« Meanwhile, Kestrel is washing her hair. | Main | Look, it's been a webcomics heavy week. You knew we wouldn't get out of it without a mention of Something Positive, Narbonic or John Troutman. And Troutman's not updating! TROUTMAN'S NOT UPDATING! »

Eric: On "You Never Had Me To Lose Me."

So. Let's talk some more about Ctrl+Alt+Del. Because it's come up, and it's worth noting a few things.

It's safe to say that I don't like the strip. And part of the reason I phrased that dislike the way I did in my last essay is to forestall... well, a certain kind of response.

You haven't given it a chance, that response goes. Go to XXX. That one's hysterical. Look at the art! Look at the characterization. Look at the--

No, thank you. I've looked at it before. It didn't get me.

See, that's the thing. Remember You had me, and you lost me? That only works on strips that actually lost me.

"All right," the response has come. "If you don't like it, what is it you don't like about it?"

That's really not how it works.

I can give you surface impressions of the work, at best, right now. On the surface... it seems derivative to me. It seems a lot like... well, Penny Arcade. Crossed over a bit with PvP with a side order of Angst Technology here and there. Only that's not really an answer, because I've read derivative stuff before that I've liked.

But that's not fair, you answer. You're admitting you don't know much about it. How can you say it's derivative?

The answer is... I can't. Not well. I can't support my arguments. The nature of surface impressions are they're just that. Surface. To know more, I'd have to dig deeper. Read deeper. Do a concerted archive trawl. Do a concerted, deep read of the work. Know my subject.

And I'm not going to do that, because I don't like Ctrl+Alt+Del.

To me, that's the key to a happy life. "I don't like this webcomic, so I'm not going to read it." "I don't like this television show, so I'm not going to watch it." "I don't like this food, so I'm not going to eat it." I've given Ctrl+Alt+Del a number of chances to hook me. To get me wondering about tomorrow. To get me laughing my ass off. To get me.

Without that? I'm never going to care about it enough to say good or bad things. I can only render surface impressions.

And surface impressions aren't a good enough reason to write a review. I've already said -- often -- that this isn't generally a review site anyway. And I can't write a true critical essay about Ctrl+Alt+Del without actually knowing the subject well. It's not fair. It's not fair to Buckley. It's not fair to the readers, as well. They expect me to know my subject before I shoot off my fool mouth about it.

If you ask me about the more derivative aspects of Ctrl+Alt+Del, I'll cop to them. Seems like that accusation's accurate, from what little I've seen. If you ask me to support that with examples, I'll shrug and say "just a feeling I have, Guv." Which sounds like a copout because it is a copout.

It's come up more often recently, with the animation announcement. People have asked my opinion. And... well, for a Ctrl+Alt+Del fan, it's pretty exciting stuff, I figure. But... well, there's been web animation before. Some of it really well done, some of it not so well done. I don't know where Ctrl+Alt+Del will fall, because I don't read the strip, so I'm not going to pay for any of the animation. So, it's just kind of a shrug for me right now.

Which describes the whole Ctrl-Alt-Del thing in a nutshell to me. I don't hate it. I know people who do. And I know people who like it.

Me? Meh. I don't like it. So I don't know it.

My strongest recommendation, therefore, is this: if you like it, read it. If you don't... don't.

Me, I'm with the "don'ts." So don't ask me to go on more of a record about it than this. First, I'd have to read it, and they never got me in the first place.

Wow. I've never dissatisfied everyone with an essay before.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at December 8, 2005 3:33 PM

Comments

Comment from: Nich posted at December 8, 2005 3:41 PM

"Wow. I've never dissatisfied everyone with an essay before."


Heh. Maybe you'll get bumped up a notch in the ranks of Webcomics Troublemakers now!

Comment from: larksilver posted at December 8, 2005 4:01 PM

I'm not dissatisfied. So you still haven't. heh.

In fact, I have to give you great heaping portions of credit for this:

They expect me to know my subject before I shoot off my fool mouth about it.

aaah, if only the chick from the New York Times had done this. Recognizing that you wouldn't do a good snark about a comic you don't particularly care about one way or the other is.. well, hell, it's just being responsible. It is, in my humble opinion, more respectful to the comic in question than if you had half-assed something, or had trashed the thing.

Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at December 8, 2005 4:02 PM

I probably broke all my reputation of objectivity with the one post I made at Checkerboard Nightmare about CAD's success, but believe it or not, I can be (try to be) objective. A reader of CAD took me to task -- he said I shouldn't hold such a strong opinion about CAD if I hadn't read the whole thing. And although arguments were deployed in my defense, like "I shouldn't have to eat the whole bucket of horseshit if I know it's bad from the first bite," I thought that it was a respectable demand. So I did sit down and read all of Ctrl+Alt+Del over the next two days.

My first impression was that the first year was awful, but that's okay. Most comics in their first year, especially compared with how they read today, are terrible. I can say with objectivity that there are some serviceable drawings, and usually a joke in the fourth panel. On occasion, the joke is good. I laughed at Ethan huddled in a closet, mumbling "in the closet, everything goes away."

But CAD left no impact on me. It is like eating some kind of unsweetened marshmallow -- before you know it, half the bag is empty and you have a vague inclination to burp, but not a lot of pleasure was derived from it.

At worst, I would say CAD is directly apeing Penny Arcade and PVP, slapping his brand on it, and pitching it to crowds that haven't read either.

At best, and I suspect this is more accurate, I would say that CAD takes a core ten or twelve gaming humor jokes and has hammered one another alike into four panels for the last three years. There isn't any flavor.

The way I described it in my forums (where we had a much more literate discussion about CAD than the bitter-sounding snipefest I posted at CxN) is that gaming humor, or any genre for that matter, is like Legos. There's only so many things you can build with the kinds of pieces given. You'll never escape the 2x4 brick (two friends playing games on a couch). You need the little rubber wheels for the car (funny violence). So it's understandable that gaming comics are going to have similar elements.

Penny Arcade took its pieces and built an M-Tron Magna-Rover. PVP took the same pieces and built a Buccaneers playset. CAD pulled the curtain back and showed us an M-Tron Magna-Rover sitting on top of a Buccaneers playset. The pieces are all there, as they have to be, but CAD doesn't do anything new with them.

It's extremely derivative, and it's done in a guileless way. When Ethan puts a crown on his head, takes his pants off and stands out in the snow, it's to proclaim his love of gaming. That's how hardcore he is. But why would he do that? Because that combination has the trappings of a humorous situation?

Something else I found about the characters was that anyone in frame at any given time has the propensity for violence. It's sort of the "go-to." It doesn't matter if the rest of the build-up supports it. It's just very possible that the last panel will have someone getting arrowed or gut-shot. It's contextless.

Now, if it were gaming comic parody, I'd probably think it was brilliant. There's the wacky guy, the straight man who reacts off him, the personality-less one-dimensional girl, and the robot companion. Sound familiar?! No, I don't think he stole anything. But once upon a time, I used these archetypes as archetypes, to illustrate how overused they are. CAD uses them as if they had never been seen before. CAD presents a lot of stuff to the reader as if it hadn't been seen before.

What I became interested in shortly after I made that CxN post, was how Eric, you haven't read CAD. And I doubt the Examiner has ever mentioned it. Even a giant piece of news like "CAD monthly animations" made a tiny ripple in webcomics communities outside of CAD's own forums.

Is there some other pond where that announcement set the thing to boil? I don't understand how a strip can be that big, and leave so shallow a footprint on webcomics in general. It's an iceberg that has 90% of its mass above the water instead of below.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at December 8, 2005 4:18 PM

I don't understand how a strip can be that big, and leave so shallow a footprint on webcomics in general.

I can understand that perfectly, Kris:

User Friendly.

It's only existence *within* the webcomics community is usually to be an object of scorn and derision, and that's about it. But in the *Linux* community the thing is huge. JD Frazier goes to a lot of cons -- Linux cons, general computer cons... and they pay his way completely.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 8, 2005 4:22 PM

Hey, I'm pretty satisfied with this essay, too. You stay at #5, Burnsie!

Now, I don't read CAD myself, mostly because I heard it was a gaming comic and I really don't enjoy the vast majority of gaming comics I read. Yes, I play more video games in a night than some people here play in a month. Your point?

Seriously, I read one - Adventurers! - and even that has been getting real stale of late (I'm keeping it since it's about to end, and I might as well see the payoff). And given how little they talk about video games, I don't think PvP counts as a gaming strip (any more than a webcomic with two characters dating is a relationship comic).

However, I find something really humorous when Mr. Straub says, "I don't understand how a strip can be that big, and leave so shallow a footprint on webcomics in general." See, in the video game industry, this kind of thing happens all the time. A derivative game that isn't even all that good will sell millions, sometimes rvialing that which is original (which, in some eyes, might not be all that good either). So in that regard, CAD might just be a quintessential gaming comic. Just because it mirrors one very mediocre part of the subculture it draws upon very well.

Comment from: MrCheshire posted at December 8, 2005 4:25 PM

I completely agree with Mr. Straub.

There are comics that I don't read, but I understand why other people do. They're just not my cup of tea - on the other hand, CAD doesn't seem to have anything going for it that other comics don't do much, much better. Unless you count mediocrity, which it has in spades.

Can some CAD reader write a defense of the comic as well-reasoned and considered as the critiques which various people have written?

I mean, "You just don't get it, it's the best webcomic evar," isn't very convincing. I'd love to hear the defense, if it can be made.

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at December 8, 2005 4:42 PM

Excepting activities that are illegal and will incur serious jail time, why should anyone feel obligated to defend something they enjoy? That makes absolutely no sense in any context other than "someone convince me why we should let you sit with the cool kids at the lunchtable."

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at December 8, 2005 4:44 PM

I read it cuz I like it.

That's all I got.

Comment from: theliel posted at December 8, 2005 4:49 PM

i read it because i like gaming webcomics.
it is derivitive, it's like my guilty pleasure of webcomics.
it's like medicore brownies to me. yha sure, they're not as good as HOME MADE or SPECAL brownies, but they're there, on time, and consistent. and hey, chocolate.

i still like 8-bit theater better, and i think the fact that penny arcade and cntl-alt-del updated thier 'look' to new and too-fucking-shiney (sorry. i happen to like the old easy to use layouts. i'm a bastard who's afrighed of change that way.) at about the same time to be weird....but. *shrug* i just thought i was the only one reading cad.

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at December 8, 2005 4:50 PM

Mr. Straub gets it right on. I read C+A+D for a long time. Mostly because it was on my CN list, and I never got around to removing it. And you know what? Most of the time, I never found it particularly funny or particularly interesting. There's really nothing there.

Strangely, I think a comparison to Narbonic and VGCats might illustrate how I feel about it. VGCats is as close as you can get to good gaming humour, simply because it's so over-the-top, and makes no pretense of being anything else. They're cats, they play video games, and they're insane. Weird stuff happens for no real reason. Weird stuff happens for no real reason in C+A+D too, but it feels out of place there, because there's at least some pretense of realism.

