Fast, funny and free: Web comics go beyond 'Blondie'
Published: Friday, September 9, 2005
Updated: Monday, August 9, 2010 14:08
I've got news for you. There's more to the Internet than naked people. I know it's hard to believe and it took me a while to find it - but it's out there.
That's what this column is going to be about. The Internet has become basically my main form of entertainment and now it can be yours too.
One of my favorite things about the Statesman is that we don't have Garfield. Before I get any angry pro-Garfield hate mail, ask yourself, do you really like Garfield? Or do you just read it because you've always read it?
The current state of newspaper comics is not very friendly for newcomers. With the exception of cutting-edge smaller publications (like us), you get basically the same comics no matter where you go in the country.
Since its creation, the net has taken over almost every form of entertainment and allows anyone to give it the old college try. Comics are no different. Across the wide world of the Internet, there are thousand of Webcomics drawn by everyday people, chasing their dream of being professional cartoonists.
While these comics vary in quality, there are many that are as good or better than what's available through traditional methods.
One of my favorite Webcomics is "Extralife" (www.myextralife.com) drawn by Scott Johnson. Like many comics found online, "Extralife" tends to deal with the topics of video games, movies and geek culture in general - although he tends to branch out a lot more than many of his contemporaries.
"I like the chaos of the whole scene," Johnson said. "I spend a lot of time doing this, but don't really make a dime."
A Utahn born and bred, Johnson currently lives in the Provo area. But through his strip, he now has fans from around the country and overseas - including England, Russia and Australia. His strip is even translated into German, Spanish and other languages.
While in high school, he attended an art camp at USU. Here, a professor told him that if he were to draw for an hour everyday, he'd be able to achieve whatever level he was going for.
Johnson has obviously taken this advice to heart. In a world where most Web cartoonists try to cut corners by cutting and pasting every panel, Johnson hand draws every strip he creates, and by doing so, has created a style very unique. The humor is very well suited for his target audience, but he still throws in a more mainstream comic often enough to make it worth having everyone check it out once in a while.
A new strip appears every Monday, Wednesday and Friday along with an audio show that shows up usually on Tuesday, which is also worth giving a listen. Johnson is a Web guru himself and posts many of the links that spark his interest below his comic.
Despite being one of the more popular Web cartoonists online, Johnson encourages anyone with the love and commitment to give creating their own Webcomic a try.
"I look at Webcomics as a war to get your talent out there," Johnson said. "Get your stuff known, so hopefully you can move on to cooler things."
Such friendliness is not universal among Webcomic creators. Many of the most popular artists are constantly involved in childish feuds that are as entertaining as many of their comics.
One artist just getting his feet wet in the Webcomic ocean is Mike Parkinson, the creator of "Year One" (www.yearone.spiderspawn.com). Parkinson's creation follows the lives of famous comic book heroes such as Spiderman, Captain America and Wolverine as 6 year olds.
The premise alone is worth checking out. Some of the jokes require a deep understanding of comic books, but the lion's share, and the ones that are generally funnier, are easily understandable by anyone.
The drawings are a very traditional, fun, cartoon-y style. The strip appears every weekday, which allows for some longer stories without dragging on too long.
"It can be really grueling and stressful trying to keep on schedule - especially now that I've got a large audience," Parkinson said. "I just really strive not to let them down."
For most Webcartoonists, since what keeps them going is a love for what they do and respect for me as a fan, this really carries a lot of weight with me.
Both strips have links to some of my other favorite Webcomics. Check them out, it will be well worth your time.