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Eric: Fear drives exploration. We always suspected that was the case, right?

So, a good number of people have been coming to have a look at The Adventures of Brigadier General John Stark, which is heartening because... well, hey. I like people reading the things that I write. It's especially heartening since at the time of the statistics I had, there was only the one strip, which had already appeared on Websnark. (The second strip is there now. Like all good gag-a-day webcomics, it features a penis joke. My father must be proud of me.) In fact, on Sunday I was second on the daily "top 25 webcomics" list at WCN, and as of the moment I'm fourth for today. I mean, hey. Rock on.

(For the record? I have the next two weeks queued to go already. Admittedly, this is not the hardest webcomic to do a buffer for, since the art never changes and I have a program that lets me quickly and easily insert the artwork. But at least until mid-October, I already know I won't miss a daily update. Yay! A winner is me!)

However, looking at the top 25 of the day also gave me pause... because I discovered that (at least yesterday) Unfettered by Talent was on the list too... and looking at the top 100 all time strips on Webcomics Nation I discover that Unfettered by Talent is currently #54!

This cannot be permitted to stand. Unfettered by Talent sucks. Clearly, people need to start reading a lot more Webcomics Nation strips. Here's a few to get you started, but you should also look at the lists in the sidebar of the Webcomics Nation home page:

  • Irrational Fears. Ursula Vernon, of Digger fame (as well as the designer of Snarky in the corner of this screen), presents a full color odyssey to search out the monsters that plague our subconsciousness. It's one of the most popular Webcomics Nation strips, and I'm going to do my part to keep it that way, because this right here is damn good stuff.
  • Gods and Undergrads. I am seriously getting into this story about a sophomore in college and the slice of divine life she finds there.
  • JACK COLE, A Life in Comics. Gary Chaloner, who was fortunate enough to work with Will Eisner on John Law, brings us a series of interwoven stories, illustrated and textual, crossing between fact and fiction on the life of one of the greatest -- and most tragic -- comic artists of all time. Jack Cole, the creator of Plastic Man, noted and revered for his glorious sense of whimsy and the anarchic, ultimately took his own life. Chaloner isn't quite over that. (And neither am I, for that matter, even though it happened before I was born.)
  • World War Two Wild West Zombie Tales. Exactly what it sounds like. Plus, gorgeous artwork.
  • Catharsis. A self contained story well worth your time to go through. A touch of theology, with just a scosh of... well, you'll see.
  • Amazon Space Rangers A. Prosser's story of... well, Amazon Space Rangers. Also, family. A perfect way to follow reading World War Two Wild West Zombie Tales
  • Space Goth. Once again, I'm not sure how to improve on the title in this description. This is more a Space Goth come to Earth, than Goths in Space, just for the record. There's a qualitative difference, you know.
  • Playing with Dolls. Ever since the first edition of The Sims, people have been making up stories to go along with screenshots. But Spike takes it to a whole new level, harnessing the high graphical power of The Sims 2 and building coherent narratives from her "doll collection." It's the facial expressions that nail it for me.
  • Polly versus the Tentacle Monster. A surprisingly PG (well, okay, PG-13. Well, all right, with slight R tendencies, but no actual nudity or anything) 24 hour comic from Ghastly, who has been sadly underrepresented in Websnark to date
  • [nemesis]. What? I was going to go through a list of stuff for you to read on Webcomics Nation and not mention [nemesis]? Greg Holkan. Good stuff.

This should get you started, but it just scratches the surface. I think Webcomics Nation is a success to date, because there's a ton of good stuff just waiting for you. And, of course, a photo-comic with static art about Revolutionary War Era Generals and their statues.

And none of it needs to be Unfettered by Talent. Really.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at September 26, 2005 8:38 AM

Comments

Comment from: JackSlack posted at September 26, 2005 9:00 AM

Ohmygod. Baby chupacabras is like the cutest thing ever.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at September 26, 2005 9:00 AM

I have to admit that I was probably one of those people who drove up the numbers on Unfettered by Talent. I was simply curious as to just what it was, since I'm liking this John Stark thing and also don't mind Gossamer Commons (though I seriously need to play some catch-up on it).

And I remember, after reading through the very short archives of Unfettered by Talent, two things.

1) Actually cringing at some points, due to dialogue which was far too artificial and stilted to exist anywhere outside of an amateurish webcomic (not to mention jokes that came from a mile away).

2) Reading up to the "most recent" strip and thinking "... that's IT?"

In conclusion, yeah, I have to actually agree with your assessment of Unfettered by Talent.

Comment from: John Lynch posted at September 26, 2005 9:25 AM

This cannot be permitted to stand. Unfettered by Talent sucks.

Dude! That's a bit harsh.... Oh wait. it's one of your strips, heh.

Well I added 2 more comics to my "Read sometime in the future" list (which is about 80 comics long). I currently read 4 WCN strips, so I'm doing my job to push Unfettered down (okay, I admit it. Those 4 are all by Layla Lawlor and she only updates one regularly, but damnit they're good comics regardless, and I got hooked on them from here :)).

