small. And isn't that everything Mad Science should be?
  • Schlock Mercenary: Being star spanning science fiction doesn't automatically get you a day pass into the Epic, but casually mentioning entire fleets of mercanary ships that fly too close to a star and get wiped out does. While sticking to Hard SF, and never losing sight of the characters, Howard Taylor handles the galaxy spanning elements of his strip with facility and -- more to the point -- absurdity.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Some years Sluggy isn't epic at all, and some years it blows expectations out of the water. From May on, this year, Sluggy Freelance spanned dimensions, had demon hordes invading a parallel Earth, and dealt with the reconstitution of about the most crap Goddess of Goodness ever seen. The scale was huge, and while the storyline had many tragic moments, it also was downright silly at times.
  • Superosity: Superosity is known for many things, but restraint isn't one of them. Happy to skip through time, creating alternate universes where Richard Outcault was killed before he could create the Yellow Kid, and his little brother Ralphie created the Green Kid instead and went on to be a horrific absolute dictator of Earth, and dealing with three -- count them, three -- George W. Bushes counts as Epic in my book.

The grandest, most glorious of all biscuits go to all these strips... but Sluggy Freelance gets the Epic Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Epic Shortbread.

Pete Abrams is well known for dealing in the grand scale. In the past, he's sent Torg and Zoe back into time (and created the most dangerous coven of vampires in the process), sent Torg and Riff into a pocket universe that ended up being wholly destroyed in the end to power a waffle iron, and thrown The Nightmare Before Christmas a total curve ball by setting the holidays at war with one another. While Sluggy Freelance doesn't have to work in grand scales, it's a scope that Abrams is comfortable with and manages to make funny, almost all the time.
Bringing the Funny: Gag-a-Day
When you get right down to it, people expect comic strips to be funny. In fact, they expect comic strips to be funny all on their own, without any understanding of the past to get in the way. Of course, there's plenty of sequential art out there that doesn't have that mandate, but there is still an art to setting up and delivering a joke each and every day, and many of the webcomics we love are masters of that form. From silly puns to fart jokes to shaggy dog stories, these webcomics are just plain funny, pretty much all the time, from the moment you pick the strip up.

It's also worth nothing that this was the category that gave me the most trouble. There's a lotof good gag-a-day out there. The six I picked all deserve to be on this list, but there's twenty more I could as easily name. Next week, I'm sure this list would look different, but for today, I'm standing by it.

The Webcomics that Brought the Gag-a-Day Funny are:

  • Irregular Webcomic: Proof positive that you don't need to be able to draw to have a hysterical online strip. David Morgan-Mar's photo comic might star miniature figures and LEGO, but the time, care, processing and attention to detail he puts into the strip rivals that of any webcomic you'd care to mention. And each and every day, there is the Funny. Whether Hobbit puns or obscure scientific facts or Nigerian Spammer jokes, each day is another chuckle or groaner. And that's just cool.
  • Men in Hats: I've been an Aaron Farber fan since the Pentasmel days (and I honestly think Keenspot's made a mistake by putting the Pentasmel archives behind a Premium-only lock -- or else they should be pushing it hard in advertising. There's brilliance in them thair comics). And as much as I miss Pentasmel, Men in Hats is better. Cheerful and mean and funny as Hell, this is a strip that entirely wants to make you laugh. That's why it's here. And it succeeds brilliantly.
  • Penny Arcade: No one reading these words needs to hear me say Penny Arcade is good. You know it as well as I do. A gag-a-day of a very different stripe (often, the newspost that accompanies a strip is necessary reading to understandthe strip), Penny Arcade is king of the gamer comics, is almost always savagely hysterical, resists most flirtations with continuity and is just plain good. And whether it's for me or not, Twisp and Catsby rock so hard they're worth a nomination all on their own. Well, in the Surreal category, anyway.
  • PvP: The last three strips have been strongly oriented on low-continuity, high-gag quotients. (What we here at the Websnark call Bringing the Funny, not the Story.) But you can be high continuity and also make every damn strip an exercise in humor, and Scott Kurtz does it about as well as anyone I've seen. Whether a sophisticated joke, a pun, gamer/geek/tech humor or a joke about a basset hound farting, Kurtz makes sure there's some Funny in every fourth panel, and that's just cool.
  • Real Life Comics: Greg Dean's webcomic is ironic from the get-go. It's "real life" comics, based on his own real life... and yet it's far more wish fulfillment than journal comic. (Unless Dean and his friends really do travel to the future to buy new games in the discount bins, upgrade their computers with FutureTech™, and have a Dreamcast that's Sentient.) What isn't ironic is Dean's sense of humor -- he brings straight up Funny in every strip. He also manages to be one of maybe three webcartoonists to make themselves a major character in their strip with almost no sense of Mary Sue about it -- Greg in the strip is a doofus and the butt of most of the jokes that hit the page, and that makes things funny indeed.
  • Two Lumps: The anti-Garfield. This strip by Mel Hynes and J. Grant brings the dark sensibilities of FLEM to a far less... intimidating forum, and singlehandedly rehabilitates cat comics, washing away Garfieldish Banalities in favor of B. Kliban. More to the point, the pair bring a real understanding of cat behavior, which they then project into malevolance and stupidity, leading to serious Funny. Every day makes me grin, and what the Hell more can I ask of a comic strip?

