The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - The Weekly Webcomic Review: Yet Another Fantasy Gaming Comic
February 2nd, 2007
09:46 am

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The Weekly Webcomic Review: Yet Another Fantasy Gaming Comic

You’d think they’d have more in common, really. They both want to make people laugh, and they both want to do it through drawings, and they’re both aimed at the mainstream.

Yet animation and comic strips are very different creatures.

That’s is odd, considering that almost every animated film starts out as nothing more than an extended comic strip — even such action-packed films as The Incredibles began as a bunch of panels tacked to the wall, with writers pointing to each panel in turn as they pitch the action.

But comic strips, at least ever since they settled down into a comfortably syndicated rhythm in the 1950s with the advent of Peanuts, have almost always been oddly static. Each panel lacks the dynamic vibrancy of motion that you get from the roughs you see of animated films, the sense that the characters are about to leap off the page.

That’s partially a time thing, of course.

Drawing, writing, and inking four panels a day is a lot amount of work, especially when you don’t get any days off. Thus, you start moving towards the classic time-saving tricks of reusing character poses, putting them in similar situations that are easily drawn.

Then there’s the issue of comic strips themselves, which have been compressed by the needs of newspapers into a strict three- or four-panel layout. It’s hard to tell an epic, sweeping visual story in four panels, especially when you have to recap the story for new readers in the first panel and end on some minor cliffhanger in the last panel.

Thus, most comic strips have gravitated towards the written word. Dialogue can always tell you where you are — and besides, it’s a more consistent funny. It’s easier to fall back on some hoary pun than it is to devise some new and funny facial expression for an old character.

So webcomics, which have evolved from newspaper strips, tend to be similarly static and text-heavy. There’s no shame in it, of course — it’s a tried-and-true formula. But what you get are characters standing in rooms, walking slowly from place to place, and only occasionally tripping over something or getting into a quickly-handled fight.

It wasn’t until I saw Yet Another Fantasy Gaming Comic that I realized how little I had come to settle for.

Because YAFGC is alive in ways that other strips aren’t; that’s partially because it’s drawn in pencil and has the raw energy of a sketch, but also because Rich Morris has the talent of a classic Disney animator; he manages, with a few quick strokes of his pencil, to bring people to life so that the way they stand, hips cocked, tells you more about them than the dialogue ever would.

The character designs are astounding in the way they both manage to be simple and yet ever-changing, because Rich almost never draws someone the same way twice. YAFGC feels like a storyboard for some strange and wonderful animated movie, because the characters feel like they’re always in motion.

And then, of course… There’s the plot. It has one.

I wouldn’t advise starting with today’s strip, which is the climax to a long and storied arc. Start at the beginning, where Bob the Beholder (a floating eye with classic D&D-style powers, morphed into a cartoonish set of ever-changing quadruple-eyeball expressions) falls in love with Gren Razortooth, a female goblin. Bob’s Beholder parents are horrified, and so they have to elope into the deep caverns to find happiness.

There are many people in the deep caverns. There’s Arachne, the kinky-yet-thoroughly-evil Drow. There’s Mrs. Bloodhand, the orcish widow. There’s Lewie the Lich, an undead king with great ambitions and puny, puny skeletons to help him carry them out.

And, unfortunately for Bob and Gren, there’s a whole cavern of bare-breasted harpies nearby, all cute and wonderful and full of sexy. And Bob, unbeknownst to anyone, has a set of wandering eyes….

The plot is effortlessly organic, traipsing from place to place without ever feeling strained. Things just happen, and they’re funny and yet somehow getting realer by the day as the story grows in scope and complexity without ever getting near angst.

Everyone’s happy. Even if they’re sad, they’re only sorta-sad. You know they’ll be happy again soon.

It’s also pleasantly naughty. The harpies are bare-breasted, because, well, Rich loves boobs. And who doesn’t? But the nakedness and the kissing and the sex is handled with that teenaged Japanese “Whee! It’s all fun!” and despite the occasional naked characters it still feels oddly PG. You never see anything more explicit than the occasional nipple, and nobody really swears. It’s harmless naked, the hints at sex rolled into the gags.

But The Funny is always there. It’s got sight gags (and how — wait until you meet the Chimera), and good solid talky-gags, and just gags a-plenty. It feels like a storyboard for a Disney movie in an alternate universe, one where sex was just as accepted as bonks on the head with a mallet.

Within a week, it’s become one of my favorite comics. And thus, I can only advise you to go check it out.

(And as always, if you have an underappreciated webcomic you think I should review, leave a comment and I’ll take a look at it. Reviews will be only for strips with less or equal traffic to my own strip, Home on the Strange, in order to highlight smaller comics; as such, the reviews will always be at least mostly positive. If you note any traffic I’ve sent your way and feel the urge to shower me with gratitude, feel free to plug HotS in your own comic. Danke.)

