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May 7, 2009

Dresden Codak
Posted by Teresa at 10:51 AM * 94 comments

Chat transcript:

2:49:12 PM Abi: Martin says hi, by the way, and asks if you’re aware of Dresden Codak?
2:49:32 PM TNH: I don’t think so.
2:49:44 PM Abi: webcomic he thinks you’ll like
2:59:40 PM TNH: …My brains are now being sucked out of my head by Dresden Codak.
Some standalone pages: Epilogue. Note: it’s the epilogue to a story involving time travel that starts a year later. Trouble in Memphis. Copenhagen interpretation fantasy camp. Summer Dream Job. I’d love to know the background on that one.

Two episodes of Philosophers’ D&D: Dungeons and Discourse and Advanced Dungeons and Discourse. Watch for Tiny Carl Jung, Ephesian Oneironaut.

And, just to get the flavor of it, a segment of a longer storyline: After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, For Lack of a Better Term, The Witching Hour, In the Company of Science, and She is the very model of a Singularitarian, featuring the best-realized group of time travellers from the future I’ve ever seen.

Thank you, Martin.

Comments on Dresden Codak:
#1 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:34 AM:

You forgot this standalone:
Excorcizing Laplace's Demon

#2 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:38 AM:

And for those of you who like good art, good writing, and layers within layers of pop culture, gaming, and (mostly fantasy) literature references, try ErfWorld (start here).

#3 ::: Jon Marcus ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:46 AM:

Dresdan Codak, yes! God is powered by irony.

#4 ::: Samuel Bierwagen ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:57 AM:

John Solomon gazed upon Dresden Codak and did not approve of what he saw. (Part two.)

It mainly excoriates Diaz's stated business model; selling t-shirts and updating once every three months.

#5 ::: Keith K ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:07 PM:

"Somewhere Niels Bohr walks among us, unobserved and immortal."

This is awesome. My faith int he Internet is renewed.

#6 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:27 PM:

'codak' is a great pun on 'kodak' and 'codex'.

(or maybe it has some other rationale. but the phrase 'dresden codak' immediately puts me in mind of the many "geographical place-name/manuscript type' titles, e.g. 'strasbourg papyrus' to name a real one. or something from the robert ludlum title generator.)

#7 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:39 PM:!

#8 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:40 PM:

Unfortunately, while John Solomon has several good points, he is neither creative nor funny in making them, which makes reading his long, pointless screeds a complete waste of my time.

Just sayin'.

And I think he's missed the point of Kimiko - I always read her being a stylized object of male internet nerd/gamer lust as an intentional, ironic gesture by the author. As opposed to, say,

#9 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:42 PM:

... as opposed to, say, typical female characters in most internet/gamer comics, who are just hot gamer guys with boobs, in a disturbingly sincere and unironic way.

Sorry for the split post.

#10 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:47 PM:

I can't seem to get anywhere with the last three links?

#11 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:54 PM:!

#12 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:55 PM:

Sorry about the double post..I really must not look at this any more.

#13 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Harriet@10.. Those links should be The Witching Hour, In the Company of Science, and She is the very model of a Singularitarian. You can also get there by way of the "Next" link on the previous pages.

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Must... continue... suffering... Must... not... read... webcomics...

#15 ::: Cadence ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 01:03 PM:

Man, internet confluence is always fun. I love Dresden Codak a lot and lurk here a lot. Possibly it should have occurred to me that these two things should be connected if they were not already.

The thing that always bothers me about people commenting on Kimiko is that, well... as a female computer geek who read a lot of science fiction when I was younger, I identify with Kimiko pretty strongly. So the idea of her being just "a stylized object of male internet nerd/gamer lust" in any sense is... a bit squicky. People more or less like Kimiko do actually exist! And I believe Aaron Diaz said that she is loosely based on someone he knew. (I forget whether said someone was actually female or not.)

Not to mention that I just don't really understand it - Kimiko is not actually immensely physically attractive so far as I can tell. Not to mention that while I like her a lot, I am aware she is a bit over the top and maladjusted and lacks social skills pretty much entirely.

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 01:05 PM:

I want that rhetorical hammer.