Biscuits for snickers everywhere we look... but Men in Hats gets the Gag-a-Day Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Gag-a-Day Shortbread.

This is almost a gimmie -- Farber is wholly devoted to humor and nothing but, and if there's a better person at the straight gag-a-day, they're not coming to mind easily. There is a caustic wit coupled with an absolute cheerfulness that fuels the joke's setup and execution, and every strip is wholly self contained. And, as an extra added bonus, they're actually funny. What more could you possibly ask for?

Bringing the Funny: Light
Sometimes, webcomics are just plain cheerful. Sweet, instead of nasty. Even if they have some caustic wit worked into them, there's no heavy sides or painful edge to them. They're just fun. Which is not to say Light comics have no substance. Often they have as much depth as any other story driven comic strip. However, angst generally isn't part of the equation, any way you look at it.. The Light Funny are those rest stops we take on the trawl through the comics page, which make us just happy to be walking the path.

The Webcomics that Brought the Light Funny are:

  • Adventures of Sporkman: Fool of a Spork! Without a doubt one of my favorite strips, and perhaps the epitome of "Light" funny, Sporkman brings nothing heavier than a half-gallon of butter pecan ice cream with it to the party. And everyone loves a good scoop of butter pecan ice cream!
  • Freefall: Every so often, I'm shocked to remember that Freefall is a hard science fiction strip. I'm shocked because it's so much fun, pretty much all of the time. Always a bright point in my comics reading day, because it takes itself seriously while never taking itself seriously, and that's a very hard tightrope to walk.
  • Melonpool: The Space Opera to Freefall's Hard SF (or the comedic Doc Smith to Freefall's Robert Heinlein), Melonpool embodies the comic strip tradition of taking setbacks and making you laugh about them. And when Steve Troop goes to conventions, he brings puppets with him. Puppets, for Christ's sake!
  • Men in Hats: As hard as Jeriah tries to bring the pain and anguish of his dark, poetic, sad clown soul to those around him, this is a strip of snickers and giggles and out and out laughs. Besides, Jeriah's poetry? Sucks. Anyway. This strip knows exactly what it's doing when it makes you laugh and laugh and laugh, and never cry.
  • Real Life Comics: Perhaps the opposite side of the Light coin from Men in Hats, Greg Dean's Real Life Comics may be "suggested" by Greg's Real Life (you know, including Greg's recent trip to Mars), but he leaves the heartache of that Real Life behind in lieu of good, cheerful fun. And I like it.
  • Two Lumps: I know, I know. If I like Two Lumps so much, why don't I marry it. Well, too late. The creators are engaged now. By now, you know what I'm going to say. This strip is hysterical, and never bogs down into angst or depression. It's a cheerful stop on the road. And Snooch likes the birds. Yay!

The biscuits these strips receive are light and flavorful... but Adventures of Sporkman gets the Light Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Light Shortbread.

Folks by now know I really like John Troutman's work. One of the things that blows my mind is the range of work he produces. From the Cerebus Syndrome attempts of Basil Flint to the Sexcapades of Felicity Flint to the darker, layered Vigilante Ho!, Troutman's proven he's in T. Campbell's league when it comes to range. But it's this silly, funny, self contained strip that makes me happiest when it appears on the screen. Sporkman is just plain fun, with characters that need no explanation to make you laugh. Interestingly, Spoonman is one of two "prequel" strips in the KeenSyndicate newspaper pages (Roomies being the other), and somehow it manages to transcend its own future with every giggle-inducing strip.

Bringing the Funny: Madcap
Some comic strips proceed from very careful, rational plot evolution. And some comic strips run in, shout "BAT TAG! You're it!" and go from there. These are the webcomics that need no justification for wild, crazy, zany adventure. They just leap in with all the zeal of an eight year old ADD sufferer on crystal meth and honey vanilla lattes.

