Thursday, January 10, 2013

Random: What Have I Been Doing (Webcomics, Shameful Pop Music)
Context to the the song comes later in the post. I like it, and I like their recent album. Freak Like Me is also great, as is Daughters of Darkness.

So, I've suddenly dried up actively posting. Well, big reason is that I finally ran out of Avatar World stuff from my trip. Turns out that now that I have the major pieces, I'm basically just waiting for inspiration to hit.

Another thing is that my class is kicking my ass. After the trip recent my sleep schedule, I'm getting actual proper amounts of sleep now, but I'm getting tired more and more which sucks. This class has a lot of very trying reading, and is draining the hell out of me. The stuff I'm writing is also not quite interesting enough to post as Schoolwork (not that I WON'T if I really run out of stuff).

Third? Well, this one's my fault. You can blame me for this. And that's that I've wasted the past three or four days doing nothing but re-reading the ENTIRE archive of webcomics that David Willis has created. If you don't know him, David Willis currently writes the webcomics Shortpacked! and Dumbing of Age. Shortpacked! is a continuation of the universe of his previous trio of webcomics, Roomies, It's Walky!, and Joyce & Walky (which is mostly paid subscription content so I haven't read it). He has been writing webcomics on a regular schedule (sometimes MWF, sometimes 5 days a week) since 1997. And some of that time, in fact, a LOT of that time now, has had mutliple comics running at once. So hold on - 13 years of R/IW/J&W (those didn't ever have overlapping updates really), 8 years of Shortpacked!, and two and a half years of Dumbing of Age. In the past ~5 days, I've read 23 years of webcomics.
I'm fucking insane.

I'm just gonna keep typing though, this post isn't really important anyway. Willis's comics attract me for a few reasons. I'll note that none of the comics I've listed here are actually my favorite webcomic, which would be Jeph Jacques's Questionable Content, which is hilarious. Anyway, each of Willis's comics is slightly different, but Roomies went directly into It's Walky, which when it concluded split in two directions - Joyce & Walky, following the biggest players from IW, and Shortpacked!, which is an unbelievably different comic from the others in its tone and subject matter, but it does still follow from the continuity and features a couple characters from IW. Dumbing of Age is a comic featuring what is essentially alternate reality versions of all the same characters, but it's college. Seriously, it's the same characters, it's fuckin' weird, but I like it. Anyway, after that pile of summary, Roomies doesn't interest me too much. There's one storyline that was very real though. In general, it isn't exactly well-done, and Willis says the same. It's Walky is my favorite I think - I'll come back to that. All three others have a slice-of-life style, and while I haven't read J&W, Shortpacked! is my least favorite of 'em, mostly for the fact that most of it is just jokes about Willis's big nerd passions, Transformers and Batman. There's good stuff and it's well written, but the current storyline interests me more than most in recent memory mostly cuz it's featuring a pile of the former It's Walky characters. I started reading DoA when I got into university, approximately. It was kinda identifiable - kinda. Of course, I'm now a year and a half in and Willis is a couple weeks into freshman year. Features just about everyone Willis has ever generated in the other universe, most with personalities intact (though not always). It's way better written than Roomies was though.
Back to It's Walky. The big draw here is the one that I rarely see in webcomics: this was a comic that had an overarching plot arc, and when all was said and done, the comic ended. Too many webcomics display the symptoms of an out-of-control D&D game or a TV show that's outstayed its welcome - it just keeps tacking on bits to extend itself or doesn't have an overarching plot at all. IW broke my expectations and told a good, drawn out story that lasted, well, about 5 years overall, but it was a densely-updated 5 years. Characters died for realz (well, true-death apparently means very little to the Shortpacked! side of things), and there was actual growth. I'd totally watch that movie line. Also I notice I actually just typed "for realz" and didn't do it ironically. >:/ Turns out when you stuff 20 years of comics into a week and one of your favorite characters has a speech quirk, it sticks in your head for a bit. But my basic point is it felt like it WENT places.

Here's a series that's doing exactly what I think is good with webcomics, despite not being an active reader: Homestuck.
Yeah, I said Homestuck.
I don't read it. Well, not actively. Its backlog is frustrating to move through - with the way Hussie does that strip my computer inevitably starts struggling after a full day of reading and I can never bring myself to keep going the next day. But I bring up Homestuck for two reasons, one related to IW and one not.
The related reason is that Homestuck is a self-contained story. It has an overarching plot, and is now nearing its completion (as he said in his Kickstarter). This is decidedly a good thing. Actually, if it ends this year, it will ALSO have lasted four years - apparently a decent length for telling one of these contained stories. Homestuck's is wildly different from IW, and I do love that.
The other reason is something that IW was effectively incapable of, and that's that Homestuck is a true WEBcomic. What do I mean by that? It takes advantage of things that other mediums cannot - Homestuck would be literally impossible as a not-web comic. Most webcomics are really just comic strips that happen to be posted on the web, hence why most of the big ones publish print books. Homestuck is animated, incorporates sound, sometimes is fully interactable, and is, as a whole, 100% dedicated to being a true web comic. I'll grant tat Jeph Jacques has also recently been doing some stuff with making QC occasionally have gifs in 'em (this is just speculation, but Jeph's been paired up with Hussie at some cons in the past couple years...). They're hilarious actually. But Homestuck is a pioneer of a true webcomic, and I hope to see more follow in those footsteps in the future.