#17 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 01:12 PM:

Gosh, I assumed everyone here knew it already; I'm sure I've mentioned it a couple time.

Once you've whetted your appetite on the small pieces, read 'Hob' from beginning to end. It's an elliptical epic about time travel, posthumanity, and what it means to be human, in surprisingly brief form. You'll probably want to read it several times before certain things become... well, not clear, but slightly less obscure.

The agony about following Dresden Kodak is that Diaz does update very erratically. On the other hand, when he does it's usually worth it. Nobody does layout as innovatively as he does.

#18 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 01:37 PM:

Cadence @15:

I think this discussion probably warrants its own thread, and maybe its own blog as well. Sorry if I squicked you out - I was mostly responding to Solomon's remarks, which were very much in that vein.

Nobody denies that there are intelligent, attractive men and women in real life who are interested in things like technology and science fiction - many of those people post here :)

#19 ::: Jim Kiley ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 01:53 PM:

Darnit. I have a job. Where they expect me to do work. This is not helping.

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 01:59 PM:

Harriet, Dan:

I've fixed the links. Looks like the site switched from "htm" suffixes to "html" ones at some point, probably for some sinister reason.

#21 ::: claire ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:15 PM:

Oh nos...I have work to do.

Must. Not. Read. Comic. From. Beginning. At Work.

#22 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:28 PM:

P.S. to internal spell-checker, "Codak", damn you!

kid bitzer: I am quite sure that Codak is intended as a portmanteau word, just as you suggest, given that there is an actual and famous Dresden Codex of Mayan hieroglyphs.

#23 ::: Cadence ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:43 PM:

Dave Fried @ 18

Probably so. Thank you for apologizing - yeah, Solomon's comments were definitely a lot worse than yours, and I think his comments say a lot more about him than Dresden Codak or its audience.

I mean, "dressing like the fine-ass piece of bitch she is," really? When in the linked comic she is... in a bathrobe, while alone and in her own house?

Somewhat related and perhaps interesting no matter what, when I mentioned something like this on Dresden Codak's forums (probably a couple years ago now; I don't frequent the forums much), Aaron Diaz mentioned that Dresden Codak's readership is, in fact, largely (mostly?) female, especially when you compare it to things like Penny Arcade.

I'm also a bit unclear on how selling t-shirts and updating the comic occasionally is failing to run a business, considering that "selling t-shirts" is a perfectly fine business on its own. Lack of a regular update schedule can be annoying, yes, but if a comic irregularly updated every few months maintains enough interest that he's selling shirts (or prints, or recently, a collected Hob book), I would think he's doing pretty well, whether or not he's putting in what some guy on the internet deems to be sufficient effort into it.

#24 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 02:48 PM:



#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Thank you, Abi. I was so pleased that I'd finished the entry before I had to leave for a doctor's appointment. I spotted the glitch about thirty seconds before my livery car started honking out front.

#26 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 03:57 PM:

Someone here recommended Dresden Codak on an open thread a long time ago, which was when I discovered "Hob." Now I can't stop saying, "I will do science to it," about...well...just about everything.

#27 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:12 PM:

I have to say that updates on a comic can be too erratic.

Sabrina Online is on a monthly schedule, but it's reliable. I'm not sure I want to follow something that slow which is also erratic.

I suppose one answer would be an RSS feed.

#28 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:20 PM:

Cadence @23:

The odd thing is that I'm not one of those guys who reacts like Solomon - though I was also aware from the first time I saw the comic that Kimiko was the type of character that "fanboys" would drool over.

Knowing that Diaz has a large female readership puts the character in perspective - it's not so much that Kimiko is a spoof on a common comic/anime/whatever trope, but rather more of a Superman for geeky/techy girls.

Though it doesn't change the fact that Diaz also likes to draw her in various states of undress. Which is okay, but I'm really not interested, and it makes it harder to check for updates at work. Meh.

#29 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:26 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden #25: I spotted the glitch about thirty seconds before my livery car started honking out front.

I've seen a lot of art cars before, but never a livery one; were the livers plastinated using the techniques of Dr. Gunther von Hagens? I imagine that would be a bit expensive, but art is art, after all....

