Webcomics
 

Throwback Thursday–National Villainy

2011-04-01-National Villainy Cover_ Rolf_rhysIt is another Throwback Thursday, and we at Ideal Comics want to share another new cover for an old story. This, our 22nd story, is a novella-sized, Greg-centric epic; and follows Nerd-and-friends on a cross-country trip to the  Fremont City, CO where all manner of chaos erupts! Ideal Comics is proud to re-present “National Villainy!”

This cover features a multi-media collaboration between Rolf Gerdau and Mathew D. Rhys; while the interior art was done by Rhys, Chris Lawton, Barry Tetz and Joseph Carradine. It’s an extravaganza, folks!

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Throwback Thursday–Gym Class

2006-05-26-Gym ClassYou might have noticed that things have been a little slow over on Forces of Good and Evil. While there are reasons (and if you were following us there, you’d already know that!),  we at Ideal Comics still want to share as many goodies with you as we can! So on this #ThrowbackThursday, let’s call back to our second Chad-centric story–complete with a brand new cover from young artist “Michael Van Reese”. We are proud to re-present “Gym Class: Hijinks and Hi-jacks!”

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The Saga of teh_Bast4rd_LeRoi: LymeJournal Post 04 Sep 2005 22:26:36

LymeJournal Logo

Profile1a 500xI don’t know how long I will be here. I’ve been here for a while, but I can never tell these things. I just figured that while I was in one place, I should set the record straight. Leave something behind for those who will come after.

I have no idea how long I have been ‘inside’, but it seems like years. How can you tell passing of time when the sun never rises or sets, when the winds do not blow, and no stars shine. Here it is the blackest dark, or the brightest bright, or some pulsing, shimmering, humming thing in between. I have heard some of the people here, if you can call them people, refer to things as ‘cycles’–whatever that means. As long as I have been here, it makes no sense to me.

Feh, I used to have a life. I used to be normal. I was just a guy–a regular dude playing video games, trying to “save the world”. Maybe I was brash, and I got a little famous for being reckless; but people knew my handle–teh_Bast4rd_LeRoi. Whether I was on the Worlds of StarCraft or the Marauders of Gaia, I was a known dude. It felt great, but I never thought of myself as a hero. It was all just a game, after all.

Well, one day not long after the Spar7ann event, I was online on MoG, and I spotted this troll just picking on some noobs. Now, everybody gives noobs a little bit of grief, but this guy (his handle was LOLTroll) was just being a real dick to these guys. I mean just starting fights and crap. His HP was unbelievable and he was just picking on them. So I walked over to him told the guy told the guy he was being a douchebag and to back off. I told him, “Hey, we all got to start somewhere.”

His avatar looked at mine, and somehow straight into my own eyes. “You picked the wrong guy to screw with, chump,” he said. In the next minute the whole world erupted into white flame—a fire cold and hot and electric. Then it was black.

I awoke on the floor, and then gingerly stood to my feet. The ground seemed further away then I remembered it; and when I looked at my hands, they were not my thin, engineer’s hands, but the meaty clubs of a warrior. Somehow–by some magic, I suppose—I was trapped inside the game, and inside my avatar, the hulking LeRoi.

I had little time for shock, as I spent the next three ‘days’ with the noobs fighting our way our of a wraith filled forest. At the edge of the woods, we spotted a village with an inn on the edge, but before we could reach the door, I was taken by another white flash.

After this second bolt I found myself in something like a Roman forum, standing on the floor and surrounded by rising rows of faces, motionless, except for their roving and darting eyes. These faces were looking out over the forum and racing to type across the air, and I realized I was looking up to a message board. I tried to attract the attention of the posters, to find answers; but not one understood that I was not just another user trolling them. I did not have much time to get flustered before the white flash took me away.

And that is how it has been for who-knows-how-long. I am stuck here in a place that some call the Netwerx—the convergences of the world’s computer and telecom systems. It like Tron or the Matrix– where users interface with each-other and ‘bots and AI’s. And most have no idea was is going on beneath the service. I wander when I can, ‘jump’ when pulled along, and try to get out. God, I hope I can just find a way home.

 

(‘Marauders of Gaia’ created by Sortelli, http://www.elfonlyinn.net. Used with permission.)

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Webcomic Review: Camp Weedonwantcha

WDW-1I love webcomics. Over the past two decades, I have moved here and there throughout the websphere, trying different comics, adding a few to my daily reading list, and removing the occasional comic that starts to lose me. I have actually been reading a handful of comics, like Penny Arcade and PVP, fairly consistently since they came online way back in the infancy of the industry. I have watched as many of these old guards worked to shape and define what the webcomic industry could become, ultimately paving the way for various newcomers to the medium over the past years.

