Tags: comic books

Cocktopus

The Newdog15 and Pipkin Proudly Present...

 It was pointed out to me recently on 4chan that it had been entirely too long since I had produced one of these works. I agreed that the world was growing cold and dead, so long deprived of the heat and light which only a new Newdog15 re-write can provide. And so I set about finding an appopriate volume to sprinkle my literary pixie dust over, contacted my dear friend and sometime-collaborator, pipkin , and made some arrangements.

A few weeks later, we have fruit! Fruits of our labour, ready to be crushed into jam, jarred and placed in the storage cupboards of your mind, there to provide your brains with nourishment during those long dark days when reality is feeling just a little too real for you.

Behold, friends and readers, for we bring to you...

Scraw!: The Ballad of the Insanity-Inducing Poison Shorthair, Verse 1.


Collapse )As always, dear friends, comments are warmly invited.
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Reading Assignment


 

There’s damned few webcomics I actually read regularly these days. This was not always the case; there was a time when there was probably fifteen or thereabouts on my regular reading list. These days though? Maybe five or so.

There’s one I came upon a couple of months ago, and the people I’ve been speaking with outside of this blog will already be familiar with my enthusiasm for it. It’s a fascinating multimedia extraveganza, combining elements of comics, cartoons, and video games into something entirely new and distinct unto itself. Anyone who’s spent any time on 4Chan’s /co/ in the past few months will be well-acquainted with it, as there are, every day, several 200+ comment threads devoted to it. This fact, I hope, tells you something about the passion which it incites in those who have taken the time to immerse themselves in it.

Time is an issue here; I have never before seen any form of entertainment created by a single person with so robust an update schedule. Whereas many webcomics struggle to maintain an update schedule of one page per week, Andrew Hussie, the mad genuis behind this opus, manages multiple updates PER DAY. Many of them animated, many of them with music – music of such quality that soundtracks for this comic are sold at the website, and soundtracks which I have purchased and listen to regularly. On one notable day, a few months ago, indeed, he managed a staggering TWENTY-SIX updates in a single day! I personally visit the page six or seven times a day, just to see what two or three new pages there’s been since my last visit. For free entertainment, there’s a lot to be said for something that’s constantly providing you new and entertaining content!

The comic itself – if we choose to use the word "comic", which is in many senses an inadequate descriptor for this mode of storytelling – is interestingly arranged. There have actually been four "adventures" in the history of the site. They’re similar in their mode of storytelling, mimicking on a surface level old-timey adventure video games such as those that Sierra and LucasArts put out in the late 1980s and 1990s. There is a character on a screen, and he or she is given various prompts to move around his or her environment, dealing with "weird puzzle shit" in order to navigate the adventure they’re in. It’s at once both a satire and a celebration of that mode of gaming, which anybody who has ever played this style of game will find immediately charming.

The first one, "Jailbreak", only ran a hundred pages or so, and you can easily get through it in an hour or so. The art style and the story are both quite simple, serving as a sort of prototype of what was to come. Nevertheless, if you find it funny and entertaining, I think I can say with absolute confidence that you’ll enjoy the rest.

The second, "Bard’s Quest", is something of a failed experiment and is perhaps best-ignored.

The third, "Problem Sleuth," is where things kick into high gear. Lasting precisely one year, it went about 1.700 pages before coming to a conclusion more epic in scope than that of any story I’ve ever seen in my life. The Byzantine logic and tying together of innumerable bizarre and outlandish seemingly-unrelated subplots is a masterwork of storytelling which never ceases to blow my mind.

The fourth, and current adventure is called "Homestuck", which has been going about a year and a half, and is approaching 3,000 pages already. It’s by far the most ambitious of the adventures, and has attracted a fan base of staggering creativity and passion. In the broadest and least-spoilery of terms, the story revolves around a group of kids living around the world, who take part in the beta of a mysterious new video game called "Sburb". This game, it quickly becomes clear, is something far more than it seems, and impacts immediately and directly upon their real lives in often unpredictable ways. Soon, all four of them are drawn into the world of this game, and the apocalyptic threat that it poses to all of mankind. The four characters have never, ever met in person. They interact only through game mechanics and their instant messenger program "Pesterchum", and 99% of the dialogue in the comic is presented as logs of their chatting with one another as they try to coordinate their efforts and keep one another alive.

