Monday, January 31, 2011

Internet Funnies

Currently I'm sitting in my living room waiting for three things: for the washing machine to finish its current cycle (which is a post in its own right that I may cover sometime), for my husband to finish uploading my contribution to the author interview video for the BC in DC BookCrossing Convention (which he's doing while I stew about how much I hate my voice), and for an updated weather forecast, since currently we're being held hostage by the fact that a blizzard may or may not be striking us sometime within the next 48 hours.

I'm amusing myself while I do all this waiting by going on an archive binge of a webcomic to which a new acquaintance has introduced me, and that in turn led me to the decision to do today's blog post about some of my favorite webcomics. I would personally love to do a webcomic; I think they're neat and a wonderful opportunity for creativity. Unfortunately, I can't draw anything more complicated than stick figures, and there's already a market on that.

You might think I'm joking, but I'm not. Odds are that if you're enough of a nerd to get the humor I usually employ in this blog, you're already at least familiar with xkcd, "a webcomics of romance, sarcasm, math and language." All the characters are stick figures. There are only a few recurring characters, the most famous being 'the guy with the hat' and his psychotic girlfriend. The artist, Randall Monroe, has an actual physics degree, which means that the science jokes he makes are correct (and sometimes beyond the ken of mere mortals). Past strips have included references to many things which are relevant to my own interests, including LiveJournal, alternate weaponry, and The Princess Bride. Warning: the language is sometimes not safe for work/children/small dogs/household appliances.

The first webcomic I started following with any sort of regularity was Something Positive, which probably doesn't require an introduction. For the sake of anyone who does require one, it's the usually-funny, sometimes-serious exploits of a Texas native called Davan and his exceptionally quirky circle of friends. This one will take you a very long time if you decide to go back and start at the beginning, and there are a lot of timeskips. Not only does the strip sometimes go back and reference the childhood of Davan and his oldest friend Aubrey, but it also occasionally makes side trips to the 1930s, showing scenes from the life of one of his relatives. I won't link to any strips because very few of them stand alone (as opposed to xkcd, where almost every strip stands alone), but subjects covered by artist Randy Milholland have included marriage, adoption, the death of a beloved character, religious intolerance, and murder. It's a hodgepodge of funny and thought-provoking, and not really for the faint of heart or the young.

My favorite webcomic, of course, is the one where I know the people who make it -- Catena, by my friends Tracy and DeBray Bailey. You might be a little wary of the premise; a handful of anthropomorphic cats, with very distinct personalities, all live under one roof and more or less drive each other crazy. It's better than I make it sound. There are a ton of nerdy references to be found within, such as this one, which manages to reference a film, a graphic novel, and a piece of classic literature all at the same time. It's also occasionally peppered with delightfully lame puns. Along with the feline inhabitants of the manor, the strip features the dog next door, a tarantula bent on world domination, a pair of angels, and the Grim Reaper.

No, I'm not joking, why would you even ask that?

To bring the entry back full circle, the strip of which I've been devouring the archives is called, simply, Retail. Written by former retail employee Norm Feuti, it chronicles the misadventures of a trio of department store workers -- Marla the assistant manager, Val the section supervisor, and Cooper the stockboy -- as they deal with corporate policies, an inept boss, cranky coworkers, and even crankier customers. It's funny and sad at the same time. It also has a grain of sweetness; Cooper has a crush on Val, and meanwhile he and Marla have this really nice brother-sister thing going on. If you enjoy reading things like Not Always Right, you'll almost certainly enjoy Retail.


  1. I've read a couple of these and LOVE them! :)


  2. Aww, shucks. XD Thanks, Laura.

    And thanks for introducing me to "Retail"; I think I'm going to like this one. :D


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