Rainslick Precipices

I just paid the low low price of $20 for the brand new Penny-Arcade videogame, On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One. After playing the ten-minute demo, I’ve decided it was a bargain. Features: great art (both 2D and 3D, including seamless transitions between the two), absurd situations, fun and simple RPG-like gameplay, and a black sense of humor without equal.

Support webcomickry in all its forms, buy a copy for yourself. Available right now for PC Windows, Mac, Linux and on XBLA.

Update: I realized that I didn’t make it clear enough that (at least in Windows) you can do things in this order: 1) Download, 2) Enjoy the demo, 3) Pay, 4) Enjoy the remainder. And no downloading is necessary between steps three and four.

A Decade of Comic Book Movies

There have been 34 movies based on DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse comic books released in the past decade (9 by DC, 17 by Marvel, 8 by Dark Horse). If you put any stock in Rotten Tomatoes’s raw percentage, the worst of them was Son of the Mask (5%), and the best is Iron Man (94% and currently in theaters). 2007 was an especially unremarkable year for comic book movies: only Spider-Man 3 and 300 scored at least a 60%, and both just barely. There are at least four more such films slated for release before the end of 2008, and based on my totally unbiased guesses, The Dark Knight will be highly rated, The Incredible Hulk and Hellboy II will be mediocre, and the sequel to The Punisher will be junk.

My brief unscientific survey showed that most people believe that Marvel would have the highest average rating. The Daredevils and Elektras would be more than balanced out by the consistent high-quality of the X-Men and Spiderman series. In truth, DC edges out Marvel by a pedestrian 58 to 54%. Dark Horse does worse, with a dismal 37%.

I’d really like to revisit these numbers in another ten years. Iron Man will certainly have sequels, as will Superman Returns and the burgeoning Batman franchise.

Blade (1998)
Virus (1998)
Mystery Men (1999)
X-Men (2000)
Road to Perdition (2002)
Blade II (2002)
Spider-Man (2002)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Daredevil (2003)
X2 (2003)
Hulk (2003)
Catwoman (2004)
The Punisher (2004)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Blade: Trinity (2004)
Hellboy (2004)
Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Constantine (2005)
Batman Begins (2005)
A History of Violence (2005)
Elektra (2005)
Fantastic Four (2005)
Son of the Mask (2005)
V for Vendetta (2006)
The Fountain (2006)
Superman Returns (2006)
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Splinter (2006)
Ghost Rider (2007)
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
30 Days of Night (2007)
300 (2007)
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
Iron Man (2008)

I Don't Get It

Would I be embarrassing myself if I admitted I didn’t get the notorious xkcd make me a sandwich comic? (Now being made into a t-shirt, due to its popularity.) As I read it, there are a number of possible explanations for the punchline, but the ambiguity is (I think) what’s contributing to my lack-of-getting-it.

  1. The seated character (lets call her Alice) uses sudo to make the request as root. Bob follows the request, since, well, you always listen to root. So does this mean that Bob is an executable? In that case, his first response of "make it yourself" seems out of place; something simpler, like "no" would have been more accurate. I think that this is the most likely explanation, but the first line is what throws me off.
  2. The comic leaves off a "-u bob" argument from Alice's sudo command. In this case, at the end, Bob thinks he's making a sandwich for himself. Alice plans some sort of future sandwich-stealing action. Maybe she hopes chown will be as effective.
  3. Alice is telling Bob to use the sudo command to make her a sandwich. (In this case, "sudo" is an adverb that modifies "make". Replace it with the word "quickly", and you'll get what I mean.) Bob realizes that with different permissions, he'll be able to make any number of sandwiches and escape responsibility for purchasing more jelly. Bob's wily, and Alice's laziness backfires.

Like I said, it’s probably #1, but Bob’s first response is poorly composed. Part of the allure of xkcd is the off-the-cuff style, evident in the stick figures, but in this case, I think spending a few more minutes considering the dialogue would have been worth it.

Achewood's Great Outdoor Fight

Are you reading Achewood, the best webcomic there is? Have you been following the Great Outdoor Fight, the current epic storyline? No? Start at the beginning and find out what you’re missing. When you’re done, and not quite sure what to make of it, read what Websnark thinks of it.

The Dilbert Blog on Intelligent Design

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams has a blog that I was pointed to by a cow-orker a couple weeks ago. Half-surprisingly, he’s very well written, funny, and intelligent; so it makes a pretty good read. And he posts quite regularly.

The other day, he posted about the Evolution versus Intelligent Design debate. He didn’t debate the issue, mind you (he says “I’m not a believer in Intelligent Design, Creationism, Darwinism, free will, non-monetary compensation, or anything else I can’t eat if I try hard enough”), he decided instead to discuss the discussion.

