BayCon: From Alice Grove to xkcd – a sampling of webcomics

Hello to everyone who came to my BayCon panel yesterday, From Alice Grove to xkcd: The Internet as a Platform for Comic, Creation and Comic Reading. I’m happy you came, and I’m glad you took part in the discussion! A big thank you to Ctein, Jacob Fisk and Amanda Taylor-Chaisson for helping me provide some great reading suggestions!

As promised, here’s the list of titles and links of some of our favorites that you might want to check out. This is by no means a finite list; this is merely a list of our favorite titles that we read on a daily or weekly basis. If you have any favorites you’d like to add, by all means provide them (and their links) in the comments!

Note #1: Most of these should still be active and updating, though a number of them have been completed or are on hiatus (indefinite or otherwise). I’ve tried my best to sort these into different subject headers to make it somewhat easier for you to read.
Note #2: I’ve coded these links to open up in a new tab, so you won’t lose this page! Have fun reading!

FANTASY, MAGIC AND MYTHOLOGY
Aerial Magic by walkingnorth
Agents of the Realm by Mildred Louis
Banquet by Anne Szalba
Barbarous by Yuko Ota & Ananth Hirsh
Bird Boy by Anne Szalba
Castle Swimmer by Wind Lian Martin
City of Somnus by unknown
Clan of the Cats by Jamie Robertson
Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire by Michael Terracciano
Erma by Brandon Santiago
Girl Genius by Kaja and Phil Foglio
Goblins by Tarol Hunt
Godslave by Meaghan Carter
Goodbye to Halos by Valerie Halla
Headless Bliss by Chlove
How to Be a Werewolf by Shawn Lenore
Lilith’s Word by Nina Vakueva
The Lonely Vincent Bellingham by Diana Huh
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe
Misfile by Chris Hazelton
Namesake by Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melancon)
Never Satisfied by Taylor Robin
Ozy and Millie by Dana Simpson
Skin Deep by Kory Bing
Skin Horse by Shaenon K Garrity and Jeffrey C Wells
Sunfall by unknown
The Glass Scientists by Sabrina Cotugno
(un)Divine by Ayme Sotuyo
UnOrdinary by uru-chan
White Noise by Adrian Lee
Widdershins by Kate Ashwin
Wilde Life by Pascalle Lepas
The Witch Door by Anni K

SCIENCE FICTION
Alice Grove by Jeph Jacques
Awaken by Koti Saavedra
Bomango by VanHeist
College Roomies from Hell by Maritza Campos
Endtown by Aaron Neathery
It’s Walky! by Dave Willis
Kila Ilo by unknown
Mare Internum by Der-Shing Helmer
Megatokyo by Fred Gallagher
Monster’s Garden by Ash
O Human Star by Blue Dellaquanti
Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
The Meek by Der-Shing Helmer
Shades of Gray by avsaroke
Shortpacked! by Dave WIllis
Sidekick Girl by Erika Wagner
Star Power by Michael Terracciano & Garth Graham
Wapsi Square by Paul Taylor
When She Was Bad by Amiko
xkcd by Randal Munroe

SEX-POSITIVE/LGBT-FRIENDLY (SOME MAY BE NSFW)
Alfie by InCase
Closetspace by Jenn Dolari
Curvy by Sylvan Migdal
Dangerously Chloe by Gisele Lagace & Dave Lumsdon
Go Get a Roomie by Chlove
Grey Matters by Loren Coven
Ménage à 3 by Gisele Lagace
Oglaf by Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne
The Rock Cocks by Leslie
Sticky Dilly Buns by Gisele Lagace
Venus Envy by Erin Lindsey

SLICE OF LIFE, GENERAL INTEREST AND GAG STRIPS
(MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SF/F ELEMENTS)

9 Chickweed Lane by Brooke McEldowney
The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kershi
Anders Loves Maria by Rene Engstrom
Blaster Nation by Leslie & Brad Brown
The Bright Side by Ira Francis
Diesel Sweeties by Rich STevens
Dresden Codak by Aaron Diaz
Dumbing of Age by Dave Willis
Fans! by T. Campbell
A Girl and Her Fed by KB Spangler
Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto
Goats by Jon Rosenberg
Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell
Johnny Wander by Yuko Ota & Ananth Hirsh
Kevin and Kell by Bill Holbrook
My Giant Nerd Boyfriend by fishball
The Non-Adventures of Wonderella by Justin Pierce
Overcompensating by Jeffrey Rowland
Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques
Quantum Vibe by Scott Bieser
Radio Silence by Vanessa Stefianuk
Real Life by Greg Dean
Sam and Fuzzy by Sam Logan
Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida (recommended reading around 2010 forward)
Something Positive by Randy Milholland
Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan & Molly Ostertag
Supernormal Step by Michael Lee Lunsford
Wondermark by David Malki

Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends

So recently I’ve been reading David Wiegel’s The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock and enjoying it immensely.  Things I’ve learned:

–It’s evident that a few members of Yes either quit or were canned due to insufficient pretentiousness levels.  Tony Kaye was an adequate keyboardist that didn’t play flourishes and got the boot early on.  Rick Wakeman quit out of boredom, and the fact that he had no frigging idea what Jon Anderson was singing about half the time.  Steve Howe actually kind of likes Tormato, their 1978 album that nearly no one else likes, including the rest of the band.  Chris Squire’s bass was, not surprisingly at all, mixed loud, front and center on their first albums.

–Van der Graaf Generator were well-loved, even if their music made no damn sense at all.  The same goes for The Soft Machine.

–Robert Fripp is a genius guitarist…but no one knows what the hell he’s trying to play.

–Greg Lake had an ego about the size of Great Britain.  Keith Emerson not as much, but close.  Carl Palmer just wanted to play his drums.

–Keith Emerson’s famous stage shtick of sticking knives in his keyboard to get sustained sound was originally courtesy of some old Army knives from a roadie named Lemmy Kilmister.

–The guys in Rush write great songs, but they’re kinda sorta meatheads.  Singer Geddy Lee didn’t always know what the hell drummer Neil Peart’s lyrics were going on about, just that they were virulently Libertarian.  [This political bent seems to have faded into the background around the same time Geddy started playing synths on the albums, interestingly enough.]

–The more members Genesis shed, the poppier and more famous they became.  Keyboardist Tony Banks said if they’d called it a day when Peter Gabriel left, they’d have had a significantly smaller fanbase.

–Most bands, when interviewed by Creem magazine in the 70s, would make these wildly erudite but utterly vacuous proclamations about how progressive rock will change the world.

–Marillion singlehandedly brought back prog in the 80s by saying ‘Screw you, we’re going to play this stuff anyway.’

Seriously, though, it’s a fascinating (if slightly sarcastic) read if you’re a fan of the genre.  One of the pleasant surprises is that he does briefly touch on the less famous prog bands, including a handful of non-English bands from Italy and elsewhere.

 

It’s a Mad Dog’s Promenade, So Walk Tall (Or Don’t Walk at All)

I just recently finished reading my first book of the year, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.  It’s quite the lengthy tome, and if you’re familiar with his music (particularly his early epic-length songs like the one above), you’ll feel right at home with his life story.  His long-format musical storytelling fits right in with his literary storytelling.

I’ve mentioned it here before, but one of the most common threads I see in a lot of music biographies is the musician’s moment of how the hell did I get here?, especially when they’re put in an unexpected situation.  In Johnny Marr’s book Set the Boy Free, his moment was when he was jamming and talking personally with Paul McCartney about the breakup of the Smiths (Macca’s words of wisdom for him: “That’s bands for you.”).  For Bruce, it was the moment he was on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame stage, with Mick Jagger on one side and George Harrison on the other, singing ‘I Saw Her Standing There’.  And the most interesting part of that tale thread is that, more often than not, they didn’t climb up their Marshall stack and yell ‘Top of the World, Ma!’.   They just smiled and laughed stupidly at their incredible stroke of luck, and kept doing the only thing they know how to do best, and that’s play music.

Bruce Springsteen has always been the Champion of the Working Man sort of singer, and Born to Run makes sure you know that.  A sizable portion of the book — at least half –is dedicated to repeated returns to New Jersey to see old friends, visiting his sisters and parents, and bringing up three kids.  He may not be the Troubadour that people make him out to be, and he frequently reminds the reader that that’s not his aim, to be the next Pete Seeger or Bob Dylan.  He’s just a storyteller who knows how to tell a good story about the blue collar man and woman, the people he grew up with and still connects with to this day.

[If I had one complaint, his writing does hint just a tiny bit at being a newbie, as I can see some of the usual writing habits that nag us all when we start out.  He relies on hyphenated phrases, ellipses and ALL CAPS more than he should.  That said, however, I’m not going to shoot him down for it.  I’m just as bad in my rough drafts.]

It’s definitely a fun read, though.  Well worth picking up!

 

Side note: I chose the above music and title, as it’s one of my favorite early Bruce tracks from his second album.  It’s a lovely piece, and I used “Mad Dog’s Promenade” as the name of my radio show my sophomore year in college.  I also put that there to note that there’s more to Bruce than just the hits we all know, and he’s one hell of a solid musician and songwriter…the deep cuts from his albums are often just as fascinating and imaginative.