(Today's scheduled comic was Indefensible Positions, however, this wonderful (and highly recommended) sci-fi/fantasy comic has come to an end. As I've made it fairly clear that I won't be reviewing any comics that have stopped updating, due to either neglect or completion, I will instead be reviewing the last comic on the schedule - Ansem Retort. See, there is hope for those of you scheduled in 2009.)
I found myself on a panel not too terribly long ago discussing how to launch a webcomic. In that panel I offered the following piece of advice: Just say no to sprites. See... the word "sprite" is just a fancy way of saying "using clip art taken from someone else's work". Using other people's work without permission, and possibly a release form, annoys lawyers.
Annoying lawyers is generally a bad idea.
Sprite comics also annoy some potential readers because the artwork is, by definition, repetitious and unoriginal. The images do help tell the story, but not as much as images that were specifically crafted for the script. Additionally, there's no point in critiquing it... so I'm just going to move on.
Ansem Retort is a satire of the modern trend in reality television, with popular game characters as the unlucky house mates. While some of the humor is dependant on a basic knowledge of the characters, readers unfamiliar with the game elements should be able to ascertain the point of most punch lines. Adding a bit of a twist, the reality show is produced by FOX and the house mates are regularly assaulted by enemies in order to keep the show interesting.
Pop culture, drug references, and cartoonish violence are the building blocks for most of the scripts but there are a few character based plot points floating around. I certainly wouldn't stretch to the point of referring to it as intelligent humor, but it isn't Bevis and Butthead ridiculous either. Appropriately, I wouldn't give the comic's contents higher than a PG rating, and I didn't come across anything I would hesitate in allowing my ten-year-old to read. The humor is likely spot on for it's target audience, and even managed to pull a few chuckles from me.
Thanks to the premise, the comic is conveniently portioned into individual "seasons" - meaning that it's not entirely necessary to start at the beginning to find a good entry point. The website is dedicated to more than one comic so I couldn't find any of the additional goodies associated with single comic sites, but the navigation is simple and the comic takes center stage. All-in-all, it's a fairly entertaining comic and certainly worth a look.