Tag Archives: Danielle Corsetto

Questionable Content review

Questionable Content

Vols 1 & 2

Available online at http://www.questionablecontent.net/ (online individually or for purchase)

$18 each

I am a relative newcomer to the world of QC, and most other web comics.  I did not start reading any on a regular basis until about 3 years ago.  Most of what I was reading then I have lost interest in, but a few core series have held my interest.  Girls with Slingshots, Wondermark, Gutters and a few others have stayed consistently good for so long, that I cannot see myself falling out with them for a while.

At C2E2 last week I finally had a chance to meet Jeph Jaques of QC.  I have met Danielle Corsetto of GWS and David Malki of Wondermark as well as the Gutters team over the last few conventions, but had not yet had a chance to speak with Jeph.  He is pretty much exactly as I expected, tattooed and pierced and a bit disaffected, I doubt that he is someone I would have a lot to say to in a social setting (my failing, not his), but he was an interesting person to speak to nonetheless.  We spoke briefly about the books and how they are now a much more significant portion of his income than the T-shirts and other merchandise ever were and he did a quick doodle of Pintsize in my books.

From the second volume

I have been reluctant to spend too heavily on collected web comics as they are all available for free online, but sometimes I want a lighter read and do not want to sit in front of a screen, even if it is just the iPad.  I like to unplug at times and go old school analog.  I got the 2 collected volumes of QC at the show and have not been disappointed.  The books are fairly hefty at 160 pages and 300 strips each, and contain a limited commentary for each strip.  A few of the strips have been redrawn to replace lost hi-res files, and even the replaced strips are still here for comparison, albeit in a low-res form.  The amazing thing about these, apart for the stories of the characters is the chance to watch the progression of the quality and style of the art.  All artists grow and evolve to varying degrees, but I have never seen it so prominently on display before.  It is true that you can see it one strip at a time online, but the effect is lessened by the delay, even a brief one, in going from view to view.  In a book where you see 4 strips at a time, the effect is really dramatic.  The quality of the art is weak at the beginning, as Jeph freely admits.  At this stage it is more an exercise in persistence and the willingness to make mistakes in order to learn. Very quickly the art improves and really shows some fun and stylish touches.  The story is silly and fun, with brief hints of some more series future storylines.  My favorite character, Hannelore is not there yet, but Pintsize is very much present.  Watching the growth of the characters, and of the artist, is really a fun treat that I had not expected to enjoy quite this much. 

For the unfamiliar, QC is a story of life and relationships and little talking robots that like to eat cake batter.  The main characters are Martin Reed (described in the books as a cute, skinny indie boy), his roommate Faye and his “anthro-PC Pintsize.  The cast grows quickly and becomes a full ensemble that has a great deal of life to it.  Some of the strips are laugh out loud funny, even though I have read them all prior to having this book.  It is fun to revisit these older strips, and much more satisfying that going back and looking at old comic strips from   the newspapers of my youth.  Why that is, I cannot say, but these strips are as fresh at multiple reads as they were when I first discovered them. There is periodic mention of indie rock and I tend to skip over those few strips when they come up, as I have no interest in that sort of thing, but as the series continues, those references become less frequent and character stays in the forefront.

Anyone looking for something light, fun and entertaining, with a cast of characters that you will quickly come to care about will enjoy this series.  There is a lot of talent and creativity on display here, and watching it grow and mature really adds to this package.

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Women creators in the big time…

Wow, DC really can’t do something big without stirring up the storm can they?

Art by Amanda Conner

With the relaunch announcements grabbing more headlines than the real news (that being the day and date digital releases) DC has managed to not see one issue coming.  Or they see it, and just don’t care.  Where all da wimmin at?

