Girls With Slingshots: A Remembrance

Danielle Corsetto

Danielle Corsetto

So today, one of my favorite webcomics–and one of the most prominent webcomics of the last decade–ended. At 2008 strips, the decade-and-plus-old Girls With Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto ended this morning. If you’ve never heard of it, I’d highly recommend it. It’s a smart, knowing and incisive comic about a group of adults and the trials of life. The title characters (who, to disabuse you of any notions, never use slingshots) are Hazel, a bitter, booze-loving writer and her best friend, the fun and compassionate Jamie. I should warn, though, if you’re averse to this kind of thing, the strip deals with sex and sexuality quite frankly, honestly and openly. If you’re not turned off by that, you can start reading here.

I discovered GWS (to use the common acronym) my sophomore year of college which was great in some ways (a stable circle of friends, employment, my discovery of Adventure Time) and really hard in others (a very tough foreign language class, jerk bosses). Because of all the stress of that year, I was seeking out and consuming webcomics like peanuts. At my peak, I was keeping up with something like 45 comics (55-60 if you count all the newspaper comics I was reading online).

I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that GWS kinda broadened my horizons. When you’re raised in a Christian bubble and surrounded by conservatism, you tend to not know a lot about how the average person works, lives and loves. GWS taught me about that and a whole lot more. For that, I’m grateful.

The things I admired the most about the strip were its broad and endearing cast of characters (such as McPedro, the talking, mustachioed cactus), its commitment to diversity and inclusion, its slight but fun satire of the writing world, Corsetto’s gorgeous, ever-improving artwork and her respect for the comics medium while also taking it to new territory,

In a 2011 interview with The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg (although then she was at ThinkProgress), Corsetto mentioned that she drew inspiration from syndicated strips like Zits or Luann or Foxtrot. That influence was always telling: most of the strips were the standard 4 panels and, aside from the subject matter, a lot of the pacing would have been perfect in a newspaper format.

The photo at the top of this article is Corsetto herself from when I met her at San Diego Comic-Con last summer. I know I never blogged about it or posted my pictures, and that’s my fault. But I figured I should share that photo and tell you the story of how I met Ms. Corsetto,

This was on Sunday, the last day of Comic-Con and I was running around Artists’ Alley, trying to meet and/or buy stuff from all my favorite webcomics people who were there (I bought a Dark of the Moon-era Decepticon toy just so David Willis could sign it). Corsetto, at the time, was in the middle of a nationwide tour she did last summer to celebrate GWS’ 10th anniversary. She had mentioned online that she’d be in San Diego that weekend, and I was lucky enough to catch her in the brief window of time she was at the booth for Topataco (which puts out her books and that of several other creators).

I didn’t have any money to buy anything from her, but we talked briefly, mostly about how awesome the current run of guest strips by Molly “Jakface” Němeček was (they were indeed awesome and you can read Molly’s awesome webcomic Woo Hoo! here). I remember her being really nice, although obviously frazzled. Given how crazy Comic-Con is in general and how busy she herself was, the fact that she was so approachable was really heartwarming.

It’s not as if Corsetto’s going away anytime soon, thankfully. Next month, Graybles Schmables, her third entry in the line of Adventure Time Original Graphic Novels put out by BOOM! and drawn by Bridget Underwood comes out. And on Monday, GWS will be rerun from the beginning with brand-new coloring (by Corsetto’s talented colorist, Laeloo) and commentary. In addition, Corsetto has also teased some new projects. I’ll keep following her on Twitter and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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Webcomics You Should Be Reading: Part 5

Boy, it’s been a LONG while since we’ve done one of these, huh?

Well, for the uninitiated, this is a series of posts where I basically talk about awesome webcomics and tell you to read them. Today, in honor of the completely independent documentary film STRIPPED–a film about the famous print cartoonists of today and yesterday and the webcartoonists of the future, and where the two must meet as newspapers die–hitting No. 1 on iTunes the first day of its release (which is unheard of, as far as I know), I’d like to talk to you about the two webcomics done by the film’s co-director and co-writer Dave Kellett, Sheldon and Drive.

(not actual logo but whatever)

I’ll talk about Sheldon first, since that’s Kellett’s primary source of income (of the rarefied group of webcartoonists able to live solely off of their work, he’s at the top) and also the first true webcomic I ever got into. I’ve been following it for so long, sometimes I’m unsure of how I got into it.

Sheldon is a 5-day-a-week humor strip about the title character, a 10-year old genius who makes billions off of his own software company, Sheldonsoft. He lives with his grandpa–just called Gramp–who’s retired but still lives a full life…of watching TV and being addicted to coffee. There’s also the strip’s breakout character, Arthur, a duck who learned to talk when Sheldon downloaded both an encyclopedia and speech-recognition software into his head, his lizard son Flaco–who hatched out of an egg Arthur found and was compelled to sit on–who doesn’t really speak but has some pretty awesome adventures, and the family pug, Oso, who barks a lot but is just as dumb as any other dog. There’s a few more characters, but these 5 are the main ones.