(NOTE TO YOU FINE YAFGW READERS: Home on the Strange, my webcomic, is currently on a brief hiatus after our first year, but if you're looking for a place to start, you might try this storyline about gaming: Gotterdammerűng.)

(Also to the also, thanks muchly to djs_specs for pointing me in YAFGC’s direction. I’m always open to looking, for sometimes I discover wondrous things.)

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(34 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

Comments
 
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From:jfargo
Date:February 2nd, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)
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That comic strip quickly made it into my top three favorite strips. I'd also like to thank djs_specs for pointing it out!
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From:culculhen
Date:February 2nd, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC)
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Read it in one sitting when she first pointed it out here. It's good stuff



go read it people!

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From:gkingsley
Date:February 2nd, 2007 03:35 pm (UTC)
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Between HotS, New Adventurs of Queen Victoria, D&D of the Rings and now this comic, I'm getting less work done every day. And it's all your fault!

You weren't kidding about the art! Normally I'm not a fan of the cute, but this guy is incredible. His art is so 3d that it makes me want to pull out the Fimo and make an Arachne sculpture!
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From:shenlo
Date:February 3rd, 2007 04:08 am (UTC)
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makes me want to pull out the Fimo and make an Arachne sculpture!

That would be SO cool.
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From:gkingsley
Date:February 9th, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)
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I'm not the best sculptor ever, but I love playing with the medium. Same with drawing - I suck at it, but I can't stop myself from scribbling things down, especially when something inspires me and I can't get it out of my head.

Arachne in Fimo is one of those - I can't make the idea go away now. I'm seiously going to have to give it the ole' high school try. If I actually succeed at this wacky idea, I'll let you know!
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From:forsythferret
Date:February 2nd, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)
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Man, that's a good strip. It reminds me a lot of Pawn with the art style and the whole sense of fun and boobs.

Also, I'm going to post a link to the comic and this review over in snarkoleptics , I hope that's not a problem.
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From:theferrett
Date:February 2nd, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
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Absolutely. I like Snarkoleptics (even as it's usually just OOTS and SP, with the occasional splash of GG).

I started writing this because Mr. Burns was slacking. He still is. And yet he will not link to my reviews, because he knows I p0wnzz0r him.

Ah, the drama in webcomics reviews! I'm hoping to start some.
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From:forsythferret
Date:February 2nd, 2007 04:21 pm (UTC)
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And then he went and bought a Wii, too, to ensure there'd be no reviews for a while.

At least he hasn't gotten Zelda yet.
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From:forsythferret
Date:February 2nd, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)
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Man, that sounds really stupid the way I worded it. Sorry.
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From:koogrr
Date:August 30th, 2007 09:47 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, Freddy's stuff is awesome.

YAGC is great too.
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From:nacadas
Date:February 2nd, 2007 04:16 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the link, Ferret.
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From:myrrhdusa
Date:February 2nd, 2007 04:16 pm (UTC)
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I've been reading it all morning, instead of packing to leave town!

Darn you, Ferrett!
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From:fey_touched
Date:February 2nd, 2007 06:41 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the review. I just read the comic in it its entirety. I've got a new comic to add to my rotation!
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From:cislyn
Date:February 2nd, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
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That's a fantastic comic! Now I want to know what happens next, which is always a good sign. Thanks for the review.
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From:joane
Date:February 2nd, 2007 08:06 pm (UTC)
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Thank you very, very much! This is Rich's wife here, and I just called him at work to read bits of the review over the phone - he's extremely flattered and pleased by your high praise! He's got strips drawn up to the middle of May right now and no plans to slow down, so there's plenty more coming.

May I have your permission to reprint this review (with a link) on the YAGFC website?
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From:theferrett
Date:February 2nd, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC)
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Absolutely. The only request I'd make is that if you do reprint it, include a link to my own webcomic Home on the Strange (and if you like it, feel free to pimp it; if it's not to your tastes, then feel right free to ignore it - all I care is that you do awesome stuff).

Then again, we're in the middle of guest strips after an exhausting Year One (we do not have anywhere near your husband's endless drive!), so the timing isn't good. But we like new inbound linkage.
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From:joane
Date:February 2nd, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)
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One of the things on my to-do list for this weekend was to update our 'other comics' link page, so I added HotS in there as well as pimpage in the front page news item. Never let it be said that we're not appropriately grateful!

I couldn't find any other banners available on your page, so I swiped your smaller title banner for the link. S'ok?

we do not have anywhere near your husband's endless drive!

Oh, the jokes that I could make here... ;) In the interests of staying off the couch tonight, I'll just say that one of the side benefits of Rich's current show is that he gets a reasonable amount of downtime between scripts. That, plus leaving the strips as pencilled roughs, means that he can burn through 2 - 4 a day, when he's on a roll and the studio is quiet.