As time progresses, we’re introduced to other groups of protagonists; a mysterious group of "exiles", humanoid creatures living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland with a direct though mysterious connection with the game these kids are playing. A black-clad gang of mobster anti-heroes called "The Midnight Crew", engaged with their own drama on a strange alien world, whose connection to the main story is by no means obvious for the first couple of hundred strips, but is eventually revealed to be integral. And finally, we meet another group of twelve kids playing the same game on a far-away planet, whose experiences in some way mirror that of the main characters, but whose explosive and distinct personalities, personal triumphs, tragedies, and bizarre, freakish alien drama set them definitively apart, even as their story directly impacts that of the kids on Earth in a manner too outlandish to get into here.

 


(This YouTube tribute video, created by a fan, using art and animation from the current chapter of the comic, which I found yesterday, which features these twelve alien kids will be completely nonsensical to non-readers, but hopefully be compellingly weird enough to grab your attention and make you want to read up to that point and make sense of all of it)

Indeed, for the past couple of months, we’ve been following this final group EXCLUSIVELY, as we learn all about their experience with this game, and they’re such an eclectic, peculiar and fascinating group of psychopaths that they’ve captured the imaginations of a lot of the readers to an extent that even the main cast never has. The second-to-most-recent update as of the time of my posting this (which I’m not going to link to because it would be 100% incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t read to that point) is basically just a lengthy conversation between two old friends, in chat-log form, which is so poignantly bittersweet as to be heartbreaking.

If you’ve ever trusted my judgement or taste on anything, trust me on this: Give Jailbreak fifteen minutes of your life. If by that point you’re hooked, then you’ll find yourself on a roller-coaster that you’ll never want to get off of. And if you don’t like it, then what the heck. It’s probably just not for you (likely because the pleasure center of your brain is in some way damaged or malfunctioning).


Cocktopus

Great superhero concepts - The Sterling Star

Every so often, I have GREAT ideas for super-heroes.


Mohammed Al Maktoum discovered at a young age that he had an amazing and seemingly supernatural ability. One without apparent cause, and which he has since occasionally and with passing interest searched for an explanation for: The ability to cause those around him to vomit violently and uncontrollably with the power of his otherwise-unremarkable mind!

After a few short years of making use of this ability to antagonize douchebags at college frat parties and evade speeding tickets, Mohammed realized what his true calling in life was: To use this power to kick the crap out of the junkie scumbags that were shitting up the city and then see them get carted away by the police... a quest which eventually came to include other forms of crime as well!

He thought long and hard about what sort of super-heroic identity he would assume in the pursuit of this noblest of goals. His asshole room-mate, Douggie, had initially suggested such names as “The Gut-Wrencher”, “Captain Puke” and, upon purchasing and consulting a thesaurus, “The Regurginator”. All of these Mohammed rejected as being “disgusting and stupid”. Douggie’s keen observation that Mohammed’s power was disgusting and stupid made little difference, though it did invite the observation that Douggie’s mother was disgusting and stupid. After a brief altercation which resulted in a broken kitchen table and a black eye, the conversation derailed into one about super-hero naming conventions.

Mohammed pointed out that Superman’s name was in no way a reflection of the nature of his powers; he did not feel the need to call himself “Strong Flying Laser-Eye Good-Hearing Tough Man”; his name simply conveyed the idea that he was better than everyone else, and that was good enough for him, so why shouldn’t that work for Mohammed as well? After a brief flirtation with the names “BetterMan” and “Mr Superior”, Mohammed suggested “The Sterling Star”, a name which sounded kind of cool without being so pompous that people would feel like taking him down a notch or two. This appealed to him on the grounds that nothing quite enraged him as much as having to face the consequences of his own foolishness.


