Friday, July 20, 2007

Quick Bits: Girl Genius

Two years ago, Phil and Kaja Foglio took their quarterly gaslamp fantasy comic, Girl Genius, and jumped into the world of webcomickry. Rather than make old readers wait in the middle of the story while the archives caught up or make new readers go out and buy a bunch of back issues for a story they'd never read before, they opted to make two strips - "Girl Genius 101", which republished the old story one page at a time, three days a week, and "The Advanced Class", which featured all new comics, also three days a week.

Well, as of today, the 101 has caught up with the new story - every page of Girl Genius is now online for your viewing pleasure.

What are you doing still here? Go read!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fallen Daughter: The Death of Wonderella: Some Civics Major

Internet culture is all about the NOW. Things move fast here, on the series of tubes. It is not a big truck, trundling slowly down the highway, stopping here and there to make deliveries or pick up cargo. Hence, this monumental strip, published a full month ago, is practically last year in Internet Time.

Today, Gentle Reader, we ask you to see Robot Pirate Reads Comics as a time machine, transporting you all the way back to mid-June.

Why do we treat the space-time continuum thusly? For you. This highly sought-after edition, which broke the Internet in half, represented a major change in the status quo and the biggest genie to be put back in the bottle. After this, nothing was the same. The DEATH of Wonderella will surely be a vital investment for your long, box-like portfolio.

Behold! Wonderella is fallen - felled by a gunshot from a mysterious assailant! Who killed her? How did it happen? And how will we survive ... a world without a Wonderella?

But fear not! Four stalwart heroes arise to take up the Wonder-mantle ... but which is worthy? Wonderella's sidekick Wonderita? Her mother and original Wonderella, Titania? Her arch enemy, Hitlerella? John Henry Irons in a wig?

Could it be that one of these new Wonderellas is, in truth, a villain, seeking to sully her good name as part of a nefarious scheme? But who could it be? The answer will shock you!

You dare not miss this one! And if you did, for God's sake, track down your nearest speculator and pay double, if not triple, cover price! Or wait another couple of weeks for the second printing, with a variant red cover! Trust us, it's worth it!

Oh, wait, never mind. Wonderella isn't dead after all. It was just some civics major.

The Non-Adventures of Wonderella
Writer and Artist:
Justin Pierce

(Comic image is © 2007 Justin Pierce. Used without permission)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Deal With It

Cross-posted from my LiveJournal

Exactly two weeks ago I wrote this.

Today I read this.

Below is my mature and well-reasoned response.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Jam With Jinxlets

Cirbozoid has fallen! Its inhabitants have almost been annihilated! How will the friendly insect-people survive?

Well, it starts with a horde of cuddlebugs.

I must confess, I’m not that interested in the over-arching “metastory” behind Starslip Crisis. I read the strip mostly for the character interaction, which is excellent. Fortunately, Kristopher Straub tends to advance the overall story very slowly - usually introducing events so his characters can react to them (and each other). Starslip Crisis is, after all, a humor strip with elements of space opera rather than the other way around, and it really works.

Case in point - as part Lord Katarakis' plan for galactic domination, the evil warlord has conquered Cirbozoid, homeworld of the Cirbozoid, and is busily seeking to exterminate their race. With a population of only 257, the Cirbozoid must begin the Glorysong to quickly raise an army to defend their planet.

Unfortunately for Mr. Jinx and the Fuseli, the Glorysong affects all Cirbozoids, even those lightyears away.

One of the reasons I like this storyline is the insanely complex Cirbozoid biology. It's enough of a recurring gag that two different Starslip Crisis books include a Cirbozoid anatomy lesson.

In this particular instance, the Cirbozoid Glorysong induces all Cirbozoid to begin reproducing. A lot. Three cargo holds' worth, in Jinx's case. And he's not going to stop reproducing until he gets some Cirbozoid Jelly. The jelly has three uses, actually - stopping the Glorysong, inducing the pupae's metamorphosis, and making for a marvelous duck comfit.

Which leads us to the other reason I like this storyline - the way the characters respond. Jinx, as ever, is the perennial straight man - the Kif Kroker of this universe, although less pathetic - nothing phases him, not continuously spawning hundreds of larval soldiers, nor the consternation of his crewmates. Cutter, as ever, tries to take it all in stride, but the real humor comes from Memnon Vanderbeam, the Fuseli's curator. Despite his attempts to portray himself as an unflappable man of culture, Vanderbeam is quite flappable ... quite flappable indeed.