Comment from: Chris Anthony posted at September 26, 2005 9:43 AM

I think I'm the only person in the world who actually liked UfbT.

Eric, FYI, it looks like you're not closing your <ul> tag in this post, which is funking up the rest of the display.

Comment from: Bo Lindbergh posted at September 26, 2005 9:55 AM

Also, Unfettered by Talent suffers from lack of proofreading. "Laphroig", "Lapsong", etc.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 26, 2005 10:16 AM

Fixed, Chris -- thanks!

And UfbT has a few fans. Which frightens me.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 26, 2005 10:16 AM

Bo -- I'm sure you'll acknowledge proofreading is the least of UfbT's problems. ;)

Comment from: Matt Sweeney posted at September 26, 2005 10:48 AM

I acctually saw a table for Gods and Undergrads at SPX this weekend and almost picked something up by them, but never got around to it. Glad to see I'll have a chance to read through their stuff anyways.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 26, 2005 10:56 AM

Eric, you should know by now that people trip over themselves to compliment you. Even when you feel you aren't at your best. It comes with the territory.

Personally, my interest is piqued by "Jack Cole."

Comment from: Michael Nehora posted at September 26, 2005 10:58 AM

"Dude, that's the wussiest E I've ever seen" was kind of funny.

I think UfbT might have had potential, Eric, if you'd not only partnered with an artist, as with your current projects, and if you'd lost the gnostic gnarrator. Remember, many comics (web and print) start off pretty lame both in terms of writing and art. Imagine if, circa 1952, Charles Schulz had said, "Darn it, my characters look like they have hydrocephalus, and all they do is talk about making mudpies. I'm packing it in."

Comment from: William_G posted at September 26, 2005 11:34 AM

"This cannot be permitted to stand. Unfettered by Talent sucks."

The first attempt at anything sucks. Webcomics, webcomic criticism, sex...

Comment from: Wednesday posted at September 26, 2005 11:39 AM

The first attempt at anything sucks. Webcomics, webcomic criticism, sex...

It doesn't have to. There are people who just do things right the first time every time. Lots of them.

THEY'RE SURROUNDING MY APARTMENT HELP.

I think UfbT might have had potential, Eric, if you'd not only partnered with an artist, as with your current projects, and if you'd lost the gnostic gnarrator.

But...but then it would have been...different...

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 26, 2005 11:41 AM

I think UfbT might have had potential, Eric, if you'd not only partnered with an artist, as with your current projects, and if you'd lost the gnostic gnarrator.

Unquestionably those two things would need to happen to make the series not suck. I agree completely.

The problem was, they together formed the entire premise of the series.

I won't promise not to do something with Deke and Rhoda in the future, but whatever it is, it won't be Unfettered by Talent. Regardless, we should chalk this up to "well intentioned."

Comment from: Wednesday posted at September 26, 2005 11:41 AM

Also. TEMPLAR. TEMPLAR TEMPLAR TEMPLAR TEMPLAR.

TEMPLAR.

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells posted at September 26, 2005 12:36 PM

I was hoping somebody else would mention Templar. Now I don't have to. Except I just did. Never mind.

Comment from: joeymanley posted at September 26, 2005 1:45 PM

You forgot Sleeping Dragons and Near-Life Experience and Hutch Owen Daily and Domino Joe and The Double and and and ...

(grin)

Joey
www.webcomicsnation.com

Comment from: joeymanley posted at September 26, 2005 1:46 PM

I meant: The Double (original link went to Domino Joe instead).

(grins again).

Joey
www.webcomicsnation.com

Comment from: quiller posted at September 26, 2005 3:13 PM

Hmm, what does it say that the only one of those I've read is "Polly vs the Tentacle Monster"? Probably that I read Ghastly, actually.

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at September 26, 2005 4:09 PM

Aww, thank you, Eric!

Like many past projects, I am both desperately proud of and desperately embarassed by "Irrational Fears." I'd probably do it differently today. But I'm still proud of having done it at all.

Comment from: PatMan posted at September 26, 2005 5:30 PM

Yes, read more WCN comics. But don't read mine yet, because it's gone on hiatus. What a shame. This would have been a good time to pimp it.
.
.
.
Oh, what the heck, click the link. Click it!

Comment from: PatMan posted at September 26, 2005 5:31 PM

Why did the link not appear? Now I have to repost it, and it'll look to obvious! Curses.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at September 26, 2005 5:34 PM

Uh, dude, the text on Stark's site reads "Roughly Daily, except when it doesn't"

Please, the not parallel-ness, it hurts me. Make it stop?
Maybe you filled in a form that started with the word updates and now it's gone?

Also:
It doesn't have to. There are people who just do things right the first time every time. Lots of them.

THEY'RE SURROUNDING MY APARTMENT HELP.

This is the bestest thing ever.

Comment from: SeanH posted at September 26, 2005 7:45 PM

Also: The Splendid Everlasting. It's by the genius behind The Grimbles. And if you never read The Grimbles... well.

