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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: The Quixote Syndrome Creator: Peter Mann Format: large format Frequency: every Monday Recommended if you like: Existential Comics, elaborate sketches torn out of the notebook of your Western Civ classmate who reads too much philosophy and eats too much acid. What exactly is "The Quixote Syndrome" ? Comic Historians I spoke with were baffled at the question. WebMD offered zero help. The cartoonist himself has referred to it as "a chronic graphic condition characterized by inflammation of the bookish imagination — often irreverent, occasionally profound, and always with a heavy dose of strange." A deep search in the annals of the Laugh Tracks blog revealed an interview with Peter Mann in which he states that the comic began as an accompaniment to his teachings in the freshman humanities program at Stanford University, where he earned a doctorate in History and Humanities. My own personal scan of the TQC reveals something at once brilliant and juvenile — a mix of expressionism, surreal character sketches, and an illuminating look at historical riddles such as what became of Rasputin's, err... magic wand. The comic isn't for the faint-hearted, and doesn't offer much in the way of recurring characters, reliable punchlines or modern-day Web jargon such as "I eat all the bacon" (though it certainly could — both Nietzche and James Joyce are rumored to have been big fans of bacon). As an old friend and classmate of Peter's (full disclosure), I've been a big fan since Day 1. But the recent "Boy Giant and Beckett" series (a fictional blend of real events and actual Beckett quotes) has me revisiting the unusual comic all over again. Read The Quixote Syndrome every week right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2016 at Laugh Tracks
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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: Clementine Fox (Leigh Luna Comics) Creator: Leigh Luna Format: large format Frequency: every Monday Recommended if you like: Fairy tales & adventures stories, The Chronicles of Narnia, Watership Down, Rupert Bear, A Midsummer Night's Dream Because I have two small children, I spend a lot of time reading illustrated children's books (OK, I admit I owned many of them years before having kids. It's a great genre!). One of our favorite series is "Rupert," the British illustrated children's stories featuring the adventures of a bear and his various animal and fairy tale friends. The stories begin innocently enough, with something unusual happening in the house, backyard or village, but within a few pages you're swept up on some kind of adventure featuring mysterious villains, friendly fairies, and imaginative, unfamiliar environments. Leigh Luna's "Clementine Fox" adventure has all of those elements, and before I had finished reading the very first comic, I knew I'd be looking through the entire adventure, which updates every Monday. Each installment is about the equivalent of the page in a large comic/children's book, but the detail, shading and perspective in Luna's black-and-white illustrations gives them a life and depth that makes them each feel like an illustrated episode that you can spend some time with. (The strip occasionally breaks into color as well, such as the month of December 2014). The perspective in these strips is usually focused on the characters, but it occasionally opens up to wide vistas of the forests and hillside, heightening the sense that you're on an epic journey. Clementine Fox, Penelope Rabbit and Nubbins the Squirrel are a fun trio to cheer on, and the characters they meet along the way are entertaining as well. The dialogue isn't especially wordy or complex, (sometimes there are no words at all) but I've found the strip is best enjoyed if you take your time and read through them slowly. Oh yeah, and Nubbin' penchant for turning acorns into a sippable refreshment is pretty cool as well. I'm looking forward to accompanying this crew on future adventures, and to keeping up with the work of this enormously talented cartoonist. Read more Leigh Luna Comics right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2016 at Laugh Tracks
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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: Business Cat Creator: Tom Fonder Format: strip Frequency: Mondays Recommended if you like: Feline CEOs The main character in this weekly office comedy is an authoritative, well-dressed, mostly dignified business executive. Nothing out of the ordinary, really, except for the small fact that he just happens to be a cat. It's a pretty simple premise, but with seemingly countless permutations that never fail to amuse. Instead of an ordinary mansion, Business Cat lives in a giant, modernist cat play structure. He uses his stature to order a new copy machine, then throws it out and uses the box as a play fort. While his colleagues are diligently working, he sneaks up, swats them with an open paw and then darts away. Basically, he does everything you or I might want to do in an office setting, except his feline nature gives him an excuse. Somehow, in spite of it all, Business Cat still seems believable as an executive. Maybe it's his massive chest and impressive suit, or his permanently stoic expression. Or maybe we just give him a pass because, in spite of his interspecial identity, Business Cat is human, all too human. After reading through the archives, I can understand why The Adventures of Business Cat has inspired fan translations in different languages and spontaneous Biz Cat costuming in countries far and wide. Creator Tom Fonder's art and writing is right on the money, with uncluttered artwork, economical writing and great use of silent panels. Plus, it's just one hell of a character. Read more The Adventures of Business Cat cartoons every day on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2016 at Laugh Tracks