#30 ::: Gdr ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 04:51 PM:

Dave Fried: being a stylized object of male lust as an intentional, ironic gesture by the author. As opposed to, say, typical female characters in most internet/gamer comics, who are just hot gamer guys with boobs, in a disturbingly sincere and unironic way.

"This scene may look like exploitation, but it isn't, 'cause it's ironic, y'see? I'm actually making fun of guys going "Ooh! Ah!" at babes in bondage, 'cause it's so sexist and bad and crap! Yeah! All this so-called exploitation is really satire, y'know? Or parody, maybe...I can never keep them straight. Well, whichever one's cool, that's what my movie is!" — from Grunge: the Movie by Adam Warren.

#31 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 05:08 PM:

Gdr @30:

Except it's been mentioned that Diaz has a large female readership who don't consider the character to be exploitive? I dunno. Talk to Cadence - I just like reading the comic.

Current culture - music, fashion, art, etc. - is characterized by a sort of irony that borders on earnest sincerity. All the '80s nostalgia, or the indie rock scene, or what people do with webcomics... Only the artist really knows what he or she is trying to do, and if some people appreciate the irony while others enjoy the content at face value, the artist just has a larger audience.

On a related note, is fanservice okay if both the artist and the audience recognize it as such?

#32 ::: Cadence ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 05:18 PM:

Dave Fried @ 28:

Yeah, I know she gets drawn in various states of undress a lot, and that's clearly fanservice. Probably the reason that doesn't register that much with me is that I read/watch anime and manga, where that's pretty standard. In a fantasy fighting manga about team work and psychological issues, you're suddenly treated to a scene in the girls' showers. And then the boys' showers too, if you're reading the manga I am.

I am sure a lot of guys do find Kimiko attractive, and I don't mind that! I think she's pretty and cool, after all.

But that's a long way from her entire character being designed as an object of lust. You say she's "a Superman for geeky/techy girls" and that's... kind of true? Although she definitely doesn't do much that's actually heroic, so 'Superman' seems a bit out of place. But more than that, I would hope that she's a compelling protagonist for anyone geeky, and that being a girl doesn't make her just a lust object if the people reading the comic happen to be male.

#33 ::: Scott Francis ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 05:19 PM:

Cadence @23:
At the time that Solomon's article was written, Diaz was hinting in his forums that story-driven comics like Hob would be how Codak would be from now on, and that anyone who didn't like it "could cry him a river". Couple that with some more hints that he would be quitting his day job to live off his Codak profits(in the face of his erratic update schedule), and it pushed a pretty big "lol what" button with the Internet crowd.

It didn't help that I was pretty "huh" towards the Hob storyline, especially the Singularity-as-Event angle(a big personal cynicism trigger). Since then however, Diaz has ended the Hob storyline and gone back to clever one-shots, which cleared up the issues I had with it.

#34 ::: Cadence ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 05:26 PM:

Dave Fried @ 31, while I was typing:

To elaborate and answer your question, I don't have a problem with fanservice as a rule. If you like a character, you might also find them attractive! And you might want to see them in less clothes! I don't think that's exploitative by definition. In practice it becomes a bit more complicated, but I think you can enjoy fanservice and like the character for other things that don't have anything to do with lust.

#35 ::: Gdr ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 05:34 PM:

Dave Fried @31: I enjoyed reading the comic too. But my enjoyment doesn't oblige me to excuse the sexualized poses and costumes by pretending to myself that they are "ironic".

You can't have your cheesecake and eat it too.

#36 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 05:35 PM:

especially the Singularity-as-Event angle(a big personal cynicism trigger).

I'll make sure to ask the Agent that comes for me whether the Singularity was a single event or an exponential cascade of seperate events which happened while I was composing a comment for Making Light. He'll probably just give that Thingol look.

#37 ::: Scott Francis ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 05:52 PM:

Niall @36: "Thingol look": is it anything like the Stewart squint?

#38 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 05:55 PM:

Scott Francis @ 37... I thought the Thingol look was also known as the Searing Gaze of Tommy Lee Jones.

#39 ::: Scott Francis ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 06:04 PM:

Serge @38: Oh, the Friday Stare?

#40 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 06:13 PM:

Gdr @ #35, "You can't have your cheesecake and eat it too."

