January 04, 2005

Also-Ran Thrice

If his "Mission" page is to believed, Eric Burns has only been doing his snarky thang for a few months. In that time "getting websnarked" has become one of the most coveted "trophies" in webcomicdom. It's not quite the page-view supercharger that a mention at PvP or Penny Arcade can be (nor a good slashdotting, but that should go without saying), and it's not as back-pattingly warm-and-fuzzy as an award from the Web Cartoonists Choice crowd, but it's coveted nonetheless.

Schlock Mercenary hasn't been snarked yet. I thought that this was because he hadn't read the strip, though I deemed it remotely possible that he had read it but not found anything interesting to write about it.

Then, while surfing my Live Journal "Friends" page, one of my peers in the 'tooning community mentioned that Eric was passing out awards for his favorite strips. I clicked in to have a look.

Lo and behold, I was honorably mentioned for THREE of them -- "Epic," "Plot-Driven," and "Situation Comedy." I didn't take the shortbread for any of those categories, but now my marketing team can assemble a blurb that says "Schlock Mercenary [is an] Epic... Plot-Driven... Situation Comedy[!] -WEBSNARK" and do so without even blinking.

Better still, this fictional team of soulless marketeers can use the actual copy the Websnark provides, which I'm providing here for you:

Being star spanning science fiction doesn't automatically get you a day pass into the Epic, but casually mentioning entire fleets of mercanary ships that fly too close to a star and get wiped out does. While sticking to Hard SF, and never losing sight of the characters, Howard Taylor (sic) handles the galaxy spanning elements of his strip with facility and -- more to the point -- absurdity.

Obviously, Schlock Mercenary is a strip Steeped in Story. It's also just as obviously a strip Steeped in Funny, and after establishing his characters, Howard Tayler sets them into epic, ridiculous adventure and wrings every moment of humor he possibly can from them. Adventure blends with excitement at every given moment, and both will make you at least smile while you cheer.

One way you can tell a Situation Comedy is if it opens with someone getting a new job. This gives the reader a viewpoint into the situation and the humor that grows out of it. Check out the beginning of Schlock Mercenary to see this done pretty wholly correctly. And then check out the rest of the strip for the ways the situation can evolve, and the funny evolves along with it.

So... while I've not actually been 'snarked, nor added to his "trawl" page, I AM pretty pleased. Thanks Eric!

In other news, I'll be one of the Special Guests at Life, The Universe & Everything 23, the Marion K. "Doc" Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy at Brigham Young University. I'll be on panels in both the Art and Writing track, and will be alongside the inestimable Jerry Pournelle for at least one of them.

This three-day event is FREE, but you need to register at the door. It's just over a month away, February 17-19, 2005. I'll post more details as they come available.