Friday, September 5, 2008

Paper Comic Deathwatch: Wonderdogs and Clickwheels

Today I have to turn the hands back the Paper Comic Deathwatch clock because one of the big players (Wowio) in the digital comics scene seems to be having a bit of a problem of late.

For those of you who didn't catch it, Heidi MacDonald ran this post from T Campbell detailing his problems with the new version of Wowio...

The most chilling part is this:

Q3’s payout is hardly relevant, because thanks to the changes made to the site in the last two months, our earnings have dropped 97.3%. I’m not going to fight over less than a hundred dollars. So all Wowio had to do was pay me for Q2 and I’d be out of their hair. Sadly, they couldn’t even manage that.

From all accounts, it sounds like digital comics have lost a good ally in the fight against paper comics. :(

PCDW Points: -20,000

On the Flipside: ClickWheel makes it's move!

I mentioned iVerse comics last week, and in that week, ClickWheel, another site devoted to making comics available to iPods and iPhones, has been featured quite a bit of late...

Here on newsarama:

> Clickwheel - Making up Ground in the Online Comics World

and here on The Beat:

> ELEPHANTMEN joins Clickwheel

Clickwheel LTD is proud to announce a new addition to its premium roster in ELEPHANTMEN. Written by industry mainstay, Richard Starkings with art by Moritat and Ladronn and published in print by Image comics, ELEPHANTMEN tells the story of the ‘Unhumans,’ The result of genetic engineering, the Unhumans have since served their wartime purpose and must now find new ways to survive in society. True to it’s Sci-Fi themes, ELEPHANTMEN and Starkings are eager to help Clickwheel push the boundaries of comics as we know them...

ELEPHANTMEN is available monthly at > One $1.99 purchase earns three formats: PDF, CBR and iPhone formatting. (Via the Clickwheel iPhone reader available free on the Apple App Store.)

PCDW Points: 20,000

Finally - Will Wonderdog is Kill Comics?

There has been quite a bit of discussion written recently about the current issue of Teen Titans where Wonderdog is introduced into the DC universe.

>Heidi MacDonald's post on the topic gets a record number of comments on the Beat when she suggests:

...the Superfriends cartoon is a low point, not just in superhero history but the annals of animation

Meanwhile >Johanna Draper at Comics Worth Reading seems to agree with with a large portion of those of us who are turned off by the story...

I cannot believe how bad this issue is. You ever read a comic, flip to the credits, and say to yourself, “There’s no way he actually wrote that unless he was possessed!”? This is one of those issues.

For those of you who have not read the issue, here's my recap and take on the whole thing:
Wendy and Marvin (who are now sidekicks living in Titans Tower) find a dog who looks a lot like Wonderdog from the old Superfriends cartoon. Everyone thinks the dog is cute and would make a good mascot. Later that night while Wendy and Marvin are alone, the dog turns into a sort of Cerberus hellhound and kills Marvin. It then chases Wendy around for 4 or 5 pages before killing(?) her. (We don't actually see her die.)

Here's my problem with the story. If you are completely unaware of who Wonderdog, Wendy and Marvin are, then what you have is a cliched plot that has its roots in the Trojan Horse story and has since showed up in everything from Gremlins to >Far Out Space Nuts.

However, if what is supposed to redeem this story is the touchstones of the old Superfriends dynamics, then I sort of feel it's a poor use of those touchstones - or rather shortsighted.

If you are using characters that's you've introduced into a story because people have fond memories of those characters (or just memories in general) wouldn't it be wiser to use this as a springboard to fully flesh them out and make them interesting and viable characters today?

Just killing them outright feels exactly like what it is, a cheap gimmick used to goose sales or interest in the book that ultimately weakens the impact of said gimmick everytime it's used. I understand every *dark* story can't be MiracleBoy rampaging in London, but they should try to be better than this.

I normally spare you gentle readers from my rants against such things, instead unloading on my good friend, "Doc Comics."

Here's what the Doc had to say about my angst...

I see what your saying, though I think what your pointing out is just not great storytelling, which is common in comics and uncommented on by you mostly (as well as most other comic book fans)--witness your recent defense of Secret Invasion.

I think what really has people upset is that badness is visited upon these old characters. I agree you probably wouldn't have complained if it were done well, but to swallow heaping loads of other sales boosting gimmicks or cliched storylines only to choke on this one suggests there's an element that makes this one different, and I think that's it. I don't think your reaction would be as negative if these had been new/unknown characters.

Having said all that, I do think you are right in your analysis, I just view this as "Modern Comic Books Act Like Modern Comics"--film at 11. There's nothing newsworthy here beyond it being SUPERFRIENDS characters, and other than that, this event ain't that newsworthy (as Mary Marvel, Blue Beetle, Mad Hatter, Sue Dibney, and any number of other characters will tell you).

I have to agree with the Doc on this one - what is getting everyone riled up is no different than any of the other crap that's been shoveled our way the past couple of years, it's just been made worse because now the infection is spreading into the cartoons we love as well. :\

PCDW Points: 5,000

- Jim


Anonymous said...

Hi Jim, Thought you might enjoy this web comic (it's a little different from those you reference) but very funny:

Anonymous said...

Clickwheel looks pretty cool. Now if I only had enough money for an Ipod touch.

Unknown said...

I'm late coming to this story but you have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

Grim n' gritty Wonderdog? Really? Is this the "relevance" for the "post 9/11 world" comicbook writers are always waxing on about in interviews?

I think it's official that modern comics entire gimmick in a nutshell is take x thing previously associated with some degree of fun or innoncence and grim the everlovin hell out of it!

This might be the most laughably blatant and obvious use of the gimmick but it's been going on for quite awhile. DC couldn't even put out a Thundercats comic without having Cheetara get raped!


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