Please explain the success of Brenda Starr and Apartment 3-G (okay, in days of yore, not now).

#41 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 06:16 PM:

'Then Thingol looked upon Beren in scorn and anger; but Melian was silent. "Who are you", said the King, "that come thither as a thief, and unbidden dare to approach my throne?"'

Hugo Weaving was a crappy Elrond, but he did a fair job of playing Thingol.

Except that Thingol was maybe 10 feet tall, and scarier than any elf ever bar Fëanor, who was barking mad as well as radioactive.

#42 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 07:12 PM:

Dresden Codak is one of many comics that has, as my husband puts it, gone on "the walk." It updates too irregularly to bother bookmarking, but I'll check out an individual comic if someone links it.

However, when someone linked that Advanced Dungeons & Discourse comic (a few months back, not this time)... Well, the punchline I took from it is that the group embeds philosophy in their dungeon crawling, but lacks the common sense to kick out a problem player (a repeat offender, at that!). Am I just weird for reading it that way?*
*I'll admit bias, since I've been in a group that once had a problem player much like the one in the comic. Five years later he remains persona non grata.

#43 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 07:43 PM:

The best Dresden Codak strip is the most recent one. It's simultaneously amusing and crushingly sad.

After Codak, my favorite Carl Jung appearance in comics is something I saw at the bottom of this installment of the Stupid Comics page. I just wish I knew what comic it was from.

#44 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 07:47 PM:

Teresa, thanks for reminding me about "Dresden Codak". I used to read it scientifically (I can't say I read it religiously, now can I?), but a long dry spell in updates coincided with my discovering "Freak Angels" and "Skin Horse", and I got out of the habit of checking on "Dresden Codak". Then I found "Digger", and forget completely about anything else. I'll have to go back and pick up "Dresden Codak" where I left off.

Clifton @ 17

I've only gone through "Hob" once, but I was very impressed, both by the story and the layout. Maybe time to look at it again.

#45 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 08:12 PM:

@42 One of the best things about RSS feeds is they let you keep an eye on things (blogs, comics, etc.) you're interested in without having to check them every day.

Of course that doesn't make it any less frustrating trying to follow something with a continuous storyline that only updates once in a blue moon, which definitely seems to be the default state of webcomics.

#46 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 09:19 PM:

Cadence @ 34: "In practice it becomes a bit more complicated, but I think you can enjoy fanservice and like the character for other things that don't have anything to do with lust."

Agreed! After all, in RL we regularly expect people to have deep emotional and intellectual attachments to others and also think they're really hot--you know, romance. Objectification is troublesome when the viewer finds the person sexually attractive INSTEAD of seeing them as a person in their own right.

#47 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 09:59 PM:

Man, I have to re-find Freak Angels. Yeah.

I don't know why people mind sporadic updates (says the guy who specialized in sporadic updates back when he was doing a Web comic) -- they save you time in the morning, most days. I mean, if every one of the 90 comics I check daily actually updated daily, I'd never get anything done.


Why are you all looking at me like that? I put some of them into the check-every-now-and-again pile. About ten, I guess. It takes about a year of not updating before I stop checking daily.

#48 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 10:02 PM:

Claire @45: Oh, umm...right. RSS. That thingy I keep forgetting to use. (Which prompted me to see if Darths & Droids has a feed, which it does. I should check into this for the handful of comics I still read.)

Webcomics have a tendency to go dormant and/or die off, story-driven or no. Even way back in 2000; I think it's just the nature of the medium.

#49 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 10:54 PM:

Seconding, Thirding, Fou- oh heck, N+1ing Ginger, Fragano, claire, Jim … I'm already well behind RL, not to mention NetLife (WebLife?).

Is there a emoticon for the equivalent of enfingering one's ears & humming loudly? Hard to work that way too.

#50 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2009, 11:58 PM:

1) Not actually that sporadic. There were about 2-3 weeks between updates of Hob for a while -- granted, there have been occasional lags of over a month, but given how much is in every page? I'm not very surprised or disappointed. There are plenty of stories out there that I've waited over a year for new chapters of -- and each page of Hob was about the equivalent of a half-chapter.

