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Daily Comics Trawl: The Afternoon List

So, I've been slowly building up more and more "daily comics" to my daily comics trawl. Not a huge number, mind -- it took me a few years to build up the three trawls you've already seen into the unstoppable juggernaut of comics reading I now enjoy. But given that I'm being exposed to a lot more comics now than before (I have a robust correspondence life, now), strips are being added at a good clip.

So, we have a whole new trawl. And, since we're desperately late in snarking today, we might as well show what's currently in that trawl, to give some good meaty... um... goodness. With one strip you've seen, I would add -- I've moved American Elf from the Day trawl to this new Afternoon Trawl. Once again, these are (in no particular order) the Safari Tabs that pop up when I click the bookmark bar item. Enjoy!

  • Ascent, by Sylvan Migdal. I got into Migdal's work with Mnemesis, a fantastic Graphic Smash strip about lifestyle after death, more or less. I migrated from there to Ascent, which is something of a fantasy and something of... um... not. Ascent is funky and fresh and a lot of fun, and has something to say about magic and attitude. It's also funny without slamming your face with funniness. Also, I seriously love the artwork. Seriously.
  • American Elf, by James Kochalka. Good God. Why on Earth aren't you reading this? A daily weblog in comic strip form, as done by one of the most experimental and artistic sequential artists working today. It takes several strips to get into its rhythm, but after you manage it, its simple beauty and statements about life will sink into your skull. Also, it has a talking dog.
  • Basil Flint, P.I., by John Troutman. There's an unusual number of detective and noiresque webcomics out there. Enough that it seems like the major comic book companies are missing out on a nice sized chunk of change by not providing a detective outlet. Troutman does the form very nicely indeed with Basil Flint. his characters are flawed, which good Noiresque characters should be. They're also often hysterical. It's a good combination. Though to be honest, I miss the hat.
  • Daily Dinosaur Comics, by Ryan North. Once upon a time, there was a cult director named David Lynch who a lot of people liked a great deal. And, because he wanted to write a comic strip, he decided to do so. He named the strip "The Angriest Dog in the World," and in that strip he literally one-upped talking heads comics -- he used exactly the same artwork every day, with just different dialogue. It was a clever idea, but quickly grew tired because the dialogue wasn't nearly as clever. Well, enter Ryan North. Daily Dinosaur Comics exists under the same principle -- North clearly used clip art of dinosaurs to put together six panels of cartoon art, and then redialogued it every day. The difference, however, is that North has a tremendously mighty sense of humor, and the strips deal with philosophy and ethos and good clean fun, with occasional continuity thrown in as a kind of kosher salt. North acknowledges "Angriest Dog in the World," up to actually incorporating the entirety of "Angriest Dog" into "Daily Dinosaur Comics's" backstory. Which must be some kind of first.
  • Digger, by Ursula Vernon. One of several reasons Graphic Smash deserves your money, Digger is an absolute gem. It blows me away with its artwork, its pacing, its execution, its humor, and its lead character, a semianthropamorphic wombat (she looks more like a wombat perched up on its hind legs than a woman with furr) named Digger, who has found herself wandering a foreign land despite her best wishes. Digger is one of my absolute favorites these days. You should all read it, and then send Vernon coupons for free day spas and fresh baked whole grain bread.
  • Felicity Flint, Agent of H.A.R.M., by John Troutman. My second Troutman on this list (I also read Vigilante, Ho!, which he writes, but it's not on a daily trawl just yet), and the newest addition to this list. I just started reading Felicity, which had been on Graphic Smash but now is on Keenspot alongside Basil. It's been restarted from the beginning, so there's just a few strips to get caught up on. So this is an excellent time to start reading, don't you think? You do! Excellent. It hits me the same way Basil does, and that's nice.
  • Freefall, by Mark Stanley. A good old fashioned gag-a-day strip, with clean artwork that puts me in mind of Crockett Johnson and a geniality that often is lacking in webcomics. All that disguises the fact that this science fiction strip (the lead characters are an alien squid man in an encounter suit, an anthropomorphic uplifted "Bowman's Wolf," and a robot) is actual hard science fiction. Honestly. It works. It all works. It's astounding. So, it's a strip that kids will love because it's funny and cartoony, adult non-SF fans will love because it's funny and intelligent, and SF fans will love because it's funny and accurate. And all of the above will find themselves learning without ever realizing it -- in part because it's not trying to teach. It's just being accurate. Glee!
  • Home Run, by Andrew Lin. A somewhat minimalist comic strip (the art puts me in mind of Jim's Journal, though with a Jules Fiefferesque feel to the characters), Home Run just feels nice. Part of it is the minimalism -- you need very little to embrace the characters and situations. This is one of those comics that, no matter how much or how little you know about what has come before, you can jump right in and start snickering. Also, there's Alton Brown jokes. Alton Brown fans have to stick together.
  • Nahast: Lands of Strife, by Alejandro Melchor. One of the best paced pure adventure strips on the web, Nahast balances story with pacing almost perfectly. Action and a sense of dynamic tension pervades every strip, whether there's violence going on or not. Melchor would have been at home drawing a weekly page for a newspaper Sunday Comics section in the thirties, and that's a very, very good thing.
  • Narbonic, by Shaenon Garrity. If you people haven't figured out I've fallen hard for Narbonic, you're just not paying attention. The absolute best strip I've started reading this year, and one of the best strips I've ever read, Narbonic is hysterically funny, bringing Mad Science and humor together into a perfect blend, with a soup-son of Story to tie it all together and drive the plot forward. Garrity is a true student of the art form, and she lets that show. This is damn good, and you should read it. Or you'll be doomed! DOOMED!
  • No Stereotypes, by Amber "Glych" Greenlee. The strip that got me to give money to Modern Tales. Amber Greenlee has an artistic sense just about perfect for the web. She's the only artist I've seen who could bring the concept of decompression into her strip on a regular basis and do it well. The panel by panel movement and dance between the characters in the strips enchants us, where most people would have us going insane wanting something to happen. Something is happening here, and I want to see it through.
  • Penny and Aggie, by T. Campbell and Gisele Lagace. Marking a return to cartooning by Lagace, who was the celebrated creator of Cool Cat Studio, Penny and Aggie was a strip I took on faith -- slow starting, but I was sure this team would make it worth my while. And we've reached a point where my faith is being rewarded. Between realistic characters (they feel like teenaged girls) and honest situations, this is a coming of age story crossed with a romance comic crossed with a twenty-first century's dose of cynical humor. I'm grooving on it.
  • Questionable Content, by J. Jacques. Let's get one thing straight right out of the gate. This strip owes a lot to Bobbins and Scary Go Round, by John Allison. We know it. Jacques has acknowledged it. The humor, the dialogue, and on one level the character design (though QC's art is distinct from Allison's Modisms) have been informed by the good people of East Tackleford. Fine. That doesn't change the fact that this situation comedy is hysterical, with good relationships interweaving between the characters, interesting tensions (including a dual romantic and sexual tension between Marten and Faye that's richer than either tension would be on their own), and a willingness to go highbrow or lowbrow as Jacques feels. As long as Jacques keeps drawing them, I'll keep reading them.
  • Rip and Teri, by T. Campbell and John Waltrip. One part James Bond adventure, one part X-Files, one part romance, shaken together with a Sixties Adventure Strip feel to the art and a real sense of danger -- this is the rare adventure strip where I feel like all bets are off, Teri might lose an arm in the next episode, and Rip's probably not going to make it no matter how hard he tries -- combines to make an honest thrill ride in a webcomic. How Campbell can do this, Fans, Penny and Aggie and Christ knows how many other strips, keeping their distinctive styles and voices in his head, is beyond me. That he can go on to edit Graphic Smash means he doesn't sleep and is some kind of robot. Well, shine on you crazy machine.
  • Todd and Penguin, by David Wright. This is a simple, sweet comic strip that I really enjoy. Todd might be worn out by his life, but he's not truly cynical. Penguin is an honest innocent. Hijinks, as they say, ensue. Wright admits to being strongly influenced by Calvin and Hobbes, and that's clearly true... but to be honest, I think I like this better. Calvin was a little self centered bastard, pretty much all of the time. Penguin, on the other hand, has Calvin's imagination but also seems to really love other people. It's a nice balm from the rougher kinds of humor I dive into on a daily basis, and I'm always glad to see the next strip.