In Narbonic, we have really bizarre stuff happening all the time. Take the most recent story arc - Dave soups up a microwave and it starts spewing out cherubs, which then try to devour his gaming group. General insanity and zaniness, yes, but there's a context for it. Dave has reasons for being crazy. Unlike Ethan, he's not simply totally disconnected from reality because it's an easy source of jokes. He's totally disconnected from reality because he's in the process of having a breakdown of sorts.

Comment from: Kneefers posted at December 8, 2005 5:00 PM

I agree with Paul. I read CAD because I find it really funny, and it simply strikes me the right way. I have always kind of felt that I should defend it when I run into people who absolutely loathe it, but there's really nothing to say. I'm the anomoly, I suppose, because I read lots of webcomics and I'm not really a gamer per se, but I read CAD and not Penny Arcade. I have tried to get into PA *five* times, literally, and my argument is the same as Eric's in this post. I just didn't like it. Even now it's back in my "I Must Be Missing Something" folder along with Daily Dinosaur Comics and Achewood just because I simply cannot get into it.

So MrCheshire, I'll turn it around on you. I can't defend CAD with any kind of well reasoned dispute. But can you defend PA? It's not something that I have ever really heard done. The extent is this, literally, and it was with a friend over AIM:
"Question: you think CAD>PA?"
"Umm... yeah."
"...peh."

Everyone just assumes that you're supposed to like PA, but I just... don't. And I like a lot of webcomics.

Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at December 8, 2005 5:00 PM

"it's like medicore brownies to me. yha sure, they're not as good as HOME MADE or SPECAL brownies, but they're there, on time, and consistent. and hey, chocolate."

There really is no way to account for taste in anything, but it's hard for me to believe CAD's whole readership is built on "meh, it's so-so, but it's on time." A reader in my forum asked someone they knew why they read CAD, and she said "enh, it's there." Is this the strongest support the readership can offer?

And Mr. Wright, you're right in that there will be no definitive "ha! See, you were wrong! CAD sucks and now you have to stop reading it!" moment. But I still want to know why.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at December 8, 2005 5:00 PM

"Excepting activities that are illegal and will incur serious jail time, why should anyone feel obligated to defend something they enjoy? That makes absolutely no sense in any context other than "someone convince me why we should let you sit with the cool kids at the lunchtable."

Hmm. I'm really intrigued by this post, because I mentally seconded his "I want to hear what a fan loves about it" post, and I don't particularly identify with the lunch table thing (which isn't to say it's not a factor, but--I'm cool? I have a table?) For instance, on this very site I have, in the past, virtually begged somebody to explain why Achewood is awesome. Which sounds either sarcastic or psychotic, but it's a case where I *genuinely want to like it*, and can't seem to get it, and have this idea in my head that if I went in again, really knowing what to look for or with some insights getting me oer approachability hurdles, or with some samples designed to hit my buttons right picked out, I might be converted. Unfortunately, no one has as of yet volunteered to be my personal tour guide and make my viewing experience as pleasant as possible, although when they do I would like some popcorn please and also a cookie.

So this isn't really a direct rebuttal, and of course no one should feel obligated to provide some justification for liking something, but I really get the whole "I'm interested in what you see when you look at this" thing.

Comment from: Kneefers posted at December 8, 2005 5:13 PM

"Is this the strongest support the readership can offer?"

Nope. I don't read CAD just because of inertia, (even though it was one of the first webcomics I read), or just because it updates on time or something stupid like that. I happen to think that it's bloody brilliant, and hysterical, and all that. Everything that I want. So I read it, for the same reasons that you read *any* webcomic.

Comment from: PatMan posted at December 8, 2005 5:19 PM

The thing with CAD, however, is that if you ever say that it's derivative, this guy called "Anonymous" will start flaming you. He'll scream that CAD is original, which is just not true. Then he'll call your comic a failure, no matter who you are, be you Kris Straub or Scott Kurtz or that guy who does "Liberal Arts". Then he will impassionately tell you to do some vulgar activity before dying, as if your dis-interest in his favorite comic is like killing his mother.

Comment from: ItsWalky posted at December 8, 2005 5:26 PM

C-A-D is just like Garfield. It's got a handful of jokes that resonate with people that it cycles through on a monthly basis. It's just what people *want*. Most things that are popular just aren't very original. It's why Arrested Development is cancelled and Family Guy gets all the dough.

People *want* the same joke over and over.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at December 8, 2005 5:27 PM

I swear the other Achewood ref hadn't gone up yet.

Hmm, explaining the appeal of PA. I am *not* saying this in comparison to CAD, because I've never read it (I lie, I tried to archive crawl a looong time ago, didn't manage it, have forgotten a good deal).

Obviously, there is the most important factor: the PA guys' idea of what is funny and my idea of what is funny correspond with about 98% accuracy (2% allowance made for the fact that the Fruit Fucker was admittedly pretty funny as a concept but much too creppy for me to actually want it to return). PA comics have made me laugh louder, harder and longer (did my explanation just leave G-rating territory?), more times, than any other webcomic I've ever read (bear in mind I've been reading it in off and on bunches since long before I read any other webcomics). So the bottom line there is that if they think the disgruntled look on this character's face at the end of the strip is gonna totally get me, they're almost always right.

Second factor: with very few exceptions, I've been amused by PA comics without any idea what the context was. I have frequently discovered later what the reference is, and invariably end up thinking it's even funnier afterwards. I essentially get a couple of laughs out of every strip that way.

For instance: a recent strip where Gabe is sending an e-apology card to Kara for fucking up a group thing on Wow. When I saw that, I thought it was hilarious, just as a concept and the whole taking of things seriously and trying to win a girlfriend (wife)'s forgiveness for doing something dumb in Wow. In addition, the strip accurately incorporated the look of e-cards, which strengthened the silliness of the whole gmae fuckup/relationship problem juxtaposition thing. Further, the statements of apology were hilariously appropriate to the sort of therapeutic "I'm sorry I did this, I should have known this, doing this was wrong, I feel really bad about doing this, etc., etc." format. On top of that, the last line was recognizable to me as based on the wording of the Wow healing spells and was talking about "healing" the broken heart (dork!), so that was extra funny. That's several ways the comic was funny. Add the facial expressions. Add Gabe's dorkdom making the funny in character. Add the suitability of the skeptical "Gabe is loony" attitude from Tycho without the gag being dependent on me knowing those characteristics about either of them.

Now, take all that, add art I find attractive, communicative and memorable...

and then add the way I have become steadily more knowledgable as a Wow player, so that the lines of the apology are one by one becoming recognizable game experiences to me.

In other words, I loved that gag the first time I saw it and every time I think of it now it's suddenly funnier than it was before.
This is probably way more detail than anybody wanted, but I got really intrigued by wondering "how come I *do* like PA so much, anyway?" and thought I'd give a shot to explaining it.

And, uh, it's not like I think it's perfect or they're gods or anything, but, clearly, PA does it for me.

Not like that.

Comment from: LurkerWithout posted at December 8, 2005 5:31 PM

But CAD left no impact on me. It is like eating some kind of unsweetened marshmallow -- before you know it, half the bag is empty and you have a vague inclination to burp, but not a lot of pleasure was derived from it.

You just summed up my entire experiance trying to get into CAD. I went and read the first couple years worth of archives and I can't tell you a thing about the comic. Except that it had some strips about going to see Star Wars...

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at December 8, 2005 5:32 PM

I happen to think that it's bloody brilliant, and hysterical, and all that. Everything that I want. So I read it, for the same reasons that you read *any* webcomic.

But what about it do you find bloody brilliant? I can almost always isolate a handful of major reasons why I like or dislike something. That's what I'm curious about, at least. What's that handful of major reasons for you and C+A+D?

Comment from: siwangmu posted at December 8, 2005 5:32 PM

"It's why Arrested Development is cancelled and Family Guy gets all the dough."

It's semantically distracting to place Family Guy in opposition to another show because the other one got cancelled. What with, you know, the period of it being dead.

Comment from: John Lynch posted at December 8, 2005 5:36 PM

Can some CAD reader write a defense of the comic as well-reasoned and considered as the critiques which various people have written?

I can try. I've been a long time CAD and PA reader. I've had an off-on relationship with them both, where if I'm not reading CAD, I'm reading PA. And if I'm not reading PA, I'm reading CAD. I've never felt they were the best comics evar!!!11 But I felt they were okay, and what one lacked, the other had. But they were too similar to read at the same time, so I'd change when I got sick of what I was reading.

That was until Kris made his post about CAD over at CxN. That made me go "alright. Once and for all, I'm going to see just how original and bad CAD is compared with PA and PvP." So to prepare I read all of the PA archives, and I begun on the PvP archives.

My thoughts on CAD and PA are, that PA falls short. It falls short by a hell of a lot. How I could substitute CAD for PA is beyond me. Because PA is pretty much complete rubbish. One in 10 strips might be amusing, and every few months I might actually laugh out loud to a strip.

One area that PA falls into a common trap is the straightman/idiot duo. It has difficulty keeping Tycho the straightman. When Tycho stops being the straightman for a strip, the strip becomes unbalanced because there are two idiots, and no straightman to complement them. This is a common trap webcomics fall into, and IMO it isn't a good thing.

As a gaming strip, it also falls short. Because for the majority of the strips, the gaming references merely act as the foil for the joke, which is completely seperate from the joke itself. They could be talking about flower pots and the joke could still occur. Some of the better strips, are those that have nothing to do with gaming at all.

It also feels like sometimes that a PA strip was done merely because the creators wanted to indulge themselves, and not because it would make a good strip. Sometimes it feels like they're poking fun at their audience, saying they can dish up whatever shit they want, and the audience will call it caviar.

And a big complaint I have, is that all of the characters besides Gabe and Tycho are props for the most part. And the strip suffers as a result. I know this is PA's thing, but, I didn't like it. I hungered for a bit more meat that could have been offered, by having the other characters be more then props. They sometimes give me a taste of that, and those strips shine as a result. But it's only a small taste, leaving me wanting more and not getting it.

Am I still reading PA? Well the final year (2004 - 2005) was surprisingly good. It might be that the strips have a time-limit in which they can be read and enjoyed, because I do remember enjoying PA a lot more, but then again, I might have just not known there was much better stuff out there. So it's on 1 week probation for me, and unless I get a good week, it's likely to stay there until it moves off my list for good.

Now all that was me saying how much I dislike PA, instead of how much I like CAD and why I like CAD. Well I could point to the areas in which PA falls short, and explain how CAD doesn't fall short in them, but I'm going based off my memory. Once I finish PvP, I'll read all of CAD's archives, and see if it really is as good as I remember.

Oh, and so far. PvP shits all over PA. I did start reading the comic a while ago, why I stopped and continued to read PA I have no idea.

Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at December 8, 2005 5:43 PM

The thing is, those are all valid observations on how Penny Arcade sucks. But I would apply none of them to PA, and almost all of them to CAD. You didn't defend CAD, you just took a dump on something else.

No one has actually defended CAD so far, in any of my travels. Surely it isn't impossible!

Comment from: thok posted at December 8, 2005 5:44 PM

CAD is on my "read periodically at chunks at a time" list. There are other video game comics I clearly prefer(Penny-Arcade, 8-bit Theatre, Bob and George and associated comics, Adventurers!, CaptainSNES, possibily VGCats). I'd be willing to explain the appeal of these if you want.

I find the comparisons of CAD to Penny-Arcade rather silly; Penny-Arcade is the gaming equivalent of an editorial cartoon; CAD is more of a gamer slice of life strip and is closer in appeal to something like Greg Dean's Real Life Comics.

(As a side note, one of the reason's VGCats feels fresh is that Rasoomir focuses on different videogames than Gabe and Tycho do; most of VGCats' strips focus on Nintendo/nostalgia games as opposed to Gabe and Tycho's focus on current events/Playstation and Xbox. There's still the violence and frustration, but it involves different characters.)

Note that there is room for multiple styles of gamer comics, just like there is room in the marketplace for multiple gaming systems.

And let's face it; Ethan's got an extremely appealing zest for life-he's a direct descendent of Homer Simpson.

Comment from: Chris Crosby posted at December 8, 2005 5:45 PM

I think it's kinda neat that a comic with a joke about PUPKIN in its archive has HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF READERS EVERY DAY.

It's kinda like seeing a guy in a wheelchair suddenly stand up and dance the jig at an impossible speed.

Comment from: EsotericWombat posted at December 8, 2005 5:49 PM

Arrested Development got cancelled because Fox had it out for the show since day one. Period.

As for CAD, I have to agree even though I read it. It is derivative, but I dunno. It has some entertainment value to me, and its free.

That having been said, I absolutely agree with what Kris said in the CN blog. It would be a damned shame if Adult Swim picked up the animated series and as a result people thought that PA and PVP were derivative.

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at December 8, 2005 5:56 PM

I read CAD, fully aware of the fact that it's derivative, because it makes me laugh. Sure it's a rip-off but it's still funny, much in the same way that Family Guy is funny, despite being a rip-off of the Simpsons.

While none of the characters are unique, a lot of the story lines are still okay, so it balances out into a decent comic.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 8, 2005 5:57 PM

Be careful to stay on the right side of the One Rule to... er... Rule Them All. No one's really tended towards crossing it, yet, but it's easy to become impassioned.

Calling me a dick is, of course, always acceptable.

Comment from: ItsWalky posted at December 8, 2005 5:57 PM

"It would be a damned shame if Adult Swim picked up the animated series and as a result people thought that PA and PVP were derivative."

Certainly wouldn't be the first time that kind of thing has happened. Calling Power Rangers a Transformers/Voltron rip-off was once a popular insult, and probably still is. Too bad the stuff Power Rangers is imported from predates both by quite a bit. Newsflash, kids. Devastator wasn't the first robot formed from smaller robots.

Comment from: Montykins posted at December 8, 2005 5:58 PM

Arrested Development got cancelled because Fox had it out for the show since day one. Period.
If they had it out for it since day one, how did it make it to its third season? They've cancelled critically-popular shows with better ratings before.

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at December 8, 2005 5:59 PM

Also, I've always thought of Ethan as more the bastard love child of Gabe and Largo, then Homer Simpson.

Comment from: Yrmencyn posted at December 8, 2005 5:59 PM

Just to add my two cents, I do find CAD to be funny. It's not my favorite webcomic ever, and it certainly doesn't have the depth of my favorites, but it's got a lot going for it. I am in full agreement with theliel on this one: mediocre brownies, perhaps, but still made of chocolate.

There is one exception, which no one so far has noted: the Chef Brian strips. Sure, I enjoy CAD in general, and I have a passing interest in the story as it unfolds, but I live for the occasions when Tim graces us with Chef Brian, because I find the completely off-the-wall wtfness of the character suits me well. This argument is, of course, a little less than salient, since the percentage of Chef Brian strips is infintesimal and they certainly aren't the broad 'point' of the strip... but still, Chef Brian. "I shall live in these commodious cakes of the pan"? It just works for me.

Comment from: Danalog posted at December 8, 2005 6:01 PM

I hate Ethan so much, I can't stand reading the strip. The only thing I like are the Chef Brian strips, for the same reason I like Twisp and Catsby, I think.

It's not *for* you.

Comment from: theliel posted at December 8, 2005 6:03 PM

"defence of CAD"
while not original, cad represents a well executed 'buddy' style gaming comic. While it tends to blender together various bits into a 'smoothie' it does so predictably, rigorusly and tends to be most funny when it goes off script.
IN fact, much like when scott kurtz get's vicious, CAD becomes the most amusing when the author get's good and pissed off. I stick with it because occasoinally there are nifty plot twists or it picks up into activity.
The art style is pleasing, and really, it's not that hard to just follow along with the stories.
*shrug* I guess my defence is that it's competently written and usually good for a chuckle, but can occasoinally hit me with a roaring laugh when he goes off script and lashes out against some percieved stupidity or injusttice.

so, not top of the line, but steady consistant funny.
he brings it, at least to me, so he keeps getting read.

but, y'know, a Fruit Fucker side comic, awwwwww yhea.

Comment from: Yrmencyn posted at December 8, 2005 6:03 PM

Danalog> Exactly. It's a bit of an uphill walk for Chef Brian, and for Twisp and Catsby as well, but I'll make it.

Comment from: John Lynch posted at December 8, 2005 6:03 PM

Yeah I know I just dumped PA instead of defending CAD. But from memory, all of my complaints are places that CAD does excell in, but that's from memory ;) It could be that CAD actually does, suck ass.

much in the same way that Family Guy is funny, despite being a rip-off of the Simpsons.

I don't think Family Guy is a rip-off of the Simpsons, but instead mocking the Simpsons. And even if it is a rip-off, I wouldn't say it's humorous despite being a Simpsons rip-off, because the type of humor is completely different to the Simpsons. While it might use all of the same tropes as the Simpsons, where the jokes are placed and how they're placed is completely different, making it funny. So yeah, I wouldn't really use the word despite.

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at December 8, 2005 6:05 PM

I wouldn't say that Family Gut is actually a rip-off of the Simpsons any more. It gave up on wit after it came back, and instead decided to see how far it could go before being canceled again.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at December 8, 2005 6:27 PM

I wonder whether there's anyone who visits this site that actually could defend CAD like everyone is wanting. From what I've seen CAD just exists outside of the entire webcomics world. it's the people who only think of CAD when they hear the word "webcomic" that are the ones who rabidly defend it. And they're probably not going to come here because they probably have no idea who "Eric Burns" is.

Comment from: prosfilaes posted at December 8, 2005 6:34 PM

Ctrl+Alt+Del, Penny Arcade and VGCats are all on my occasionally read list, but Ctrl+Alt+Del is clearly my favorite. Both PA and VG have too many comics that I have a hard time telling even why they're supposed to be funny. I don't have the context. The PA e-apology card just falls flat to me, as does the recent one about Perfect Dark. But CAD always has enough plot and enough humor to keep each strip from being a total failure.

Comment from: WaveLine posted at December 8, 2005 6:38 PM

I hate beating a dead horse with a stick, mostly because it's a perfectly good waste of a dead horse, but feel free to put a checkmark next to my name under the column PA > CAD, even though that isn't the actual argument of the conversation.

I have often given CAD a chance to win me over as well. I have many friends who simply adore the comic and they take an innumerable amount of pleasure in annoyingly forwarding comics that poke them in a particularly entertaining manner. I inevitably click the link and find that it just another prosaic attempt at a well-worn joke. The entire cast of characters are very unmemorable (except for Chef Brian as was mentioned above). While it's true that the characters in CAD seem to have more intricate and developed personalities and relationships compared to PA, it's sort of an odd comparison considering PA has never been a continuity-driven webcomic. Therefore you have to compare CAD to another webcomic where character backgrounds are very important to the central storyline. In doing that, CAD doesn't place very high on the list. I don't like CAD because even during the moments I have dedicated to nothing but archive trawling, I don't remember anything from CAD.

PA however has, in just the last few months, given me the descriptive phrase "it smells like hacky-sack in here" as well as a charming fact about placenta.

Comment from: Montykins posted at December 8, 2005 6:45 PM

I stopped reading CAD when I decided there just weren't enough jokes. On the other hand, I also just stopped reading Irregular Webcomic and Todd and Penguin, which I am reliably informed are supposed to be great. And I'm completely enraptured with the Queen of Wands reruns and Questionable Content, neither one of which has really had a punchline in like a week.

So I'm inconsistent.

Comment from: Zaq posted at December 8, 2005 6:47 PM

I read through the archives of CAD once, chuckled a few times, and never looked back. It was, to me, the webcomic equivalent of a popcorn movie: Not bad per se, and enjoyable while you're there, but ultimately forgettable and not worth viewing multiple times.

Penny Arcade, which, for the record, I don't read, just confuses the hell out of me though, for this reason: When my friends tell me about it or quote it at me or whatever, I laugh. Often, I laugh HARD. It's damn funny stuff. Then I think to myself, ok, ok, maybe I'm being too hard on it, and I go back and I give the archives a fair shake, with the conscious intent to be unbiased (I've done this thrice so far). And nothing. I get nothing. I don't laugh, I don't smile, I barely blink. I'm forced to conclude it's the timing, but that doesn't seem right to me. I don't know. All I know is, I'm happy it exists if it adds humor to the conversations I have with my friends, but I don't enjoy reading it and never have.

VGCats, on the other hand, is pure gold.

Comment from: PatMan posted at December 8, 2005 6:55 PM

Just to be clear, when I said CAD was unoriginal, I meant that in an objective sense. I wasn't judging the comics worth, just pointing out that it was built on the foundations others laid before it and is proud of that fact. And that is why I find it so odd when that Anonymous guy I mentioned (I really think it's just one guy, maybe a handful) flies off the handle if you say CAD is a knock off of Penny Arcade.
The first bunch of strips are all about how it is just like Penny Arcade. (But with more exposition and continuity, which is certainly a big boost)
Funny thing about those strips; they also clearly utilize the Sluggy Freelance method of character introduction, yet no one ever points that out.

Comment from: Daemonic posted at December 8, 2005 6:56 PM

I don't know where I stand on the CAD > PA or PA > CAD listing that seems to be going on, but I can say I read and enjoy both.

Why? A good question.

Some people mentioned its mediocre. I'm not sure where its mediocre, maybe my knowledge of webcomics is lacking.