I think anyone who can keep a comic updating regularily for a year is doing a fantastic job, whether it's daily, weekly, or includes guest strips. As long as you're still having fun!
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From:koogrr
Date:August 30th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC)
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Love the Chimera!
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From:nickel
Date:February 2nd, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC)

Reviews

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I am always on the lookout for promising new webcomic artists. Just finished the archives for Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic and am very impressed. Your review was spot on and definitely the trigger that sent me to read the comic.
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From:fortuna_juvat
Date:February 2nd, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
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This is a bit off topic, and may have come up in one of the webcomic panels I haven't attended, but I'm curious.

The motto of the internet is "a link is free." sending your flying monkeys all about to these little webcomics costs you no concrete resources, save for the time you spent writing instead of coding/recreationalizing. However, is there some sort of diminishing returns with every comic you pimp out?

The example I'm thinking of is cleolinda 's affectionately titled "link spam". When she has 5 links on a given day, I'll click through to 2 or 3. When there's 10, I click through to about the same number.

Thoughts?
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From:theferrett
Date:February 2nd, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
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Honestly? I have no idea. I suspect that since I link to one comic a week, basically, the amount that gets clicked through depends on the enthusiasm of the review.

People may be weary of the webcomic reviews, but fuck it. Happens once a week, so they can deal. And in the case of some of these comics, even as few as, say, 200 new readers is enough to consider.

Heck, I'd be happy with 200 people sent over to Home on the Strange, I really would.
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From:fortuna_juvat
Date:February 2nd, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
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You make a good point with the once-a-week caveat. (And please don't take my comment as a sign that I dislike the reviews - they're hell on my studying, but that's life.)

I'm still amused at the whole traffic difference. You throw around 200 readers as nothing. I think I'd triumphantly streak the neighborhood if I got that sort of influx to my blog.

And then I think about this entry and its 30,000+ readers and remember what a wacky place the internet is.
From:chaoset
Date:February 2nd, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)
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I'd be amazed if anyone were weary of the reviews. They're great reading, even when they're for a comic I can't get in to.
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From:nakedcelt
Date:February 2nd, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
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It’s harmless naked, the hints at sex rolled into the gags.

There's such a thing as harmful naked?
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From:redstapler
Date:February 2nd, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for linking this, Ferrett.

It hits all of my favorite things, in ways, as you said, I didn't realize weren't being hit.

The art is AMAZING.

I could go on, but...you already wrote a review. ;)
From:djs_specs
Date:February 3rd, 2007 12:13 am (UTC)
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You're very welcome Ferrett :)
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From:tearsofaclown
Date:February 3rd, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
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Thanks for reviewing YAFGC - I just discovered it recently, and since then, it and HOTS are the only comics I don't need to be reminded to read, haha.
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From:shenlo
Date:February 3rd, 2007 03:37 am (UTC)
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Wow.

I'm... overwhelmed. Thank you. I really enjoy drawing this comic which to be honest started as a warm-up exorcise for work.

I'm so very very pleased that people are enjoying it and, as my beloved wife said, I have no intention of slowing down. I hope it maintains whatever quality it is that makes it so appealing, but I love the characters more and more all the time. I hope it shows.

Thanks for reading!
Home on the Strange is very good, btw, I've had quite a few open laughs reading through some of it. I hope you're able to get back to it soon!

Thanks also to djs_specs for bringing us to your attention. Keep laughin'!

Rich
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From:roniliquidity
Date:February 8th, 2007 12:11 pm (UTC)
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I should have mentioned this earlier, I love your strip, it's fantastic. I read the archives in two sittings. Great storyboarding too , BTW.

- Roni (The other half of Home on the Strange)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 4th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
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excellent comic!
This could easily be made into a film!the characters are so alive!
Keep up the good work!!
From:bill_wa
Date:February 4th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)

A great Strip

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I have been a fan of YAFGW for quite a while now, and I will freely admit it is one of my favorite webcomix, with just the right amount of kinkyness, which, since I am a fan of Crimson Latex, as well as Savvie and Lacie I am into kinkyness, I also find it yet oddly innocent.
See ya in the funny papers.
Bill_Wa
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From:theuns
Date:February 5th, 2007 03:53 am (UTC)
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From:theferrett
Date:February 5th, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)
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Way more traffic than mine. A lot more.
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From:gieves
Date:February 6th, 2007 02:54 am (UTC)

*big sigh*

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Darn you, Ferrett! You're wreaking havoc on my productivity with these reviews!! I'm now reading 5 new comics as frequently as they update, and have been devoting ridiculous amounts of time to catching up on backstories!

(No, I can't say I'm really upset; this is really good stuff and I'm grateful that you point it out. I'm just not sure that my work or thesis will benefit.)
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