Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Webcomic Overlook #185: Dynagirl

There was a short lived TV series back in the 1970’s called Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. It was created by Sid and Marty Krofft, those crazy puppeteers who made bizarre, psychedelic shows which tread the line between fantastic and nightmare-inducing. They’re likely lost to younger Webcomic Overlook readers these days: H. R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and Land of the Lost. Electra Woman and Dyna Girl was supposed to be a callback to the much more famous 1960’s Batman series. They wore spandex, rode around in Electri-Car before the Nissan Leaf made it cool again, and fought villains with names like Empress of Evil and Glitter Rock… who, frankly, sound like they should be opening for KISS.

If you could sum up the seventies in the span of one minute, you can’t get more accurate than the show’s opening sequence:

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl was never really that popular, and it lasted all of 16 episodes.

And yet … in 2001, some genius decided that it was ready for a reboot. Seriously. And it was as stereotypically 1990’s comic book reboot as you can get. Electra Woman (played by Night Court’s Markie Post) was a washed-up, drunk, divorced superheroine who was brought back into action by an all new Dyna Girl. Now, admittedly this sounds like a pretty terrible concept. However, it’s pretty remarkable when you consider that a) this was a year before Spider-Man officially kicked off the decade when superhero movies dominated the box offices, and b) a full three years before The Incredibles, which rode a very similar premise to boffo returns. (To be fair, though, the whole “washed up superhero” trope had already been done with Watchmen.)

There’s also a webcomic entitled Dynagirl, written by Cary Kelley and illustrated by Harold Edge… and … it’s not that same Dyna Girl created by Sid and Marty Krofft.

Or … is she?

Because, despite the fact that she’s sporting hot pants rather than spandex, Dyna Girl follows what sounds like a very similar story arc as the one Markie Post did in the 2001 reboot.

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The killer is … webcomics!

You know, the wife and I just sat down and watched last Monday’s episode of Castle. In this one, the suspect is a real-life superhero named Lone Vengeance who commits a pretty gruesome murder. Castle and Beckett track down the inspiration of the costumed vigilante, which is a comic book published by neither Marvel nor DC (though it does, as Castle points out, pick up inspirations from Deadpool to Daredevil to Spider-Man to the Black Panther). It turns out that it’s not published at all… it’s available online (and has something of a fanbase … in story, anyway).

So the killer … is from webcomics?

I’m just kinda stunned that webcomics are now part of police procedurals … and an especially smart one like Castle, which did a pretty good job convincing me that Nathan Fillion was a bonafide geek (which he probably really is).

The four-page prop comic from the episode IS available online, by the way. If you read it, though, you have to promise that you don’t start chopping down people in deserted alleyways.

How Webcomic Artists Draw Themselves

Lauren Davis of the Storming the Tower blog covered the subject of how webcomic artists draw themselves some time back … and it’s commendably thorough, I should add. Now it’s up to Slacktory, and specifically Justin Hall (creator of hand-drawn Rage Comics on Reddit) to take up the serious business of autobiographical and semi-autobiographical artistic renditions.

How do webcomic characters compare to their real life creators? Let’s find out.

(h/t Comixtalk)

Webcomic Women Kicking Ass

Amidst all the controversy last week about how the DC reboot has not been very kind to female superheroes, a question was posed on the “DC Women Kicking Ass” blog: “Are there any webcomics that you would recommend?”

The reply:

Hmm … Hark a Vagrant by Kate Beaton, Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks and, of course, Lady Sabre by Greg Rucka and Rick Burnett. Oh and I like Wonderella too.

So there you go: the Webcomic Women Kicking Ass.

One Punch Reviews #53: Awesome Hospital

Chris Sims is one of the top writers at Comics Alliance. His style is enthusiastic, winsome, and often adorable. He’s referred to as the Batmanologist, since he’s many pertinent questions about the Caped Crusader, such as, “If Batman dies, which two superheroes would Batman select as dads for Robin?” He’s also probably a Punisherologist, since he unabashedly admits that he’s read every single Punisher comic published, including that one where he rented out a jet ski.