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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: The Best Medicine Creator: Izzy Ehnes Format: panel/strip Frequency: Mondays & Thursdays What if all things had consciousness? It sounds like a daffy proposition, the kind of question you might hear someone ask in the middle of an acid trip or during an expensive Introduction to New Age Philosophy seminar. But it's also the premise of an amusing and lighthearted comic strip by Izzy Ehnes, in which fire alarms, planets, and cotton balls are able to react and make observations on the terrifying, hilarious world around them. Oh, and it also features a lot of talking animals. Especially deer. "The Best Medicine" succeeds through simplicity — the art is straightforward, and the punchlines don't require any explanation. In a world in which comics can often be complex and convoluted, this is a refreshing approach. Izzy does it so well, in fact, that her strip even earned accolades from Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis, who said "I first ran into Izzy at a comic convention in Petaluma, California, and I thought that her work was really funny. So I immediately told my syndicate about her. In all my years of syndication, I believe Izzy is the first person whose work I've recommended to my syndicate.” When it comes to industry praise, it doesn't get much better than that. Check out "The Best Medicine" every Monday and Thursday right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2016 at Laugh Tracks
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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: Speechless Creator: Len Borozinski Format: panel Frequency: M/W/F Recommended if you like: The Far Side, fairy tales, witches, Free Range Comic Strip Speechless is a great name for a comic strip, especially a comic strip that has (virtually) no words. Reading Speechless reminds me a little bit of leafing through a children's book where the animal characters and fairy tales stories have all been rewritten with slightly ironic or modern twists, delivered not with written explanations, but with a sly wink. Having to decipher the jokes and scenarios on your own activates a different part of your brain, or at least makes it work a little harder than usual. There are a lot of cows in Speechless, much like the Far Side, and there are also a lot of witches, especially during Halloween. I also detect subtle zen elements to the strip, such as those found in the early Ziggy strips, for example the recent panel in which the bear can't see the shooting/wishing stars because he's ascended too high searching for an enlightened view. There's a whole parable there contained in only one image. Art-wise, the comic is a combination of skilled line art and bright splashes of computerized color, which has evolved into more subtle gradients since the strip launched on GoComics in 2013. Speechless Cartoonist Len Borozinski is an experienced cartoonist who decided to try something more whimsical, colorful and entertaining after decades of editorial cartooning. With Speechless, he's succeeded in doing just that. Read more Speechless cartoons every day on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: Tough Town Creator: Bob Shannon Format: strip Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: Cow and Boy, Dinosaur Comics, reindeer Welcome to Tough Town, where the main character is Rudolph, a disillusioned, divorced reindeer who also happens to teach 4th grade when he's not hanging out with the aliens down at the local bar. If you're a fan of absurdity, clip art and reindeer, I think you'll like it here. To illustrate Tough Town, Bob Shannon uses Pixton.com, a digital storytelling platform that allows users to construct comics using their own art combined with the help of props, text, panels, etc. Much like the late great Cow and Boy, or the ever popular Dinosaur Comics, there is very little change in the expressions of the Tough Town characters from panel to panel, creating an atmosphere of statis that is the perfect breeding ground for deadpan humor. The lack of reaction from characters gives the reader the sense that even the most unusual events are totally normal in this space. So it's delightful, if not exactly surprising, when Tough Town introduces visiting characters like a possessed bowling ball, a sentient urine sample, a narcissistic bluebird of happiness, or an amorous Menorah. The thing I like most about Tough Town is that it consistently delivers good punchlines without ever