Douggie then asked if it was some kind of Muslim thing, “Like the star and sickle thing on all those flags and stuff.” Mohammed pointed out that it was a star and crescent moon and called Douggie a stupid white asshole, and possibly a racist. He then furthermore pointed out that he wasn’t a Muslim; he was a Buddhist. This was in essence true; he had converted to Buddhism in an empty act of rebellion against his father – a wealthy lobbyist from the United Arab Emirates – when he was fourteen, in the hopes of pissing him off. Fourteen years later, he found that it remained an effective means of getting under the skin of the man who continued to pay all of his bills and periodically bail him out of jail on charges of public urination, and so remained steadfast in his Buddhist faith, in spite of never having read a book on the topic or speaking to another Buddhist on the topic (both activities having been deemed “boring” and “gay”).

No, the sterling star motif simply seemed to connote some kind of sheriff’s badge or something, which seemed kind of thematically linked to the concept of cleaning up town. The irony that he would ultimately come to leave large puddles of stinking vomit wherever he went was one that was almost entirely lost upon the imperfectly-introspective man in this respect.

As the years went by, and Mohammed refined his crime-fighting technique with a degree of success which would have surprised anyone who knew of his secret identity (Douggie having been killed in an unrelated skydiving accident stemming from an ill-considered bar bet some years earlier).
His revolutionary approach of kicking criminals in the head while they vomited uncontrollably on the ground on their hands and knees in front of them until they were rendered unconscious and often concussed – and then posting videos of said crime-fighting on YouTube won him many a five-star rating from the community before they tired of his increasingly-predictable-if-indisputably-effective antics. Nevertheless, the difficulties involved with maintaining a secret identity, so common to those of a super-heroic persuasion, weighed heavily upon him. Having to constantly duck out of social occasions, giving only the flimsiest of excuses for vanishing at a moment’s notice was difficult, since Mohammed was a poor liar, and people around him were constantly calling him on his constant and obvious bullshit, leading to many hurt feelings and three failed marriages.

It was then that he had an inspiration: What he really needed to do was surround himself with people with no self-respect, who would just be glad to have him around and thus keep their traps shut when he lied to their faces and they both knew it. Where this proved inadequate, Mohammed would resort to screaming insults at them in public places and making them accept it, feeling that by humbling them, he could avoid future inquiries, and thus he would have an easier time maintaining his double life and thus protecting them from the fallout of his constant war against crime. The various prostitutes, elderly shut-ins and people with social anxiety disorder who formed the core of his social circle came to accept the abuse as their due, and all was well with the world.

Today, Mohammed patrols the streets of Washington DC. A single silver point of light in a one-man constellation of justice, kicking evil while it’s down so that others need not face it while it’s standing up. He is... the Sterling Star.
Cocktopus

The Newdog15 and Pipkin Proudly Present... A Mouth Full of Bees!

The wait is over, at least for those of you who were waiting for me to produce another volume of ribald hilarity! And moreover, that small and possibly nonexistent subset of whom that was waiting for me to do so in collaboration with my good friend pipkin .

Without further ado, my friends, allow me to with great pride unleash upon you... A Mouth Full of Bees.



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Collaborations of this variety are always rewarding, and never more so than in a case like this, where the creative process becomes very nearly a pissing contest between my collaborator and I, each of us trying to surpass the other in how far we're willing to go for a joke, forever egging one another on to greater heights of depravity and inspiration. I am profoundly proud of the extent we both succeeded in this particular endeavour, as those of you who read this tale will surely attest.
Cocktopus

TELL ME WHAT YOU LIKE

I have a little game that I like to play sometimes, and I find that I have a very solid track record of success. I feel, on the merits of my past successes, like I’m ready to play in the big leagues and take this game to the international level. And given the not only international but indeed global scope of my readership, what better forum for it than my own humble blog?

And so.

I have, for the majority of my life, been an avid comic book collector, and my collection is a wide and varied one, spanning many genres and styles. I often assert – and I think justifiably – that my collection contains tens of thousands of good comics, and hundreds of bad comics. All of which is to say, I know my stuff where the medium is concerned.