(sheldoncomics.com)

The strip is one of the longer-running webcomics out there, having been around since November 2001. It’s a constant delight due to its delightful sense of humor, Kellett’s wonderful, simple artwork, and a tone that recalls the best newspaper strips of past and present (which makes sense, as Kellett originally developed the strip to sell to syndicators).

While Sheldon has continuity and tends to make topical references, you can really start from anywhere you want, but the beginning is still pretty helpful.

Several years into Sheldon‘s run, Kellett, a lifelong nerd–as many strips demonstrate–began running a serialized sci-fi strip on aturdays, which, after it took off, eventually moved to its own site.

DRIVE 1: A Hero Rises

Drive, which, because it’s a personal project, updates sporadically, takes place in a world where a second Spanish empire rose in the 23rd Century after a man singlehandedly reverse-engineered the technology of an alien race known as the “Continuum of Makers,” which enabled him to discover a starship drive that enabled faster-than-light travel, empowering humans to fly throughout the galaxy.

In the present day, on a prison moon, an alien of unknown origin wakes up with amnesia, not knowing who he is, with his only friend being Nosh (the big guy up there), a member of the peaceful, giant race known as the Veetan who learned to speak English when stuck in Moscow for six years. The crew of Nosh’s ship, the tiny scout ship Machito, led by Captain Taneel (hehe) arrives and bails them out through blowing a hole in the prison and destroying the records facility. This upsets the small creature, as the prison records were the only chance he had of learning his name and species.

The crew takes him on, and he’s christened Skitter, after the noise he makes when running. It’s also discovered that, through his antennae, Skinner can sense gravity waves and pilot a ship through the “pinched space” created when the mysterious starship drive is used better than anyone has ever seen. Press-ganged by the decrepit Emperor into finding the rest of Skitter’s race, the crew journeys throughout time and space to save the Empire for a guy they don’t really like.

Being done entirely in bluescale, like Darwyn Cooke’s great Parker graphic novels, helps Drive stand out, in addition to the obvious worldbuilding Kellett clearly relishes in; several pages are taken up by encyclopedia pages describing the various alien races encountered. Not only that, the characters are compelling, the story is interesting, and the pacing is well-done, giving this strip the feel of a particularly out-there bent of Star Trek. The beginning is available here, and you can easily catch up.

Due to Kellett’s heavy involvement in STRIPPED, both strips have been on hiatus for a LONG time, with only Sheldon updating periodically. Thankfully, this is due to resolve soon, hopefully. In the meantime, check out both strips; you’ll be glad you did!

 

Webcomics…in print!

I did something a little bit differently for Cyber Monday this year; rather than giving my money just to Amazon, I figured since I subscribe to 21 webcomics, I should throw some of my money their way for all the free laughs and awesomeness they give me every day.

Luckily, a lot of webcomic people offered some pretty great deals. The two I took advantage of were the 10% off David Willis–who I’ve talked about before–offered at his store; I bought the first collection of Dumbing of Age, my current favorite webcomic and Dave Kellett, author of the hilarious humor strip Sheldon and the sci-fi epic Drive, who I can’t believe I haven’t even mentioned yet, who offered the seventh print collection of Sheldon for $1! It’s such a good deal, it’s almost criminal.

Both of these books arrived yesterday and I’m really happy with my purchase; sure, all these strips are free on the web, but seeing them and rereading them in print does add a little something, believe it or not.

Image of Dumbing of Age Book 1 (Credit: Dave Kellett/David Willis. Will be replaced with actual photos soon)

Little extra bit of awesome: found out a few minutes ago before writing this post that the Sheldon book is actually AUTOGRAPHED; how awesome is that?!?

I will show you a photo of that autograph as soon as my webcam decides to work for me…

The Monster Alphabet–Book Review

The Monster Alphabet

I received this image of a Faerie as a postcard, which is why you’re seeing it.

The Monster Alphabet is a 26-page board book by Derron Gendron & Obsidian Abnormal, the team behind the very funny webcomic Hello With Cheese, which I will talk about in a future Webcomics You Should Be Reading post. Yeah, it’s an alphabet board book for little kids, but with each letter represented by a different mythological creature. B is for Basilisk, F is for Faerie and so on. It’s a wonderful little book that includes a neat rhyme, facts about the creatures and a great illustration on each page.

My friend turned me on to Dern & O, as they’re known, a couple years ago, and they’re probably my favorite webcomics team out there. Dern’s jokes–and blog posts–are always entertaining and funny while O’s art, as you can see above (as well as his own webcomic Commissioned), is a great thing to behold.

I actually contributed to the book’s making through its Kickstarter page, chipping in at the $12 level, which not only got me the above image as a postcard, but also…

The physical book itself

 

 

A slipcase, which I didn’t even know it would have until it came in the mail.

This really sweet and wonderful poster; sorry for the crappy shot

There’s also a bookmark of 2 images from the book–which I’ll add here at some point–as well as a PDF of the book that I got a month or so after the Kickstarter wrapped.

All this sweet, geeky fun for $12? Yeah, that’s pretty awesome. See you Wednesday!