I enjoy the storyline. As a hardcore gamer (and seeing myself far too often in Ethan's shoes... yikes), I can easily relate to both Lucas and Ethan. There may not be great depth in the story, but it suffices to keep my interest quite well. The drawing is very well done, Buckley is very talented in that area (says I, the guy who can't draw a stickman properly).

The humour, to me, is great. I haven't had a joke made there that has fallen flat with me yet, unlike some of Penny Arcade's (for example, not to pick on them). And Chef Brian shows an odd but amusing side to the comic. I love the gamer references, the off the wall relationship of Ethan and Lilah (and believe me, I think every gamer would love a girlfriend like Lilah), the xbox robot and more.

It is somewhat derivative of PA & PVP? Sure. Show me something completely original these days (the cynic in me). Is it simple? Sometimes, yes. And why can't we enjoy something that is simple? Is it that internal elitism that everyone has (myself to the nth degree) that wants to say "its not deep and complex, therefore it can't be that good".

Is it the best comic? Maybe not. Do I enjoy it a lot? Yes, more than enough to have kept me reading it for a few years.

Suffice to say that Ctrl-Alt-Del is on my "must" read list, which is fairly small. Does it bother me that other people don't like it or feel the need to sometimes bash it because it is popular? Not really. Should it? No. Opinions are like pennies, ever present and often useless. ;)

On my list of must read comics, I must say, I am really enjoying Questionable Content (even if I tend not to get the Indie jokes + references). What a great storyline. :)

Comment from: Daerv posted at December 8, 2005 6:57 PM

I don't think there's any one strip in my trawl that makes me laugh out loud every time it updates. I keep checking them on the off chance that there's something that tickles my funny bone. CAD, PA, PvP, VGCats, QC, OOTS, AG, S*P, GU etc. etc. (acronym overload!) have all made me laugh out loud at one point or another. I can't explain how or why they did it. They just tickled my funny.

It's like when Cutter talks about having a turret as a surrogate father or The Green Avenger is harassed by a chicken fetishist I laugh out loud... other jokes in those strips I can see are clearly jokes but they just don't do it for me. Everyone has a subtly different funny bone and each requires a subtly different method of tickling.

It's not just the funny though. It's making me grin, making me cringe, making me sad etc. etc. I value webcomics (and any media really) for their ability to make me feel something... anything really. The chance they'll post something that does so again is justification enough for me to keep reading them. After all it only takes a couple of minutes to read each update. I don't know if that counts as a defence of CAD. I imagine not but it's the reason I keep reading.

I think off the top of my head I'd say the strip that has the highest "LOL quotient" (TM) for me is probably Overcompensating. That and Casey and Andy. I really can't gush enough about those strips.

Comment from: Fletch posted at December 8, 2005 7:09 PM

I think you hit the nail on the head perfectly with the Angst Technology mention above, Eric. Oddly enough, earlier today a friend asked me why I didn't read CAD, and we started discussing it. My main reason was that it was too damn familiar when I read it, and I stopped as of the "Player 1/2" strips a while back because at least one was a Penny Arcade joke without the art.



Anyway. Back to the point I was trying to make. His biggest attack at my "all been stolen done before" theory was the robot, although I mentioned it as a PvP similarity (wacky gamer builds human-esque robot? I think Francis did that multiple times.)



And then I saw your post, and he kept pointing out "new" storylines, like a formerly-friendly robot going insane temporarily (yes, he actually tried pushing something I recall as a rather old sci-fi cliche as "new")... and another AT ref popped into my head, the Mark(?) doppelganger suddenly flipping out and attacking the cast as a brief storyline.



I think the funniest bit, as I flipped through those last few months to humor him, was that it looks like Buckley's cannibalizing himself now. He tried to go serious (oh look, house fire and killer robot!) and can't stop now (oh look, potential murder and killer robot!).

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright posted at December 8, 2005 7:19 PM

CAD is derivative of PA because there are two guys who play games?

I mean, the thing about PA is that it is essentially an opinion/satire strip. It's not a "gamer lifestyle" strip in the *least* -- though it does often use those trappings in order to set up each mix of insanity, violence and commentary. PA is fucking GREAT at that. ("Just keep killing Bothans. I'll tell you when to stop.")

CAD is, as I believe someone else has mentioned, more like Real Life... which is about a bunch of people who play games, and the things that happen to them. It seems to me that CAD's art might be *influenced* a bit by PA, though I don't really think it's copying, but you know what? I don't see anything wrong with that.

Other than a passing visual similarity, I see no resemblance between CAD and PA. The comics aren't even doing the same thing -- they just happen to use the same genre.

Comment from: Ojin posted at December 8, 2005 7:29 PM

I... genuinely have no idea why I read CAD. I check it, regularly, right after 'El Goonish Shive' and right before 'Sluggy'. And... I seem to read it largely because... it fits right between EGS and Sluggy. It's what I do. It's... odd. There must be something to it that keeps me reading, but as it stands I can't put my finger on it.

Unless it is the familiarity aspect. In fairness, I don't see a lot of resembelance between CAD and PVP. PVP always feels like a sitcom...a mainstream sitcom, indeed. CAD is niche gamer humor, combined with some continuity. I think I read it because theres a kind of warm snuggly blanket of gamer-ness to it.

Penny Arcade is typified by banter and wordplay. PVP is a sitcom. But when I snipe my roomate in the head in Halo, I feel a kinda connection to the straightforward setup in CAD. Its two guys. They play games.

Even the XBot is tied to that. He's an obsessive gamer. He has a friendship with his Xbox. And it's -not- subtle, but it -is- amusing, in a quiet way. I get enough solid enjoyment from CAD, all considered, to make it worth the few seconds it takes to read it.

In essence, iot is very like Garfield. It's not complex, it's not epic, it's not something that's gonna radically change... but it is amusing, and that counts for something. ^_^

Comment from: Tice with a J posted at December 8, 2005 7:34 PM

Ah, gaming webcomics. I've never gotten into that sort of geek humor, having only played Halo once and never played any subscription-based MMORPG. My sort of geek humor is science humor. Freefall, Casey and Andy, Schlock Mercenary and Irregular Webcomic are my sort of humor. Say what you will about art, characterization, or what have you, I don't get gaming humor, but I do get science humor.

Comment from: Ghastly posted at December 8, 2005 8:00 PM

Comment from: ItsWalky [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at December 8, 2005 05:57 PM

Calling Power Rangers a Transformers/Voltron rip-off was once a popular insult, and probably still is. Too bad the stuff Power Rangers is imported from predates both by quite a bit.

Yeah it's obvious that Power Rangers was just a Gatchaman ripoff.

Comment from: Archon Divinus [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at December 8, 2005 05:59 PM

Also, I've always thought of Ethan as more the bastard love child of Gabe and Largo, then Homer Simpson.

Must... resist... urge to... draw YAOI...

I seriously don't know who would be top in a Gabe and Largo pairing though. I'm leaning towards Largo but I could kind of see Gabe pitching too. When in doubt go for the 69 I suppose.

As for the issue of PA vs CAD. I haven't really read CAD so I'm not qualified to judge. PA is the only gamer comic I read and 99% of the time I have no idea what the joke is about because I'm an old old man whose gaming experience peeked with the Atari 2600 (wrote two games for that machine no less). When the joke is about something I get (ie. something that doesn't require a knowledge of current gaming) I find PA very very funny.

Since my knowledge of gaming is so archaic I tend not to be attracted to gamer comics which is why PA is the only comic in that genre that I read. I figure if there's anything funny to be said about games PA will say it.

Maybe I should do a gamer comic for old men like me. Perhaps some whacky and/or zany adventure where Mr. Do and Dig Dug are room mates and the bottom row from Space Invaders is their cranky but soft hearted landlords. And they work in the campus coffee shop with their friend Pitfall Harry and their boss is the Wizard of Wor. Oh yeah. That's got mega-sensation written all over it.

Comment from: Thomas Blight posted at December 8, 2005 8:12 PM

Even now it's back in my "I Must Be Missing Something" folder along with Daily Dinosaur Comics and Achewood just because I simply cannot get into it.

So I'm not the only one who wonders why people, Eric especially, find Dinosaur comics so cool. I tried to get into it, especially after enjoying the Brigadier General as much as I have, but it just felt like the dialogue was forced from the beginning. Quite frankly, I don't see how it keeps winning awards either. I mean, sure it's a nifty concept and all, but I don't think it deserves to beat some very good comics I have read (I can't remember the name of the awards that I'm referring to). However, that's for another time and place.

The thing about CAD is... well, it's CAD. I just happen to devour gaming comics. Certainly the Chef Brian comics are funny for the same reason Twisp and Catsby are, for the pure silliness. It's hard to describe why I read it, because when you put it up against PvP, PA and other comics of such merits it obviously pales in comparison. It's just good enough, but not stellar, in my opinion.

Comment from: LessThanKate posted at December 8, 2005 8:23 PM

CAD is 1001 Penny Arcade Jokes For Kids crossed with Mad Libs. There are those that don't like Penny Arcade because they either don't get the joke or don't understand the context that its in. So is that why CAD works? Because theres nothing to it to get? However, that would explain why no one can make a proper defense for it.

You could literaly take out every gaming "reference" it makes and the core jokes would all be the same. And its stories lack the heart and personality that PVP and Real Life Comics has. Theres nothing to believe in with Ethan and his gaggle of archetypical friends. Its like Mr. Willis said, CAD is just Garfield. The gaming elements are added in to make it appeal to a particular audience.

Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at December 8, 2005 8:28 PM

"Unless it is the familiarity aspect. In fairness, I don't see a lot of resembelance between CAD and PVP. PVP always feels like a sitcom...a mainstream sitcom, indeed. CAD is niche gamer humor, combined with some continuity. I think I read it because theres a kind of warm snuggly blanket of gamer-ness to it."

I have a feeling this has a lot to do with it. To my mind, CAD has ensconced itself in some gamer universe, as has PA and PVP. But let's explore the removal of that aspect. I think PVP suffers the least if you remove the gaming aspect -- early on it was much more conventional, but the magazine the cast works for could be any pop culture/media publication. All the jokes still work.

PA, too, with its "topic as contextual springboard" approach, works. Some decriers of PA say that the strip begins with some game mention in one panel, then wheels off in another direction. Here's an example. But to me even this works, because it's primarily a gag about Gabe concealing his embarrassment about Pokemon with something more embarrassing. If you've experienced the save game bug mentioned, that's another layer to enjoy it on. It's not a joke that DEMANDS that I've played Pokemon and lost my save.

CAD, especially the first two years' worth, is a lot more pedestrian. Removing gaming from it, CAD is completely directionless. Even within the context of gaming, Ethan's wackiness seems contrived.

So to eliminate the quick gaming reference, that zeitgeist and the reassuring ding of recognition in the reader, would irreparably hobble it. In other words, PA and PVP would suffer a little, but still be good comics if they were of another genre. I submit that CAD wouldn't be.

So to me the statement "I think I read it because theres a kind of warm snuggly blanket of gamer-ness to it" is telling. Here is a somewhat-on-topic example.