feeling like it's trying too hard. Check out more of Rudolph's adventures and non-adventures every day right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: Robbie and Bobby Creator: Jason Poland Format: strip Frequency: Monday through Friday Recommended if you like: Kate Beaton, Cul de Sac, Monty, children's books Remember that kid you were in school with who drew really weird things in the margins of his notebooks, illustrating goofy jokes and stories starring bizarre characters he'd made up? (Heck, maybe you were that kid!) Even though I've read comics all my life, I don't know that I've ever been as fascinated as reading the ones drawn in front of my eyes by friends or classmates when I was a kid. I also don't know if I've seen a comic that captures that same excitement, imagination and sense of raw creativity quite like Robbie and Bobby by Jason Poland. Robbie and Bobby stars a boy and his robot, with cameo appearances from characters like Magnet Bat, Princess Bluestocking, Princess Boy (a pampered aristocrat who stars in his own Japanese cartoon) and Doctor Dinkus, the Learnosaurus. Poland has been drawing Robbie and Bobby since 2003, and the strip has evolved from frenetic pencil drawings to the more polished looking comic currently featured on his website. GoComics has been running Poland's treasure trove of Robbie and Bobby strips every weekday since 2013, giving fans a chance to enjoy and catch up on hundreds of the strips. While the classic friendship/antagonism dynamic of Robbie (the Robot) and Bobby (the Boy) is what drives the strip, the random topic they're discussing on any given day put it in a class by itself. Recent comics I enjoyed feature Fraggles, the White Witch from Narnia, Rapunzel, Super Mario, Peter Cetera and Super Mario Brothers. And that's just from a single fortnight. Other strips are almost dada in nature, featuring none of the main characters but exhibiting the same weirdness and charm. I look forward to seeing what Poland does in the future. In the meantime, I'll be reading even further into the Robbie and Bobby catalog right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: Nest Heads Creator: John Allen Format: strip Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: Lola, Zits, The Buckets, Frazz, Real Life Adventures As readers of this blog feature know, I tend to enjoy the weirder, more unconventional GoComics offerings, many of which started out as webcomics. But there's something exceptionally satisfying about a comic strip about everyday life when it's done as well as "Nest Heads." The long-running family comic strip by John Allen, syndicated by Creators, is sharp and funny, with wry observations on domestic life, politics, pop culture and social interactions. Charlie and Jeannie are a likable, approachable baby-boomer couple, and all three generations of the Stevens family are reliable sources of humor and entertainment. Recently, Chet found himself in the middle of a controversy when a comic of his for the school paper resulted in vehement protests from the pet-owning community (a scenario people in my profession are quite familiar with). Click the strip below to get to the start of that series. Currently underway is a series detailing the six basic categories of Halloween costumes. Nest Heads is refreshing because it keeps a positive and humorous tone rather than a snarky, exasperated take on family foibles. It's a pleasant, attractive comic that offers something for everyone. Read more Nest Heads every day on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: Berkeley Mews Creator: Ben Zaehringer Format: strip Frequency: currently updates every Monday Recommended if you like: Poorly Drawn Lines, Perry Bible Fellowship, Invisible Bread, Up and Out, Pie Comic What is Berkeley Mews exactly? A left-coast college for cats? A hybrid of Bloom County and Garfield? The title obscures more than it reveals. The art and writing, however, is crystal clearly a treat for fans of Web comics and uplifting black humor. If Berkeley Mews were taught at the actual Berkeley, however, it would be rife with trigger warnings: "Do not read if you have had traumatic experiences with child-eating witches. Avoid at all costs if you can't bear to see Tom Cruise in distress." Here in GoComics country, however, the mildly sociopathic comedy of strips like Berkeley Mews are a welcome treat for the brave reader. Never mind the toilet paper icon on the A-Z listing and the strip's banner: Berkeley Mews is anything but a throwaway read. Read more Berkeley Mews every Monday on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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A weekly feature spotlighting new & unusual features on the GoComics A-Z roster Feature: Unstrange Phenomena Creator: Ed Allison Format: strip Frequency: currently updates every Monday Recommended if you like: interplanetary pseudoscience, Tom The Dancing Bug, a hilarious and totally non-factual alternate world version of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" What's more fun than fun facts? Fun facts that aren't true, of course. But not just plain old untrue — spectacularly, wildly, imaginatively, cosmically untrue. And with nice spot-colored illustrations, to boot. Such is the domain of "Unstrange