Friday, December 19, 2008


As I was browsing through my usual route of webcomics yesterday, I thought about the differences between the bits and bytes I consumed daily compared to the pages of colorful (or perhaps not) images that we read in class. One of my favorite comics that I have read online, that is perhaps the closest to any graphic novel that we have read, is Dr. McNinja. If you're familiar with it, then all I have to say is, "wow, this is so amusing." However, if you're not familar with it, it's a comic based around the adventures of a ninja (part of the McNinja clan) who chose to pursue a medical occupation rather than act as a full-time ninja (much to the dismay of his parents). His fights against raptor-riding banditos (one of which becomes his ward), hulk-esque purple monsters, giant lumberjacks afflicted with "Paul Bunyan disease", and many more fantastical villains only bring you to wonder if the writer is one of the most creative people you'll ever meet, or just one who's been on a bad drug trip.
Anyways, each page always ends with a witty punchline, and an alt-text that appears if you hover your mouse over the image to add a second sometimes wittier punchline. Now, the reason I say Dr. McNinja is the closest to any graphic novel we have read in class is because it is actually made up of pages, with about 40-50 in each volume. There are 11 volumes that are currently written so far (with one or two of them being guest-written volumes). Most other webcomics that you read, like xkcd, smbc, daisyowl, or even Questionable Content don't have storylines, or have ones that are seemingly infinite and have no way to divide them. Although they are certainly a fun read, they're designed for moderated daily consumption, which doesn't always meet the satisfaction of the individual, leading to obsessive consumption from multiple comics (like me).
I have never actually read a Dr. McNinja volume from front to end in one sitting, and I realize that with punchlines occuring every page, and the somewhat slow movement of the plot, these comics would not make very great print comics like Watchmen and V for Vendetta. I think I would certainly get tired of reading a Dr. McNinja volume and probably get frustrated over it too. As I have come to mull these thoughts over, I realize also that webcomics are not too dissimilar from editorial comics, which I have seen print collection copies of. I have read through a Garfield collection or two when I was young, and although amusing, you can only get so much fun out of an orange cat. I think that the writers of these webcomics truly excel at their art, and have generated a wonderful form of comics that I have grown quite the addiction for. However, their art is limited to the slow and moderate daily consumption of web surfers, and most likely not suited to the print world of graphic novels that we have come to be familiar with throughout this course.

This has certainly been an interesting class and I'd like to thank Dr. Hancock for that. I hope everyone enjoys their Winter Break, and here's to the new year ahead as Second Semester Seniors!

-Travis Mui.

1 comment:

Jason Olson said...

I, too, read and enjoy the Adventures of Dr. McNinja. The author, Chris Hastings, actually published hardcover copies of most story arcs, clustered in groups of two or three to make volumes, thus making it a graphic novel in every sense of the term.