Unfortunately, I have often become so embroiled in this old guard, that I approach any of these new artists with trepidation and fear, a rake in my hand ready to shake at them if they step on my lawn. Usually, when I do dip my toe into something new, I am greeted by the downside of having such established titans create the industry. I can’t tell you how many webcomics I’ve read that involve two gamers, one straight man and one fool, who sit on their couch and play video games. In fact, for the longest time, this was a fairly accurate representation of most video game webcomics. So much so, that I actually created such a Penny Arcade rip-off back when I started writing comics in the early 2000s. I’m not going to link to such embarrassment. There’s something called Google. If you really want to find it, I’m sure you can.

Sometimes, though, when I find a new comic, I’m pleasantly surprised. I not only find something that is enjoyable to read, but something that challenges me as a writer and creator. Such is the case with Camp Weedonwantcha by Katie Rice. Continue reading

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Quarterbin Follies #6: Chris Lawton Ruined My Life

Morning_cup_of_coffee_black_no_sugarHere at Ideal Comics, my main job is that of the historian – the Keeper of the IC secrets. Usually this pertains to our hundreds of years of continuity and alternate histories, but sometimes I get to delve into the real world history of our little slice of the universe. Today, I would like to take the time to tell you all how Chris Lawton ruined my life.

I first met Chris Lawton, well, I’m not exactly sure when. I was a classmate of his older brother, and I seemed to always know Chris. We first became friends in 1998, after my return to Nebraska, and while we were both working at the Lawn and Garden section of our local Wal-Mart store. Neither of us had a particular love of lawn and garden equipment and all, but we did love music, movies, and comics. And so, while stocking shelves or walking to and from work, we would spend hours discussing the minutiae of pop culture. It was a great time.

It did not take long for our discussion of our love for stories to mutate into talk of making stories. And so began many years of on-again, off-again partnership trying to find and craft a perfect story. We tried horror-detective mash-ups. We tried high fantasy. We tried comedy and noir-influenced crime dramas. We even almost sold a paranormal investigator story. We pitched to comic companies together and separately, and left and right, we were met only with rejection.

We had, in those days, been in the habit of meeting once a week over coffee and pie. We met to share ideas and brutally critique each other’s work, but also as a sort of mutual booster society. We cheered each other on to fight the fight, to keep writing and keep submitting. Surely, someday, someone will give one of us the chance – will notice the good, good stuff we were hammering out. And whichever of us made it, we promised to bring the other one along!

It was in this time, about 2003 or 2004, that Chris and I struck upon an idea of a story – no, a series of stories. It was kinda like X-men, and kinda like Saved by the Bell. It was a comedy – a satire of the pop-culture we loved and hated, and it was ours. We had our protagonists, a rough and tumble tough-guy with a streak of mischief and a slight, bookish goody-two-shoes, and we decided to send them to school. SUPER school!

We loved it. It had the real guts of something great. And tricked-out with a great title from my lovely Amy, The Forces of Good and Evil was surely ready for the big time! And so, quick as we could, we shot a proposal off to what we felt would be the perfect venue for what was destined to be “the Great American Comic Strip”: MAD Magazine. At the time, MAD had been running several comic strips filled with just the sort of pop-commentary and lampoonery we wanted to use in Forces. I tell you, it was the perfect fit.

MAD did not agree. In a rejection letter that can only have been a Kinko’s product, we were shunted aside. Oh, the HUMANITY! But, of course, we were never ones to take no for an answer. We wrote back. But this was no mere, “Hello, it’s me again,” note. We figured, this is MAD Magazine. Go big or go home. So, we did. We begged. We groveled. We made fun of ourselves. And if that wasn’t enough, I wore a dress. What follows is an excerpt:

Now, if the synopsis didn’t sell the story, perhaps numerous personal compliments will:

“Your hair is lovely, as are the clothes that you’re wearing.”

“I’m really glad I was here today. You have a lovely singing voice.”

However, compliments aren’t for everyone. If you are one of those people, we have provided this photo of co-writer Reese in a dress. We think it says quite a bit.

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If that doesn’t say “buy our story,” than we believe you aren’t listening.

Why a dress, you might ask? Well, if there is anything I have learned from Monty Python it’s this: nothing is funnier than a grotesquely mannish man in a dress. Many things are as funny, but nothing funnier. Regardless, we never heard back from MAD.

It was about a year and a half, and a dozen rejections later, that Chris suggested striking out on our own. It was at one of our weekly meet-ups on, as I have mentioned before, a rainy Nebraska, summer midnight. At some point that previous spring or winter, we had realized that our stories seemed to co-habit a single universe. We had decided to keep that our secret so as to not try to pitch a universe to prospective companies, but there on that summer night, Chris was sitting across from me, suggesting madness:
“You know how tough self-publishing is, right? It’s crazy-talk.”