Of course, there is no NEED for them to exist outside of their genre, so some may call what I just did a pointless exercise. I submit that comfort of bland familiarity is still an oddly-shallow sentiment to construct an empire on. (Man, or is it? McDonald's would beg to differ.)

The difference between Twisp and Catsby, and Chef Brian, is actually another good illustration. Both are oddball, very-limited-edition features of each strip, but there is a current of sanity, some semblance of meaning and function in Twisp and Catsby. It kinda hangs together. Chef Brian's dialogue, on the other hand, is entirely random. It could have been generated by machine. Given a script, graphics library, the source font and a template, you could have a new Chef Brian every minute of the day.

Comment from: LurkerWithout posted at December 8, 2005 8:31 PM

Ghastly: Must... resist... urge to... draw YAOI...

I seriously don't know who would be top in a Gabe and Largo pairing though. I'm leaning towards Largo but I could kind of see Gabe pitching too. When in doubt go for the 69 I suppose.

Dude, I have an extra 5 bucks I will send you if next weeks strip is a Gabe/Largo smutyaoi...

Comment from: John Lynch posted at December 8, 2005 9:05 PM

Removing gaming from it, CAD is completely directionless.....PA and PVP would suffer a little, but still be good comics if they were of another genre. I submit that CAD wouldn't be.

Is that really a bad thing? I don't think PA is all that great as a gaming humor webcomic, because the game merely offers the context, and more then one occassion comes off as gratuitous. I see the fact that if you take away the gaming aspect, PA doesn't change much in most strips, as a bad point for it (although if you don't like gaming webcomics, you probably consider that a good point). Although just because it can have the gaming portion taken away doesn't make it a bad webcomic, only a bad gaming webcomic (IMO).

Comment from: LessThanKate posted at December 8, 2005 9:43 PM

The strength of Jerry Holkins writing is more the point. If it wasn't a gaming strip it would still be good because the man clearly has skills. With Buckley, removing the gaming references would just underscore how generic his writing is.

Comment from: Ghastly posted at December 8, 2005 9:46 PM

Comment from: LurkerWithout [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at December 8, 2005 08:31 PM

Dude, I have an extra 5 bucks I will send you if next weeks strip is a Gabe/Largo smutyaoi...

Well as much as I'd like $5 I'd have to come up with a punchline. It's like Mel Brooks said. When you suck Largo's cock, it's tragedy. When you fall down an open manhole onto Largo's cock, it's comedy. You can't have YAOI without an open manhole.

Hey... wait a minute...

Comment from: Kristofer Straub posted at December 8, 2005 9:53 PM

"The strength of Jerry Holkins writing is more the point. If it wasn't a gaming strip it would still be good because the man clearly has skills. With Buckley, removing the gaming references would just underscore how generic his writing is."

Exactly.

Comment from: cthulhu-maccabi posted at December 8, 2005 10:02 PM

Yeah, I'm with lessthan (and actually kinda surprised no one brought it up before). I can honestly say I've never encountered anything like Holkins' writing style anywhere else. It's not only funny, but it's funny in a way I don't really encounter in any of the 80 or so other comics I read, or on TV, or wherever. Then again, perhaps I just have a thing for off-beat humor.

Other than that difference, I've always felt that CAD falls short in that it attempts to do both story and humor, but, rather than letting them complement each other (like Pete Abrams, for example) it just sticks both of them togethor in a strip. The end result is occassionally funny, and occassionally an interesting bit of plot development, but usually its neither, and never both. Then again, you could probably say the same thing about S*P, and I enjoy both its humor and its story almost every strip, so I guess it still comes down to different humor preferences.

Comment from: SFaulken posted at December 8, 2005 10:59 PM

Calling me a dick is, of course, always acceptable.


You're a dick.



(Sorry, couldn't resist..... I can't believe the thread's run this long without *somebody* doing it.....



As fas as CAD goes, I don't think the Garfield analogy is neccessarily a bad one, I read CAD religiously as part of my MWF trawl, and it will usually bring a chuckle.



It's not brilliantly intellectual, uproariously funny, or an example of high art, but for me, and my sense of humour, it brings the funny often enough, and has enough plot/continuity to keep my interest, and make it worth reading....



And hell, I don't know about the rest of you, but that's all I really *ask* of a webcomic.....

Comment from: SFaulken posted at December 8, 2005 10:59 PM

And once again, bitten by the goddamned formatting..... Sheesh.

Comment from: Kneefers posted at December 8, 2005 11:10 PM

"And hell, I don't know about the rest of you, but that's all I really *ask* of a webcomic....."

Amen, though, your formatting problems notwithstanding, SFaulken. I applaud this sentiment.

Comment from: Tice with a J posted at December 8, 2005 11:19 PM

So I'm not the only one who wonders why people, Eric especially, find Dinosaur comics so cool.

See, the reason I dig Dinosaur Comics is because it's so unexplainable. The dialogue is so weird! This also applies to Bob the Angry Flower, only more so, because the art is just as pretty and weird as the dialogue. I enjoy comics that make me say "Wait, what?" every time they update.

However, I am completely mystified as to how Dinosaur Comics clenched the "Best Anthropomorphic Comic" award. It's not an anthropomorphic comic. At all. It's an "art" comic. It's a buddy comic. It's a unique comic. Anthro? I mean, really.

Comment from: William_G posted at December 8, 2005 11:47 PM

C-A-D is just like Garfield. It's got a handful of jokes that resonate with people that it cycles through on a monthly basis.
I feel that way about all gamer/geek comics, except Garfield's jokes arent just for the kool-aid drinkers.

Comment from: Yrmencyn posted at December 8, 2005 11:57 PM

Kristofer Straub: Chef Brian's dialogue, on the other hand, is entirely random. It could have been generated by machine. Given a script, graphics library, the source font and a template, you could have a new Chef Brian every minute of the day.

Well... no. I feel a little bit odd doing defensive work on this tiny bit of the comic, but that's not really true. There's a certain sort of [anti]logic roving beneath the surface. I'm especially thinking of the three-day-in-a-row Chef Brian chunk from a while back (begins here), in which there's a whole line of absurdist commentary and satire, with a decent chunk of Waiting for Godot thrown in. There's also a real feel for language in the Chef Brian dialogue. I read spam poetry, and it's mostly disjointed. This, however, has rhythm, and a sense of the right sounds to employ, even underneath the straight-up semantics of the words.

(Yes, this is what we grad students in French do when we're not writing papers - we overanalyze gamer comics.)

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at December 9, 2005 12:00 AM

My understanding of why CAD is so popular has to do with something Jeph Jacques said in reply of one of my comments here: Many falsely believe that webcomic readers of different comics overlap greatly, and by extension the totality of webcomics readers is comprised of a strongly-connected community, which reads all the major comics and more or less agrees in taste with the rest.

And while PA stayed (more or less) rooted within the community (that is, not completely ignoring fellow cartoonists), other comics didn't. User Friendly is a good example; CAD is another, which while not completely separate, had a majority of its readers to be gamers and nothing else.

And that's where it comes together: CAD is not a derivative of PA. It's just a comic about gamers with formulaic comic-strip jokes. But if you've never been into comics, or internet culture, then hell, that shit is funny. There's a reason the jokes are now formulaic, and it's because they were pretty funny the first few times.

Look at it this way: If CAD and PA made a joke about a game, a gamer would probably link his friends to CAD, simply because the PA strip would probably deviate from the context after the first panel, or simply be so off-beat that it feels like it's missing a panel to someone who's not used to the humour.

Oh, and kudos to whoever mentioned Jerry Holkins' writing. I haven't really been up-to-date with video games for a few years, due to financial and other reasons (and the fact that I've only got a Gamecube, argh). But I still read PA, because it's funny either way. I consider Penny Arcade, along with Jerry's newspost, to be my "Gamer's Digest". It helps that I completely agree with him in taste.

Comment from: Dan Severn posted at December 9, 2005 12:03 AM

One area that PA falls into a common trap is the straightman/idiot duo. It has difficulty keeping Tycho the straightman. When Tycho stops being the straightman for a strip, the strip becomes unbalanced because there are two idiots, and no straightman to complement them. This is a common trap webcomics fall into, and IMO it isn't a good thing.

Pardon me if Im misunderstanding you, but are you honestly saying that you fault PA for not being as formulaic as CAD? If so, then I suppose we are simply citizens of different worlds.

For me there is a limiting factor in the competition between PA and CAD-- I don't play video games. I mean, I will on occassion indulge in a bout of Civilization 2, but I'm in no way a "gamer." The only vide game console I ever owned was a SEGA Genesis. I sold it and bought a BB gun.

So. I really am not convinced that PA and CAD are parallel concepts to be compared. I would consider CAD more in the class of Real Life.

I read Real Life for about a year, and then I just sort of stopped. I sincerely enjoyed the comic, and do occassionally return to it, but I can't read it every day because I just don't understand half the jokes. When I'm cruising through archives, that's fine, but for a daily trawl that's just not any fun.

CAD, in many ways, was similar for me. I read through the archives over two or three days. I thought it was fairly funny at the time, because I had just read several years worth of strips. But after a week, I stopped checking, and have never felt the urge to check again. This isn't because I didn't understand the jokes, though. I got them. They just weren't funny to me half the time. I could have replaced the names of video games with cheese products half the time, and the joke would have been just as funny.

And worse, I realized just how forced the plotlines were. Ethan meets a girl. She loves video games, too! And she lives near him! Oh, but she's better than him, har har. Lucky thing she's cute. Oh, look at that, Ethan hooked up with her, surprise!

Real Life is also a gaming comic with plot. But the characters don't feel forced to me. Greg (the character) is a twit, but then sometimes he has good ideas. Tony is evil and bent on world domination, but he has other things going on than just that. CAD doesn't ever seem all that interested in actually growing the characters, but unlike PA it has the conceit of continuity.

Comment from: John Lynch posted at December 9, 2005 12:25 AM

Pardon me if Im misunderstanding you, but are you honestly saying that you fault PA for not being as formulaic as CAD? If so, then I suppose we are simply citizens of different worlds.

You could interpret it that way, but they're using a common routine (and even said as much in one of their older newsposts), but they do mess up the routine. It could work, them "messing" it up, but instead the strip seems unbalanced and lacking (IMO). Make sense?

Comment from: david malki ! posted at December 9, 2005 1:13 AM

I think it's a great credit to PA that I don't have to get the gaming references to enjoy the comic. I read comics to be entertained, and I find PA funny. I don't dock it because it's not "gamer" enough. Nor PVP, for that matter. I don't care what the subject matter is, as long as the strip is funny. PA doesn't use game references as a crutch to buy goodwill from the audience.