2) Have you checked out the forums? Some quite good extra content, including some fan-submitted stuff. This includes a full PHB for Dungeons and Discourse, and the very amusing Thinking Ape's Critique of Trans-Simianism.

#51 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 12:15 AM:

I've had Dresden Codak recommended to me many times, but there's something about it that I find hard to grok. I don't feel stupid reading it; I get most of the references. But there something so dense (slick?) about it that my eyes just kind of slide over it.

I'm very puzzled by this. It looks like a strip I should enjoy. And there are similarly styled strips (like Copper) that I do enjoy.

#52 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 12:47 AM:

So first you take away a month of nights with Sluggy, then a good week and a half with Questionable Content, and now this!?! Does your sleep deprivation depravity know no bounds?!??

Thank you. This is good stuff.

And second the recommendation on Erfworld.

#53 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 02:13 AM:

Well, that didn't take too long, after all. And well worth the trip. Thanks again.

#54 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 07:51 AM:

Kimberly, #48: Webcomics have a tendency to go dormant and/or die off, story-driven or no. Even way back in 2000; I think it's just the nature of the medium.

A lot of us are doing webcomics in our spare time (says the guy who just came off a three-week gap in the middle of a chase scene, for crying out loud).

On the other hand, plenty of strips--Scary-Go-Round, Wondermark, Girl Genius, etc.--keep to a schedule. A lot of them come from people who make a living off their art. Some of them are even making a living off their comics.

#55 ::: Jon R ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:40 AM:

Michael, #47: Finding Freakangels (a weekly webcomic by the inestimably awesome Warren Ellis) shouldn't be too hard:

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:08 AM:

I gave up on Erfworld some time ago. Too hard to tell the characters apart, not enough narrative cohesion.

On the same site, however, is The Ultimate Roleplayer's Comic: I refer of course to the excellent Order of the Stick, which is hilarious (though it does have some AD&D in-jokes every now and then), creative, and engaging. Well worth reading from the beginning, and most of the strips are available as books.

#57 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:29 AM:

Xopher @56:

When did you give up on Erfworld? It got slow for a bit, but things are moving along at a significant clip now. And they're just starting to get _really_ interesting...

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:32 AM:

Dave, right after he started talking to some entity elsewhere, and I couldn't figure out who all the names were any more. Which side are the vampires on? It just got too confusing, and I didn't much care for the art, either. I didn't abandon it because it bored me so much as stop beating my head against trying to follow it.

#59 ::: Don Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:53 AM:

I like Rice Boy (URL below), which takes place in a very strange universe that has no human characters, but is (I think) much more accessable than the comics on Dresden Codak (which I also like), and the universe is less strange than the one that Beanworld takes place in. Rice Boy is a 439-page graphic novel (divided into five books, totaling 39 chapters and an epilogue), and is complete in itself.

#60 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 12:58 PM:

Rice Boy is/was great. I think I found out about it rhrough a link from Dresden Codak.

#61 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:18 PM:

Woo! Just caught up with Freak Angels -- thanks, Jon R! (I hadn't run across it since ep 12 -- giving me 42 lovely episodes to read in one go. Ahhh.)

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 03:25 PM:

Jon R @ 55... Speaking of Warren Ellis's comics, I am bummed that his non-web Aetheric Mechanics didn't get a nomination in the Hugo's graphic category.

#63 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 04:24 PM:


Gunnerkrigg Court

Suitable for teens and up.

#64 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 08:02 PM:

As long as recommendations are being made: I recently started reading The Abominable Charles Christopher. It's half gag strips about forest animals, and half mysterious dark fantasy, and the art is spectacular.

#65 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:17 PM:

Thanks for the link, Teresa. I loved Dungeons and Discourse, and intend to pass it along to a few people I know will enjoy it.

Put me down as another reader, however, who thinks there's a serious "ick" factor involved in the way Diaz treats his protagonist's body. I can see why it smacks of parody to some, but I don't think it is (or, at minimum, it fails).

#66 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 09:35 PM:

Cadence, Dave Fried, one of Making Light's regulars looked not unlike an Anglo version of Kimiko when she was that age, and was at least as much of a maladjusted techno-geek.

#67 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 10:03 PM:

Gdr et al., my guess would be that he's spent a lot of time drawing women in that style. Visual artists have real trouble covering up their influences.