The Webcomics that Brought the Madcap Funny are:

  • Casey and Andy: There's a lot of mad science in webcomics, but Casey and Andy are just plain nuts. clearly enjoying the sheer insanity of life, willing to blow anything up any time for any reason, and taking the occasional break for Sawblade Tron, Casey and Andy get themselves killed in insane adventures through space and time with frightening -- and hysterical -- regularity. Also, there is a mime who kills people.
  • Checkerboard Nightmare: Say what you like about Chex -- the man knows his way around zany adventure. Even if he has to beat people in the face with a shovel until he gets it. One of the best satirical strips in webcomics (albeit one I came late to, because I'm an idiot), the flimsiest of excuses can be transformed into the funniest of storylines. Also, there is a robot who chokes lawyers.
  • Irregular Webcomic!: A webcomic that blends a dozen or more storylines together, and half those storylines proceed from wild assumptions. Whether its launching into cyberspace because the ship's computer needs to be restarted and no one built an external button or escaping burning zepplins on the backs of pteradactyls, Irregular Webcomic is more than happy to be as madcap as it can cram into LEGO. Also, there is a Crocodile Hunter who Wrestled Cthulhu to death.
  • Narbonic: Ah, Narbonic. The weed of Mad Science bears succulent fruit indeed. Blasting through time, being shot to the moon, with henchmen who need chronic accidential death insurance and where dozens of identical killer androids can necessitate a road trip to Canada to essentially draft dodge, Narbonic knows from zany. Oh yes, they know from zany. Also, there is an intern who likes massively overpowered weaponry.
  • Superosity: Look, our heroes decided to travel back in time to the 19th century so they could view the very first Labor Day, and while they were there they accidentally killed the creator of the Yellow Kid, so Nicola Tesla, Time Guardian raised up his brother Ralphie to take Richard Outcault's place. This naturally led to the creation of an alternate universe where Ralphie was absolute dictator of the world and the world's first cartoon, The Green Kid, was the only form of entertainment allowed. Do I really have to justify Superosity's inclusion among the Madcap? Also, there is a talking dog who aspires to work at a convenience store.
  • Wigu: Wigu Tinkle once lulled himself to sleep with the certain knowledge that he couldn't live without having adventures forever. Well, this strip may have only a few days left before it ends, but it's safe to say Wigu's life will go on, one adventure after another. Whether it's road tripping to put on the best damn family musical act ever, or finding the Googal Maverick deep in the Pillbug Caverns below the Tinkle's house, or Topato and Sheriff Pony saving Butter Dimension Quad from Space Mummy's latest nefarious attack, it's time to Spring Into Action!™ Until the 31st, at least.

These strips get their biscuits out of nowhere, man... but it's Casey and Andy that gets the Madcap Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Madcap Shortbread.

The very first Casey and Andy strip featured Andy juggling, then accidentally fumbling a ball into a convenient box of antimatter. Since then, there have been pandimensional rifts leading to struggles against Quantum Crook, Don Cindy, and always Lord Milligan. Their longest storyline to date started with Jenn wandering into the target area of the time machine Casey and Andy just happened to be building in their rec room. You just don't get more Madcap -- or fun -- than this.

Bringing the Funny: Plot Driven
You might think it odd that there's a "Plot Driven Funny" category among the "Bringing the Funny Shortbreads" instead Well, much as Epic Funny refers to strips where humor comes out of the epic scope, "Plot Driven Funny" refers to strips where humor comes out of the specific plotline the characters find themselves in. And if that sounds like splitting hairs to you, write your own damn awards show. In any case, these are the strips where the humor of the situation derives from the impossible and hysterical scrapes our heroes find themselves in.

The Webcomics that Brought the Plot Driven Funny are:

  • Basil Flint, P.I.: It almost goes without saying that a comical strip starring a Private Investigator is going to have its humor derive from the mysteries our heroes find themselves investigating. Really, this slot could go equally well to Flint's secret agent sister, Felicity, but... well, I like Basil Flint more, so here we are. Troutman knows how to pace a mystery for good comedic effect, with twists and turns that make us grin all the while.
  • Freefall: On the other side is Freefall, whose plots are more grounded, but bring out the (scientifically accurate) absurd all the while. When the crew launches into space on a satellite deployment mission, humor derives from the nature of microgravity, space suits, technical problems, even an oxygen joke or two. Back on the planet, humor comes from Florence heading out for a date (and an army of robots trying to deliver a message to her), while Sam heads out to get paid. Stanley knows how to evoke every drop out of humor from every situation, while sticking to the hard side of science fiction.
  • Lost and Found Investigations: It probably makes sense that if Basil Flint is on the list of Plot Driven Funny, so's Lost and Found Investigations. (Sooner or later, these guys need to do a crossover. Or at least trade villains for a plot arc.) Matt Milligan (hey, we've never seen Matt Milligan and Lord Milligan in the same room at the same time, have we? Hmmmmm....) has a somewhat different tone, but still organizes his Funny around the cases and plot arcs Frank, Max and Beth find themselves in. And he organizes it well.
  • Narbonic: Shaenon Garrity has a clear love of 19th Century protopulp fiction, as evidenced by plotline titles such as "The Astonishing Excursions of Helen Narbon&Co." and "Professor Madblood and the Lovelace Affair." And there is a real feel of romantic (in the traditional, Frankenstein definition of that word, instead of Romance© Novels) adventure through it all. There is always something specific that needs to be accomplished, some plot to be resolved. And it is always patently absurd. And we love Narbonic for it.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Obviously, Schlock Mercenary is a strip Steeped in Story. It's also just as obviously a strip Steeped in Funny, and after establishing his characters, Howard Tayler sets them into epic, ridiculous adventure and wrings every moment of humor he possibly can from them. Adventure blends with excitement at every given moment, and both will make you at least smile while you cheer.
  • Sluggy Freelance: This was something of a dark year for Sluggy, but you still have to acknowledge its mastery of the totally ridiculous plotline. This was the year that Zoë, Riff, Kiki and Leo ended up in the Dimension of Sham-Pain, after all, and were cursed with weight they can't ever lose. Even the dark and poignant That Which Redeems took place in a world where Tactical Leaflet Weapons are illegal. The adventure brings the Funny, as Abrams has always known.