And by the way, I'll pipe up briefly in defense of Dinosaur Comics -- I understand how it may be hard to get if you're popping in on occasion, but it's like all the best comics: when you get into the rhythm of the characters and you start to attune yourself to the authorial voice, it can't be beat. Achewood's the same way, and so is Penny Arcade, and so are lots of good comics (maybe even CAD, though I never was interested enough to find out). In the newspaper, Get Fuzzy is the same way -- when you know the characters, EVERYTHING is funny, even if that day's specific punchline is weak.

Also: It's talking animals. How is that not anthropomorphic?

Comment from: Wrye posted at December 9, 2005 1:55 AM

[re: PA's style of humour] "It's not only funny, but it's funny in a way I don't really encounter in any of the 80 or so other comics I read, or on TV, or wherever."




I think the commenter who pegged PA as akin to an editorial cartoon is exactly right. 95% of the time, PA is addressing a topic or issue of the day. Which may be why older strips don't hold up so well...it's like reading a collection of editorial cartoons from 1998...sure you remember the big events, but some will just leave your head scratching unless you read the accompanying opinion column.

Comment from: Joshua Holbrook posted at December 9, 2005 1:59 AM

I think someone already made a fairly good argument on why they read CAD, but I'm gonna try anyway (plus, I could be wrong, there was a lot of commentary to read ~whew~).

So, I can see where Mr. Straub is coming from I guess. After reading the latest CxN, I thought, "wow, he has a point". But then I thought that I should be careful so that my opinion isn't too swayed by others--for example, it was partially because of Eric's essay that I stopped reading Megatokyo (though the big part was that I was getting impatient with the pacing of the story) so ... I thought about it, and now this.

So, the first thing I thought of was the specific strip that got me into it in the first place. I still say sometimes in my best hillbilly accent, "but ah'm already ON mah computer!" (even though the line is actually a little different). I think I like that it was willing to slam on macintoshes, even if it's a common thing to do (especially when you have/had to deal with crappy old iMacs at the school computer lab every day). Either way, I thought that this one was awesome. But that's me. I also liked the ones that made fun of dial-up because...umm, I've been there and it's nasty. Strangely, I don't think I've seen any other webcomic make fun of these things, so I suppose CAD is (or was, this was among the oldest stuff) original, at least to a degree.

Later in the series (I got in well after that first year or so, so I didn't have to hang through that era), I started to care about the characters a bit. I'm thinking about the time Lucas got a girlfriend, but she turned out to be creepily obsessive. I wondered, "will he make it out alive??", and kept reading because I wanted to find out. The pacing worked for me too, apparently, because I didn't get bored and quit reading. :D that's why I'm reading it now, even though I hate the way Zeke's writing is going right now (I mean, c'mon--turn it off and emulate Zeke on a new 360 robot. If you can build an X-Box robot in the first place, it can't be too hard, geez). Also, I like the ones that comment directly on gaming news (most of the time). Like the Mac joke one, I find they have memorable/funny lines ("We're Sony! Fuck pants!" makes me giggle).

The other day I actually watched the animated series preview too. Honestly, I hated it. I never really did like the boob-grabbing jokes. They seemed too stereotypical to me I guess, or maybe it's that I really can't see ANY somewhat rational people acting that way on either side of the situation. So I talked to my brother about it (who adores CAD). He says that maybe it's because it's a preview and the writers just took jokes straight from the comics that people would understand. He feels that actual episodes would have their own storylines, ones that I would care about and ones that he would be willing to pay for. Maybe he's right (about me, I can't speak for him obviously), I don't know.

So, in closing, I still like CAD but Kristofer Straub might've ruined it for me. Thanks a friggin' lot. :D

Comment from: Aufero posted at December 9, 2005 3:14 AM

*shrug*

I read CAD a few times, decided it was boring, and didn't read it again until a friend demanded I read through the archive before writing it off. After reading the archive, I haven't changed my mind. The Chef Brian strips are just random, the story line strips limp, and many of the gaming gags have been done better. Occasionally a strip strikes me funny, but even Cathy is funny once in a great while.

I won't be bothering with the animated version.

Comment from: gwalla posted at December 9, 2005 3:31 AM

Tice: I love how Dinosaur Comics won Best Anthropomorphic Comic. It's like a really cruel joke. You know the people who pushed for that award assumed it'd go to a furry comic, but Qwantz is technically anthropomorphic (talking nonhumans) and more popular, so tough luck guys!

I like Ryan North's balance of absurdity and intellectualism. And his pacing. He has great pacing.

Comment from: Ojin posted at December 9, 2005 6:55 AM

Kristopher Straub: So to me the statement "I think I read it because theres a kind of warm snuggly blanket of gamer-ness to it" is telling. Here is a somewhat-on-topic example.

It is, of course, totally accurate too. In no way am I going to stand (well, sit) here and even pretend that CAD is high art. Nor that it is, y'know, groundbreaking. It's not. It is, in fullness, just what I say- a warm and snuggly blanket.

Actually, the comparison to McDonalds is a good one. It's something that I -know- lacks actual excitement or novelty, but all the same, there are times when it is just what I want.

As Eric and Wednesday have mentioned on the Snarks before, everyone has such 'Guilty pleasures'... even if they don't nessecarily feel guilty about them.

Perhaps the most important thing to reemember about CAD, though- especially in light of the 'CAD Premium' announcement- is that the strips, at least, are free. They cost me, in total, about 20 seconds of my time. That's a minute a week. That's... nothing. I derive enough enjoyment from the 'comfort elements' of the strip to make it worth that investment- just as it's sometimes worth going to McDonalds because, hey, it's not like it's costing me much.

Would I pay for it, though? Am I going to pay for it? I don't believe so. But I think there are people who derive enough enjoyment from the gamer-ness of it that they might.

But essentially, the comic doesn't succeed because it resembles PVP or PA. PVP is a great sitcom (that I would love to see animated), and PA is witty banter between people of great comic ability. CAD is Chicken Soup for the Gamer.

And people will always want some kind of comfort food, somewhere. CAD is just one possible form of it. ;p

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 9, 2005 8:20 AM

Actually, if you go by the definition of "anthropomorphic" (having the shape of a human), then Daily Dinosaur Comics is most definitely not an anthro comic. Basically, there's quite a few people who believe you need more than talking animals for it to qualify as an anthro comic.

Comment from: Chris "EDG" Anthony posted at December 9, 2005 8:36 AM

32, the flip side to that is that if you simply classify "anthropomorphic" as "having the physical shape of a human", then any comic with human characters counts.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at December 9, 2005 9:15 AM

I already said,

I read it cuz I like it.

That's all I got.

Sory, Kris.

I wouldn't even be repeating it, but dude -

Tony is evil and bent on world domination, but he has other things going on than just that.

Total sigquote.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 9, 2005 9:35 AM

Fair enough, EDG. But that just means the definition should be narrowed.

However, my point remains. If a comic can't be considered anthropomorphic with the broadest definition available, it shouldn't be judged with other anthro comics for awards of that type.

Comment from: Chris "EDG" Anthony posted at December 9, 2005 10:06 AM

32, the problem is that Dinosaur Comics can be considered anthropomorphic with the broadest definition available. Note that I wasn't using that definition; I specifically limited it to physical shape. Within the context of mental and emotional shape, North's characters are entirely anthropomorphic: they are, for the most part, dinosaurs with the thought processes and emotional responses of humans.

I agree with you, however, that the definition should be narrowed, if there's to continue to be a category set aside for it. I'll be the first to say that I don't know what the definition should be, but just using the actual definition of the word, "having the shape of a human", includes the vast majority of webcomics out there. (Or none of them, since the comics themselves, in general, aren't human-shaped.)

Comment from: Maritza Campos posted at December 9, 2005 10:10 AM

Dinosaur comics is so NOT an anthro comic. By definition, anthropomorphic means "shape of a human". The dinosaurs are completely animal-looking, and the only human thing they've got going is that they talk. By that definition, Garfield is more antropomorphic than them. An anthro comic is for example, Better Days, The Class Menagerie, Kevin and Kell or any comic with people who's got kitty ears and tails.

CAD and PA are as different as night and day.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 9, 2005 10:15 AM

I think Dinosaur Comics misses the spirit of Anthropomorphic Comics, but it's certainly in the letter of it. Over in my field, "anthropomorphizing" something means giving animals or inanimate objects human characteristics. Having a sword seem to possess emotions in a story is said to be "anthropomorphizing" it. Ascribing malicious intent to my crashing computer is anthropomorphizing it.

T-Rex and the gang are absolutely within the literary definition of anthropomorphic.

The problem is, the category should have been called "furry" or "funny animal" or "furry and/or funny animal," since that what was meant. Otherwise, yeah. Dinosaur Comics counts, and it's got a rabid fanbase, including a whole passel of folks who hate furry comics.

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at December 9, 2005 10:47 AM

Hell, even if they SAID "furry" people would have gotten weird. I have people tell me that "Digger"'s not a furry comic, because there's no sex, and it's not annoying. (Which I read as "I'm not one of those furry weirdos, but I like this, ergo it's not furry.") The character being a talking wombat does not seem to bear much on the matter.

I don't even begin to understand all the different emotional baggages people bring to anthro stuff, but that's probably a topic for a whole 'nother snark.

Comment from: Scarybug posted at December 9, 2005 10:58 AM

I can't help but think how much better Straub's initial essay would have been if this were an argument about the merits of Irregular Webcomic vs Legostar Galactaca.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 9, 2005 11:03 AM

Except, of course, Irregular Webcomic and Legostar Galactica are having a crossover right now. ;)

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 9, 2005 11:04 AM

(Meaning, he says sheepishly, that they're not analogous situations, since I don't think PA and CAD will cross over any time soon.)

Comment from: Scarybug posted at December 9, 2005 11:16 AM

Well, IR and LSG can by PA and PvP then. They did a crossover once. "Lego Brand Building Blocks Brand Comics" can be C-A-D, because I just made it up.

Comment from: baf posted at December 9, 2005 11:35 AM

VG Cats has always seemed to me to be composed mostly of the pure distilled essence of What People Don't Like About Penny Arcade.

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at December 9, 2005 11:39 AM

Real Life is also a gaming comic with plot. But the characters don't feel forced to me.

I'd alter that slightly. Real Life used to be a gaming comic with plot. It's since turned into a slightly surreal comic-blog, which is actually more readable than what it used to be.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 9, 2005 12:07 PM

You know, screw Eric's lexicon. I think I need a standardized lexicon for webcomics in general. Along with strict definitions. Like how much video gaming content has to be in a comic to make it called a gaming comic. Or what conditions make an anthro comic be one. And how many fantastic elements are allowed in a slice-of-life comic. I need to know, damn it!

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 9, 2005 12:13 PM

Because nothing says "artistic expresssion" like formulas. ;)

Comment from: Scarybug posted at December 9, 2005 12:21 PM

[quote]I think I need a standardized lexicon for webcomics in general.[/quote]

Well, there's the half-assed battle at the comixpedia wiki over genre labeling. The standard comes from whomever's willing to edit the most.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 9, 2005 12:32 PM

Hey, I never said there should be a formula to determine whether or not a comic is good (like it needs at least 3 pies in the face per year to be funny). Just a certain amount of material to be in a certain genre. No big deal if it fails to be in a genre.