Niall McAuley @41 wins today's gold medal for best adjectives.

Kimberly @42, I thought something similar about the situation, but figured I was just being a moderator.

Stefan @51: Sometimes he does boustrophedon. Could that be it?

#68 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2009, 11:49 PM:

Wesley @54:
I have created two webcomics and provided art for a third in the past. All are long dead. (And this post reminded me to tear my two comics down, because of Old Shame and all that. The writer tore down the third for likely similar reasons.) I used to be active in the webcomics community* way back when Keenspace was the dominant sphere of free comic hosting. It's hard to guess how many webcomics, or what percentage of webcomics, have withered away over the years, especially as inactive accounts get purged by hosts and former creators. Back in the day (oh, 2001 or therabouts), if you went to a random comic in KeenSpace, odds were around 50% that it was on a long term hiatus or dead. (Not counting those that concluded naturally. I wonder what the odds are now on ComicGenesis -- I bet they've gone up.) There are thousands of active webcomics out there, but with nine plus years and far more hosts now, I'd put the estimated number of dead webcomics well in the realm of five digits. My husband insists it's hundreds of thousands, but I don't think it's quite that extreme.

It's easy to start a webcomic, but it's not always easy to keep it going. I understand too well how life can interfere. (And that many of those dead comics were probably started by college or high school kids who got distracted, overwhelmed, embarrassed, or bored. Mostly the second in my case.)

TNH @67: Interesting. I think my reaction is because of the problem player, but in the past I did spend about 4 years as a local moderator on a high-traffic site.** I wonder how many other moderators (past or present) view that comic the same way?

*Inasmuch as there was one. It's been years since I've been active in webcomics, but the environment seems more fractured now, and it wasn't exactly cohesive back then.
**Tnvn Bayvar. Retired about 3 years ago. Cycling back to the first reply, one of the areas I moderated was the comic creation subforum. Saw a lot of projects bandied about there that probably died for the reasons mentioned above.

#69 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 12:47 AM:

#67 "Sometimes he does boustrophedon."

No, it's not the form or layout. I read Chris Ware's comics, which are spectacularly quirky of layout. (Heck, I bought a great big magnifying glass specifically to help me read Chris Ware comics.)

#70 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 11:41 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 63

Thanks for the link to Gunnerkrig Court. I started reading that some time ago and (as usual) got distracted by something else shiny. But in this case I also lost the link and forget the name.

#71 ::: Marc Mielke ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 10:12 PM:

My personal fave is Subnormality (no linky, sorry, but Google should getcha there) guy's a very talented artist, but has these ultradense walls of text that just make the comic awesome.

Oh, and the Sphinx shows up and eats folks every so often.

#72 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2009, 10:53 PM:

Just wondering - do those who object to Kimiko's depiction also dislike Phil Foglio's Girl Genius?

One more note is that ISTR busty and scantily clad is only one of her depictions; at other times I believe Kimiko's drawn as much more slender, when she's not being drawn as e.g. mouthless chibi or schoolgirl to indicate emotional state. I think the wildly varying appearance suggests how she's temporarily being seen by others or in her own eyes; it is not realist art. But that's my own biased opinion, natch.

#73 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 04:17 AM:

Clifton @72: Yes. Or, I like the comic and the characters, but sometimes their depiction makes me uncomfortable.

And this is despite knowing a number of wicked[1]-intelligent women, who are also highly attractive, and some of whom bear more-than-passing resemblance to the characters in question. And many of whom really like the comics.

Your take on it is interesting.

I feel like the depiction of the character is asking me to objectify them when I don't want to, and I'm further frustrated because despite this I
have a positive visceral response to the objectification.

This is part of my problem with the Firefly comics, too -- the men got burlier, the women got bustier and... well, it's just not the same.

I don't often see men in comics treated the same way. (I can't decide whether that's because I don't generally find the men in comics attractive or whether I don't generally find the men in comics attractive because they aren't treated the same way. Lucien Anatole in Family Man is the only male character I find attractive who comes to mind from the comics I read regularly.)

As regards the irregular update schedules (and that seems to be the rule with high-story, high-art comics), I like Piperka to keep them all in one place -- I just check it once a day or so for the updates-every-weekday comics, and it checks the updates-once-a-month comics and keeps me informed.