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Comments

You do realize that they ARE in a particular order? They're alphabetical. :P

They... um... they are, aren't they?

*stares at list*

I guess I hit... er... something, in Safari, at some point. I guess. Um... huh.

Well, they weren't meant to be in any particular order....

Every few years, I pick up something by Kochalka and read it, remembering that he's considered Very Good. Invariably, it does nothing for me.

Agreed on Nahast, though.

Wow, I don't know what to say.
thanks, I appreciate the awesome words.

the only webcomic recommendation i have that you've probably never heard of is Buttercup Festival... mention of the dinosaur comic reminded me of this, a daily dinosaur guest strip by the author of buttercup.

Glad you're still enjoying my work, Eric! And no, I don't pay John any royalties. We're pals! Influence is a funny thing- QC has very much been a learning experience for me, hopefully as I gain more experience my influences will be a little less obvious.

The diary strip is James Kochalka's best work, the comic he was put on this earth to draw. Eric's right -- it takes a few strips to get into the rhythm of it, and then it builds and deepens.

"Something of a fantasy and something of... um... not"
That's the definition of good fantasy. :)

Aww, thank you for the kind words!

Your cut of the whole-grain bread deal is in the mail.

Do you do review requests? Check out combustibleorange.com, it gets updated infrequently but it's well, I think it's good.

Oh, and thanks for the kind words and all that stuff. You know.

Likewise!

Likewise to the XTREEM!

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