Comment from: Dan Severn posted at December 9, 2005 12:54 PM

"Because nothing says "artistic expresssion" like formulas. ;)"

Eric Burns has just tapped into the very essence of this discussion.

Comment from: theliel posted at December 9, 2005 1:03 PM

re: ghastly's "i'm tempted to draw yaoi" bit...

dude. my gods man. my gods. I'm still trying to figure out how to flush my mind with Muritic acid to get that out....so yha. do it. totally do it. especially if it invovles mel brooks.

becauase my freinds and aquantiences need to be in as much pain as i am right now.

Comment from: Ghastly posted at December 9, 2005 1:18 PM

Comment from: theliel [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at December 9, 2005 01:03 PM

re: ghastly's "i'm tempted to draw yaoi" bit...

dude. my gods man. my gods. I'm still trying to figure out how to flush my mind with Muritic acid to get that out....so yha. do it. totally do it. especially if it invovles mel brooks.

Man, if you ever saw the complete search string results for my comic you'd realize just how many thousands fans I'd be servicing with that. The sheer volume of search engines hits on combinations of gabe/piro/tycho/largo and various hentai acts of man on man sex have lead me to the inescapable conclusion that no power in the 'verse can stop a teenage girl once she's got her mind set on the task of masturbating.

Comment from: LurkerWithout posted at December 9, 2005 1:24 PM

Man, if you ever saw the complete search string results for my comic you'd realize just how many thousands fans I'd be servicing with that. The sheer volume of search engines hits on combinations of gabe/piro/tycho/largo and various hentai acts of man on man sex have lead me to the inescapable conclusion that no power in the 'verse can stop a teenage girl once she's got her mind set on the task of masturbating.

Mmmmmm...River porn...

What?

Anyway, do it man! *waves 5 dollars*

Comment from: HydrogenGuy posted at December 9, 2005 1:25 PM

...lead me to the inescapable conclusion that no power in the 'verse can stop a teenage girl once she's got her mind set on the task of masturbating.

Which is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Comment from: Montykins posted at December 9, 2005 1:36 PM

Dinosaurs aren't furry!

Comment from: Maritza Campos posted at December 9, 2005 1:42 PM

I think they're confusing "furry" with "yiff".

Furry is any animal/anthro comic. So Funny Farm is furry. Fur will fly, Saga of the Ram, and the Suburban Jungly are furry comics. Digger is furry too.

Yiff, on the other hand, has to do with furries AND sexual content.

Comment from: theliel posted at December 9, 2005 2:01 PM

i'll second teh firefly crazygirl pr0nz.

anywya, this is why harry potter fanfic is so horrifically scary. just. oi.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at December 9, 2005 2:42 PM

"no power in the 'verse can stop a teenage girl once she's got her mind set on the task of masturbating"

Sorry, Eric. Sorry, Weds.

I have a new favoritest person in the entire world.

I think I shall go frighten my brain by attempting to read that "Ghastly's Ghastly Comic" thing I've heard so much about in a weird kind of gratitude for how awesome that was (funny joke + Firefly ref + awareness that girls are sexual creatures=LOVE).

(And let's totally not get into how not knowing what "lemon" meant led to what were probably formative introductions to sexuality for me (oh, my, due to this mysterious ancient curse, all of the Tendo girls must have sex with Ranma! 13-year-old me: What does "cum" mean?))

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at December 9, 2005 2:45 PM

It's Latin for "with".

Comment from: siwangmu posted at December 9, 2005 2:46 PM

::clicks the link in his name:: Or, you know, one of the comics he's actually running right now ::sheepish::

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at December 9, 2005 3:00 PM

Ghastly's Ghastly Comic is still definitely very active, he just doesn't link it in his name for some reason.

I'd also have to say that that comic is one of the greatest and most hilarious comics I've ever come across, bar-none.

Oh yeah, on the subject of Ctrl+Alt+Del. Never read it, have no inclination to read it. The end.

Comment from: Scarybug posted at December 9, 2005 3:01 PM

Give me Kaylee over River any day.

Today would be good.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at December 9, 2005 3:10 PM

I have previously observed in a Websnark comment that the female hotness on Firefly consists of a variety sure to have something for everyone. (Everyone except those who prefer males, of course. I imagine the obverse is true too, but I can only imagine.)

Comment from: Scarybug posted at December 9, 2005 3:13 PM

Actually, I meant "over" as a double entendre ;)

And I've been told that yes, the obverse is true.

Comment from: Tice with a J posted at December 9, 2005 3:16 PM

Furry is any animal/anthro comic. So Funny Farm is furry. Fur will fly, Saga of the Ram, and the Suburban Jungly are furry comics. Digger is furry too.
Here's a question for you: how did Dinosaur Comics clinch the anthro comic award with competition from Digger? Digger fits the spirit better, its writing is good, and OMG teh art! Dinosaur Comics has some seriously awesome writing, but Ursula Vernon is way more anthro than Ryan North.
Give me Kaylee over River any day.
Have to agree with you there. River is mysterious and graceful and all that, but I prefer women who aren't inscrutable and don't flip out and kill people when triggered by subliminal messages. Not to mention that Kaylee is cute and happy.

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at December 9, 2005 3:16 PM

Scarybug: Give me Kaylee over River any day.

Both are good, but I'd much rather go for (season 8) Kochanski from Red Dwarf.

Comment from: Danalog posted at December 9, 2005 3:20 PM

As to Real Life, I'm enjoying it a lot more as a surreal pseudo-blog than as a gaming comic

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at December 9, 2005 4:16 PM

what "lemon" meant

Oh, man. If it weren't for the overwhelming desire to drink myself into a stupor and spend the next three days sobbing in front of TBN, I'd be tempted to restart the "assemble a proper version of Star Trap using the nonmosaiced explicit scenes from the French rerelease, the subtitles from an early-nineties fan translation, and everything else from the Japanese rerelease/remaster" project I keep telling myself I'm going to do in between, um, everything else. (There's absolutely no point in working from the French dub, which -- as with the English version -- was made up as they went along.)

... oh. Not Cream Lemon. never mind.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at December 9, 2005 4:42 PM

Well as much as I'd like $5 I'd have to come up with a punchline. It's like Mel Brooks said. When you suck Largo's cock, it's tragedy. When you fall down an open manhole onto Largo's cock, it's comedy. You can't have YAOI without an open manhole.

Hey... wait a minute...

I'm still trying to catch up after spending the last week screaming in the bathroom thanks to a football-sized sea urchin of a kidney stone[*], but I just wanted to say that this made me laugh so hard that if I had read it a few days earlier, I am certain that I would have popped that thing right out, then and there (along with a couple of badly-needed internal organs and their associated plumbing, unfortunately).




[*] Objects in pain-filled mirror may appear larger than they are


Comment from: Thomas Blight posted at December 9, 2005 4:55 PM

Ahh yes, the good old furry being misinterpreted to have the same meaning as furversion and yiff. Always funny when someone makes that mistake.

When it comes to the anthro section award... Why Dinosaur comics? I can think of several comics with great writing and great art off of the top of my head. Why not Dragon Tails, Jack or Suburban Jungle?

I love to watch discussion unfold on websnark. Like how this discussion seems to have drifted into the NSFW direction, all because of... Dinosaur Comics.

Comment from: Joshua posted at December 9, 2005 4:56 PM

My guess is that Digger's hurt by being behind a subscription wall.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at December 9, 2005 5:04 PM

"And I've been told that yes, the obverse is true."

The life of a bisexual Firefly fan is a very good one.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at December 9, 2005 5:13 PM

Oh, ick, Ray. We were having such a civilized discussion about masturbation and yiff, and you had to mention your *kidney stone*.

Something that doesn't help "yiff" being called "furry" is that there is a non-zero set of *fans* of the former who call it the latter.

siwangmu: Such is the Firefly cast hotness that even us heteros can glean some of the other ~50% of it.

Comment from: John posted at December 9, 2005 5:33 PM

Dissatisfied? You guys just did ten webcomics-related snarks in a workweek. I'm as happy as a clam on lithium!

Comment from: Archon Divinus posted at December 9, 2005 6:00 PM

I count 7. Not that I'm complaining

Comment from: Chris "EDG" Anthony posted at December 9, 2005 6:26 PM

It depends on what you count as a "snark". If any ol' post counts, then there have been ten webcomics-related snarks since the 5th. If a snark is specifically a critical analysis of a given comic, as often identified by the thumbnails that go with them, then there have been seven snarks (not counting this one).

Comment from: Connor Moran posted at December 9, 2005 6:57 PM

I don't have anything to add on comics. I just wanted to say that I love Kristofer for mentioning M-Tron. God, I miss first grade.

Also, I once had a teacher who argued that one can teach absolutely anything useing legos. That usually meant something like physics or archetecture or computer programing, but I think he really meant it when he said anything. And I think that Kristofer just proved him right.

Comment from: Tangent posted at December 9, 2005 7:28 PM

Going to step in here and agree with Eric on the general gist of his snark. If Eric doesn't enjoy a comic... why does he have to read it?

I've been told by more than one person that I need to review some comics I dislike. That I'm not giving people an accurate look at comics or doing reviewers a justice by avoiding comics I dislike. Without negativity, my reviews lack hitting power and all that. And I'm totally confused by that.

If I don't like something, why should I force myself to read it? Let's put it another way: Eric has had three comics enter YHMAYLM territory. These comics have had their charm and enjoyability ruined for Eric and he no longer cares to read them or follow their hijinks. So he no longer reads them (unless the comic ends and then restarts with a different name and yes I'm looking at you, Mr. Willis). He reads what, a couple hundred different comics a week? (As in, probably fifty or so weekly-or-so comics, another 75 MWF comics, and another 75 dailies. Which when I think of it, it's probably more than that.)

I know my own reading has gone over 100 different comics a week. And that's not including those that are in the Hiatus Folder. And it takes TIME to read those comics, even with DSL.

Further, it takes time to read an archive. With a high-speed internet connection, you can read 100 comics in... oh, a couple of hours. Maybe. Depending on how involved and interesting the comic is. If that comic doesn't catch my attention in the first half dozen strips... then I'm apt to shrug, say "nevermind" and move on. After all, there's plenty of unread comics out there that deserve a snark or a tangent or a blogging of some sort. Why waste time on the comics you don't enjoy?

I suppose, if I were truly dedicated... I'd quit reading some of my regular strips. I'd stop reading CRFH or QC or a couple dozen other strips, JUST so I could pick up on some more of those independant strips that are languishing, unnoticed. But... I'm selfish. I do this because I enjoy it. I do this because I enjoy those comics.

So does Eric.

Why waste time on something we don't like?