The game I like to play, and which I enjoin each and every one of you reading this to play with me, is a simple one: You tell me any three unrelated works of fiction which you have enjoyed (and which I have some knowledge of), and I will tell you about a couple of comic book series or stories which you will also enjoy. My track record here is solid; I’ve gotten many people who had never previously read a single comic book in their lives hooked on any number of series based upon my careful analysis and cross-referencing of their interests and inclinations. I am confident that I can do the same for some significant portion of those of you reading this.

So! Lay it on me, friends and readers. Tell me what you have liked, and I will not only tell you what you will like, but why you will like it. Great enjoyment and enthusiasm await you.
Cocktopus

Comic Books You Should be Reading - Incognito

Ed Brubaker is a comic book writer who I’ve come to enjoy a great deal lately. He has this amazing skill for meshing two different styles of writing in a seamless and natural-seeming way. Previously, he took the fairly forgettable Marvel character, Iron Fist, and managed to breathe new life into him with his ongoing “Immortal Iron Fist” book, which managed to capture the feel of a good Kung-Fu action movie in a super-hero book and make it work brilliantly. More recently, he has taken this same approach with a series entitled “Incognito”, which is basically a crime noire story set in a super-heroic universe.
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The Newdog15 Proudly Presents.... Crazy Shinto Bitches in the Mood!


For those somehow as yet unaware of this shtick, I will occasionally take the tawdry straw of Japanese hentai (or "pornographic", to us anglophones) comics, and spin of them the purest of comedy gold. I do so under the pen name of Newdog15, for reasons which I explained here.

These posts, naturally, are ever so slightly not-safe-for-work, but I consider this a moot point in large part because, really, who's going to be reading something like this at work? Crazy people, and people with private offices, that's who.

Anyways. As always, enjoy, and by all means, let's have some feedback. It's a little more high concept than some I've done (which is saying something!), but I feel it does its job well.




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Cocktopus

One 3,600th of Infinity


These past few years, I’ve been greatly enjoying reading the Green Lantern (and spin-off “Green Lantern Corps”) comic books from DC. It’s big, crazy, space-opera stuff, and a magnificent, epic saga. This having been said, there’s one huge problem with the concept of the Green Lantern franchise which feels to me like it’s a product of our expanding real-life body of science flying in the face of certain basic assumptions which went into the writing of these comics when they first started, some sixty years or so ago. Specifically, the universe has turned out to be a whole, whole lot larger than we ever used to figure it was. Like I like to say: There are people still alive today who were raised in a time when the scientific consensus was that our galaxy was in fact the entire universe. It’s THAT recent that we’ve begun to grasp just how tiny a part of the universe our galaxy really is. And with that expanded understanding, one of the central conceits of the Green Lantern mythos has become absurd.

I think I have a solution, though, and it’s one which I would like to present in the form of an in-character monologue, in the voice of one of the central protagonists of the franchise, Hal Jordan:

***

My name’s Hal Jordan, and I’m an officer of the Green Lantern Corps, assigned to serve and protect all of the sentient peoples of space sector 2814, which includes my homeworld of Earth. This is all kind of bull, though, as any Green Lantern would tell you if they were being completely honest. Let me explain. Collapse )


* As an almost-entirely irrelevant side-note, I actually find Hal to be perhaps the most boring of the Green Lanterns, but whereas I prefer
Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner and find them to be more interesting characters, it's the fact that they're more idiosyncratic that makes them more interesting, and that makes them less-useful as mouth-pieces for this kind of monologue.
Cocktopus

The newdog15 Proudly Presents.... Every Yesterday is Someone Else's Tomorrow


After a five month long wait, I have ready to present to you, o lovers of ribaldry and pornography as mixed unto a single pasty consistency, and offering which I take singular pleasure both in having created, and in now presenting to you. By all means, enjoy.




Collapse )Comments, as always, are both welcomed and appreciated.
Cocktopus

The Banal Circus - Day 3 of 3







 


And finally, a last batch from our good friend Marvin Candle...




 

So, when all is said and done... hands up, everyone who "got" the joke here. I realize that it's fairly obscure, and indeed if you're unfamilliar with The Family Circus, it's likely entirely incomprehensible, but I like to imagine that my readership is on the whole a pretty sharp bunch of cookies, and I'm wondering to what extent this translates into people understanding this admittedly kind of minimalist comedy.