Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Archive for January 16, 2010

Webcomics You Should Be Reading

Did you know that comics don’t just come on paper? Yeah, it’s true. There’s this thing called the internet that allows for people to publish their content independent of any major publishing house. It’s also full of porn and illegally transferred music and movies, but that mostly gets overshadowed by the porn.

But back to the webcomics thing. There are TONS of them out there. I can’t even begin to craft a joke regarding exactly how many webcomics there are on the net. Webcomics that tackle anime, webcomics that tackle videogaming, webcomics that tackle webcomics tackling videogames, etc., etc.

I’m pretty sure everybody who has happened upon this blog reads at least one webcomic. And everyone has at least heard of Penny Arcade, considering those guys are to webcomics what Christianity is to organized religion, except with a lot less holy wars waged in the middle east. But what about the other webcomics, the ones that don’t have their own conventions in Seattle and whatnot?

I’ve decided to make a list of some of my favorites, that hopefully I can get you to read and enjoy as much as I do. I hope those guys can handle the traffic from the one or two people reading this blog flooding their servers! OH HEAVENS! ITS AN OOOOOVERLOAD!

SHORTPACKED

Optimus Wiki

You know those people who obsessed over the details of the Transformers movie and bitched at Michael Bay for turning Bumblebee into a Camero instead of keeping him a VW Bug? You know those people who are in their late twenties and still go to Target and buy an entire wave of figures sticking their tongue out at the child who really wanted that last Batman? Imagine if that person was the lead character in a web comic where he worked in a toy store with several other odd charatcers including a goatee’d white ninja, Ronald Reagan, and a Machiavellian overlord of a boss.

That’s Shortpacked, my friends, and it’s hilarious. One of the things that I love about this strip is that it builds on the developments that have come before and you can really grow attached to certain characters, the way one might while watching a TV show or reading a long running comic series. It’s a strip where you care about what came before and what will happen next. It’s one of the strongest continuity-based webcomics on the net, and I cannot recommend it enough if you have any interest in comics, toys, pop culture, or strong characterization.

Mocktopus Comics

I Don't KNOW!!!!How would you like a nice big serving of “WTF”? Mocktopus Comics is a crazy rambling clusterbang of a comic and it’s oftentimes more hilarious than one would imagine. It’s the kind of non-sequitur insanity that just leaps off the page and begs you to scoll through the archives looking for more buried gems. (I personally love the “Hobo Stomp” rap song, and God’s reaction to it.)

Joe Loves Crappy Movies

Yoooo JOE!

This one is for those who like a cartoon to come with their movie reviews. There are recurring characters and some continuity, but mostly it’s straightforward and the strips are more about the punchline than the people delivering them. There are also some recurring gags which work better if you start at the earliest comics and work your way up, but it’s not entirely essential. The update schedule seems completely random at times, but it’s usually worth the wait.

Cyanide and Happiness

CYANIDE! SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE![/hetfield]

This shit is like processed nihilism injected with sarcasm-juice. Some of the funniest stuff I have ever seen on the web and totally worth your time to go through the entire archive. Started while the creator was only 16, it has never lost its sense of utter insanity and crippling wit. The drawing is rudimentary, but that only serves to make the dialogue only more hilarious. Simplicity breeds a greater understanding of the work for its true merits and it’s easy to see why the comic is still going years after its inception.

PVP

Re-TARDIS-ed

What could be described as Penny Arcade’s distant cousin. They both started out as comics about video games but both took widely divergent paths. PVP has always been more about the characters’ arcs and less about the joke. A lot of this stems from creator Scott Kurtz’ undying love and admiration for the work of people like Jim Davis and Chuck Shulz. PVP is a great comic that has run for over 10 years, seen print runs through Image comics and drawn guest artists like Frank Cho and even Neal Adams.

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

NINJA! NINJA! RAP! NINJA! NINJA! RAP!

I cannot possibly explain how amazing this comic is. Just go read it. It’s fantastic.

***

That’s it for the first installment. There are tons of other webcomics, like I previously mentioned, that I’ll hopefully cover in a followup. But these should be enough to get you started. Feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions that you feel need to make it into the next posting.


Film Review : The Book of Eli

HEY LOOK! It's my face...

I’ve read a single negative review for “The Book of Eli” and its main contention was that the movie was a failure because it wasn’t an overtly bleak and pseudo-artistic piece of Oscar-bait like John Hillcoat’s adaptation of “THE ROAD.” Maybe it’s just me, but downplaying a movie because it doesn’t follow the same pattern of another film with similar themes seems like ass-backward logic.When you start judging movies on what you wanted them to be other than what they are, and more importantly, what they set out to do in the first place, you set yourself up for disappointment.

You have to look at “The Book of Eli” more in line with movies like “Mad Max” or “Escape from New York.” It’s all about being immersed in the world that’s presented and going on a journey with the characters inside. And the characters presented here are painted with very broad strokes. This is not a film about subtle nuances. While Eli’s masterful sword strokes are calculated and precise, the rest of the film owes to towering chaos. While Denzel does a great job playing Eli with a soft-spoken demeanor and smoldering intensity of a wandering apocalyptic samurai, Gary Oldman’s villain Carnegie tells us all we need to know about the film; chewing scenery and going big with his performance in such a manner that the character becomes the polar opposite of Eli in every way from intent, to demeanor, to action.

This movie owes a great deal to movies like “The Road Warrior.” It is a pure genre film complete with many of the tropes and schemes therein and it does not deviate too heavily. The action is bloody, the characters are cut from classic stock, and the film does not aspire to be “high art.” However, as with most genre movies, like “Road Warrior” or “Escape from New York,” the film does have an undercurrent of social commentary. I assume everybody knows what the “book” is but if you don’t, spoilers begin here.

***SPOILER WARNING***

The book is the last bible on Earth, all other copies having been destroyed after a conflict supposedly spiraling out of religious conflict. The film chooses to play with the concept of abuse of religion as it relates to creating and amassing power as well as what measure of control religion has over the minds of the desperate. Eli views himself as the righteous man trying to get the book where it can do the most good, whereas Oldman wishes to use it to consolidate his own power. The major thought pattern that I took away from the film is that those who wish to use the word of God in a manner keeping with its teachings often do not know how to do such a thing and there will always be those who wish to exploit religion for their own gain, publicly appearing to be the righteous man and only revealing his true nature to those who he relies on to further his agenda.

Oldman is akin to modern day preachers who use the word of God to spread hatespeech and stroke their own ego. It would not be surprising, had they given any backstory on the character, to find out that he was at one point one of these types before everything went all bleak and ashy.

So while the movie is not a snooty art-picture, it does maintain a level of social-commentary that genre films like these need to stay afloat.

***END SPOILERS***

Taking the movie for what it wants to be, it is in very good company. It accomplishes most of what it wants to do, and fully entertains throughout the duration. The only negatives I can attribute to the film come in the form of Mila Kunis, who is simply to pretty and well kept to show up in a film like this, and a somewhat uneven bit of structure to the action beats.

All things considered, it’s still well worth a viewing, and I certainly plan to revisit the film once it hits home video.

RATING : 7/10