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews
http://www.tangents.us

Comment from: SFaulken posted at December 9, 2005 9:44 PM

Comment from: siwangmu posted at December 9, 2005 05:04 PM
"And I've been told that yes, the obverse is true."

The life of a bisexual Firefly fan is a very good one.


You ain't a kiddin, Firefly has excellent eyecandy for everybody =]

Comment from: Prodigal posted at December 9, 2005 10:28 PM

I'm utterly in the "Kaylee is teh hotness aboard that ship" camp.

Comment from: The posted at December 9, 2005 10:44 PM

Kaylee's too blunt. I like women that are mysterious and can kick my ass. I also tend to like sociopaths for some reason. so River=win

Comment from: Ghastly posted at December 9, 2005 11:40 PM

I'm a big fan of the geek girls, so it's Kaylee for me all the way. I'm glad Joss asked her to put on 20 lbs to play the role because brother, she put them on in all the right places.

Of course there isn't a girl on Firefly who I wouldn't want to put in a frilly french maid uniform and deliver erotic bare-bottomed spankings too.

Comment from: SFaulken posted at December 9, 2005 11:55 PM

Uncle Ghastly, you are, indeed, the man.


I just spit coffee all over the damn keyboard.

Comment from: miyaa posted at December 10, 2005 3:58 AM

Tangent, everyone is lazy. People don't want to spend the time to try out every dick, jane or harry comic that comes down the pike. And many people do not care if you're a reviewer or a critic, they confuse the two and thing the two are the same thing when it's not. It's as lazy as drive-by-shootings. They don't even want to take the time to get out of the car and shoot, or so the stand-up routine goes.

Maybe the next Websnark slogan should read, "If you want someone who will tell you read it or not, go buy your own damn five stars."

There are words that should never have been introduced into the lexicon. "Yiff" is one of them.

Comment from: Ghastly posted at December 10, 2005 4:46 AM

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at December 10, 2005 03:58 AM

Tangent, everyone is lazy. People don't want to spend the time to try out every dick

Well you know what they say. When you've had one...

Comment from: Ojin posted at December 10, 2005 7:09 AM

Ghastly: Well you know what they say. When you've had one...

... this isn't gonna turn out to be something like potato chips, is it?

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 10, 2005 10:12 AM

I was about to add, "Once you pop, the fun don't stop."

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at December 10, 2005 1:10 PM

32: There are worse slogans to coopt.

(I promised I wouldn't bring up Ruffles.)

Comment from: Ghastly posted at December 10, 2005 1:35 PM

Comment from: Ojin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at December 10, 2005 07:09 AM ... this isn't gonna turn out to be something like potato chips, is it?

Oh great... now I've can't get the mental image of Mark Messier in some nasty YAOI situations out of my head.

"Hey Messier... betcha can't have just one."

....

"And that, Timmy, is the story of how LAYS potato chips got their name. Timmy?.... Timmy?... hey, hey, big boys don't cry Timmy."

And people wonder how I became a hentai artist. IT'S THE INTERNET'S FAULT!

Comment from: Dan Severn posted at December 10, 2005 3:13 PM

The whole "furry" thing is really tiresome. Here's my breakdown of the groups:

1) The weirdos who are into beastiality or whatever. Very small group.

2) The people who draw and read comics like Suburban Tribe or Class Menagerie. Large group that would larger if not for groups

2a) The people who read said sort of comics [i]and are obsessive about them, and [/i]

3) The people who confuse group 1 with group 2, partly because 2a is the most vocal part of 2.

Then, there's 4) The people who are so creeped out by 2a that they avoid having anything to do with anything "furry," for fear they might be seen as some sort of perverts.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at December 10, 2005 4:18 PM

I was going to say something about the difference between Bugs Bunny-like furry characters, and "accountants with floppy ears and carrot addictions" furry characters, but . . . what was the topic again?

Comment from: Joshua posted at December 10, 2005 4:50 PM

River is totally jailbait.

Now, Zo...rowr...

Comment from: Jeff Eaton posted at December 10, 2005 6:25 PM

Mmm.

I just read through a pile of CAD to see what the fuss is about. I'm speaking as someone who finds Penny Arcade consistently funny and likes the art a lot.

An earlier poster who said it was more RealLife than PennyArcade was right, I think. The four-panel format gives the gags a slightly different flow than PA's, as well. CAD's art doesn't grab me the way well-developed strips like PA or PvP or Butternut Squash do. It's not bad, just... okay, in a workmanlike webcomicy way.

The humor is often good, but too often drives a joke into the ground with unfunny followups to a punchline. The Grinch strip is an example. I laughed at frame three. Frame four interrupted my laughter and left me saying, 'Ah. Yeah, gaming.'

A lot of the strips felt like that -- funny stuff, but stretched out a bit too long.

Comment from: Aufero posted at December 11, 2005 12:28 AM

An anthro comic is for example, Better Days, The Class Menagerie, Kevin and Kell or any comic with people who's got kitty ears and tails.

Hm - would that make CRFH an anthro comic? I really like Roger's storylines.

Comment from: gwalla posted at December 11, 2005 1:33 AM

Here's a question for you: how did Dinosaur Comics clinch the anthro comic award with competition from Digger? Digger fits the spirit better, its writing is good, and OMG teh art! Dinosaur Comics has some seriously awesome writing, but Ursula Vernon is way more anthro than Ryan North.

I suspect it's because Dinosaur Comics is something of a phenomenon, while Digger is less well-known.

Comment from: Robin Z posted at December 11, 2005 8:21 AM

Hm - would that make CRFH an anthro comic? I really like Roger's storylines.
I don't think so. In CRFH, Roger is a werecoyote, and while lycanthrope stories might attract the same people who like furry stories, they aren't the same. I think a requirement for a furry story is that a substantial fraction of the population is made up of anthropomorphic animals, in either sense of the term "anthropomorphic". But that might just be my requirement, and I'd probably make exceptions.

Comment from: Dan Severn posted at December 11, 2005 8:07 PM

Anthropomorphism and "furry" are not the same thing.

All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads.

If F then A, but not if and only if F then A.

If people are upset by Dinosaur comics winning the anthropomorphic comic section, next year it should be renamed "furry" or "funny animal" to reflect the intent.

Comment from: Benor posted at December 12, 2005 12:40 AM

I completely missed the boat on this one. But what I'd like to say is that my problem with CAD is that it's unreliable.

Oh, I already hear people in my head saying "What are you talking about? It updates on schedule!" But that's not why I think it's unreliable. It's unreliable in its humor. Specifically, in Ethan. And it's the same damn reason that I hate Black Mage from 8-Bit Theatre.

You see, both Ethan and Black Mage are as smart or stupid as the plot calls for them to be. They are the surrogate plot devices, to be used when a more obvious plot device is either inappropriate or shying too close to deus ex machina. Why did Ethan build the X-Box robot instead of Lucas or Scott? Because neither of them, with a more constant intelligence, could do so on their own. Ethan, on the other hand, can be smart enough to make him, and then dumb enough to leave bread in Ezekiel's disc tray for the punchline.

For a gag-a-day strip, I can ignore that. But when you have a more consistent storyline, as CAD does, it becomes frustrating.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at December 12, 2005 2:28 AM

Not that I doubt Black Mage's variable intelligence, but are there memorable examples that I might check out?

Comment from: Benor posted at December 12, 2005 2:53 AM

Don't make me look through the 8-bit Theatre archives. I will cry at you.

However, the best example of a sudden leap in intellect (or competence in general, depending on your view) would be when Black Mage dies. He then manages to take over Hell for a short period of time.

Comment from: Maritza Campos posted at December 12, 2005 3:04 AM

But lycantropism is such a *small* part of CRFH. One would say Mike being part-animal ALL the time would be a better excuse ;)

Comment from: Dilorenzo posted at December 12, 2005 1:28 PM

I like CAD, so I read it - but what I don't like are rabid fans who jump out in defense of a comic. You don't like it, why should that be a problem for anyone?

Comment from: Tropylium posted at December 12, 2005 4:12 PM

miyjaa: Not *every*one. I've been for quite a while now working to have eventually checked out every comic that gets registered at www.thewebcomicslist.com. I've discovered plenty of gems that way which I suspect I'd never have found otherwise. Oh yes, I've also had to weed thru stupendous amounts of crap (at least a few hundred strips maybe) and also lots and lots of mediocrity... but so what. It's been worth it so far. :)
Incidentally, have I just missed it or is it really possible that TWC is not being noticed by any major webcomic institution while still being the #1 result if you google for "webcomic"!? Eric has previosly mentioned this similar but (in my experience) more limited site whose name I cannot remember for the life of, that which went kaboom after pissing off Aeire, but I don't remember seeing *anyone* who amounts to anything in terms of readership publicly speak of TWC. Odd.

With the all the PA-MT yaoi discussion going on, I'm also surprized that nobody has mentioned BTC's HNTRAC parody yet? (www.biggercheese.com/index.php?comic=437) I refuse to believe that both comics would be unknown to every regular here. But maybe you just didn't think it was funny... that I *can* believe.

OK, back to lurking for now...

Comment from: Chris Doucette posted at December 14, 2005 12:25 AM

Hurrah for resurrecting threads days after they've been abandoned. More hurrah for returning to the original point of that thread.



I've thought a lot about Penny Arcade and CAD since reading somewhere that CAD was considered a PA ripoff and thinking "What?" I can see not CAD not being to your taste, but I would never have thought of it as imitating PA without someone trying to tell me that it is.



CAD tells a story. PA doesn't. Fundamental differences like that just don't jive with the whole rip-off thing. You could maybe argue that it started out as a (self-consciously) derivative gaming comic - and if I remember correctly, the first few strips *are* fourth-wall breakers about trying to find a third member of the cast to distinguish them from other gaming comics - but by now, I mean, 9 out of 10 strips are about characters who are gamers and otherwise have nothing to do with video games.



Here's the fun part: I wish it *were* more derivative of PA. Because while the characters and ongoing story of CAD are just barely amusing enough to keep me reading, most of the one-off game satire strips Tim writes make me laugh my ass off. As much as PA strips do, in some cases, but of course with a different style of humor. My favorite CAD strip by far is the early one with the fighting game character phone-sex line - the way it's set up and the dialogue in the fourth panel hit me just right.



I'd like it if Tim went back to writing more strips like that and spent less time... perhaps *no* time... on the ongoing story. You know, the thing that makes it very different from PA. Or VG Cats, for that matter. I think Tim has great gag-a-day jokes to make about games that PA and VG Cats aren't going to make. I also think he enjoys writing it as a story comic and, well, it's his comic to write. As long as every once in a while he does a WoW strip (and no one has presented great WoW jokes as accessibly as Tim has) I'll keep reading so I don't miss it.



(Apologies if the html line breaks go haywire or something... I haven't commented here enough to know what the Formatting Thing that keeps happening is.)

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?