I think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the entertainment business every single day of the year, including weekends. Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that showcases something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it. So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of positivity from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll help you through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in their busy celluloid digesting day.
What I’m Thankful For:
Well…not all of them. Some of them kinda suck (PennyArcade certainly isn’t firing on all cylinders anymore, though I greatly respect what they do with their various philanthropic efforts) and some of them don’t need my support; everybody knows about the PBF and Cyanide and Happiness and XKCD.
Nope, instead I’m going to focus on a few of them that are not only slightly off the beaten path, but are also tremendous in terms of art quality, the things on their mind, the humor or a combination of all of the above. I’d been meaning to write up each one of these independently forever now, but had never gotten around to it, so here they all are…
Hark! A Vagrant! By Kate Beaton
What’s It About: Focusing mainly on history, Beaton’s Hark could be, in its own way, a legitimate class on it. Originating from Canada (though I think she’s recently relocated to NYC), there’s a heavy emphasis on the backstory of that country, but she’s certainly not exclusionary to the rest of the world. Clicking the “Random” button on her site will bring you little tales and anecdotes about everything from the Napoleonic Wars, the American Revolution and pretty much all things Victorian and/or Elizabethan. But that ain’t it! There’s also a strong focus on literature and literary figures, culture and the occasional tangent where modern-day Kate has a run-in with her younger self.
And then there are her “Lunch Break Comics,” which are an entirely different (and spectacular) thing unto themselves.
Is it Funny: Delightfully so! Every single thing is a joke, but rarely is the humor ever sardonic. Most times its observational, sometimes whimsical…hell, it can even be really sweet. Every strip will make you grin at the VERY LEAST, if not chuckle or full-on “lol.”
How’s the Art: Its varies – sometimes it’s really intricate pen-work and sometimes it’s something she couldn’t have spent more than 45 seconds scribbling out. But the art is never flat or dull and, if nothing else, her adeptness at silly facial expressions is enough to put a ton of charm into every panel. Moving on to…
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
(This one might not count as it’s more of a full blog with some art as opposed to an actual-factual web comic, but I can be thankful for whatever I want!)
What’s It About: Well…Allie, mainly. It is her blog after all. She tells stories about her childhood, her college years and offers up some observational stuff about her adult life (or lack thereof). Even though it’s fr the most part inwardly focused (though not always) it’s very universal and relatable and is able to be really solidly introspective without drifting into navel-gazing.
Is it Funny: “Funny” isn’t really the appropriate word; I’d probably go with “goddamned hilarious.” I giggle a lot. A LOT. I do it enough it might as well be a character trait, but when I discovered this particular blog I was reduced to tearful half-laughs/half-sobs and I had a hard time catching my breath. Anybody who walked past my office at that particular point in time must have thought I was having a full-on emotional meltdown. The stories on their own are cute and charming and the art is the same, but together? Yeah…it’s funny.
How’s the Art: Simplistic! The result of a track pad in MSPaint. But it’s done that way on purpose and the way she’s able to pack so much…emotion, for lack of a better word, into such primitive little line drawings is nothing short of amazing.
And finally, saving the best for last, we have…
Subnormality by Winston Rowntree.
What’s it About: You. Me. Everybody else. Humanity, really. Our various insecurities and neuroses, our shortcomings and our potential. It’s about art and religion and politics. And it’s about how goddamned awful Nickelback really is.
Is it Funny: Sometimes, but not always. There’s a depth to it and a thoughtfulness that doesn’t always lend itself to humor. But even when it’s not funny it’s always positive and it’s completely free of cynicism. Rowntree is a guy that understands people as a species, but more so than that, he’s a guy that loves the species as a whole. The Chad Kroegers and George W. Bushes notwithstanding.
How’s the Art: GORGEOUS. Sometimes it’s really detailed, sometimes it’s simple, and sometimes it feels really familiar. But there’s a great color palette and his knack for drawing large groups of people and giving each person their own individual identity and personality is amazing. And he’s not afraid to let large chunks of text dominate the strips which can be a gamble, but it pays off here WAY more often than not.
And there ya go. They’re all different but they’re all great in their own ways and each of them lives in my little bookmark bar at the top of Firefox. You may have heard of them (especially possible if you’re a member of our boards), but if you haven’t and wanna check them out, just a heads up: the first time I saw a strip from all three of these comics I couldn’t stop and ended up marathonning each of their respective backlogs in one sitting, they’re all that good. And for that? Yeah, I’m thankful.