Along with writer Chad Bowers, artist Matt Digges, and letter Josh Krach, Mr. Sims also co-writes a webcomic entitled Awesome Hospital. It stars a doctor who is also a guy who rides a dirtbike. That’s right: the whole “doctor who is also something much cooler in the eyes of an excitable 7-year-old boy” pioneered by Dr. McNinja is now officially a genre (subset of General Category: Manchild Webcomics).

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Know Thy History: The Red Bee – bonus round

The Red Bee’s questionable attire gets him a lot of crap. His stripey tights and transparent blouses makes him to the poster boy of terrible superhero design. And, make no mistake, it IS eye-searingly bad. However, the surprising thing about reading Hit Comics, the home of The Red Bee, is that he was hardly the worst dressed out of the heroes featured within. Hit Comics was a horror house of fashion nightmares.

Don’t believe me? Observe:

Check out the look on the pilot’s face as he’s attacked by the hero Hercules. You can tell he’s all, “Oh … crap. How am I going to explain to the guys back at HQ that I got attacked by a pervert wearing a cape, underpants, and nothing else?” Look, when even pro-wrestlers are dressed more modestly than you, you’re in desperate need of an emergency make-over.

Let me just say, Stormy Foster, that I love the pencil-thin moustache. It’s a facial hair statement that gets so little respect nowadays, especially since Deadshot seems to no longer be sporting his fantastic ‘stache in the pages of Suicide Squad. That said: your costume consists of what can be accurately described as a pair of tighty whities.

Why are there so many ass shots?!?!?

We’re… we’re going on some kind of sex offender registry for viewing Lion Boy, aren’t we?

On the other hand…

Look at this suave mofo. Don Glory is everything you want in a Champion of Democracy … and more. He’s the dude you want to have delivering punches … punches of FREEDOM.

Know Thy History: The Red Bee

DC Comics’ New 52 initiative has brought several long forgotten heroes back from ignominy. Animal Man and Swamp Thing were rescued from the dustbins of Vertigo past. Grifter and Voodoo were deemed to be the least bland of the WildCATs and were granted their own titles. Frankenstein, Harley Quinn, and The Demon were rescued from second-banana heaven and are the headliners for team-based titles.

And yet, I must ask: wither The Red Bee?

The Red Bee debuted in Quality’s Hit Comics #1 way back in July 1940. He was created by Audrey Anthony “Toni” Blum (one of the few female comic creators in a male-dominated industry) and Charles Nicholas (who I think was really Chuck Cuidera … I’m not totally sure because apparently three different comic creators used that pseudonym, including JACK friggin’ KIRBY).

The Red Bee’s secret identity was Rick Raleigh, assistant to district attorney Tom Darrow. He hailed from Superior City, Oregon, which, despite its lofty (vaguely northern Michigander) name was a hive of scum and villainy. He’d seen far too much crime and corruption slip through the courts.

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PvP throws down the gauntlet in the “iPads do not make good cartoons” argument

As pointed out by reader Drezz Rodriguez, Scott Kurtz has been very rapid in responding to the allegations that Steve Jobs has ruined cartooning. From his blog:

Is the whole world going nuts lately? Cartooning is over 100 years old and it’s going to survive shifts in technology and business models. I think that the digital revolution has made cartoonists a little soft. yes the web has made it easier to distribute comics to a mass audience. But the art of cartooning is still really hard. It’s still a decade worth of drawing and writing and self-examining every day to start to become good at it.

I’m sorry it’s hard. I’m sorry that Television sets are now flatter and harder to represent. But your JOB as a cartoonist is to represent and reflect the times in which you as an artist live. That’s the basic tenant of the art form. There are a lot of cartoonists out there whining about how the world is making it impossible for them to be successful. It’s getting laughable.

I actually think that the cartoon misses the point a little, since Pappalardo’s original post talked about how all technology, no matter what the application, starts to look like flat rectangles, and the phone that Scott drew is obviously not a flat rectangle.

But there you go: Scott Kurtz is going with the “Evolve or Die” argument.

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