I need this guy the next time I move. Minus the incentive of course.
I have developed a great relationship with several very talented cartoonist in the web comic world. I have social media to thank for this directly. Twitter and Facebook have been invaluable in cultivating and maintaining these relationships, but as much interaction as I have gotten on Twitter and the connections on Facebook there is one that has outshined them both. Now what I’m about to say, don’t judge, but I have actually find that Google+ has been really helpful. I won’t go into the why’s and What’s of Google+, I’ll save that for another post. But let’s just say I find it more personal and friendlier than Facebook and even Twitter at times.
Why am I bringing this up? Because it allowed me to find a really great web comic that I might not have known about otherwise.
The web comic is called Matt Against the World, and it’s the brainchild of a husband and wife duo Andy Baird and Shannon Maquire. Shannon does the writing and Andy handles the art end of business and it’s a really good match-up.
The strip is about a thirty-something guy named Matt. He lives with his dog named Popsicle and between the two of them, they try to navigate around this crazy modern world. Matt takes us through dating, parents, single living, and all the other stuff that life has to offer.
Matt Against the World is cleverly written, so my hats off to Shannon for handling this task. As a comic strip person myself, I know this isn’t an easy task especially when you are relying on someone else to do the art. She fills Matt and the other characters with situations that are funny and clever. Humor that is solid, believable, and in most cases, unexpected. If I can’t see the punchline before I get to the last frame, you’ve done you job well.
Now, if I had to use a word to describe this strip, the word wound be… simply. This strip is simply written, simply drawn, and simply funny!!
The art is done equally well. I love characters that are interestingly designed and the strip definitely delivers. Andy has a really fun, simple, and clean style to his art with just enough detail to carry the story and joke to punchline. He illustrates Shannon’s perfectly giving a real tight feel to the strip. The website also reflects the simplicity of the art. Just enough to get the job done without looking sparse or lacking. In fact there is a really no “About” link to the strip and the only explanation is found on the Facebook and Google+ page. But I don’t find this to be a negative. It’s easy to figure the background out by reading the first few strips what the concept is. After all, it ties in with the “simple” concept behind the strip.
Now I usually don’t write negatives about a strip, but I’ll make and exception here. My complaint? That It’s only update once a week. Yikes! You mean I have to wait an entire week to get my Matt fix? Ok, guys. I’ll wait. Perfection can’t be rushed.
Matt Against the World can be found at mattagainsttheworld.com and is updated every Saturday (yep, a Saturday update schedule). Check out what a well oiled team can do… simply.
I don’t care who you are or what your background is, you’ve been a exposed to bullying at some point in your life. Even if you’ve never been bullied directly, you were probably a witness it or possibly even been the perpetrator. I’m here to tell you, from those who have been bullied, we would dream of rescue. We would dream of someone swooping in at the last minute to deal justice to those who were heavy-handed in their teasing.
What does this have to do with comics? Quite a bit actually.
I recently came across a comic strip called The Bully’s Bully and from first click, I became an instant fan.
The Bully’s Bully is a large format, comic book muli-panel style strip. It is created by a writer/artist duo Courtney Huddleston (not a girl) and James Taylor (not the singer) and it follows a young girl who comes to the rescue of those who are being victimized. That’s it. Doesn’t sound very interesting. In fact, the synopses rings out like any number of action movies and comic story lines that have hit our eyes for decades.
But that’s wrong.
This hero, who is nameless except referred to as “BB” in the description, rescues those victims without a single weapon or violence on her part. No knifes, gun, ropes, just her shear tenacity, courage, and pure empathy for those being victimized – and a few well placed defensive moves on her part. She tends to use the bully’s own weaknesses to defeat them and helps the victims who range from little boys, to Girl Scouts, to puppies. But that is just the start of what intrigues me.
The strip has no dialog. Yep. Not a single speech bubble anywhere, and this is right up my alley because I am a lazy, lazy, lazy reader. The storytelling is all done through it’s exquisitely executed black and white pages. Everything, and I mean everything, from it’s panel layouts, scene blocking, penciling, and inking is done to perfection. The artwork is clean, tight, and beautiful drawn and, though there isn’t a single word uttered, Courtney and James both created this strip so you understand exactly what is being said, felt and conveyed without a single verbal explanation.
The stories are broken into chapters, 3 chapters since the start of the strip in December 2012. There seems to be a concern on the creator’s side that the storylines take forever to get to the “action” but I think the pacing is perfect. Without words, you have to rely on the visuals to set the story up, get the plot moving, and build suspense. They manage to do this very well just as it is.
The strip can be found at www.bullysbully.com and is updated Mondays and Wednesdays. For those who have been bullied, are being bullied, or even bully’s themselves, check it out.
I have a bunch of comics I follow. Their links are tucked away in several folders on my browser and they are all categorized according to what day(s) they post. Now, I’m not really sure how I came across most of these comic strips over time, but most likely I was probably initially attracted by the look of the strip. I’ve mentioned before, I’m a visual person and a good looking strip will catch my attention every time.
That’s what brought me to Ordinary Bill by William Wilson, and this strip is anything but ordinary.
Ordinary Bill follows the adventures of a young cartoonist named Bill, his girlfriend Isis, their cat Dakota, and their lives in a Northeast coastal town. Together they take on mundane things such as dishes, laundry, and paying bills, until those moments are interrupted by the occasional battle with fearsome squirrels, vindictive clams, and yes even space aliens (this being the latest, strange story arc in progress as we speak).