As if that wasn’t meta enough, he focused on how both sides of the debate mischaracterize the other side’s arguments. As I was reading it, I thought “man, he’s not doing a very good job here; I’ve never heard any of these points that he’s complaining about.” And then I realized that was the whole point. He was either using his own misrepresentation as a meta-joke, or he was just interested in stirring up trouble. Or probably both.

He then got 300 angry comments from both sides.

Today, Scott posted a follow-up. He essentially verified my theory, but apparently he had taken it a step further. “I was waiting to see how many people fell into the irony trap and misrepresented my blog entry and then attacked it.” (The answer is “a lot”.) He links to one blog post in particular, but the page is currently down. He reiterates his point, and at the end leaves the whole thing open for more recursive straw men.

I applaud his willingness to be stung by hornets just for the sake of a joke. But what’s more amazing is that, in the end, his joke was proven correct by those who were trying to refute it. It’s also more than a little disturbing. Can’t we engage in intelligent dialogue anymore?


The webcomic Goats is probably the second one I ever read on a regular basis (the first being the obvious and now-unreadable User Friendly). At some point, I lost my interest in Goats and it fell off my list. This was probably back when I used bookmarks instead of an RSS reader to read news and comics, and it was cumbersome to check more than a half-dozen a day. I re-found Goats recently, and started reading it from the present. I was intimidated by the huge archive, and was a little lost in the current story, but I remembered — vaguely — who most of the core cast was.

It wasn’t until Jon Rosenberg discussed the current story and alluded to a series reboot three years ago that I was able to start from a point in the middle and get all the back stories. Now that I’m caught up, this comic strip is suddenly one of my favorites. It’s definitely plot-driven, like Sluggy Freelance, but less epic (so it’s easier to follow day-by-day) and far more surreal.

Give it a try.

Goats extended info

Okay, I’m not sure if this is ridiculous, inspired, or over-the-edge. The surreal webcomic Goats has so-called “extended info” (the grey area below the strip) for each comic. This info includes the dialogue text, locations and props in each panel. Also, for each character that appears in the strip, it lists first appearance and the three storylines the character most recently appeared in.

This information goes all the way back to the very first strip.

Nothing Nice To Say

Last week, I was reading through some oldish posts on Websnark, and he pointed me towards “Nothing Nice to Say”, a hilariously tongue-in-cheek punk comic. I ended up reading all of the back strips and I liked it a whole lot. I added it to my daily reading, and thought “I should mention this on my blog”. Well, now that he’s done a guest strip for “Joe and Monkey” with Jerry Holkins from Penny Arcade, I thought I’d actually do it.

Achewood 03-25-2005

I love Chris Onstad, the mind behind Achewood. Only he would try a joke like today's strip, and make it accurate. Read it, and then read the rest of this post.

Scripture Cake
Kings 4:22 either "fine flour" or "meal" 1.5 cups
Jeremiah 17:11 "eggs" 6 separated
Numbers 17:8 "almonds" 2 cups
1 Samuel 30:12 either "figs" or "raisins" 2 cups
Judges 5:25, last clause "butter" 1/-- cut off
Leviticus 2:13 "salt" pinch
2 Chronicles 9:9 "spices" to taste

Achewood 1/20/05

Somehow, I think Vlad’s idea in today’s Achewood would really be popular (in an ironic pop-culture Subservient chicken-esque sorta way). With a free afternoon, a few sandwiches and fixins, and a hungry woman, we could probably fake it.

Update: Is this somehow related?

Sluggy Freelance story

For those of you who don’t still read Sluggy Freelance on a daily basis, I would recommend putting aside an hour and reading the storyline that just ended last week. It wrapped up at least a couple loose ends, and was quite gripping. Far better than “Kitten 2”, and much easier to follow. You should start at May 19.

Since the Saturday strips are being done by a guest artist as a sorta-parallel story, only the first one is really pertinent to the story. You can skip the rest unless you like mediocre silliness.

Spelling the Vacuum

The Adventures of Spelling the Vacuum. What the hell, folks? My life is like a Douglas Adams novel.

The Norm is Over

If I still read it, I would have known about this earlier, but Michael Jantze ended The Norm, apparently as of this last Monday. The story is that his wife is trying to raise money so that Michael can make the comic strip purely online. This, combined with PvP’s “free for newspapers” deal makes this an interesting time for print comics. Let’s hope this is the start of change in the industry.

But let’s not hold our breaths.

Achewood 2004-09-02

Not only do I have dreams like Roast Beef’s in today’s Achewood (substituting ‘Google’ for ‘Yahoo’), but in fact the whole story feels like Onstad is stalking me.

Achewood book preorder

This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted.


Fleep. [via Chris]

Achewood book deal

Achewood gets a book deal. I’m so fricken excited.