As you can see, it is inevitable these strips get biscuits... but it's Narbonic that gets the Plot-Driven Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Plot-Driven Shortbread.

Narbonic's plots make perfect sense and are always -- always -- funny. Shaenon Garrity knows her form perfectly, and by working in "short stories" she can evoke humor out of her situation without ever getting to the point that she belabors it. There's also always that point where Dave or Artie kind of says exactly what they're trying to do out loud, and the absurdity becomes apparent to everyone around. In a lesser pair of hands, this could become tiresome. In Garrity's hands, this is sublime. And really, really funny.

Bringing the Funny: Quiet
In the webcomics of Quiet Funny, there are no zany, madcap adventures. Things are pretty mellow. Things might be a little bittersweet, but it's not dark so much as it is... well, life. Things happen, but they're personal, not national. These are the strips of character moments and poignancy, and in a sea of webcomics focusing on sex and violence and explosions and poison potato superheroes, they're calming and sweet. And while a Down to Earth webcomic covers similar territory, those can be plenty loud. At the same time, a strange or science fiction strip can also be Quiet. Everyone clear? This will be on the test.

The Webcomics that Brought the Quiet Funny are:

  • American Elf: James Kochalka's journal comic obviously covers his life, as journal comics are wont to do. At the same time, there is an essential sweetness even when he's being sad. These are moments in the day -- the look of Amy's body lying in bed, the day that the door was left open and Spandy and Eli both crawled out. The euphroia that comes from walking down the street while drunk. These aren't the dramatic moments of what seems to be an occasionally dramatic life. These are the quiet moments, and they're wonderful
  • Count Your Sheep: I'm very new to the Count Your Sheep fold, and as with most people who've come to it I'm utterly enchanted. In part, because this is such a gentle, warm strip, but also because this can be a sad one. Laurie, the single mother, misses her dead husband and frets over finances, but Katie (the child) knows only a world of wonder, and Ship (the Imaginary Friend they share -- Laurie from her own youth, Katie's from now) manages to bring hope to them both. This is perfectly bittersweet... and great examples of Quiet Funny.
  • Ozy and Millie: Whimsical and fantastic, but never overwhelming. Ozy and Millie enjoy the philosophical side of weird, eschewing world saving (or conquering) except in Millie's own imagination. Proof positive that you can be weird and still quiet.
  • Questionable Content: I know, I talk a lot about Questionable Content. The simple fact is, it does a lot of things right. One of those is the way it uses its scope. Jacques never forgets that he's dealing with the interactions of two or three people, and its humor comes out of banter, not fire. Fire bad. Banter good.
  • Sinister Bedfellows: As much a koan as a joke, Sinister Bedfellows never seems to lose its sense of personal perspective. The humor is part observational, and part Deep Thoughts, and even moments where one considers Madeline destroying downtown Paris are the internal thoughts of our observer, not a sense of what is to come
  • Todd and Penguin: Perhaps the perfect balance of bitter and sweet. Todd and Penguin Brings the Funny even though Todd's life really could be a lot better, and bad things keep happening. And Penguin's faith is strong and childlike enough that it seems like it's never hopeless. And, while stolen cookies bring joy and lost jobs bring depression, the pair and all those around them keep things together in their own way.

All these strips sit around and enjoy their biscuits together, with a nice cup of tea or coffee... but Todd and Penguin gets the Quiet Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Quiet Shortbread.

David Wright is a master of the personal moment and the bemused expression. On the surface it's Penguin's love of cookies and Todd's ennui with his job. Under the surface it's humor coming out of acceptance, love, and selfish housecats or officially bitter goth girls. It's broad enough to have fertile grounds for humor, but it never loses its quiet core.

Bringing the Funny: Relationship Driven
How we interact with each other, one-on-one, ultimately forms the web of all society. The Relationship Driven comic finds the Funny buried in the individual loops and knots of that tapestry. This generally involves love -- or at least sex -- but certainly the interaction between close friends is a Relationship, and the balance of how the best friend and wife hate each other but have their common bond through the one they both love. Relationship-Driven webcomics are popular, because they reflect our own troubled relationships -- sometimes all too closely for our own comfort.