The artwork on this strip is what caught my eye first. I love, love, love Wilson’s style. Ordinary Bill is done in the traditional black and white four-panel format with an occasional multi-panel Sunday color strip. The style and flavor is very reminiscent of Watterson’s; loose artistic pen strokes and line work. His character design is fun with Bill almost never without his backwards hat, and Isis with her head of flowing hair, both characters are instantly likable. I have been led to believe these characters including the cat are based on Wilson’s real life.
The writing moves story lines from normal items to the most bizarre. Bill gets himself into situations that range from throwing snowballs at passing cars (something we’ve all wanted to do), going toe-to-toe with nut throwing squirrels (something we’ve all wondered about), to dodging killer robots (something…well few us have had experience in). And all these situations flow effortlessly from one to the other so well that you don’t even question it. In fact, Bill himself reacts to these predicaments as though they are normal everyday occurrences. Bill’s cat ponders life, and vindictive clams kidnap Isis for revenge… all in a days work.
I love this strip. It’s one of my top ten comics I follow. And I find I go to it not only to read it during the week, but to seek inspiration in both art and writing.
Ordinary Bill can be found in two places. On GoComics.com where you’ll get the latest posts, and on his own website www.ordinarybill.com where the posts run one day behind GoComics. He posts every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and every other Sunday – in color.
Good stuff. Check it out.
There are so many great strips out there and I had a very difficult time deciding on my first week’s offering. For no particular reason, I decided on a strip called Zombie Boy by Mark Stokes.
I have been avoiding “zombie strips” for a while now. Seems like everyone is jumping on the zombie bandwagon just like they did a few years ago with vampires. I actually became aware of this strip during a comic contest and avoided it due solely on the title. However, through a network of comic strip artist’s, I ran across Mark and I decided to give his strip a chance and became an instant fan. I found the strip actually had it’s roots long before the Walking Dead craze took off. In fact, the current strip is a incarnation of a more serious comic book that Mark had self published back in 1987. After dying a graceful death (several times apparently), Mark brought it back to life in it’s current comic strip format back in 2010.
The main character is Zombie Boy (Morgan), an eleven year old who, “had a little accident on family vacation to voodoo island.” He is surrounded by a cast of characters that range from a psychic little girl to a dog who likes to become the leaf/snow bandit to a bug who likes to hot tub in a cuppa tea.
Since I’m a visual person, the artwork is always going to grab me first. The artwork is loose and impressively clean giving a polished look to the strip. The feel of the art reminds me of early Johnny Hart style from the B.C. comic strip. His character designs are unique, fun, and charming. Even his cast descriptions are a treat. Mark has a nice sense of color with every color in it’s place and there for a reason . Zombie Boy is done in a four-panel horizontal format and every panel is nicely blocked and laid out with great perspective and composition.
But comics don’t rely art alone, there’s also the writting. The strip shifts between single day gags to story-arcs with the humor mostly character based. Story arcs are cleverly written and intriguing enough to keep me coming back the next post to find out what’s going to happen next.
I like this strip, a lot. I recommend it if your looking for some new humor to take up your busy week. Mark updates his strip every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If that’s not enough for you, there are years of archives to keep you busy. Check ‘em out.
There was a time when the only way a comic strip artist could get his or her stuff “out there” to be seen was to either get hooked up with a syndicate (better luck getting hit by lightning…seriously. Out of roughly 6,000 submissions a year, you have a 0.033% chance), or beg someone who was publishing a local newsletter or newspaper to allow you to post your comics in it. The internet has changed that. It has made it both easier and more difficult to be seen. Anyone can self publish now, just like I do. Domains names are dirt-cheap to purchase and website are so easy to setup, anyone who has little to no knowledge of how things work can get their content up. However, with this boon of technology advancements, it has allowed everyone who can draw and tell jokes to do just that. Everyone from the 16 year old first-timer to the 65 year old veteran, they are all out there. And that puts a lot of stuff in the pipeline to sift through.
So it’s easy to get over looked.
One interesting thing I’ve found over the last few months is the web comic community is very supportive of everyone in it. Everyone does their part to help promote not only their own stuff, but others as well. What a concept. In a highly competitive market as web comics, they are all about the community. Brilliant! Through Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, yes even Google+, everyone is “retweeting”, “liking”, and “upvoting” other artist’s stuff. What this does is two-fold. One, it get the other artist’s material noticed by those who might not know it exists and, two, gets their own stuff noticed in the process. Also, it broadens the community. Through this process which I have been brought into, I have met some very talented and very nice people along the way that I would never known otherwise.
So why am I rambling on about this? Well, here’s what I’m thinking. I’m feeling compelled to do my part in this process by, once a week, giving a shout-out to a fellow artist’s material. Give a mention, post a link, talk about why I like what I see or read. I always feel warm and fuzzy inside when a fellow cartoonist mentioned my comic strip in a Tweet or someplace where others might see it. Gives me a feeling like… well, I might be on the right track with this stuff. Plus I’ve been a student of comic strips since I was a kid, I might bring some massive insight into your lives and find this information invaluable… uh…well…
There is a caveat though. There are some strips that I love and follow but I just can’t promote on this site due to the audience I have. Doesn’t mean I am slighting them, it’s just might not be appropriate for my all ages audience (sorry Mike Witmer).
Anyway, that’s my plan. Cheers and keep on stripping.