December 28, 2004

2004 Bringing the Funny Shortbread Part II

Something -- probably the sheer length -- in the Shortbread recipient list keeps breaking. The last few paragraphs will be there for a while, and then will disappear. And, as they include... well, the webcomic who took the overall, I'm kind of hoping it can actually be read.

So, after the "read more cut" (to keep from spoiling the suspense) I'm repeating those paragraphs here. So, if you want to know who took the Overall Bringing the Funny Shortbread for 2004... you should read the extended entry.

If you were lucky enough to see it in the long post, there is nothing new here. Oh, and my brain still hurts.

Continue reading "2004 Bringing the Funny Shortbread Part II" »

December 27, 2004

The 2004 Shortbread Recipents for Bringing the Funny

Humor is inexorably linked with cartoon art in modern society. Look at the terminology. Cartoon. Comic Strip. Funny Pages. While I'm never going to claim that a strip has to be funny (because I value my life, and I don't want to be burned at the stake), it goes without saying that a good number of strips are going to be funny.

Or at least try to be funny.

This warm plate of Shortbread (Tasty, Tasty Shortbread) is going out to those webcomics that I feel most Brought the Funny in 2004. Bear in mind, these are the strips I read that I think succeeded. I don't read every webcomic (I doubt I read 5% of all the webcomics out there. I doubt you do too, for a statistically valid description of "you.") So I don't claim this to be an objective list of the best, funniest webcomics in the world. These are the ones that made me smile, pretty much every day.

Your absolute hatred of me and my opinions begins... now.

(Note, the list is going behind a "read more" link because it's fucking huge. You're welcome.)

Continue reading "The 2004 Shortbread Recipents for Bringing the Funny" »

December 21, 2004

A quick picture to whet your appetites for shortbread

As I put together the Shortbread Recipients lists (there are four lists -- Bringing the Funny, Bringing the Story, Bringing the Toolset and Bringing the Other Stuff), I thought you might like to see the artwork Ursula Vernon (of Digger fame) provided for the project. Snarky is without a doubt the best thing to come out of this website, in my humble opinion, and there's always something adorable about chef's hats. Needless to say, I'm thrilled with the picture. (Click on the thumbnail if you want to see it full sized.)

As I said, there are four lists. The first three -- Funny, Story and Toolset -- are then divided into categories. To be a category, there has to be at least six webcomics that come to mind that fit the category. Those six get listed, and then I give the category Shortbread out. At the end of the list, an overall webcomic for the list is picked as well, to give everyone a reason to read to the bottom.

No big deal, right?

Hah. I'm working on Bringing the Funny right now, and there are fourteen categories in it. With six nominees per category, that's eighty-four blurbs to write. Plus fourteen blurbs on the categories themselves, and fourteen blurbs about the winners. And the Overall, of course.

That's for one list.

I'm an idiot. See me roar. I'll try to get it done for today, though.

December 20, 2004

There's probably a psychology paper in the association of credit and food in this blog.

From the very start, I've tried to make a distinction between critiques, which is what I try to do with Websnark, and reviews. It hasn't been easy. Part of the problem is terminology, of course. The technical term for literary and artistic analysis is criticism, which back in the 19th century didn't presume to be positive or negative. Criticism simply was. However, in the 20th century, the word criticism came to mean adverse judgment. It got to the point where they came up with a whole new phrase for criticism that wasn't meant harshly -- "constructive criticism" -- and even there the idea was "here's the stuff you're doing wrong and should change."

But over in the world of literary criticism, "criticism" doesn't mean "here's what they did wrong." It means "here's what they did, decoded and analyzed, and put into perspective." Different critical theories lead to different senses of perspective, of course. A historicist might want to put an author's short story into the perspective of the author's life, or into societal trends of the time, or into the cosm of literary development as it was shown both at that time and into the present. A new critic might want to explore the subtextual perspective, finding connections in the specific story's text and tying them back into each other. A Marxist critic might want to show how the short story highlights societal evolution and class warfare. And so on, and so forth.

A reviewer, on the other hand, wants to judge worth. He might bring all of the above tools and perspectives into play, of course. But in the end, he's rendering a judgment on the piece. "This is good," he says. "This is not good. This sucks berries."

Our word for the analyst mentioned two paragraphs ago? "Critic." Our word for the reviewer mentioned one paragraph ago? "Critic."

C'est la vie. I am a critic. I work at being an analyst, discussing technique and meaning where I can. Often, I am a reviewer, saying "I think this is so fucking cool!" (Or, at the other extreme, "you had me, and you lost me.") Somewhere in between the two aspects of the word "Criticism," you'll find

Well, reviewers tend to come out with their ten best list, their award shows and the like. And many of them also come out with star ratings or things like that. Well, I don't do "stars" or anything like it. I just give out biscuits to individual strips that really appeal to me, and otherwise I do short essays expressing my thesis and move on.

But, it's the end of a calendar year... and at the end of a calendar year the urge to have the big gala prize events is overpowering. And I am just a man, like any other. I have needs, you know. I'm only human.

So. over the next several days, we're going to have our Websnark Year End Wrapup, where I give some general props to the webcomics that have made me just plain happy to be a webcomics fan. We're going to ape an awards show, in that I'm going to have several nominees in each category, and then announce who gets the nod, but it's all purely my opinion, no one else's, and so you're going to disagree with some of them. Hell, a month after this, I'm going to reread it and think what was I thinking?

Be that as it may. It's my website, and I want to play at being a reviewer for a few days. And it's going to be a Websnark-happy series of events. We're going to go through the old jargon pretty hard. There will be Bringing of Things, there will be Cerebus Syndromes. There will be Funny and Story and Toolsets galore. If you're not a fan of the Lexicon -- and I know there's people out there who aren't -- this is pretty well going to suck for you. Consider that the disclaimer.

The question is... what are we going to call this?

Well, individual daily strips sometimes earn a biscuit -- a tasty, tasty biscuit -- from me.

Strips at the end of the year? They get Shortbread. It's Christmas, after all.