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You Can't Print That: My Weird Week and Web Comics

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So as it turns out I’m still in a major nihilist funk over Fort Hood. These days it seems like there’s nothing to drink around here besides Kool Aid. If you believe the Wingnuts, most of whom have never served in uniform a day of their lives, Muslims are a dangerous fifth column in the American polity. If you believe the PC faction, everything is fine and there are plenty of good American Muslims who are willing—nay, eager!—to ship out and kill other Muslims in desperate parts of the world. As so often happens, a horrific tragedy has become the platform for dueling hypocrisies. So here is the straightest dope you will read about the events at Fort Hood. In the US, we have a volunteer army. No one can force you to sign up if you don’t want to. For a Muslim to join the US military at this point in history, knowing what we know about the conflicts in which it is engaged, he or she must be one of two things: A) The most patriotic, self-sacrificing American you’ll ever meet in your life, or B) crazier than a shithouse rat. Nidal Hasan falls into the latter category. But back in 2001, during a moment of lucidity, he suggested the following to the DoD: Muslim soldiers should have the option of being released as conscientious objectors to increase troop morale and avoid ‘adverse events’. Despite the very real problems such a policy would cause, part of me wishes they’d taken his advice.

You think this has nothing to do with comics, but it does, for one simple reason: no editor in the MSM with a shred of self-preservation instinct would let me print that.

I recently read the final issue of David Lapham’s Young Liars and thought about writing a column on the death of the New Wave ethos in comics. (It held on in this corner of pop culture a lot longer than it did in more mainstream forms of media—it’d be fun to pontificate about why.) But after the week I’ve had, spiders from Mars, reincarnated rock-n-rollers and mass bombings just felt way too much like real life. So I turned to the internet, where everyone goes when they feel like they’ve been sidelined…including, not coincidentally, many comics artists. It’s been awhile since I read any web comics that are not already household names (Penny Arcade, Diesel Sweeties, Girl Genius, that talking dinosaur strip). I quickly discovered that there is a lot of crap out there. Some web comickers go online because their ideas call out for the digital treatment; others are simply camped out waiting to become books. I hate to crush dreams, but some comics don’t make it to print because they suck. However, there are a few that are genuinely good but also so subversive or niche that only the most indie of indie publishers would consider a print version. Herewith are a few of them.

The Fart Party

I did not want to like this strip, since it’s pretty antithetical to what I believe about humans, love, farting, and the universe. (Plus it’s got that geek-hipster [geekster?] element that usually makes me twitch.) But TFP is a very, very funny comic. If you’re a guy, it will probably destroy all your fantasies about the fairer sex. TFP is not simply honest; it is exhibitionist, about everything from the bathroom to the bedroom and those intersections we’d rather not think about. Read here.

Twenty-Sided

Do not even front. You’re reading an online comics news-and-chit-chat site: chances are you’ve participated in some kind of dice-based role playing game at one point in your life. If you have, this comic will be hysterical. If you haven’t, don’t bother reading it; it won’t make any damn sense. Read here.

Neoramen

Officially condemned under the Homegrown Violent Radicalization Act (probably for its, ah, liberal attitude toward digital copyright law), Neoramen focuses on the trials and travails of people fighting to keep the internet free…and, you know, making lolcats. It will make you feel like you are much cooler and better informed about computers than you really are. Read here.

I’ll see you all next week. If people could refrain from shooting each other and blowing things up in the interim, that’d be great.

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