So, I've gone off and rambled about webcomics for a while now. Time for me to admit something:
I have no idea what it is, but for some reason David Willis's comics make me want to listen to the radio. And this is a seriously bad thing, because when I listen to the radio, I start binging on really REALLY shitty pop music. Like, I know how bad it is. But I just can't help it. My first archive trawl, some year and a half ago, ended up downloading Call Me Maybe, and a song by Nicki Minaj. Nicki. Fucking. Minaj. Hell, just by admitting that I should just turn in my indie card. It came up with good stuff too - I came out with Donna Lewis's I Love You Always Forever, which I still actively listen to (and I kinda have a mental association between it and DoA - I don't ship characters, except for the very few cases when I do. Like Walky/Dorothy).
This time was no different. I got some good stuff out of it! In the radio-pop lottery I managed to pull out Halestorm's I Miss The Misery, and I've actually gone and downloaded that whole album now. She reminds me of what would happen if you took Paramore and crossed it with Lacuna Coil. I won't apologize for liking that one. The impression I get off the song makes me think of Sal when she nearly went crazy with the Power Booster Rod.
I WILL apologize for the...I'm having a hard time even typing it... Ke$ha song. Fine. I'm sorry, I'm a shitty hipster. Back when I started getting sucked into pop music from time to time (started with a couple of Lady Gaga songs - Starstruck is remarkably not-pop-like), I validated myself and prided myself on not being sucked into real shit like Ke$ha. Welp, it lasted a couple years I guess... And no, I'm quite comfortable enough with it yet to share what song it was.
In general, this trawl's been a mixed bag as far as music goes. I managed to re-pull a genuinely good song that people WON'T give me sideways glances for liking - Boston's More Than A Feeling. I had this downloaded in the past and a file mishap resulted in it getting deleted and I didn't notice. I also got Little Talks by Of Monsters And Men out of this time through - that one's definitely pop, but I like it.
The Rihanna song I downloaded at the same time I've actually been meaning to download for like 3 weeks now :/ I'll admit, while most pop artists I can be suckered into enjoying a song or two, Rihanna's pretty decent on the whole. Wait, why am I talking about this one, I could've left her off the list cuz I found the song through other means...

Honestly, I know it's stupid and petty. Music is music, and you like what you like, and you shouldn't feel shame over liking something. But I kinda built up a pseudo-indie/hipster (I don't know - I happen to believe the distinction between the two is one made by other people base on how you go about your hobby) identity not just to other people, but to myself as well. Oh well. Who cares, I'm enjoying myself, and now I'm outing myself about it to the whole fuckin' internet if I don't chicken out and delete this post.

Morals of the story:
* Webcomics are awesome, and are extra-awesome if they're real storytelling (as opposed to neverending continuation) or if they take advantage of the unique opportunities of working on the internet.
* David Willis is a comic drawing machine. It's ridiculous.
* Turns out pop music can be okay from time to time, even the stuff you swear you hate cuz it's popular to hate it. (p.s. my new worst-possible-low is now Justin Bieber, let us hope either his music improves or I never have to break that one)
* Like what you like, fuck the cool-to-hate crowd.

* Write real blog posts at a decent enough clip to not have to resort to rambling off-note posts like this one.

What's coming in the future? Well, I'm gonna finish Historical Songaday once we hit the day I left off in December, it's just easier when it syncs up. I'm gonna write up the Technicolor Dreams AP posts, and presumably Apoclalypse World sessions 3 and 4, eventually. I'm gonna write a couple more reviews. I'm gonna write a post with my Academy Award predictions, like, today or tomorrow (p.s. the answer to all of them is "fuck the Academy, not a single Looper nomination?"). I'll keep up with Avatar World at the next inspiration-strike. If that's not right away, I'm gonna do a separate post to chit-chat about Abyss, this game being written by a kid of Story Games. It's pretty sweet, I've been giving a lot of feedback, and I want to give it attention. S-G has paid me back in huge ways before, so maybe I can try returnin' the favor. Go check it out, and I'll talk more about it some other time.

Oh, and in one week from today it's gonna be the 1-year anniversary of the rebooted Logbook Project. I love you all for tolerating my shit for a year and making me feel like freaking rock star month after month.

End Recording,

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