I’m kind of fascinated by online social networking systems, and I’m particularly intrigued by how they function as promotional tools in all kinds of different ways. It doesn’t surprise me all that much anymore when I run across someone online who I’ve actually met in real life, but there’s always, for me, a moment of dissonance between the actual person and their online self (or selves). It makes me think about how characters are constructed; I’d thought of it as a process alien to me, as someone who does an autobio comic, but then I realized that the dissonance I described above is always amplified when those roles are reversed and someone finds me. Plus I don’t really look like how I draw myself.
It also got me thinking about how the subjects of most of my recent posts have been almost entirely selected through a system not so different from social networking. For example, I started reading Planet Karen in part because there was an ad for it on Teaching Baby Paranoia, which I started reading regularly because I got friended on both Comicspace and Livejournal. How embarrassingly hypertexty. I have a similar path to Minimalist Stick Figure Theater, all the way back through to these guys, the gateway drug of my webcomics experience. But the subject of this week’s column—Eric Schlegel’s Skipping Out—came from one of my new co-workers, Patrick (who’s apparently a bit of a rockstar), in the midst of a discussion about MySpace (he’s a fan; I’m not).
So I decided to write about it this week, because it is not something I think I would have found on my own, even though I do know about Prism Comics, who have a good list of webcomics artists. However, this review’s going to be brief since there aren’t a whole lot of archives to this strip–apparently it’s only been online for a very little while even though Schlegel’s been drawing for much longer. It’s an interesting webcomic to me since the artwork’s very different than the kinds of things I’ve written about in the past, plus it has taken me a while to warm up to lettering that’s not hand-lettered.
In truth, Skipping Out feels fairly nascent at this point, and that’s part of the appeal. Most of what I’ve been reading are well-established webcomics that have found their footing and their niche, and are great at what they do. As for Skipping Out, I’m waiting to see where it goes with the characters and the satire, since the model it seems to be following (and might be inspired by) are other slice-of-life strips like Dykes to Watch Out For, The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green and Leonard and Larry. However, you’ll have to start here and work your way back to the front page in order to read them chronologically since the running joke about the hair works a bit better in context.