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The Daily Read: 4/18

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Of all the comedy webcomics, Ask Dr. Eldritch remains one of the oddest successes. Told via action figures a la Robot Chicken, don’t let Ask Dr. Eldritch’s campy exterior fool you – beneath it lies an all the more campy guilty pleasure, and all the more hilarious for it.

The story centers on the eponymous Dr. Eldritch, an ex-vampire killer turned advice columnist. That alone is enough to guarantee some laughs, but creator Evan Nichols takes the strip even further then the one-note premise with the inclusion of a truly eclectic cast, including Dr. Eldritch’s down-to-Earth assistant Kari Proctor, the mostly Asimov-bound robot Ping, and my personal favorite, Eldritch’s walking anti-burglar system, the troll Trevor – Bob to Eldritch’s Dresden.

All of these characters, especially Trevor, are perfectly chosen for the part, and wind up conveying a lot more emotion and character than you’d typically expect from plastic figurines. The website has the benefit of a Cast Page, which introduces the characters as well as links to their first appearances. It’s insidiously easy to pick a character and start reading page after page of well-placed humor.

The four-panel formula generally works, and Nichols does an excellent job of pacing the comedy in such a relatively limited amount of room. Still, the crunch is evident; as it’s clear the comic does need some more room every now and then. The website, while comprehensive, is in need of some tidying: certain links, such as the Cast Page, disappear from the navigation when clicking from one page to the next.

Overall, Ask Dr. Eldritch makes for a mighty case in deceiving appearances in webcomics. Using action figures to tell a webcomic might not seem appealing, but just one read of any Ask. Dr. Eldritch comic is sure to change your mind.

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