[1] In the I'm-from-Boston sense.

#74 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2009, 10:56 AM:

Wait, wait, WAIT ! Kimiko is supposed to be a "stylized object of [...] lust" ?

In other news: still my favourite.

#75 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 08:11 AM:

Kimiko is supposed to be a "stylized object of [...] lust" ?

No. Some jerk who "reviews" webcomics objects to the fact that the appearance of characters in comics is sometimes unrealistic and idealized. He also complains that complex intellectual issues are referred to without being discussed in as much depth as in books of several hundred pages. (Yes, really.) And did you know that webcomics are sometimes episodic with little overarching plot, or that when they do have one, it can be difficult to follow? And that they can be only infrequently updated?

IOW, he objects to features of the medium, but casts the objections as attacks on DC in particular, even though they're really not. (Also, people who regularly confuse their own tastes with objective measures of quality really should not review anything, ever.)

#76 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 10:06 AM:

chris @75:

You said this much better than I did. The whole "unrealistic and idealized" bit is something I've written about before; I think there is a general tendency for characters to become more physically attractive over time as the artist's style matures. It's kind of a feature of the medium.

I think there are a number of factors, conscious and unconscious, that cause this to happen, but you can't really criticize an artist for it. Heck, most traditional print comics have "unrealistic and idealized" characters. Along with most TV shows, movies, etc. Plus most traditional art and literature.

The squicky stuff, on the other hand... it's situational at best. Is the artist doing it because (s)he likes drawing nudes? (I bet that covers a lot of classical artists!) Because it placates fans who support the comic? (A little more squicky, but you gotta eat.) Because (s)he is creepy? Several/all of the above?

True squick is something that falls under the "I know it when I see it" heading. And when I do, I'm going to delete that bookmark. I've done it many times before, and I'll do it again.

#77 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 11:47 AM:

Dave Fried @ 76

For commercial artists in traditional media one of the most common reasons for throwing in gratuitous sex appeal is the demand of art directors, who have their own dark motives.

#78 ::: Dave Fried ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 12:13 PM:

Bruce @ 77
That would make an interesting read, if a little exposition were in order. Details?

#79 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 06:10 PM:

For some reason Dresden Codak didn't resonate with me.

However, the guy who has decided to spend his time picking on extremely easy targets, and still screwing it up, resonated even less.

Dresden Codak seems like it should resonate with me, and yet it did not. When the infamous wall of text happened, I didn't care enough to read it even once. I'm getting increasingly irritated at people who throw in celebrities and think that counts as creativity. The big plot struck me as derivative("jvgu sbyqrq unaqf"), and I sort of expected the singularity to be more interesting than that. Maybe I didn't get it. Maybe I just didn't like it.

I am not a skilled enough lit-geek to analyze WHY whether it didn't work at all, or just didn't work for me.

For all you people who loved it,stop having fun!

#80 ::: Cadence ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2009, 07:41 PM:

heresiarch @ 46

Yes, exactly. Finding someone attractive and liking them as a person are hardly mutually exclusive.

Teresa @ 66

Me too. And I am still pretty much that age. So possibly I am over-identifying and taking this all too personally, but I have quite a few reasons to hope that people don't look at Kimiko and see a stylized object of lust.

I mean, I don't have a giant research mansion or a store selling nostalgia in order to help me build my own AI. But there are differences between unrealistic things that make someone the main character of a comic, and unrealistic things that make them unbelievable as a person.

#81 ::: Linkmeister see spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 03:30 AM:

boring. I don't get the point of these "I like this post" comments, anyway. Particularly when they have a zillion nonsense URLs attached.

#82 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 09:27 AM:

Search engine optimization manipulation is my theory for the bulk link or phrase spams (especially since it appears that deleting spam in the main threads doesn't affect the spammer's "view all by" page).

#83 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Mmm, I hope no one on Making Light looks *too* much like Kimiko, because her eyes are frequently individually wider than her neck. The shape of her head is also cause for concern.

I'm teasing, of course, but my point (such as it is...) is that it's hard to argue the "stylized" part of "stylized object of lust."