The Webcomics that Brought the Relationship Driven Funny are:

  • College Roomies from Hell: See, Dave loves Margaret, and to a degree Margaret loves Dave, but because she knows she's doomed she's pushed him into the arms of Blue, who really has feelings for Dave which Dave is beginning to reciprocate. This doesn't sit particularly well with Mike, Blue's sister and Dave's roommate (and a real bastard), but he wants to protect both Dave and Blue from the manipulative evil of his mother, while managing to hold his relationship with his beloved, batwinged Marsha together. Only April loves Mike too, and is more than willing to destroy everyone around her, plus Mike, plus herself over it. That doesn't touch on Roger, whose mother was just killed by Margaret and who loved Diana, the prostitute with the transvestite brother... oh and he has a rock. And yeah, it can be hysterical, which is the point. Do I need to really go into the relationship based humor of this strip?
  • Diesel Sweeties: The very title of this webcomic refers to the relationship between the robotic Clango and the ex-porn star Maura, with complications in the persons of Lil' Sis and Indy Rock Pete and Red Robot, and Pale Suzie, only they also end up pairing off with each other. Who's sleeping with who and who's jealous over it is a core component of what makes this strip funny, and if that isn't Relationship Driven my name's Toby. And it's not. Toby, I mean.
  • Kevin and Kell: The subtext of Kevin and Kell, of course, is racism. Or gay rights. Or anything you want to call it. But in the end, it's about people who are different who still love each other, whether society likes it or not. Carnivores and Herbivores being married and having definition-jumping children, existing children who have a lack of trust or appreciation for these aliens. At least one carnivore who's had surgery to make himself a herbivore to pursue his relationship with a sheep... this is all about the individual relationships that can shake society to its core... and still manage to keep together through it all.
  • Queen of Wands: Something of a different take on "relationship-driven," but still very much within the definition, Queen of Wands at its core is about Kestrel's journey, as defined by the different relationships she's forged with the rest of the cast. Her relationship with Shannon, with Felix, with Angela and Seamus and even Zot defines who she is, and as she prepares to leave her home and move away, changing those relationships entirely, we see them evolve and see the other relationships' among her cast change as well, remaking the world as they know it in preparation for Kestrel's departure. Oh, and it's funny. Honest.
  • Questionable Content: Indy rock guys and girls enjoying coffee and banter and bottom jokes and wanting very very much to have sex with each other, but it doesn't ever seem to work out that way. Is there anything that doesn't scream "relationship driven humor" to you in this? Didn't think so.
  • Suburban Jungle: In a way, Character Driven strips and Relationship Driven strips blur each others' defintions. Certainly, it's the strong characters in a strip like Suburban Jungle that lead to strong relationships, and those relationships play off those strong characters. However, it's almost always been requited and unrequited love that's driven the craziness in this strip, and that's good enough for me, damn it.

One hopes these strips are sharing their biscuits, not arguing about who gets to eat them... but Diesel Sweeties gets the Relationship-Driven Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Relationship-Driven Shortbread.

R. Stevens isn't afraid to mix his Sweeties up, breaking them up and putting them together into new patterns and deriving humor from all sides. In the end, however, it's the tension of those relationships that drives the funny, and it's hard to imagine anyone keeping this many singles and couples straight in his head, making changes when needed (including possibly even Maura and Clango themselves), and keeping it all funny as Hell through it all. Also, there is a Red Robot who sleeps with girls and kills people.

Bringing the Funny: Savage Wit
Sometimes, comedy is sweet and heartwarming. Sometimes, jokes make us laugh at ourselves and each other. And sometimes? Comedy goes for your fucking throat and beats the Hell out of you and makes you LAUGH, BITCH! LAUGH! And you do, because it's funny. And you feel dirty, because it shouldn't make you laugh, because it's mean and savage. And that makes you laugh more. It owns you. You just have to cope with it.

The Webcomics that Brought the Savage Wit Funny are:

  • Checkerboard Nightmare: Kristofer Straub isn't shy about the targets of his satire. In one of his early plot arcs, Chex -- out of jealousy -- viciously attacked other cartoonists with a shovel. Even now, Straub is willing to show off his versitility (and his targets' foibles) by aping their styles and holding no punches. Sometimes painful, but always, always funny.
  • FLEM Comics: Look, if you don't have a spine, don't read this comic. It will offend you. Even if you do have a spine this strip will offend you. It sometimes offends me. It sometimes offends J. Grant himself. And as long as he's willing to draw it, I'm going to read it and laugh and laugh and wince and sometimes throw up. But laugh all the while.
  • Goats: There is a geniality in Jonathan Rosenberg's Goats -- a pleasantness that belies the fact that there is absolutely no quarter given when Rosenberg's got a good head of steam going. We knew this back in the days of Jesus Brand Penis Butter Cups©, and it's reinforced every time Scott "Charles in Charge" Baio shows up and discusses the quality of his feces. Also, die die die fornication.
  • Penny Arcade: The king of the Gamer Comics and one of the clear aspirants to the Throne of All Comicdom, Penny Arcade's stock in trade is a vicious sense of humor that slashes through its targets then turns on itself with a viciousness usually never seen outside of certain badly abused dogs. Hungry dogs. And what that little metal thing does to grapefruit will haunt you the rest of your days.
  • Something Positive: On the very first day R. Milholland put a comic strip up onto the web, it featured a joke about sending a coat hanger as a present to a baby shower. Sometime after that, Milholland developed some edge.
  • Yirmumah: There's a way in which Yirmumah is still trying to find its voice -- it recently changed its format and its schedule. And yet, one thing hasn't changed -- when it goes for satire, it goes with sharp stick in hand, ready to ram it up Yirass™. This strip is hysterical when it's mean, and it's mean because it loves. Honest.

These strips don't give a rat's ass if I give them biscuits or not... but Something Positive gets the Savage Wit Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Savage Wit Shortbread.

Milholland knows from funny. He wields attitude like a knife, and the suggestion that he might have gone too far inspires him to head a few more kilometers in. A partial list of his targets includes Pagans, Christians, Liberals, Conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, Asians, Blacks, Whites, Rednecks, RPG Gamers, Computer Gamers, Gays, Straights, Bi's, Short People, Midgets, Directors, Actors, Writers, Poets, Goths, Indys, Emos, Livejournal Writers, Pretty People, the Vapid, the Sensitive, the Pretentious and the Stupid. And the thing of it is, he's fucking funny the whole time he does it, and at no time do you feel like he's being gratiutious. That isn't easy, punk.

Bringing the Funny: Situation Comedy
I usually use the phrase "Workplace Comedy" to refer to those webcomics whose setting and premise drive their humor, but really we're discussing Situation Comedy. Drive those horrified images of Hello, Larry out of your head, sparky. Sitcoms are a technique, not an indication of quality. these are strips that derive their humor inexorably out of what the people involved are doing.

The Webcomics that Brought the Situation Comedy Funny are:

  • Greystone Inn: There's a certain way that Brad Guigar wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to be able to do straight comic strips, and workplace humor, and super hero satire, and celebrity satire, and whatever else passes through his brain. He manages to do this by setting his cartoon in a television studio where they "film" a comic strip, and it works startlingly well. That must be some good cake.
  • Help Desk: One of the purest of situation comedies, as the different characters work as tech support -- in the loosest definition of that term -- for the most evil technology company in the universe. The culture of ennui and cynicism that grows out of the situation fuels the humor on all sides.
  • PvP: Sometimes we forget this fact, especially because Cole blurs the line between "boss" and "buddy" pretty often, but PvP really is a situation comedy -- they work at a magazine, they're there because they do a job, and if they weren't working together every day, there's not much of a chance Francis and Marcy -- at the least -- would ever see Jade, Brent and Cole.
  • Schlock Mercenary: One way you can tell a Situation Comedy is if it opens with someone getting a new job. This gives the reader a viewpoint into the situation and the humor that grows out of it. Check out the beginning of Schlock Mercenary to see this done pretty wholly correctly. And then check out the rest of the strip for the ways the situation can evolve, and the funny evolves along with it.
  • User Friendly: Probably one of the most famous Webcomic Sitcoms, User Friendly's core is Columbia Internet. When it got sold at one point, everything changed. As the company evolves, the funny evolves. Really, User Friendly and Help Desk are opposite sides of the same coin -- it's just, the immoral and incompetent in one strip are the users, and in the other it's the staff. In any case, User Friendly is wholly a Sitcom, and does it well.
  • /usr/bin/w00t!: Cut in a similar mold from other tech workplace strips, /usr/bin/w00t! becomes distinctive by focusing on its protaganist, Sarah. Sarah, purple hair and all, becomes the Mary Tyler Moore of this Sitcom, both in her work life and her home life, ending up the rational center surrounded by insanity.

These strips take the good and take the bad, and then take the biscuits... but Greystone Inn gets the Situation Comedy Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Situation Comedy Shortbread.

In a way, there was no other possible choice. Greystone Inn embraces its situation heartily, populating Creative Contracts Studios with all the nuts you'd expect, letting cameos and satires slide in from one side and back out the other, and letting Guigar play in every sandbox he wants to, while holding everything together through the common place of employ. Perhaps most significantly, when Sammy lost her job at CCR, she almost vanished from the strip until she and Mac got married (and thus got an official "role" in the Situation once more). No matter how much things range, they'll always find their way back to Creative Contracts Studios.