Phenomena," a slight mis-characterization of what is in fact a genuinely strange reading experience. For example: all that recent hubbub in the news about discovering water on Mars? "Unstrange Phenomena" had even more exciting information about the makeup of the red planet years ago... "Unstrange Phenomena" has a social conscience as well, dealing with issues ranging from immigration to the illegal pet trade, sometimes in the very same strip. After reading through a lot of the U.P. archives on GoComics, I'm a much more informed citizen of the world than I was a few hours ago. And even if 100% of that information is totally bogus, I feel a lot better off for it and had some good laughs along the way. Give it a try yourself, right here on the world's finest indie/syndie comics powerhouse, GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: McArroni Creator: Julian Loayza & Carmen Perez Format: color illustration, various Frequency: currently updates every Monday Recommended if you like: a hybrid of Angry Birds and fine art with a Charlie Chaplin slapstick sensibility I love comic strips with no words. Something about discovering their meaning or punchline without any verbal clues allows me to appreciate them more on an artistic level. And there's plenty of artistic integrity to the unusual McArroni comic, which has run on GoComics since 2012 and has been in existence since 2008. Animator Julian Loayza created the strip with his wife, Carmen, before moving to the United Arab Emirates to work in the coffee trade. The strip stars a mischievous bird and his friend Amadeo, but there aren't really storylines as much as odd scenes and situations rendered in colorful, detailed drawings. In 2014, the creators of McArroni posted black-and-white drawings every day, and later that year experimented with collage and photoshop techniques. But it's the classic, colorful illustrations that best define McArroni, and which you can currently read every Monday on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Molebashed Creator: Wes Molebash Format: strip Frequency: three days a week (M/W/F) Recommended if you like: humorous and heartfelt observations about the weirdness and wonder of being a new parent There's something isolating about being a new parent, even for those lucky enough to have friends or family members going through the same experience at roughly the same time. The demands an infant puts on your time, attention and emotions can feel all-consuming, and even with the support of your partner, you're often awake for hours holding your newborn and asking yourself how it's possible that your life changed so suddenly and dramatically. On the other hand, having a kid is heart-expanding and can be tons of fun. So it's with great excitement that I began reading the comic strip "Molebashed" on GoComics — it felt like (retroactively) having a companion during those first few weeks of weirdness and wonder. An largely autobiographical strip by cartoonist Wes Molebash, this thrice-weekly feature begins with the journey to the hospital and continues from there, with sharp artwork, wry observations on being a parent and — to my mind — incredibly true-to-life observations about the supreme comedy of raising a human (the pull-out chair thing in the strip above is identical to the one I spent two nights on in April 2012). It's also been remarkable to me how quickly the rituals of child-raising can become routine, but with a keen sense of awareness and humor about the situation, I have a feeling the Molebashes' journey will be anything but boring. Read the whole thing from the start right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Up and Out Creator: Jeremy Kaye Format: varies Frequency: three days a week Recommended if you like: sadistic cats, creepy uncles, undead friends, hapless hobo-kidnapping criminals, cat-puters Let me first just say how much I've enjoyed the evolution in popular comic strips over the past decade. While classics like Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes and Red and Rover will always be regarded as the gold standard of family-oriented newspaper comic strips, the online comics that receive thousands of views these days are often way too weird or subversive for a mass print audience. Which isn't to say either category is better than the other. Just that it's nice that today's cartoonists are able to explore dark, weird and socially questionable material online, whereas on the print side we still get complaints about things like ketchup being depicted as fake blood in a Lio daily. In other words, print comics have to worry about not offending anyone, while Web cartoonists are often all about pushing the envelope. All of that being said, however, even the open-minded and black-humored among you might well find something to disapprove of in the delightfully sociopathic "Up and Out," a comic written and illustrated by Jeremy Kaye, in which women are hit on at their husband's funerals and a child is incinerated for messing up the Pledge of Allegiance. "Up and Out" has been online for a few years, with many of the strips popping up on reddit or Tumblr. Kaye also recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to publish his first "Up and Out" collection. In the meantime, fans