I have no problem with stylized cartoon characters, though - quite the opposite. I don't even object generally to cartoon characters as objects of lust. What I don't like about Diaz's depiction of Kimiko is how clumsy and transparent it is, as if every time Kimiko strikes some ludicrously sexual pose in the middle of a joke about Schrodinger's cat for no apparent reason I'm looking directly into a part of the author's mind that should have remained opaque. There are people in fantasy and science fiction whose writing gives me the same feeling, and I avoid them.

#84 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 07:43 PM:

The "Kimiko as stylized object of lust" idea has pretty much made me go "hmroo??" I've been reading the comic for a while now, and I've never gotten that sense.

I guess I could go back and search for anything that seems like fan service, but I'm not sure what could be considered in cheesecake in this.

And on another note, the sporadic updates are, indeed, vexing.

#85 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 08:10 PM:

The "Kimiko as stylized object of lust" idea has pretty much made me go "hmroo??" I've been reading the comic for a while now, and I've never gotten that sense.

I'm all about stylized objects of lust, so I went back to 2006 in the archives and (by repeatedly hitting the "next" button) scanned everything forward from there.

I seem to have missed the Lust Object pictures. Maybe they turned up in 2005? Can someone point me to one?

#86 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 09:40 PM:

Okay, running through again: Are the lust object pictures this one and this one?

#87 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2009, 10:18 PM:

James D. Macdonald @87: I'm pretty sure the outfit in your second link is supposed to be an anime reference. I would pick post-singularity Kimiko as the lust object, personally.

#88 ::: KeithS Sees Broken Spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 12:56 AM:

Lots of broken links.

#89 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 01:23 AM:

KiethS: One of the nice things about the rigig html requirements for making a good link in comments, is mosts spammers don't get it right.

#90 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 02:18 AM:

In this case, I don't think valid links are the goal, rather, using the "a" html tag to wrap search engine target phrases to spoof search engine indexing bots. That's why I think the spammer's "view all by" page should be cleaned as well, since they also ultimately get indexed.

#91 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 04:17 AM:

Earl @93:
Spammer "view all by" pages get cleared in one of three ways:

1. Manually cleaned up spam (as above) have the links removed from the database
2. We review comments held for moderation and delete the spam (as well as enabling those that won't completely destroy other user's numeric references)
3. We periodically purge the junk comments

Trust us, Earl, we do clean up this stuff. We also tweak our filters; I am hopeful that my latest change will stop these guys.

#92 ::: Rob Rusick spots spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2009, 11:20 PM:

@95. Might have been appropriate in 'translated phrases' sub-thread that was running on the current Open Thread.

#93 ::: Madboy Heterodyne ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 04:07 AM:

Yes, the Dresden Codex is the most complete and best collection of original Mayan images and documents on paper (er, the barkpaper that
Mayans used instead of papyrus)
existent in the world today.
Given Aaron Diaz's ancestry in Central America
and his fascination with the evolution of culture
and of technology, the portmanteau "Dresden Codak"
made from Kodak (implied meaning = image+technology + art) and Codex (implied meaning = ancient book or historical document) plus the extremely ironic historic fact that
this piece of Mayan culture,
which really belongs in Central America, found its
way to the German city of Dresden in the 18th Century through the usual quirks, twists and turns of European imperialism and cultural opportunism, thus earning itself the peculiar name "Dresden Codex" when it really SHOULD be called the "Mayan Codex #1" or some such thing, and finally the post-Dresden-Codex history of Dresden as one of the most brutal and apocalyptic firebombings of the 20th century... which damaged said Codex but did not entirely destroy it...
make the name "Dresden Codak" the PERFECT NAME
for Aaron Diaz's vehicle. 'nuff said.

#94 ::: DJC ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 10:23 PM:

On "lust object"--
One thing I think people should take into consideration is quite a few of the comics which feature Kimiko in a blatantly idealized sexual light are clearly written from her perspective (e.g. her imagination). I'm talking about the dungeon ones, say, or prehistory fan fiction specifically, where Kimiko is obviously fantasizing/romanticizing.
Otherwise, I don't think its fair to criticize the fact that she is generally attractive and a genius. These things are not mutually exclusive.

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