Monday, July 31, 2006

Web Comics Have Seized Me!

I suspect I've always been a closet comic book fan.

When I was younger, I used to check out a dozen or so from the library every week or so. The problem was that our local library did not have a good selection; I usually wound up checking out the same issues of The Avengers or Archie over and over and over again. The other problem was that since they were basically kept in a big heap, making it pretty impossible to keep up on storylines.

Through the years, I've dabbled in comics every now and then. I subscribed to Star Trek: The Next Generation for a while until the writing of Michael Jan Friedman drove me away. I bought a series of Punisher, where the Punisher goes on a rampage throughout Europe (I can't seem to find these anymore). I also made sure to buy the issue where Superman died and I've even gone onto e-Bay to purchase the entire Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew series. That one might seem a little inexplicable, but they were comics I found in the library's heap and I had to see them again.

I'm also a big sucker for graphic novels now. 1602, The Watchmen, Superman: Red Son, The Runaways ... okay, I'll stop.

What I've gotten into in the past couple of weeks, though, are web comics. A friend of mine on Red vs. Blue clued me into the one that got me started (thanks, Swooper).

The first one is Dr. McNinja:

That's right. He's a doctor. And an Irish ninja. He's battled Ronald McDonald, a child who grew into Paul Bunyan, a group of pirates who kidnapped his family, and most recently, a man with such well-developed abs that he grew an organic jet-pack. Yes, you read that correctly. Dr. McNinja is truly bizarre and quickly got me hooked. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you can guarantee I'm checking the site to see if the newest page is up.

One day, while reading the latest page of Dr. McNinja, I noticed a banner for another web-comic, one named Stuff Sucks:

It piqued my curiousity, so I clicked and found myself in a comic written by Liz Greenfield. It's the story of Daniel who works in a record store. The plot got started a little slow, but soon I was enraptured as a con artist named Zemi made Daniel's life difficult by trying to steal the ring he bought for his girlfriend. Sounds like an odd premise for a comic? Maybe, but I check this one at the beginning of every week for new art.

And then, one day, I noticed a link at the bottom of Stuff Sucks that caught my attention. The name itself was enough for me to raise my eyebrows. I mean, Striptease?

Get your mind out of the gutter. It's not about that. Instead, it's the story of a guy named Max who draws a comic called "Neato-People". Last night, I decided to get caught up on the six years worth of back issues there was. Yes, it took me a while, but it was worth it.

The story was a little slow at first but things really picked up. Max falls in love with a girl from a rival comic company named Alli, who his editor and friend, Emily, doesn't approve of. Things get a little hairy as Alli's boss blackmails her into stealing Issue #2 of Neato-People. Things just get more convoluted from there as more and more people come out of Max's past, which only complicates the on-going rivalry he's developed with an evil comic book writer. When we last left our heroes, they were trying to rescue their Goth friend from the Cage of Apathy in a fetish night club. Yes, you read that correctly too.

Striptease is a bit more adult than the other two but the stories are so engrossing, I really didn't mind. Sure, they're not that realistic (pay attention to the storylines that deal with Alli's evil twin sister, Naomi, and you'll see what I mean), but the relationship between Max and Alli will keep me coming back. Only problem: the writer/artist who does this one has to take the summer off to work in a caricature booth in an amusment park and doesn't have the time to really update it. That's okay. I can wait.

I'm sure I'll stumble across more as I go, but it's kind of fun to let my inner comic book guy out once in a while.

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