of weird, awkward and sadistic humor should check out "Up and Out" on GoComics. In spite of all the blood, death, kidnapping, meanness and disappointment, I found reading "Up and Out" to be a positive and lighthearted experience. See for yourself right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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Feature: Lard's World Peace Tips Creator: Keith Tutt and Daniel Saunders Format: strip Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: peace, silliness, Toothpaste For Dinner It was an exciting discovery to find out we had something on our roster in which the main character is named, and who also resembles, Lard. Lard is an affable, round little fellow in pursuit of an ambitious aim: world peace. A collaboration between accomplished author Keith Tutt and illustrator Daniel Saunders, both of the U.K, Lard's World Peace Tips is a fun daily nugget of amusement. Even when the suggestions themselves seem totally absurd, Lard's wish for peace feels genuine, and you keep rooting him on. (In fact, you can submit your own tips for world peace on the comic's website.) The art style reminds me a little bit of a simple, psychedelic take on Britain's famous "Rupert the Bear" characters, with the character Little Joe a cute castaway from David the Gnome's forest. But that description hardly does "Lard" justice. It's a harmonious self-contained universe, and one I'll definitely be revisiting again and again. And... ...one that you can check out every day right here on GoComics! Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Shutterbug Follies Creator: Jason Little Format: single page Frequency: Mondays and Thursdays Recommended if you like: graphic novels, thrillers, Ghost World, Charles Burns When I first started reading graphic novels in the mid-aughts, I felt a tingle of excitement similar to when I first dug into art forms like jazz, or documentary films -- exciting new worlds that existed totally outside of my nascent awareness of them. Early additions to my graphic novel shelf included Daniel Clowes' Ghost World, Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, Charles Burns' Black Hole and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. Right next to those was a lesser-known classic called Shutterbug Follies by a cartoonist named Jason Little. Shutterbug Follies contained a high level of intrigue and suspense (a style he referred to as "bubblegum noir") along with a strong sense of time and place, (New York, fresh out of high school, a time just before digital photography became cheap and ubiquitous). My boss at Universal thought it would make a great feature film, and I agreed. But I also thought its magic fit perfectly into the fish-eye-lens-shaped comic panels that populated the pages of the graphic novel. The bad news is I no longer have a copy, having given it away to a friend several years ago. The good news is the whole thing is online for you and me to read and reread. Where? Where else but GoComics, of course. Check the whole thing out starting here. Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Free Range Creator: Bill Whitehead Format: single-panel Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: Reality Check, Off The Mark, Kliban, Close To Home When I explained a job to a friend of mine recently, he told me that I should check out the comics drawn by our friend Thomas's dad. "He posts it every day on Facebook!" my friend told me excitedly. "Oh, great," I thought. For a comics editor/proofreader, hearing that a family friend draws comics is usually prelude to reading dozens of cliched or poorly constructed gags, pretending that you think they are funny, and then receiving a lifetime subscriptions of emails from them "just checking in" to see if you're interested in helping them find their strip a larger audience. But in this case, Thomas's dad turned out to be Bill Whitehead, the author of the daily "Free Range" comic. Not only is "Free Range" a longstanding single-panel strip syndicated by Creators, it appears every day on GoComics! "Free Range" doesn't exactly rewrite the book on single panel comics, but it's also not trying to, and that's a big part of what I like about it. It's very comfortable in its own skin. It inhabits the cliched scenarios of one-panel comics through the decades (psychiatrist's office, homeless guy on the street, guy lost in the desert), but approaches them with a freshness and humor that feels anything but cliche. Many of my favorite gags (a few of which are posted below) get a great joke across without requiring any words. The detailed, colorful artwork is also very impressive for a daily strip. I've enjoyed these on Facebook for a couple of years now, but am happy that it's available to everyone else via GoComics as well. Here's a few more recent faves: Read more Free Range comics every day on GoComics! Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Pie Comic Creator: John McNamee Format: large formats Frequency: 3+ times a week Recommended if you like: Invisible Bread, Poorly Drawn Lines, PBF Comics, XKCD, Creased Comics When searching for a good candidate for this week's post, I scrolled past the words "Pie Comic." What a delicious and simple title! I love pie, and I work for GoComics. How come I have never heard of this strip? The answer, it turns out, is that it just launched on GoComics two weeks ago. However, the strip's creator, John McNamee, has built a large following for Pie Comic on Tumblr and other sites for the past decade or so. With his other writing credits including stories and videos for The Onion and sketch comedy troupes, John's imagination and talent seem especially well suited for comics. I like the simple but fun-to-look-at art, the sharp and effective punchlines, and the fact that you never know who the characters will be from strip to strip or what unexpected turns things will take. Here's a couple more recent examples: Read more Pie Comic today right here at GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Reply All Creator: Donna A. Lewis Format: four panels Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: Cathy, Dilbert, humor related to office politics, self-appearance and family members who don't know how to use email properly Each week we get submissions detailing people's childhood dreams of creating a syndicated comic strip. Many of them write that it's the only job they could ever imagine having. But it's often those who have labored in other professions who wind up finding the most joy and consistency in the cartooning profession. In other words, when you work hard for something and know what the alternative looks like, it's hard to take that success for granted. At least that's the vibe I get from Donna A. Lewis, whose daily comic "Reply All" chronicles the day-to-day neuroses and social interactions of Lizzie, a highly self-aware single woman in the public relations industry. Like Stephan Pastis, Lewis has a background in law, and she still works as an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security even while producing "Reply All," which has been syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group since 2011. Lewis' art isn't terribly sophisticated, but when it comes to the writing, the characters' clever exchanges, modern concerns and streamlined dialogue give "Reply All" a subversive, socially conscious flair. For example, take the two-day sequence on mansplaining below. The issue is handled in a way that a white male reader like me (presumably the most offending category of "mansplainers") feels in on the joke. The feminine perspective will appeal to readers of Cathy (a character Lewis has said she does not personally identify with), and the office humor is similar at times to Dilbert, but "Reply All" feels more of-the-moment than those two classics, like a comic your witty colleague doodled during a meeting and made everyone in the office giggle. Which, in fact, is exactly how "Reply All" came into being. Here's a couple more recent strips: Read more "Reply All" every day right here on GoComics.com! Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Randolph Itch, 2 a.m. Creator: Tom Toles Format: single-panel Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: Kliban, The Far Side, Reality Check, Off The Mark, Tom Toles' editorial cartoons One night shortly after my first child was born, I decided to take advantage of my loopy, sleep-deprived state to write a bunch of punchlines that I thought would be excellent material for a batch of one-panel cartoons. I got on quite a roll and came up with about two dozen, but almost all of them turned out to be totally worthless when examined in the light of day. The insomnia-driven musings in "Randolph Itch, 2 a.m.", however, are nuggets of single-panel cartoon gold. Written and illustrated by Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Tom Toles, "Randolph Itch, 2 a.m." was in syndication from the late '90s until 2002, when Toles took a job with the Washington Post. It began running on GoComics a decade later, offering fans of Toles' editorial work a window into the parts of his imagination not concerned with politics. The back-and-white art is every bit as sharp and detailed as his editorial cartoons, with Sunday strips in full color. Much like Pat Oliphant's Punk or Dave Whamond's Squirrel, the little cartoonist in the corner gets the first word/riff on that day's joke, adding an extra layer of punniness and observational humor. Having read Toles' op-ed cartoons for a decade, I gained a whole new appreciation of his talent and inventiveness through reading "Randolph." Here's a few more samples… Read more Randolph Itch, 2 a.m. comics right here at GoComics! Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Kid Shay Comics Creator: Josh Shalek Format: large format, multi-panel Frequency: 2x a week (Mondays and Thursdays) Recommended if you like: Zombies, Egypt, mad scientists, crazy uncles, friendly werewolves, Anubis Since it launched in October 2014, Kid Shay Comics has chronicled the Egyptian adventures of Kate Crane and her crazy uncle Brian, who has a fascination with the zombies outside Cairo. Complete with helicopter crashes, haunted temples and a werewolf named Levon, the "Tomb of the Zombies" sequence in Kid Shay Comics is a suspenseful but lighthearted foray into the realms of the undead — all carried out over the course of Kate's summer vacation. Cartoonist Josh Shalek does a lot with black and white here, with figures that look a little similar to Ted