“I know it’s hard, but it is possible.”

“Yeah, but—“

“Look, we don’t have to do it,” he said, “but is anyone even looking at our stuff? This way, we can make our own stories and get them right to people.”

So, that night, we did something that I think took a lot more guts than putting on a dress–we stared down a road that changed everything about our lives. It changed us from a couple of fellows wanting to make stories into a couple of fellows making them all out there on our own. A few months later, we took our retooled Forces to the Internet (where you can still find it), and our dreams started taking a very real shape.

Webcomics are funny things, because on the one hand, there you are making comics, telling stories – giving life to the voices you hear on the wind. But, just because you are putting your heart and soul into them, is doesn’t mean anyone is noticing or caring. It’s a little like working out – if you don’t already love it, you won’t stick to it. You just won’t. But, if you have the love, making the comic becomes, well, unlike anything, really. It is a job, a labor of course, but it is also an indescribable rush – a thrill, as all of these ideas and characters that hum around your brain finally get a chance to shine. You start to feel like your story matters. And it is easy to get hooked on that feeling – to really invest your whole being in keeping that feeling going, and even to take it to the next level.

And I was there, I tell you. I was hooked, and so when Chris said, “Let’s publish an anthology,” I didn’t even question it: Of course we needed to stop our lives and produce this huge project. Let’s invent an entire Universe. Let’s rewrite history. Let’s make ‘The Beatles’ superheroes. How many Websites can we have?  Start another Anthology? Sure! Once you are making webcomics, self-publishing just feels tangible—practically in grasp. But I tell you this: when you are all in, your life can never be the same. I used to have a life full of options, but now my options are to make comics or to make comics—all thanks to Chris Lawton.

And to think, all of this is because MAD didn’t like our idea! In retrospect, I think that is okay. If MAD would have taken us up on it, we wouldn’t have Al Djinn or the Expostioner or Brigid or The Night Terror or Gill-Boy, or a hundred other characters and places that have filled our hours and entertained many of you these past years. As a company, Ideal has tried to make a little something for everyone, and oh, so much more is to come. It’s just over there, on the horizon! We hope you all enjoy the ride as much as we have. And so, “Thanks,” and Happy Reading!

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The Quarterbin Follies #3.1: Cortland cont.

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Welcome back, Internet!  If you weren’t here yesterday, we were chatting about the rollicking techno-fantasy Cortland and its comedy sequel Out At Five, both by Omaha’s Matt Johnson.

(Click Here for Part One of the Interview!)

OutatFiveR: I must confess, that when I first ran across Cortland (I suppose it was in 2006) it didn’t really do a lot for me. I only read a couple of weeks of strips, and while I got a few chuckles, it seemed a little inaccessible to me.  Looking back, I honestly believe it was my PC user bias! I’d had a PC in my home every day since I was 7, and while I had used Macs during my one year of college, I never really appreciated them. They just seemed needlessly foreign. Well, a lot of water under the bridge, and this time my reaction was vastly different. I have never cared more about Mac and the history of the Apple line as I have in the last four weeks.  Have you had any similar comments?

J: The most frequent compliant I’ve heard about the comic is that it seemed to be insipidly pro-Mac, sort of a cheerleader for the platform. This wasn’t surprising, since I first started drawing the comic for a Mac e-zine called ATPM back in 2002. But if you read the whole comic, you’ll see I have plenty of jabs at Steve Jobs, Apple, and everything else in the Mac community. One reason I started Out at Five was to try to break out of this Mac-centric mold and be able to try different things without the shadow of being a Mac Fan Comic hanging over it.

Continue reading

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The Quarterbin Follies #3: Cortland

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The year was 2006, and Ideal Comics had just made the leap into the wild world of webcomics. We chose Comicgenesis as our host. I actually have no idea why, but for one thing or another, there we were. In hopes to connect with other creators, I started perusing about the other titles and their message boards hosted on the site. It was around then I first heard of the Cornstalkers. The Cornstalkers were a group of webcomickers, mostly from Middle America, who hosted their own message boards at www.cornstalker.com. That site had been started by Matt Johnson, the creator behind a little webcomic named ‘Cortland’. 

Now, when I first ran across ‘Cortland‘, I read a few pages and then decided to give it a pass. For no particular reason, it just failed to grab me.  Maybe it was the Mac in-jokes or the fact I had recently left the corporate world for the world of private-non-profits—I really can’t say. Robert Frost once said some stuff about a fork in the road—brother, I think I took the wrong fork.

Continue reading

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