Well.

Comment from: bzedan posted at September 26, 2005 8:22 PM

Gosh, thanks!

Um, I drew you a picture as a thank you, it always startles me when I find out people read Space Goth.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at September 26, 2005 8:46 PM

King of RPGs! By the great Jason Thompson!

http://www.webcomicsnation.com/jasonthompson/rpgoh/series.php

That is all.

Comment from: JediLora posted at September 26, 2005 9:11 PM

I do love Gods and Undergrads. Seconded on that.

Actually, I like all of that artist's work. Can I remember her name? Nooooooo.

Comment from: Aerin posted at September 26, 2005 9:26 PM

The fact that you linked to a comic called Catharsis confused me at first, because there's been a comic called Catharsis around for years, and it's not on WCN. But it's another Catharsis... nope, still confused.

Comment from: gwalla posted at September 27, 2005 12:03 AM

Irrational Fears is love.

Comment from: Merus posted at September 27, 2005 1:24 AM

I was disappointed with Irrational Fears. Did anyone else get the feeling Ursula forgot what story she was telling half-way through?

I was all primed to read a series of short stories about Ursula's private demons and her exorcisms of same, and instead received an excellent story on dustbunnies and nightmares. It was good, but it wasn't really what I thought would be coming, so the story seemed to just drag on after the quick-fire story about the Aztec demon, and added exposition that wasn't really necessary (for instance, why would Ursula's avatar, a chupacabra, need a separate name of its own?)

I'm also really, really susceptable to psychoanalytical stories right now. I'm still on a Psychonauts buzz.

Comment from: JackSlack posted at September 27, 2005 2:55 AM

Merus, I really have to disagree with that one. By the end of the story, I was thinking, "Y'know, Ursula Vernon's being awfully impolite. I accept that she's an unbelievably good artist and all, but then having the discourtesy to take my humble writing, kick it to the curb and stomp on it for a while, by being that good? That's just rude."

I loved it. I was stunned by how well it concluded, by the sheer weird wonderfulness of it, and how well it all tied together. LOVED IT.

Comment from: Merus posted at September 27, 2005 5:54 AM

Oh, I fully accept it's more my expectations than Ursula's writing or art - after all, a story that takes dustbunnies and dreams and crafts them into a story that never feels cheesy or sappy is damn well-written.

It's just that the first three strips were so different to the main story, and I was actually really jazzed upon reading those first three strips - as I said, I'd be very keen right about now to read some quick-fire exorcisms of personal demons, and I thought that was what I was getting - which is why the story seemed to drag to me. I was expecting it to end after a few strips and move on to the aliens or that winged creature on the first page or something.

You can't please everyone, I suppose. (Good thing I've never revealed my home address.)

Comment from: Freak posted at September 27, 2005 7:39 AM

Eric, I looked at the list, and it appears that all the ones I checked are already ranked higher than UFBT. If you want to knock UFBT off the top 100 list, you need to promote webcomics ranked _lower_ than it.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at September 27, 2005 8:40 AM

They weren't all higher yesterday.... ;)

Comment from: Robin Z posted at September 27, 2005 9:09 AM

Hey, did you notice UFbT has hit #44 on the All-Time list (see link)?

I guess you're just too popular! ^_^

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at September 27, 2005 9:50 AM

You know, UbT is going to keep rising so long as you keep linking to it, Eric. Just when it's faded in the minds of the Snarkoleptics, you bring it up and have the newbies run towards it. And you know most of the people here eat up your writing.

In other words, it will probably help your cause to have Unfettered by Talent ignored if you stop linking to it.

Comment from: alschroeder posted at September 27, 2005 9:58 AM

ARGH!!! I was going to do "Gods and Undergrads" as my "featured link" tomorrow---oh, well, if I look like a copycat, I do. But I really did discover it before I saw it in your recommendations. But I've been trying to link to some good Webcomics Nation stuff for a while with featured links---like Sian.---Al

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells posted at September 27, 2005 11:14 AM

I don't think one should look upon "Irrational Fears" as a complete work in and of itself; the pacing problems disappear if you look at it as a project on extended hiatus, the first two episodes of a much longer work that would, if complete, devote one chapter to all the monsters pictured on the first page. (The top-of-page title captions seem to support this theory.)

Comment from: benlehman posted at September 27, 2005 3:31 PM

Re: Catharsis

I love James V West's art. It has many fine artistic qualities other than the hot chicks. I assure you, it does.

No. Really.

yrs--
--Ben

P.S. He's a damn fine RPG designer, too.

Comment from: larksilver posted at September 28, 2005 4:24 PM

Like Aerin, I goggled at the Catharsis confusion. I read the other one, and enjoy the simple fun of it (I mean, wild cherries complete with warpaint woohoo). However, I will gladly check on the "other" Catharsis once I get home and am no longer "supposed to be working." Yep!

Word of advice. If you go to www.catharsiscomic.com, don't read the entire archive at once. Cute as hell, but ooooooOOooo the sugar shock. But that Rremly, he are fun.

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