Rall's comics or the Big Nate strips that are drawn by Nate. The size and arrangement of panels differs in each strip, with a change of perspective that keeps the eye occupied and draws anticipation for the next installment. I like the artistic touches such as the middle panel of this strip that illustrate the main character's imagination. Now that the "Tomb of the Zombies" has wrapped up this week, I'm excited to see what's next for Kid Shay Comics. In the meantime, stop by table O-6 at the small press pavilion of San Diego Comic Con from July 8 - 12 and say hello to Josh in person. And... ...read more Kid Shay Comics right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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Feature: Pot-Shots Creator: Ashleigh Brilliant Format: single panel, no more than 17 words Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: epigrams, eCards, clip art, riddles, wordplay, brevity, brilliance Although the punchy phrases, ironic, made-for-T-shirt humor and symbiosis of sarcasm and clip art look and feel very similar to the modern meme, these "Pot-Shots" date back to the 1960s and '70s, when Ashleigh Brilliant was giving daily public lectures in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, teaching history on a "Floating University" cruise ship, and publishing his clever epigrams by the dozen. According to Brilliant's own description for what constitutes a proper Pot-Shot: "...What is said must be really worth saying, but, as far as possible, never actually have been said before. There can be humor, profundity, poignancy, whimsy or a combination of all these. Another criterion is that the material should have lasting value and be capable of being appreciated in other times and other cultures. Because of this stricture, there can be no rhyme, no rhythm, no puns, no idioms – in fact, none of the conventional wordplay that makes writing short expressions fun and easy." In a way, Brilliant's epigrams — no longer than 17 words in all but a few cases — are a forerunner to the modern use of Twitter for comedy and wit. They're lots of fun to read, look at and think about, and a perfect combination of a sharp British wit steeped in popular American humor. Think Oscar Wilde meets Mark Twain with a dash of sixties San Francisco whimsy, and that will put you somewhere close to the mark. Read more Pot-Shots right here on GoComics.com! Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Lay Lines Comics Creator: Carol Lay Format: six panels Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: Whimsical storytelling, '90s alt-weekly flashbacks, out-of-body experiences, Russian roulette If you look at the state of comics today, you can divide things up fairly neatly into two camps: print newspaper funnies, and online-only features (i.e. webcomics). But bridging that gap for toward the end of the 20th century was a series of alt-weekly cartoons — colorful, counter-cultural, large-format comics with considerably more attitude than you would find in traditional print features. One of that era's pioneers is Carol Lay, who began publishing comics in the LA Weekly in 1990 after working for Hanna-Barbera comics, Western Publishing, DC and Marvel Comics. Her first mini-feature, "The Thing Under The Futon," also kicked off her arrival on GoComics earlier this year. Since then, she's been running other classic story lines such as "Now, Endsville" (which starts here) and "Invisible City," (which starts here), both of which were harvested from now out-of-print print collections. Reading Lay Lines Comics on GoComics should offer an interesting view at how Lay's style evolved over the years, from the early '90s "big teeth" look of her characters to potentially some of the alt-weekly work she did in the decades that followed. Lay Lines Comics also includes Lay's occasional contextual notes and special new illustrations. An excerpt from "The Thing Under The Futon" is below. Read more Lay Lines comics right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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Remember how when you were a kid you would spin a globe, close your eyes, hold out your finger, and wherever you wound up pointing to was where you were going to live? I've been doing a similar exercise lately with GoComics A to Z listing to figure out what to read next. With so many great features on the site, it can be hard to keep up with them all, so I wanted to start spotlighting a few that I've recently stumbled upon and enjoyed. Since my job mostly involves proofreading features that are syndicated for print, I'm looking forward to digging further into the GoComics A to Z (and everywhere in between). Look for a new blog post in this series each Wednesday morning. The first installment is below. — Lucas ___ Feature: Foolish Mortals Creator: Tom Horacek Format: single panel Frequency: 1x a week Recommended if you like: F Minus, WuMo, Buni "Foolish Mortals" is an apt summation of the poor, unfortunate souls that populate this weekly single panel strip. "Foolish Mortals" has a simplistic, computer-generated look that gives a playful, wacky flavor to its otherwise dark-edged humor. The fact that the characters look a little like Fisher-Price "Little People" figures makes their often reckless, troubled, bizarre behavior that much easier to laugh at. "Foolish Mortals" only uploads one new strip a week, but the quality level makes it worth the wait. Here are a few recent favorites: Read more "Foolish Mortals" here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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The night has finally arrived when incomparable late-night television host David Letterman is no longer on the air. Let's take a look at some GoComics classics mentioning Dave and his show, as well as a few recent tributes. Here they are, in no particular order. (Drumroll, please...) 