Bringing the Funny: Surreal
You know, I know that what we call "surreal" in Webcomics would probably disgust René Magritte. C'est la vie. "This is not a dinosaur holding a tray of shortbread." Any way you look at it, when I say "surreal" in Webcomics I mean the weird, the wild, the harnessing of the purely imaginative. Surreal webcomics are differentiated from Madcap ones because their humor is less what they are doing and more what is happening. Anything can happen at any time for any reason. And of course, some strips are both.

The Webcomics that Brought the Surreal Funny are:

  • Daily Dinosaur Comics: Possibly the webcomic on this list that André Breton would most recognize as surreal. Or else he wouldn't. Either way. Still, the strip contains random elements (the car, the house, the woman) and also becomes an exercise in repetative art, accentuating the importance of the text. And there's also implications of dinosaur sex, which makes one think this is very odd indeed. Oh, and jokes about the French.
  • Goats: There is something very odd deep within Jon Rosenberg's mind. Something that thinks talking fish who live in beer and pine for Reese Witherspoon while hanging out at the Manhole could also be zombies reanimated after their murder, that satanic chickens and womanizing goats who wear Panties of Potency can hang out alongside Aliens and madmen. Oh, and there's Philip. I mean, that boy ain't right.
  • Penny Arcade: It's a juicer. It's a juicer but it fucks fruit. At night it runs its little metal hands over women's hair. Also, there is Twisp and Catsby. Dude. It fucks fruit.
  • Scary Go Round: When John Allison ended Bobbins and launched Scary-Go-Round, he brought much of his old cast along with. However, while he never much worried about sending rock singers to the Alps or destroying red haired men with the power of the MIND, Scary-Go-Round meant it was perfectly fine to start letting anything he wanted to happen happen. Black bugs. Men who turn into gas. Women who die and are brought back as terrible zombies, then struck by lightning back into the living. Also, Satan. And sometimes other dimensions and alternate timelines where Shelley becomes famous for playing Beatles Music in the 19th Century. Look, how much justification do I have to do, here?
  • Superosity: Look, our heroes decided to travel back in time to the 19th century so they could view the very first Labor Day, and while they were there they accidentally killed the creator of the Yellow Kid, so Nicola Tesla, Time Guardian raised up his brother Ralphie to take Richard Outcault's place. This naturally led to the creation of an alternate universe where Ralphie was absolute dictator of the world and the world's first cartoon, The Green Kid, was the only form of entertainment allowed. Do I really have to justify Superosity's inclusion among the Madcap Surreal? Also, there is a talking dog who aspires to work at a convenience store.

    Yes. I am perfectly well aware that I repeated the Superosity Madcap nomination. Look, this thing's broken 10,000 words as it is. What is it you want from me? Blood? Is it blood? My guess is blood.
  • Wigu: Even without Butter Dimension3(or Butter Dimension4 for that matter), Wigu would be credited for being surreal thanks to the drug hazes, the chicken musicals, the golden idols, the wish granting, the Googol Maverick, and Hugo using his flared jeans as parachutes. Oh, and Bigfoot. Anyway, my point is, after all that, we still can add in Topato, and Sheriff Pony, and Princess Dongle, and their ways. And that takes a surreal strip and turns it into "Dr. Seuss accidentally licked a tab of acid after staying up all night." Also, I expect hookers were involved, somewhere.

As always, these strips deserve their biscuits, no matter how strange they seem... but Wigu gets the Surreal Shortbread. The Tasty, Tasty Surreal Shortbread.

Jeffrey Rowland's boundless imagination takes his "journal comic," Overcompensating, and makes it the same kind of glorious ride as his more famous Wigu. And even with Wigu scheduled to end within just a few days, I'm finding myself enjoying the ride and wondering what will happen next. This is more than surreal, this is joyous, and that is a fine fine thing indeed.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at December 27, 2004 7:50 PM


Comment from: Sembazuru posted at December 27, 2004 8:10 PM


Comment from: David Morgan-Mar posted at December 28, 2004 12:37 AM

Wow, two nominations! I'm smugly pleased and grateful, although I would have placed myself more in the surreal category than madcap - maybe I'm doing something wrong(!). Oh, and I just know I'm never going to hear the end of this from Andy Weir... ;-)

(Maybe I can make up for my inadequacy with a surprise Bringing the Story Shortbread. Mmm... shortbread...)

Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at December 28, 2004 1:23 AM

Thanks for the two nods. And I saw the big winner earlier down there, but the post now appears to have been eaten.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 28, 2004 1:33 AM

They were deserved nods (for both of you ;). And yeah. I think my excessive verbiage broke Movable Type, so now I've posted that bit of extra at the bottom in its own post. So if you haven't seen who won the Overall for Bringing the Funny... well, now you can, in the very next post.