Gail Simone is writing 2 of the new monthly books and Jenny Frisson is doing a cover.  Just one cover.  There is more out there in the world than Rob Liefeld.  Did we really need to bring him back?  There was not ONE other woman out there that could write Hawk & Dove?  This is a book that will more than likely, be on the short list for cancellation within 3 issues.  Maybe that is why no one would touch it.  There are, to my knowledge more female artists out there than writers, but I know there are more than just the wonderful Ms Simone!  In the artist end of things I am even a bit more surprised.  There are some real fan favorites (artists and writers) that have nothing on DC’s schedule in September.  Amanda Conner, Katie Cook, Nicola Scott, Trina Robbins, Louise Simonson and the list goes on!  True, some were probably offered something and were not interested for reasons of their own, but just Gail Simone and Jenny Frisson?

There was a point in the past I would have said that this was just the women complaining, then I grew up some and try to look at it intelligently.  Or at least as intelligently as I am able.  True, there are not all that many women in the field these days compared to the men, and a lot of that is a cultural issue.  Women have not been mainstays of the industry in any point in its history.  The days when a Dalia Messick could get work because she went by Dale are gone.  The internet makes all of that kind of insulting tomfoolery transparent.  There has always been a serious  lack of women but I believe that it can never be truly equal.  There just are not as many women as men interested.  The reason for some of that has shifted.  It used to be simple enough:  girls didn’t read comics.  That is no longer true.  Many books, and not just the ones you would assume, have larger female readership.  And it is not that women are not artists and writers.  One look at the bookstores will tell you that.  Now I wonder if it may not be the fact that there are other, more attractive mediums/markets to go into.  There is a talent drain that has happened slowly over the years from comics in the traditional mainstream sense, to other medium peripheral to the traditional comic book.  Web comics seem to have a much better ratio of men to women.  A couple of the standouts here would be Danielle Corsetto (Girls With Slingshots) and Lora Innes (The Dreamer).  In other media there is quite a draw also.  Design, book illustration art of all kinds that would draw someone, not already interested in comics further away.  In fact, I think it may be a safe bet that if someone, man or woman, is not a comic book fan to start with, they are not likely to enter the field professionally.  As the medium slowly fades away (yes, it is slowly fading away) fewer young people are influenced by it and chose it as a career path.  So there is that factor, but it does not explain this huge shift.

As I look at this more, I really do wonder if this isn’t something different.  This level of exclusion is SO out of the norm, that I wonder if it might not be deliberate.  This is not to say that I think Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Dan Didio are sitting in the dark halls of the DC compound planning ways to exclude Ms Frisson et al, but there can be an institutional mindset that can be so much a part of the industry, that even the newer blood is not immune.  It does not have to be a conscious choice to be something that is made to happen.  The “old boys” network is not just for the long serving, and it need not be worked at.  At some point, to reverse this trend, a deliberate choice to go the other way may be needed.  No, not quotas or preferential hiring.  The need for a meritocracy is still there.  Bringing in female writer “X” just because the is female does not solve the problem.  In fact, it will make it worse.  Nevermind the inevitable male backlash, the issue here is that bad books by less than stellar talent, again male or female, will drive readers and other talent away.

What is needed, I think, is a concentrated search for new talent ALL the time.  Just like any kind of marketing or recruiting, you tailor it to fit a demographic.  Just like you want to sell a car to a thirty something male with no kids and a lot of disposable income, you can target any segment of the market you want.  You can choose to bring in new talent in very much the same way.  Even the days of the old Marvel Try out book are well past, and no longer likely to be of use.  (Any one who thinks products are not marketed that specifically needs to wake the hell up!  I knew an ad guy for a car manufacturer many years ago that was quite proud of a campagne he helped design that marketed one specific model of a car to gay men over 40.  And it sold to that demo just as planned.)

I remember there was once a lot of talk about the big two recruiting in the art schools, but that never seemed to materialize.  Now you get portfolio review at cons.  The attitude that the talent will show up when needed does not bring the top talent, it brings in whatever comes through the door.  Comic as an industry has always been more than willing to cannibalize itself.  I think that comes from the trash product mentality from the earliest days of the medium, and it is unfortunately still with us.

Get it together DC.  For that matter, the entire industry.  While some publishers are better than others, and most are better than DC in this case, there is a long way to go.  The diversity created by women and men sharing the creative duties can only help comics.  This all just seems so short sighted…

 

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Web comics!