10: Grand Avenue, 6/30/2004 Roughly a decade ago, Gabby applied to be an intern on "Letterman," but it didn't pan out. Check out this highly entertaining Grantland feature about what interning for Dave was actually like. 9. Ziggy, 4/7/1994 Among the many names floated in the last year for Dave's replacement, Ziggy's parrot, Josh, was not mentioned. I guess there are comics, and then there are comics. 8. Frazz, 7/7/2003 Growing up is hard. First you aren't old enough to stay up for late-night shows, and then when you do, the hosts retire. Fortunately, Stephen Colbert starts his "Late Show" run this September. 7. Stupid human/pet tricks medley The Doozies, 5/13/2015 Drabble, 7/17/2000 Kit 'n' Carlyle, 3/17/2001 6. Reality Check, 10/18/2000 It may be a little rude, but the gap in Dave's teeth is part of his iconic figure. (Check out this "Off The Mark" for another view) 5. The Flying McCoys, 9/20/2006 The GoComics archives from the '90s and 2000s are full of these "Leno vs. Letterman" debates. The Flying McCoys get right to the heart of the matter in this classic strip. 4. The Doozies, 5/20/2015 Nobody does a tribute like Tom Gammill and "The Doozies." 3. Jeff Stahler, 5/19/2015 At first, things seem OK without Dave on TV... 2. Drabble, 5/15/2015 ...then reality sets in. 1. Gary Varvel, 5/19/2015 Great strip from Gary to bring it all back home. Hope you enjoyed these strips, and congrats to Letterman and his team for an excellent run. #ThanksDave! (Honorable mention goes to Big Top, for the sequence in which Wink went on Letterman to challenge Courtney Love to a cage-fighting contest) Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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I woke up this morning to find a bunch of confetti, sketch pads and empty champagne bottles littering my front yard. This is not an unusual site for a weekend night, but was a little odd for a Tuesday morning. "Must be some kind of holiday," I said. "Cinco de Mayo?" my wife asked. "I don't think so," I said, scrolling through my social media feeds to find out what was up. Oh yeah! It's National Cartoonists Day. People around here take it pretty seriously. Like so many others, I grew up wanting to be a cartoonist (or a doctor/NBA player as a backup). I sketched cartoons about a mad scientist named Sotdoly and also drew Simpsons characters on index cards which I would trade for either small change or Triscuits. It was an auspicious start. However, I wound up doing more writing/editing and less writing/cartooning, and after college I landed an internship writing marketing copy for Universal Press Syndicate, which eventually became a full-time editing job here at Universal Uclick. So if I wasn't going to be a cartoonist, I could at least work on their behalf. Friends and family members will ask me what cartoonists are like, and I tell them it's impossible to make any sweeping generalizations. Every one of them has his/her own style, and that variety of talent and approach is what makes the comics page (and GoComics.com) so interesting. Some cartoonists work months in advance, and others can hardly bring themselves to write until the deadline is staring them in the face. Some sketch out roughs and send them in for feedback, while others use only tablets and computer screens. Some work early in the morning and others stay up all night. The thing these individuals have in common is that they all followed their dreams and worked incredibly hard to get where they are. (read the full cartoon above over at Richard's blog) Cartoonists can be strange individuals, or they can blend in seamlessly with the rest of society, but they're usually hyper-attentive to the world around them, always storing up material and generating ideas that could bring life to their characters and the worlds those characters inhabit. Being a cartoonist is often less a childhood fancy than a lifelong compulsion. Many of them will tell you that they never considered being anything else, even if they did have to work a variety of jobs to get where they are now. As Savage Chickens creator Doug Savage writes: If you’re a creative person, you need a creative outlet only slightly less than you need food and water. Spend time doing something you love, every day, even if you can only spare a few minutes. You never know where it will lead! Doug's quote above came from his "Meet Your Creator" blog post, which is an ongoing series we've been running for a couple years now. The series offers a fascinating, first-person glimpse into our cartoonists' studios and working methods. If you have any... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2015 at Laugh Tracks