Comment from: Bo Lindbergh posted at December 28, 2004 4:18 AM

On the subject of CRfH:

Mike, Blue's sister and Dave's roommate

Did you really mean to write "sister" there?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 28, 2004 9:38 AM

Heh. Um... "no?"

I'll fix it as soon as I dare look at it.

Comment from: Scarybug posted at December 28, 2004 3:31 PM

Heh, I took "college for kids" cartooning classes from the guy that took over Jim's Journal when the original author quit doing it.

It was in The Onion before The Onion went national. The fake news plus antihumor comic was a particularly deadly combination.

Comment from: Tangent posted at December 28, 2004 6:05 PM

I must admit to mixed feelings here. I mean, CRfH didn't win shortbread cookies and it's one of several comics I consider tied as favorite... but Narbonic won, which is one of several comics I consider tied as favorite. *grin*

I think that the nice thing about the Shortbread Cookie awards is that it helps show more comics for new readers to possibly get into... and those being among the best of those strips. Thus... thank you, and here's a Scandinavian Almond Cookie as a reward to *you* for the Shortbread Awards. :)

Take care!

Robert A. Howard

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 28, 2004 6:44 PM

CRfH is still in the running for Bringing the Story and Bringing the Toolset Shortbread cookies. So it's not over yet. ;)

Comment from: JSW posted at December 28, 2004 10:39 PM

Surprising to see Help Desk on that list, seeing as how, to my knowledge, it's never been snarked up to this point. That was the first webcomic I ever followed, back when it was a feature in the OS/2 e-Zine. Then again, back when Help Desk started, way back in 1996, it was one of the only webcomics out there. I've followed it ever since, and it was the comic that first introduced me to Keenspot. Nice to see it get some recognition.

Comment from: Maritza Campos posted at December 29, 2004 11:45 AM

You did a great job, Eric! Quite the titanic task... o.O

As a punishment, I'm going to recommend two hilarious comics for you to try on a boring day. The first one is a defunct one named "Fluble". It gives "surreal" a whole new meaning. The archives are here.


Cigarro and Cerveja...


and I was going to recommend Bob the Angry Flower, but I seem to recall you read it already (plus, it's not strictly a webcomic).

I greatly appreciate your kind comments on CRFH, and although I got no shortbread, nominations are TASTY indeed! It was also very cool reading about the comics I read and the ones I don't. Like I said, great job, and I look forward to reading about the rest of the Shortbread comics.



Comment from: Rothul posted at December 29, 2004 12:26 PM

Applause applause all around, but two minor categorical issues:

1. Men in Hats a "light" strip? I mean, yes it always does bring the funny, but as you pointed out, the best MIH strips are the ones with a heapin' mess a schadenfreude, and for that matter every character relationship seems to be based on intense loathing and the sadistic joy of igniting/pushing off mountain's the churches of/throwing scorpions on/insulting other people. Definitely more "dark" or "savage wit" but, eh.

2. No Something Positive in the relationship category! I he-ah-by demaaands a recount!

Comment from: Shaenon posted at December 29, 2004 2:40 PM


I mean... thank you. I'm deeply touched.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 29, 2004 4:03 PM

I'm glad people are liking this. ;)

Rothul -- "Savage Wit" and "Light" aren't mutually exclusive. And I actually considered Men in Hats for that category as well. As for "Dark..." I dunno. It's so damn cheerful. I think I have to stand by that.

And yeah, I don't really see "relationships" as the driver for Something Positive. Davan's girlfriends aside, the real comedy derives from the individual characters, not relationship tension between them. Sure, they interact and the core relationships are important, but that really isn't where a plurality of the Funny comes from. Not compared to, say, the fact that these are a pack of cheerful bastards who are being punished by God for God's amusement.

Comment from: John Troutman posted at December 31, 2004 4:22 PM

Whoa! Thanks for both the award and the nomination! I am most honored.

(And I would have mentioned as such sooner, if I wasn't ignoring the internet for days whilst hiding out with Miss Quinn for New Year's.)

Comment from: AndyW posted at January 1, 2005 6:06 AM

Thank you for your kind words about Casey and Andy, both now and in the past. The Tasty, Tasty Shortbread you gave me finally motivated me to make an account here so I could thank you.

So thank you. :)


Comment from: Rothul posted at January 2, 2005 11:36 AM

First of all, point very well taken on the SP front... My initial reaction was to bring up how the interactional relationships (using your definition, thus including "interactions of close friends") of all these well-drawn out characters is what's pretty much what sets up 90% of the situations in the strip (you know... the ones not involving trap-door alligators.) But then duh, SITUATIONS, not HUMOR... I realize I've made the amateur snarker's mistake of "Bringing the Funny" with "Bringing the Story."

Men in Hats though... It's cheeful yes, but it's cheerfulness through schaudenfreude and angered saracasm... You gotta bring the dark with the comedy to be dark comedy, and MIH I just see it happening in spades.

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