The online comic Bug caught my eye over on Just the First Frame today. I hadn’t noticed it before now, but it has some great lines.
- “Must you lie to all the amnesia patients?” “But look how happy he is.”
- “Every day I want to shove you, lips first, into the paper shredder.”
- “But…but I’m whimsical.” “No, April, you’re chemically imbalanced.”
Adam Huber writes and draws the strip, which has been online since 2009. He came up with the character years ago during high school English, and just like a real cockroach, years later the little bug Huber had drawn in class began infesting his sketchbook. Equal parts whimsy and absurd, you can easily see the influence of Bloom County in Bug, which Huber cites as one of his influences.
I love it.
I’m much more of a light science fiction fan than I would like to be. Ideally, I’d like be the kind of fan who can discuss the merits of Asimov’s theories or Heinlein’s storytelling technique.
But that takes too much time and effort. I therefore tend to skew a bit towards the easier stuff from movies and television, so when xkcd makes fun of the Terminator franchise, I giggle.
Ah, xkcd. You get me.
Fans of shows like Seinfeld or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will no doubt enjoy this one, as it presents the same brand of comedy while attempting to “instruct” the reader. Basic Instructions by Scott Meyer reminds me of the visual emergency instruction cards in airplanes, with normal looking characters showing how to best go about different tasks.
Scenarios range from the mundane, like answering the phone, to the outrageous, like visiting a mirror universe. For me personally, I may have to try and apply a few in my own life, like how to understand my co-workers or showing my wife that I do think things through from time to time.
Of course, any online comic that is composed entirely of Star Wars references is going to catch my eye. Blue Milk Special (which I’m sure is a play on “Blue Harvest,” the codename used for the Star Wars film during production) is a chronological satire of the original trilogy of films told in webcomic form. The husband and wife team who produce Blue Milk Special, Rod and Leanne Hannah, have been posting the strip since February of 2009. Like any good send-up, it pulls in other pop-culture influence (hence Darth Vader’s Federation coffee mug) and breaks the fourth wall to mug at the audience from time to time.
Blue Milk Special flies below the radar a bit, not wanting to head to court over any copyright infringement with Lucasfilm. As a result, it will never be collected in book form or applied to any other format that might generate a profit. It also has a set lifespan, because when the chronology of the films run out, so will the strip. But still a great read so far, and I’m looking forward to another few years yet as the Hannahs are only halfway through their source material.
For today’s online comic, I humbly present Hello With Cheese, an interesting blend of nerd and strange. It reminds me a little of Gary Larsen’s The Far Side, but maybe just a little more accessible. Of course, Larsen’s comic was able to revel in its obscure humor during the pre-web days. As Kate Beaton has said, letting more people in on the joke is better, and I have to wonder if Larsen would have produced his comic differently if obscurity wasn’t a tool anymore.
Hello With Cheese forgoes the obscure, but stays smart by producing content like a Venn diagram of where Barry White and Rick Astley intersect. Enjoy!
And happy weekend!
A little more today on the behind-the-scenes part of webcomics, because I think I just found one of the most useful tools online for webcomics fans. Just the First Frame is a visual webcomics blog which displays the first panel of as many online comics as possible, each of which are linked to the webcomic it samples. If any one of them catches a reader’s attention it’s quick and easy to get to the rest of the comic in question.
Henry Kuo, the blog’s creator, said he wanted a way to balance the ability to discover and share online comics with the unfortunate other half of digital media, copyright infringement. Kuo explains the problem in one of the more common channels for sharing online, that of social media:
The problem is that more often than not, people share the web comic in full, so their friends get to enjoy the comic without the need to click through to the originating source. That means no ad impressions and no recognition that someone has viewed the work from the artist’s perspective. This is a form of copyright infringement, but it’s a two-edged sword. The benefit is that it’s easy to discover the work. The drawback is that the original artist doesn’t know who, how or where their work is being shared as well as the lost ad impressions on their own site.
Kuo then says why his solution meets the need:
I believe this brings the best of both worlds. By showing only the first frame, people have no choice but to click through in order to enjoy the full comic. Reading only the first frame would be like hearing a joke without the punchline, the punchline being the most important part. Also by showing the first frame, people get a highly visual and scannable page, allowing themselves to be drawn to the variety of comic styles. Moreover, by reading the first frame, they’re given a unique hook to click through for each and every one. So, highly scannable, visually consistent, and click-throughs are imperative for enjoyment (unless you just like looking at pretty pictures without context). I believe this makes this the best and easiest way to discover comics on the web today.
Now why didn’t I think of that?
For this post I used Storify.com for, well, obvious reasons. Much easier to grab the tweets for a Twitter-based comic.