In the last several months I have been expanding my reading into the world of web comics.  Now I imagine there are still people out there that poo poo web comics in much the same way there are still people who look down on comics in general, but frankly I don’t really see why.  There is some really creative work being done out there, and I have really only scratched the surface.  In my browsing I have definitely found more that are not for me than ones that I have continued to keep up with, but that’s ok.  It is that variety that keeps any genre alive and healthy. I find it interesting that the comics culture has shifted so radically in the last 80 years or so.  At the beginning of the comic strip’s history at the start of the 20th century, artists like R.F. Outcault (The Yellow Kid & Buster Brown) and Winsor McCay (Little Nemo & The Dream of the Rarebit Fiend) were high paid celebrities with prestige and fame comparable to todays movie stars, welcome in any walk of society.  Today most people regard comics creators as a little dirty and creepy (unless you actually know what you are talking about) and web comics as even less attractive.  The reverse is actually more correct.  A succesful creator in any area of the medium can do very well and many web comics creators list that as their “day job”.

Most of what I have found and enjoyed has been fairly light.  The episodic format of these strips does not work for me with a heavy dramatic content, but the more humorous and fun strips have been a real treat.  I’m going to fill the page with lots of fun examples in the hope that you will find something that you enjoy.

Gutters is a great topical parody of comics in general and the industry in particular.  Lar Desouza writes the book working with a host of great artists from all parts of the industry.  It is a strip not the least bit afraid to bite the hand that feeds it.  Generally G to PG rated, it is accessible to anyone that reads comics but will be of particular interest to anyone that has spent the same three decades following the industry that I have.

The strip, which updates Monday, Wednesday and Friday also touches on the topical items on the edges of the industry like this one.  Grim humor is always fun for me, but this one got me giggling out loud at work.

This one struck me funny because this was not the direction that it would really go in the comics.  If the code was really going to be bent over, they would get Garth Ennis to write Superman and things would get REALLY ugly!

Next up is Questionable Content (see the link on the home page).  Created by Jeph Jacques the series has had a long and successful run with humor and heart that explores the lives of its central characters, mostly normal people and one small perverted little robot.  One of the real treats of this series for me has been watching the art style evolve over time.  Things started out quite crudely drawn, but as Jeph’s confidence and skill grew, and the technical equipment being used got to be a better quality, things became a very good-looking product.  The story found its legs very quickly and has become a fairly complex and clever read.

This one is an example of some of the deeply risqué humor that makes this series so much fun.

Another strip I enjoy is Girls With Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto.  I would post some of them here, but all of the best ones are a bit much for a family show.  Maybe I’m a prude, but I don’t want to  spread the naughty.  Go look at the strip for yourself.  Super funny stuff.

And lastly we have Wondermark by David Malki!.  I discovered this one at C2E2 in 2010 and found it to be right up my street.  He takes the old Victorian era style public domain art from any source imaginable and makes this deeply twisted and funny stuff.

All of these strips and more are available as close as your local internet connection.  If none of these spark your interest, there are hundreds more.  The supply is nearly endless and the genres are every bit as varied as the comics medium we all know from the printed page.

I will leave you with a last Wondermark and will see you soon…

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My Day at C2E2 part two

Let’s see now, where was I?  Oh yes, left of with Skeletor.

I will try not to be quite so wordy but I had a great time in even just the one day, so I’m feeling a little bubbly.

One of the things that the wife and I were particularly looking forward to was the chance to meet Danielle Corsetto, creator of the webcomic Girls with Slingshots.  We were a little scared when we failed to find her booth right off, and wandered about for a bit looking for them.  Despair soon started to fall as we still failed to find her.  For those not in the know, GWS is a spectacularly funny webcomic she and I discovered a few weeks ago when we were looking through the C2E2 guest list.  I had been hoping mt favorites would be there again this year (Wondermark and Questionable Content–links on the home page) and finding that they were not, was looking for other things that might be fun.  Faye, that’s the wife as a reminder, saw the strip first and quickly got me into it as well.  The adventures of Hazel, Jaimie McPedro (the talking cactus!) and the legion of odd kitties they have has been one of the most fun strips I have ever read.  Started in 2004, the strip has been going strong ever since and has been Danielle’s full-time gig for quite some time.  As things were really looking bleak, we saw the booth.  There was nobody in the way at that moment and we pounced!  She was an absolute delight to speak to.  We each got McPedro plushies, and she did up word balloons to go with them.  Since we are both dirty minded, we asked for something dirty in the balloons and she happily obliged.  The less dirty of the 2 is below…

The drunken hero of our story...