Vanderbeam's reacted to Jinx's dilemma in the manner with which we are accustomed - dismissing the problem and then overreacting. Of course, deep down Vanderbeam's still a decent fellow, so he arranges to solve Jinx's problem. Unfortunately, Vanderbeam's disinterest in Cirbozoid biology only leads to a new problem.

Still, Vanderbeam's big enough to admit he's wrong this time. Granted, it's because everyone's life is in danger, but still. It's the thought that counts.

While the situation with the Cirbozoid soldier is swiftly (with a very funny anticlimax), I don't think this storyline's over just yet. After all, there's still three cargo holds full of Jinxlets to deal with (and I get the funny feeling Vanderbeam's going to keep his. If he can identify which one it is).

Although that might not be the best idea.

Starslip Crisis
Writer and Artist: Kristopher Straub

Comic images are © 2007 Krisopher Straub. Used without permission

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm Deeply Embarassed I Didn't Recognize That Bridge

You can take her job, you can take her crush, but you can't take the sky from her.

Punch an' Pie, the sequel to Aeire's very popular Queen of Wands*, is consistently funny, but this week's strips really made me laugh. It's a fandom thing.

Punch an' Pie started off fairly slowly - reintroducing us to Angela, a supporting character from QoW who's the protagonist of this strip, and introducing us to her
girlfriend, Heather. We re-met Dawna and the other employees at the toy store where Angel a worked, and we got a sense of how Angela and Heather live (and how Angela's been getting along since QoW's ending). It's been consistently light-hearted, but not really going anywhere. In other words, establishing normalcy.

That changed just under a month ago, when Dawna announced the toy store was being shut down. That's a pretty major shake-up for this strip - not only within the text (as Angela's been working at the toy store for nearly a decade - as she says, it's the only job she's ever had) but for the readers. Those who've read QoW met Angela at the toy store - with that shut down, one of the major links to the previous strip is gone. I'm not sure what's going to happen with the other employees - Justin and Linda probably won't be wherever Angela ends up working. This isn't a high school sitcom, after all - everyone's not going to end up at California U. (or the ret
ail equivalent).

So, how's Angela taking all this?

Well, she just woke up aboard Serenity.

Generally speaking, the Alternate Universe Dream Sequence trope, when placing the characters within another established setting, only works if the audience is familiar with whatever property is being emulated. Since we love Firefly in this house, I'm all over this. It's still slightly risky, as Firefly doesn't have as large a base as, say, Star Trek or Buffy, but to be perfectly honest, if you haven't watched Firefly you are everything that is wrong with the world.

I mean that in the nicest way possible.

There are two things I really like about today's strip. One is who Angela's subbing for. Generally in this trope, you see female characters swapped for other female characters and vice versa. Angela, on the other hand, is taking Wash's place. That's different, and I like it (and it's really the most appropriate character for Angela to be). I'm idly wondering whether we'll see Zoe swapped for Heather (or, to really complicate things, Kestrel) but I doubt it. Mal and Jayne are still Mal and Jayne, so I expect the rest of the cast will remain the same.

The other thing I like is the last panel. After being chewed out by Mal and crudely propositioned by Jayne, Angela reacts ... with an expression of goofy joy.

Yeah, that's a fan.

Punch an' Pie
Writer: Aeire
Artist: Chris Daily

* The link leads to QoW's first strip rather than most recent because ... well, 'cause it's over and I don't want to spoil the ending.

Q: Will, haven't you already spoiled a good bit of Punch an' Pie?
A: Shut it.

Comic images are © 2007 Chris Daily and Aeire. Used without permission

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Obligatory Introduction

Welcome to Robot Pirate Reads Comics, because there weren't enough comic-based blogs on the Internetron.

The program here is pretty simple - at least three times a week, I'll talk about comics. Some will be web-based, some will be print. Some will be new releases, some will be from my longbox. Some will be floppies, some will be trades.

Also, sometimes I'll talk about things in the industry as a whole. Usually when they annoy me.

And, that's really about it.