Silva rerum (2)

The idea for today was to write a post about webcomics. And it stands, but that’s not all. It’s more. Thus the title, silva rerum.

Fantasy TV shows.

Two trailers were released recently, for very different TV shows. MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles is one, the other – The Magicians. Both are adaptations of acknowledged books, and it happens that I’ve read both Shannara (two books, but no the one that inspired this show) and The Magicians Trilogy. Shannara I’ve seen as a kind of a failed Tolkien fanfic, Magicians I consider great, despite certain flows, but both shows are highly anticipated by me. Why? See the trailers, they are both good. Shannara seems to aim for a cheaper, lighter version of GoT, and if that is the standard for cheaper fantasy tv, I’m al excited (if the show will keep the quality of the trailer). What made a boring book might be condensed into fine tv, I’ll give it a try.

The Magicians is a very ambitious, sophisticated work. If done right – and trailer promises good times – it might be great on tv. Harry Potter in college, Narnia grim and dark, lost love, betrayal, redemption and more. I like the actors, I like what we’ve been shown of the sets and cgi… Production quality looks great, if the screenplay is good – wow.

Both shows will start in January 2016, and maybe GoT and Jonathan Strange won’t be the only good fantasy out there anymore 🙂 Before that, Jessica Jones arrives, not fantasy, yet another Marvel show, but based on great, unique comic.

Paper vs ebook discussion.

That topic isn’t new, but debate was renewed recently by the NYT article claiming that “E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead”. It warms my heart. I own a first generation Nook, which still works fine despite its slowly dying battery, but I just love the physical form of a classic paper book. I read mostly dead-tree editions and I collect. And I was afraid that soon I will remain the only one and nobody will publish on paper any more 😉

It’s not that easy, of course. Paper books were never going to completely vanish, ebooks aren’t going anywhere. One of the best, detailed analysis of the problem is offered by a blogger Nicholas C. Rossi here (with cool diagrams and infographics).

But wait! There is more… there is more to ebook market than we can easily analyse. Hidden from some of the statistics are indie ebooks published without ISBN (why would anybody publish without ISBN? harmless and helpful… and gives the feel of a “real book” even, if no major publisher was involved – is what I thought, because in my country ISBNs are free. Apparently not so in places like the US…). NYT article was based on data from 1200 major publishers. Seems like a lot, but they are more, small publishers and self-publishing authors. As this article shows (great one, brought to me by reddit, of course 😉 ), their share of the market constantly rises. And it’s more than a change of form, from paper to digital. It’s a fundamental change of the way books are produced and marketed. And if we remember how the financial side of writing is changing… the real ebook revolution is far from over. I just hope it won’t go too far and both traditional and new will learn to coexist, we need both of them (especially those of us who want continuous arrival of new shiny hardbacks on our shelves…).

Webcomics.

A, well, it was supposed to be the main topic today. But tvtropes led me to this video and it says all that need to be said on this topic 😉 To summarize: “They’re all about video games, gamernerds, webgeeks, dorknerds, gamewads, nerdgames, webwebs, and elves.”

Not all of them. Only about 95%. But that’s not bad. These are very interesting topics 😉 Definition and history of the genre are to be found on wiki, or, in less sturctured form, on tvtropes. Basic definition – comics published, not necessarily exclusively, on the Internet. Webcomics I like can be divided into two broad categories – gag-a-day strips (like Garfield or Calvin and Hobbes) and multi-episode stories. Most of them fall somewhere between these two extremes, as usual.

Good idea is what makes a great webcomic possible. Nobody expects technical perfection from an amateur. Most of the great webcomics started as simple sketches with great idea behind them. When you go on an archive binge of a famous one, you often see big contrast between humble beginnings and rich present. If the author was diligent, art improved. If he (or she) was really talented, story stays good or improves. Sometimes, sadly, the inspiration expires and what we are left with is improved art without a soul.

One idea of successful transition is Questionable Content. A long (3000 episodes over 12 years) story of Marten and his friends (and indie rock, and AI and more). At the beginning it was amateurish art, lots of indie music references and shorter story archs, now we have a sort of slice of life graphic novel published one page at a time on the WWW. You can’t just read the latest one without knowing anything about the story and characters. But the characters are well developed, the story is very good – its worth your time to read it all. Well, 3000 pages is… more than my 21-vol. collection of Fables (well, it isn’t, pages here are much shorter). Great stuff and popular enough that the author makes a living, selling merchandise such as this:

WP_20151011_001(I use it often, and sometimes it’s even ironed 😉 )

Anyway, my piperka.net account follows over 20 different webcomics of different types, and some of them deserve mention here (well, all of them deserve it, but I don’t want to make this post too long). BTW – do use piperka.net or some alternative. It follows webcomics for you and gathers links to all the updates in one place.Before that, I had to check about two dozen pages daily, just to check if any of my favourites was updated. As author of the fabulous website says:

You might find this site useful if you like to read many webcomics, like 450 as your humble web master does.

The Order of the Stick

is the best RPG-related webcomic. With over 1000 episodes (rather big pages, each of them) it covers adventures of a likeable group of adventurers in a fantasy setting that is very D&D (and not only the world and culture, but the rules, we sometimes see the dice roll in the background and characters levelling up…). If you played some table top RPG – you need to see this.

Megatokyo

Great story about two geeks lost in Japan, their friends and adventures in Nippon. Another example of significant art improvement and continuously good storytelling (although lately author concentrates more on his Megatokyo visual novel – and that’s good, I supported it on Kickstarted and I can’t wait to play 😉 )

Hark! A Vagrant

This one has some recurring themes, but no long storylines. It’s… historical figures, characters from literature… but not as we read about them normally. Definitely not. It’s Jefferson discovering popcorn, Washington in Burger King or just a regular Princess, with a pony. That is too fat and lazy to move. You have to see it to appreciate it fully 😉

Sarah’s Scribbles

Some recurring characters but no big story archs. A girl and her rabbit. Girl graduated from college and is unsure… just about anything. Smart and funny, though. And the rabbit is her friend and a voice of reason. Like, an English-speaking voice of reason. Rabbit.

Also, periodically, periods. But I don’t really get these…

Lunarbaboon

Webcomic about geeky parents trying to raise their kids properly (to follow them in the ways of geekdom). Inspirational.

I wanted so much more… but it’s past midnight, and I’ve done way too much research, and not enough writing. And that’s good, because you shouldn’t read too much about webcomics. You should read them.

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2 thoughts on “Silva rerum (2)

  1. What a great reference post!

    I’m looking forward to Shannara and The Magicians – thanks for the tip.

    As a webcomics fan, I knew some of these, but will check out the rest. I also enjoy Least I Could Do (http://www.leasticoulddo.com/), as I enjoy both Ryan Sohmer’s irreverent humor and Lar deSouza’s brilliant artwork.

    And many thanks for the kind mention 😀

    Like

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