She was a blast.  I also got the kitties poster which she added a ghost kitty sketch to, and a Special K mouse pad which she drew on as well.  Then she posed for a picture holding one of our McPedros with another in the foreground.

We all have photos like this in our past.

The big mission for Faye had been completed, and to be honest, meeting the creator of something I am currently very into was a lot of fun.  Most of what I do at these cons is talk to the older creators that were influencing my more formative years, so to have something current be as much fun as GWS is made this all the more special.

Then we moved on and found one of the collectibles booths that specialized in the more rare and, to be fair, pricey stuff.  I was not going to be able to pay the kind of money being asked for this beautifully crafted shield, but the guy selling it was more than willing to let me get a picture with it if we went over to the booth next door and donated $5 to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Awareness folks that were there.  With the donation happily made I got my hero moment.

Not quite the Cap I remember

This thing was magnificent, and if I had $450 to spend on something that would sit on a shelf  (except for those times when the wife is out and I can stalk bravely around the house with it on my arm) I would have bought it in a heartbeat.

No comic and sci-fi convention would be complete without a little Doctor Who stuff, and in the booth that featured Mr. McNiece, mentioned last time was a great “Ironside” Dalek from the episode Victory of the Daleks.  I was surprised at how good it looked and didn’t think to ask if it was something that the store running the booth had created or if it was a genuine prop, or just a great replica.

Then we went back into Artist’s Alley for a while.  I have found that I need to do the alley in multiple trips through.  Partly due to the lines that may cause me to shy away until later, but also because I get a little overwhelmed.  You can very quickly become blinded to what you see and not remember any of it.  I try hard to hit a specific list of creators that I want to be sure not to miss.  I like to get them done and be sure I don’t miss the things I specifically came for.  I like the con sketchbooks a lot and I usually bring one item for each of them to be signed.  This year Gail Simone, Adam Hughes, Kevin MaGuire, Jill Thompson, Terry Moore and Dexter Vines were just a few of them and I managed to catch all of the above and most of the others on my list.  I will go into more about the people and the art next time.  Here I want to continue with the fans and the fun sites that you always see at these cons.

Among the many amazing costumes this year were a few more mid level characters represented.  Every cons sees lots of Wonder Womans and Batmen, not that many get graced as effectively by Booster Gold and Arnold J Rimmer from Red Dwarf!  As these two shots below show, you can do basic costumes well and if you really want to much more difficult costumes well if you are willing to make the effort to do it right.

Toodle-pipskie

The greatest hero you've never heard of.

There was lots of Marvel costumes too.  Some of the best were the Age of Apokolips versions of Wolverine, Rouge and Magneto.  At I think that’s where they are from since I didn’t read that series.

So what do you think? Taco Bell or Fishy Joe's?

I will wrap up this post with the last few of the very best pictures my wife Faye so ably took.  The next post will cover the stuff I brought back with me.  Well some of the stuff.  It is very easy to spend yourself into the poorhouse at these things just buying only the coolest stuff and leaving the just kind of cool for someone else.

The captions for theses following pictures say it all really…

A Star Wars family

No con is complete without Slave Leia

Good costumes for the MOS and the DK

The Dread Pirate Wesley

And no group of con pictures would be complete without hearing from the lovely ladies.  With these, I will leave you till next time when I wrap up my coverage of C2E2 2.0!

"I'm sorry Messrs Allen and West, DC Comics will not longer be needing your services."

An Adam Hughes drawing come to life!

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